Monday, August 22, 2016

Bon Voyage!

The time has come! In less than 48 hours we start our literal Journey to Jude by jumping on a plane bound for the other side of the world! I cant wait to share our adventure but for now I want to concentrate on what life will be like when we return home. Jay and I have done a lot of research on attachment and bonding with children from hard places. A lot of people have offered encouraging words of how they think Jude will do once he is with us, and while we appreciate them, we understand and have educated ourselves on the likelihood of our upcoming challenges. You see, the quality of parent/child attachment becomes a template for all future relationships and core beliefs and it is for this reason that we are not just “hoping for the best” but are researching and making deliberate actions to ensure a healthy transition for Jude upon coming home.
Attachment for newborns is usually a pretty seamless transition. Infants cry and parents meet their needs. This cycle is repeated thousands of times in the early formative years of a child's life and with each need met, trust is built. Parents are not only meeting needs, but they show nurturing, caring, empathy and sympathy to their child and this invites the child into a good quality relationship where the child learns that they are important, loved, and cared for. Research has shown that the first attachments yield life long templates for intimate relationships, emotional awareness, social interactions, and self acceptance. Its HUGE!! Attachment is the key for children learning to regulate their emotions, frustrations, anxieties. Secure attachment helps children to learn to believe they are lovable, that trusting in parents is wise, it helps them to remain calm, solve problems, it reduces pain..i could go on and on and on…ITS IMPORTANT!
Attachment begins in the first year of life. But lets look at Jude's first year, at least what we know. He was separated from his birth parents, spent the first few weeks in a hospital with only nurses and doctors touching him, then placed in an orphanage, with repeated hospitalizations and surgeries for his medical conditions. He was later moved out of his home in the orphanage to a foster home (likely where he sleeps at night, before returning to the orphanage during the day). And soon, he will be thrust out of all of that as well. His attachment to anyone and everyone he has ever met has had many breaks. Nothing has been permanent in his life, not even people.
That’s why when we get home, we are going to wall in our little one for a little while. We are going to show him what family is like, what a momma and babba (daddy) are, and he is going to learn that, through trust. He will learn to trust that we will feed him when he is hungry, we will make sure all his needs are met, that when he cries we are there to hold him and comfort him every time. That we are there when he falls asleep and right there when he wakes back up. That we can be trusted every second of every day to provide what is best for him. This may take some time and we certainly will need your help. Here are a few things to keep in mind when we return home.
1.)     REST: Cocooning is a respite time for a newly adopted kiddo. It means making his world a whole lot smaller for a little while. A lot of changes are happening and he will need rest to be able to grow. We want to reduce stress as much as possible and we do this by limiting new, over stimulating things for him. We plan on keeping comfort foods he is used to, nursery rhymes in his native language, few outings, few toys, and few visitors; which will lead me into number two. If and when we venture out and Jude starts to get anxious or act out, we may politely leave and return to his safety at home for some rest. Please be patient with us as we figure how much rest he needs.
2.)     VISITORS: Jude needs to learn to trust Jay and I so that he can become attached to us for all the reasons I discussed above. For this reason we need to limit new people for awhile. He may very well show indiscriminate affection towards any and all adults he encounters. This was his survival mechanism in the orphanage. If he was cute and cuddly, he likely got more attention, more food, ect. He needs to learn that this is not needed anymore and he needs to know that mom and dad are safe and where he should turn for all of his needs. In the same sense, if he tries to hug or kiss any of you, please direct him towards us for that. He will understand “momma and babba” and you can say this if he is attempting these actions. When people do meet Jude, we ask that you allow Jay and I to be the sole caretakers; we will be the ones to hold him, to give him food and drink, to comfort him when he is sad, to give him toys. If you have a new toy for him, please just give it to us and we will hand it to him (if we feel he is ready for it). By all means, wave, smile, sit next to him on the floor, and play. This wont be forever but just until he KNOWS who mom and dad are and how they are different from everyone else. With all of this said, Jay and I would LOVE visitors at the airport when we arrive home. We want people who have walked this journey with us to be present for his arrival and we will likely need some support ourselves after our long journey. We do get in late, however, so we understand if you cant. Please ask Kurt, Jan, John, or Justin for details if you would like to come. Additionally, Jay and I WILL need to have some adult time when we are ready and will need some friends to come over after the boys are in bed for some adult conversation! Please don’t stay far away!
3.)     JAYDEN: We are preparing ourselves greatly for our transition with Jude but we are also preparing for Jayden’s as well. We have been preparing him for 3 years now and he is SO excited to be the big brother. We have prepared him for the hard stuff too, but little man may need some extra love. Its hard not being an only child anymore…or so I'm told! Please talk to and love on him first! Jude will be watching and it’s a good sign if the big brother feels safe.

Thank you all for walking this journey out with us! You generosity, kindness, and love have kept us going through it all. It takes a village!

Adoption: “God uses us, mere humans, to solve a seemingly insurmountable human problem. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are inevitable and unavoidable-but He is faithful and good and right there with you”.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Days away

The countdown has begun! We were granted Travel Approval on July 28th and packing has already commenced. Judes room has become packing central!

I can’t believe I can actually type this now, but we will be traveling in just a matter of days to bring our sweet boy home! There are so many emotions that come with this final step. We are excited, nervous, anxious, and of course scared. While I am a strong proponent for adoption, I also know its not all daisies and butterflies either. Adoption is hard, always. It’s a life long Hard. Our first son still has hurts we push through and he always will. Jude will certainly be no different. As we prepare to embark on this long awaited travel, I am certainly aware of the costs it is taking on the many hearts involved. From our perspective we are gaining a long anticipated and truly loved son. Someone we have adored from afar for too long. But for everyone else, it has a much different feel. His birthparents most likely think of him often, their choice, their options. I dare to speculate that they walk by his place of abandonment often, thinking of all of the "what ifs". As a parent, I can only imagine how much grief they endure daily. They will never know what happened to him, who is kissing his cheeks, who is holding him at night, who is walking with him as he traverses life. Then there is his foster family. He has been living with them and gaining insight into how a family works. I am sure his foster parents and siblings will have a lot of heartache watching him leave to never return. China does not allow us to have any communication with the foster family, we don’t even get to meet them and thank them for their kindness and selflessness in taking him in and loving him until a family of his own was found. We are very fortunate in that we found the family adopting his foster brother. They live in North Carolina and we plan to keep the boys in communication as they grow, but no longer will they share the same room, the same toys, the same life. And least I forget, our sweet Jude. We were told that he has been told about us, we sent pictures over to him several months ago, and hopefully he is getting used to our faces. But, no matter how much they show him or talk to him about what is about to happen, which I doubt is a lot by the way, he wont be prepared. How could he be? How could any of us if put into his position? His entire life, everything he knows, sights, smells, faces, places, bed, foods, language, everything will be changing. He is going to grieve, not only the loss of familiar caregivers who were the closest thing to a mother he has ever known, but he is loosing everything he is familiar with in life. I have been praying for his little heart. That somehow Jesus helps to calm the fears and provide peace through this transition and for the remainder of his life with the tough questions we will likely not have all the answers too.
Like I said, adoption is hard, and even despite all the ups and downs Jay and I have gone through to get to this little boy, our struggle, heartache, disappointment, and loss are nothing compared to everyone else’s in Jude’s story. As we close in on our departure, please pray for all the people and hearts involved.

In other news, “nesting” is really hitting the Reichert household hard. We have completely re-modeled our home (before and after pics below), obtained a state of the art security system, have thrown out lots of unneeded/space occupying items, and have begun to clean and organize like its no bodies business. 

We are getting prepared! Jayden even made a countdown chain link so we know how close we are getting daily. Now to start brushing up on our Mandarin!