As we begin to branch out from our immediate family and our own back yard, we ask that you would read this letter and be mindful of these things as we continue to adjust in the next weeks and months.
Dear Family & Friends,
If you can believe it, the time is finally here!! The precious children God has chosen for our family are home! We know that each of you receiving this letter has, in some way, supported, loved and prayed for us. Because we know you care for Emery and Abby and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation - emotionally, physically and spiritually.
In many ways, Emery and Abby will be like all other children; we will parent like other Christian families as we bring our children up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences. For years now, we have researched bonding and attachment in children, especially those coming home through adoption from an institutional orphanage setting.
We are confident of this: God’s design is PERFECT! His plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of His love for us. Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need. The primary caretaker (usually mommy) meets the need and soothes the child. This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent; the baby is hungry, cries in distress, mom nurses & calms the baby - which teaches him that this person is safe and can be trusted. By God’s very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their learning, conscience, growth and future relationships. The security provided by parents will, ultimately, give children a trust for and empathy towards others.
Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother and family can be a major trauma on their little hearts. The good news is that we now, as Emery and Abby’s parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help them heal from these emotional wounds. As our children come home, they are overwhelmed. Everything around them is new and they will need to learn not just about their new environment, but also about love and family. Our children have not been in a family for over a year and even their first family was in crisis; not strong and stable. The children were hugged and loved by so many different people in the orphanage that they have become somewhat indiscriminate in their search for guidance and affection. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed the children. As this repeats between us, they will be able to learn that we are their parents, their safe place and their primary love relationship. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Emery and Abby start to establish this important bond, they will then be able to branch out and enjoy other, healthy relationships.
Emery and Abby will have, what may seem like, a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us. Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on immense amounts of research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We will be doing what we believe is best to help them heal from the interruptions in attachment as effectively as possible. Why are we telling you all of this? Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our children settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future. There are a few areas in which you can help us:
The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if all adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Emery and Abby. This will (for a while) include things like holding, hugging and kissing. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone - which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, pats on the back or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Our children should know that the people with whom they interact are our trusted friends.
Another area is redirecting the children’s requests to have physical needs met or instruction given by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet their needs. The orphanage often had so many visitors and caretakers that the children looked to any adult to meet their needs and tell them what to do. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly” but this is not best for them at this time. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have our children hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. But until they have a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct them to us if you see that they are seeking out food, affection direction, or comfort.
We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones around us. We couldn’t ask for a better extended family & circle of friends for our precious children. Thank you so much for your love and support over the past many months. If you have any questions please feel free to ask at any time! We love to talk about our kids.
In Christ’s Love,
Joel and Gail
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Happy Birthday Emery!! Our big boy is four years old today. After a not so fun, but tolerated, trip to the doctor and much needed domi (sleep), we will celebrate the Bergstedt way. With ice cream!
I will try to post a well thought out overview of our trip and pictures of the kids and family after they are in bed (if I am still awake).
But for now:
1) It is going better than expected.
2) My mom is here to hep with every thing so we can cuddle kids and teach them to be a family (we could not do it without her help!).
3) All those hours of workshops, book reading and research were worth it.
4) God's faithfulness is seen in every moment of our days and nights!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
We are finished with immigrations and ready for our Visa appointment. The appointment was automatically scheduled (for Tues. the 7th). Normally this would be fine, but just recently there was a change for our organization and they are no longer doing the appointments for us. They are requiring the parents to be at the appointment in Haiti and stay until the visas are issued and picked up. We let them know that we would be able to be in Haiti as early as next Friday, the 10th, and they will decide when we come and how long we stay. We will wait to hear from them and then book our flights.