Our last class!!! Yippeeeee!!! I actually had to attend this one solo as Josh had a school function he could not get out of, so I took very good notes and made sure to fill him in on everything. ;)
This class we discussed the issues that may arise with our adopted child at each stage of his or her development. We spent a LOT of time on the infant stage, and worked all the way up to adulthood. I thought this was a really interesting class (I always think that though!) and honestly wish I could have somehow webcasted it onto my blog for all of you!
I will say, however, that this class summary is probably going to be the least favorite of our friends and family...I apologize in advance. We were lectured a lot on how extremely important it is to bond with your new baby and establish a strong attachment in the first 3 months of them being home with us. Here are some of the things we were told (not as in suggestions, but as in, "We know what we're doing, and if you want a bonded baby, you better do what we're telling you!" In a very kind way of course.) ;)
CFCA requires that at least one parent stay home with the baby full-time for the first 12 weeks of life. This came as news to us, since I was planning to go back to work after about 6 weeks. Since I only work part-time, Josh and I will figure out a way to swing it, but we are also really praying God times the arrival of our little one to be this summer while Josh is already off for summer vacation. This would be ideal, but God knows better than me what we need!
Okay, here's the one that's a bit tough to swallow for the wonderful friends and family members who are so eager to get their hands on our new bundle of joy! For the first three months, there should be a maximum of 1-2 caregivers for the baby. Those two people (who would be myself and Josh, in case you were unsure) need to be the only ones holding the baby, caring for the baby, attending to their needs, etc. for at least the first 12 weeks. Other people can hold the baby for no more than five minutes at a time, and this needs to be rare in the beginning. (I can literally feel my loved ones cringing at this. I'm sorry!!!)
The reasoning behind this is that adopted babies have essentially been torn away from the only familiar environment they have ever known and thrown into a brand new one with strangers. 25% of brain development occurs before the baby is even born, and he or she has already grown attached and accustomed to the sounds, movements, smells, tastes, etc. that they have been exposed to all their little life. We will be doing our very, very best to help our baby develop a strong attachment to us by being the only ones to care for him for awhile. We want him to know who mommy and daddy are, and understand that we are the ones he needs to trust and grow attached to. At the same time, this will be a brand new person to us! We need to develop an attachment to him as well, and the best way to do that is time and exclusive contact.
Mothers and fathers who have a baby the old fashioned way (through a pregnancy) get to have nine (closer to ten, really) months to bond with their baby. Mommies are able to get to know their baby's temperament through their movements. They watch their babies growing through pictures on the ultrasound as well as their ever expanding belly. They feel each kick and hiccup and movement, and with those comes an attachment and bond to that baby that I just won't have yet with our little one. When my babies were born, I already knew them. I knew instantly that E* would be active, demanding, and feisty. That's how she had been inside me, and that's how she was outside me! I knew J* would be cuddly, I knew he would be more of a follower, less demanding. He was always so difficult to get a reaction from when the nurses would prod my belly trying to get him to move or change positions. He rarely kicked me, and sure enough when he came out he had been nearly beaten to a pulp by his big sister! I knew so much about them before they took their first breath. I had spent 38 weeks growing them from nothing, bonding with them, naming them, talking to them, singing to them, watching them roll across my belly and flip around. I was their mother, they knew my voice, they recognized the music I listened to, they were instantly comforted when I rocked a certain way, because that's what I did when I was pregnant with them.
This new child, I do not know. He or she will be a stranger to me, and I will be a stranger to them. We are going to need some "us time" to get to know each other, to become comfortable with one another, to learn each other's quirks and habits. Most people get 40 weeks to bond exclusively with their babies, we are asking for 12. We know it won't be easy to say no and we apologize in advance for not being able to hand off our sure-to-be-gorgeous new baby, but it's only for a short time. We promise to post LOTS of pictures and videos, tell everyone all about our new baby, and gush over how much we are loving parenting him or her, but for the first few weeks and months we won't be allowing others to hold him for extended periods of time or passing him around much, and we are so thankful for your understanding!!!
Our agency suggests that along with this "Exclusive Caretaker" philosophy, that we spend a lot of time doing "Kangaroo Care" (lots of skin to skin contact) and baby-wearing for the majority of the day (holding the baby in a sling or carrier). I always wanted to do this with the twins (the baby-wearing thing) but with two infants it was all I could do to get through the day in one piece. I am excited to have a new baby to cuddle and I have two GREAT helpers that will be there all the time to help with their new brother or sister. :)
We spent a lot of time going through each stage and talking about different adoption issues and how they might present themselves at each stage of our child's life. We were given a list of great resources which I will probably spend time checking out while we are in this looong process of waiting for the phone call! As I learn new things I will post them here as well.
That's pretty much it for the last class! We are so excited to be one step closer to bringing our baby home!
We have our LAST meeting with our caseworker on Wednesday afternoon!!! We will be going over our new Child Desired form and tying up any loose ends related to our homestudy. We will also be turning in our match letter and match book fee, and as of Wednesday will be an official "Waiting Family". :) This is incredibly exciting and I honestly can't believe we are here already. I was looking back on the blog and realized we only started the process with CFCA in mid-October, meaning we went from zero to waiting in less than five months! Wow! Remember, the agency tells families to expect to be waiting for about 12 months, so we could still be a looong ways off from a baby, but you never know. :) Josh and I are hoping for a summer baby. We'll see!
You might have already seen that we heard from the Genghis Grill and they said our fundraiser brought in a total of 150 people who spent $1691! Since we get to keep 20% of that,, they are writing us a check for $338! Awesome! Thank you again so much for coming out on Wednesday and supporting us! More people came to that then our wedding haha! You guys are so wonderful, we couldn't do any of this without your help! Thank you!
If you are praying, thank God that He is providing so amazingly! We are so blessed by His provision. Please be in prayer for our child's protection and health as it is likely he is growing in someone's belly right now! Please pray for God to prepare our hearts for the child we will be blessed with, and that He will continue to provide what we need when we need it.
Thank you guys so much for following along! Stay tuned!