Monday, October 6, 2014


"The idea of cocooning is to allow life to settle down for the child and parents and to firmly cement in the child’s mind who are mom and dad. The general gist is to hang close to home for a while: simply life, reduce the number of toys and trips away from home, set up a predictable routine. Generally allow time and space to get to know each other, and to allow the child to learn to trust and rely on his/her parents. It is the first step in establishing attachment." 

As an adoptive parent, I've heard this term many a times, so I don't know how--just last week--I skipped over this imperative phase for our son's secure transition. I'll blame it on jet-lag. 

Before Joseph had even been home a week, I decided to venture out to try something new last Wednesday...story time at the library. What I ended up with, as we got into the car, was a kicking and screaming frantic and out of control child. I wasn't sure what the problem was, because I just "knew" that he'd love the goings-on at the library. Thank goodness, he did enjoy himself (slightly) but when he wouldn't leave my lap or partake in the activities, I started to get it.  And then, it was solidified later that afternoon when he kicked and screamed again as we got in the car to pick up the kids from school. Interesting that Beth from Holt called me that very day to check in (thank you, Holy Spirit), and we discussed a plan to simplify.

The bottom line is that this is a child who has never been shuffled "to and fro" before. To our knowledge, he's only been in a vehicle a handful of times. Specifically, to and from the hospital in China for foot surgery, and his five-hour ride to come to meet us. Those are the times that we know of. So, for a child who's been primarily restricted to the confines of a building for his first five years, I had to think of how he must feel. Even though his institutional life wasn't the "ideal" scenario to our standards, it was consistent and it was predictable. Added to that the fact that his brain chemistry might be well preparing to be dropped off (or "handed off") somewhere else at any given time. This child is longing for predictable right now. 

Hello cocooning.

We've now limited our outings, so for those who know how much I love to be a social butterfly, please forgive me for not being so right now. I am really feeling the need to by hyper-vigilant about this for our son's sake, and I am trying to pay very close attention to his body language. I'm sorry if I seem preoccupied with this transition...I am. This is temporary, and we will slowly break out of this cocoon...but we just need it to be all in good timing for Joseph. 

He has already shown great progress since Wednesday, as we have limited the number of times he gets into the car each day. On Friday, I needed some things at Target after we took Charlie to school, and Joseph was reluctant to leave the van. After some reassurance, he came into my arms and I was able to get him into a cart. It gave him a chance to trust me and to know that everything will be okay.

There are already some "predictable" favorites, like taking Charlie to school and going with the family to Bubba and Grandpa's house. We've walked in close proximity to the community pool, and this morning we walked to our nearby park to play.

I can see that if we take this slowly, it will give Joseph what he needs at the right pace he needs it to be, and I know each of these baby steps of progress and comfort are huge and completely necessary for his healthy adjustment. Each step is a new chance at earning his trust, and that's worth all the time in the world!

1 comment:

Dawn Transleau said...

Girlfriend, don't you worry about anyone or anything but your family!! You cocoon for as long as you need to!! We will all be with you when you all emerge as beautiful as a butterfly.