By An Adopt4Life Community Member
I read a lot of books while I was waiting to be matched with my daughter. I didn’t know then that it would be a daughter, not what the child’s age would be so I read and researched, attended conferences and webinars, talked to others and tried to prepare. Really, once the paperwork is done and you are “adopt-ready” there really isn’t anything else that you can do. In particular, I read a lot about attachment, attachment challenges, strategies to encourage attachment, etc.
This time spent learning was invaluable and I’m so glad that I used my waiting time well. However, I did find that once my daughter was placed with me, some of these suggestions and strategies from the experts needed to be adapted to our circumstances. One thing in particular that seemed to be recommended a lot in my reading was the idea of cocooning in or nesting with your new child after they moved in. The idea seems to be to limit exposure to friends, family and strangers and to focus on developing relationships between the child(ren) and parent(s) with emphasis on developing safety and trust. So I had in mind, that we were going to be home a lot, spending time together, avoiding play dates and social events and so on.
Whether it was because I’m a single parent with one child, or the fact that both my daughter and I have intense personalities, we could just not do it. The intensity just seemed to build to intolerable levels when we had too much time alone together. Instead of bringing us together, it was causing us to become additionally stressed and upset. So I learned early on that we needed to get out of the house each day. It didn’t have to be a big outing or even anything planned, but we needed to get out. So we visited Ontario Early Years Centres, the indoor swimming pool, the library, the park, friends’ houses for play dates, etc.; anything to get out and keep busy even for part of the day.
Instead of staying home and focusing on connecting and attaching, we started doing this while we engaged in other activities out of the house. We were both more patient and more kind to each other with other people around us. I was able to diffuse stress by talking to other adults and she was able to try a lot of fun activities. Instead of hyper-focusing on our relationship, we began to work together on projects and play and let the relationship grow more naturally.
I’m sure that the cocooning in or nesting probably works very well for some families but it wasn’t a great fit for us in those early days. Try the recommendations from the experts but if it doesn’t work for your family, don’t get stuck there. Try something different, or come back to it another time. After several years together, my daughter and I now spend most of our free time at home alone together and we love every minute (well, most of those minutes). It didn’t work in the early days and that’s okay too. Read, learn, experience, try things out and put aside anything that isn’t working for you. You will figure it out and become a stronger family for discovering your own best ways of doing things together.