Dear Family & Friends--this is long, but we so appreciate you reading about where we're at.
After almost two years of waiting, we are finally on our way to bring Lucy Melat home! We begin our journey to meet Lucy on May 19th. We know that each of you receiving this letter has, in some way, supported, loved and prayed for us. Because we know your love for Lucy and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone around hwe to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation - emotionally, physically and spiritually.
In many ways, Lucy will be like the boys who entered our family through birth; we will parent like other families as we bring all of our children up in the love of the Lord and family. But, there will be a few differences in the beginning. For many months now, we have been learning about bonding and attachment in children, especially those coming home through adoption from an international orphanage/ foster care setting.
While there is a lot we have yet to learn, 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 her 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 international adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts. The good news is that we can now, as Lucy's parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds. When Lucy comes home, she will be overwhelmed. Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about her new environment, but also about love and family. She has not experienced God's design for a family in an orphanage/foster care center setting. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe, feed and change her. As this pattern repeats between us, she will be able to learn that Matt and I as her parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Lucy starts to establish this important bond, she will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.
Lucy 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 loads of reading, research, prayer, and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We will be doing what we believe is best to help her heal from those 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 Lucy 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 adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Lucy. This will (for a while) include things like holding, excessive hugging and kissing. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone - which can slow down the development of important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Lucy should know that the people with whom he interacts are our trusted friends.
Another area is redirecting Lucy's desire to have her physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet them. Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. 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 actually could be dangerous for Lucy. This is a tough one to share, because it was so different when Hayden and Jack were born, as well as when many of your kiddos were born, and we shared in the joy of that with you! Please understand that we want nothing more than to have Lucy be hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you (we are sure she’ll be irresistible and huggable). But until she has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct her to us if you see that she is seeking out food, affection 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 sweet girl. Thank you so much for your love and support during our long journey to Lucy.
We think we’ll be arriving in Portland in the late evening on June 1st. (We are flying standby from LA, so we’re not exactly sure). We would love to see friendly faces at the airport when we arrive home. My mom will be updating my facebook and sending an email when we confirm that we got on a flight. I will most likely be carrying Lucy in a carrier and we won’t be passing her around. We are so excited for Hayden and Jack to finally meet their sister for the first time!
We will be limiting our visitors and outings for the first few weeks/months at home so Lucy can adjust and attach to us first, and then we’ll be introducing her to our many loving friends who are dying to greet her! If you have any questions please feel free to ask at any time.
We plan to update our blog occasionally as we have internet access during our trip. If you want to follow us, visit www.5byfaith.blogspot.com
Much love to you all…Matt and Eryn Kesler