It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t even been a month since we’ve been back from our first trip to Ethiopia.  It seems like so much longer because we just can’t stop thinking about Tegan.  After the time Ellie and I got to spend with him, it’s like he started to take up this place in each of our minds and now no matter what we are doing, no matter how crazy life has seemed since we’ve been back, he’s constantly there in our thoughts, in our conversations and in the silence between everything that’s happening.  

So, while we’re waiting, we’re preparing.  We’re getting ready, (as much as anyone really can), for parenting.  The more we find out about Tegan’s past and about everything he’s been through, the more we are discovering that the beginning of his time at home with us is going to be possibly the most formative experience of his life.  Adoption is all about knowing the times when your child needs to be treated like every other kid in every other traditional family, and knowing when they need to be treated very differently to take into account their past. The reason for this blog post is to let you all know how we are going to be handling the first few months together as a family because we’ve recognized that many of the things that are best for Tegan will seem unusual or even unnecessary to those who haven’t experienced adoption before.

Tegan has experienced a lot in his very short life on earth…poverty, abandonment, orphanage life, and being transplanted now three times (including us) to different caregivers just to name a few. For those of you in the adoption “circle” you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mention the word “cocooning”, but for those outside the circle you’re wondering, “What does that old person movie from the 80′s have to do with adoption?” Cocooning is the strategy that many adoption resources suggest to facilitate bonding and attachment once you bring an adopted child into your home. It basically consists of keeping him at home with us for the first 6-8 weeks of being home from Ethiopia, with very minimal outside visitors or outings. It also means that Ellie and I would be the only ones allowed to hold, feed, bathe, clothe, comfort, console, and meet his needs during the 6-8 week period.

Some of you may be thinking, “That sounds crazy! You shouldn’t isolate him or shelter a kid like that.” Just a few weeks ago, I would have agreed with you, but after meeting my son and getting a glimpse of the world that he’s known so far in her lifetime, I’m beginning to see the benefits of this “cocooning” idea.  Tegan needs to know that for the first time in his life what a family is and what it means to trust. He needs a calm and minimal-stress environment that he’s never experienced up until this point, our son has been passed from one caregiver to the next, which obviously creates confusion for him as to whom he should trust to meet his needs.  He needs the chance at a “fresh” emotional start to bond and attach to the parents that God had planned for him since before time.

With that being said, I’d like to layout the “Game Plan” that Ellie and I plan to put into place once we get Tegan home.

First off, let me say that we KNOW that everyone (friends/family) have been praying and waiting on this moment for a long time. We can’t express to you all how much your prayers and encouragement have meant to us along the way. In fact, once we get him home, we’ll need that prayer and encouragement more than ever. This plan of action is not meant to shelter Tegan or to keep him from all of you that so badly want to meet him and love him. Just trust us, if he healthily bonds to Ellie and I, his bond to you will be all the healthier. So please trust and respect our decision on how we’ll handle our first weeks/months home with Tegan. The decisions we are making are based solely off the advice of experts and families who have gone before us. Ultimately, these decisions are being made to keep Tegan’s best interests in mind… which is why we started this process in the first place.

We plan to implement our “game plan” for at least the first 6-8 weeks after arriving home with Tegan. We will eliminate all unnecessary outings and activities during this time period. We will allow limited visitors during this crucial time.  Please know that this isn’t the kind of situation where the people closet to us will be present and others won’t be, this really is going to have to include everyone because Tegan needs to come out of this cocooning period seeing a clear separation between his parents and everyone else.  Ellie and I will be the ONLY ones to hold, feed, clothe, bathe, comfort, console, and show excessive affection to Tegan during this phase. This is not to shelter or “hog” him but to eliminate all possible confusion as to whom her parents are.

Cathy Keller - June 15, 2013 - 5:10 pm

Ed and Ellie,

this makes perfect sense to me and i will be continue to pray for your transition into the most amazing family!

Ashley Campbell - June 15, 2013 - 10:22 pm

Super proud of you guys, both for these choices and for letting us know :) You will be in our prayers and we look forward to the butterflying phase :) Go Grovers!!!!

Anna Day - June 16, 2013 - 4:26 am

I will be praying for you guys during this time!

Pam Cullen - June 16, 2013 - 9:14 pm

So excited for you all and yes, this time to build your family bond is so very crucial! YOU and his parents and YOU will know what is best for your son and as anxious as we all are to share in your joy, we must respect your time to grow together! Blessings to you all and Happy Fathers Day!
Love and prayers to you!

Amy Lashelle - June 18, 2013 - 12:43 pm

So impressed by you guys, your attention to doing what is best for your son, and will be continuing to pray for you all as you make this huge and awesome transition. Hugs.

Valery - June 26, 2013 - 4:04 pm

Ellie! Emily gave me your blog… Ive been thinking of you guys so much!! Praying for you three during this transition- praying for energy, health & grace. And that the attachment is realized quickly & bond made strong. I’m excited you’re cocooning & doing what’s best for your little fam! Welcome home Tegan, you are a gift & you are so loved!

Amber - July 15, 2013 - 8:42 pm

I think what you are doing with the cocooning is great. I hope that all who are close to you will respect your boundaries. It seems you are doing a great job being upfront and clear with your plan. As parents, it is our responsibility to guard our children’s hearts and minds. I see your plan as you doing that, even when it might be difficult for some to wait to meet him. What an exciting journey. May God continue to bless and guide it.

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