Thursday, November 14, 2013

How does this work?

Dear Friends and Family:

Very soon, we’ll be bringing Elliott and Lance home and starting the process of becoming a new and bigger family.  This is an exciting and scary time for all of us, especially for Elliott and Lance.  In their short lives, our sons have gone through more changes and life altering experiences than most adults could handle.  They've already experienced the loss of a birthmother, abandonment and rejection from their family, and will soon experience the loss of familiar caretakers as well as the sights, smells, and language of their birth country.  Their world will turn upside down.  They will be disoriented and confused.  They will struggle with feeling safe and secure and lack the ability to trust that we will meet their needs. 

The process of learning to trust that we are the two adults in their world who will always be there to care for them is called attachment.   You know that building trust is hard, takes a lot of time and a lot of work.  It gets easier over time, but things are going to be a little strange at first and we ask that you please understand and respect what’s happening.  We are not closing you out, you are the most important people in our lives.  But Elliott and Lance need to have boundaries in place to develop a strong, and healthy attachment to us.

Physical Boundaries

It will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Elliott and Lance. This will (for a while) include things like holding, hugging and kissing. Children from orphanages are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone.  Unfortunately, this disrupts their ability to attach to us. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed!  Elliott and Lance should know that you are our trusted friends and family.


They have  relied on a stream of different adults to meet their needs.  They've learned that they have to compete for the attention of every adult they see to get basic things like food, clothing, blankets and comfort.  Charming every available adult becomes a survival technique.   While that might work in an orphanage, it’s dangerous in our world.  It’s not safe for Elliott to ask random strangers for a hug.  In order for Elliott and Lance to learn healthy, appropriate boundaries with strangers, they have to begin by learning that we are the two people responsible for meeting their needs.  For a while, we need to be the only ones to hand them food, give them water, comfort them when they are hurt.  If they  ask you for something, please ask us.  For a while, it will look like we’re spoiling them.  As they learn that we are their parents, it will become OK to treat Elliott and Lance just like our other ones.


Because of their experiences, Elliott and Lance might have learned that adults are scary and unreliable.  A gentle scolding can feel like a ton of bricks to him.  Discipline will be very tricky.  Just as it is important for them to understand who their caretakers are, they need to learn that we (and not every adult he sees) are their authority figures to be trusted not to hurt them and yet still hold them to a standard.  

Thank you! You all have played an amazing role in our journey to get Elliott and Lance home and we WANT you to continue in their journey home.  While they may be unable to interact with others for a while Todd and I covet your prayers and encouragement please feel free to call or send notes we will need them!


  1. Awesome post. You have summed it up very well. I am going to pass it along to our friends and family!

  2. Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for your post! What a blessing it is to know how to best pray for you all! So we got our travel dates today! I wondered if you would email me with some pointers and how it all worked for you. So things you think we should know! Would you do that, please!!??!!

    thank you sooo much!
    Praying for you!