Thursday, March 15, 2012


Just wanted to thank all of you who left comments, emailed, and Facebooked me with advice on transitioning Conner and Cooper into family life.


Our second full day at home (after the 8 day hospitalization) went much smoother for all of us.  Here are the things I decided to do to help the boys transition:

  • I decided to feed the boys in their bedroom.  Our house is full of joyful noise, our kitchen is always hoppin’, and there’s just not a room in the house that’s guaranteed to be quiet and serene, except the boys’ bedroom.  Conner is currently required to drink 32 ounces of his nutrition drink, and Cooper is required to drink 40 ounces of his nutrition drink. When the boys are overstimulated, they don’t want to eat or drink.  Moving the meals to their bedroom (and putting the main focus on drinking the nutrition drinks over eating with a spoon (which is more stressful for the boys than drinking is)) helped TREMENDOUSLY.  Both boys met their intake requirements on Day 2, praise God.
  • I put the boys in their cribs from 1-4PM, which they LOVED.  At their orphanage, all of the children were put into their sleeping cribs, in a dark, quiet room for “nap time” from Noon-4PMish.  I decided I’d stick with this schedule as best as possible for now.
  • I’m planning to set up a pack-n-play (or two), and maybe even their pop-up sleep tents in our family area downstairs.  MANY people recommended this, as it’s a way for the boys to calm down, yet still be included with family. 
  • I spent time in the boys’ room with them while they were in their cribs.  This is what happened at their orphanage.  The children were in cribs in the room that has windows while the “caregivers” read their newspapers and cleaned the room, watered the plants, etc.  So, I spent time doing my chores in the boys’ room while they sat and stood in their cribs.  This was a big hit because it allowed us to stay connected, yet we were in a calm, quiet, serene environment.  I got lots done, and the boys got good calm time.  (Neither boy showed any signs of wanting to get out of their cribs, not even when I would go to their cribs and hold out my arms, gesturing that I wanted to pick them up.)  Conner stimmed (self stimulated) most of the time, while Cooper sort-of played with some toys.  Conner doesn’t know how to play with toys at all, nor does he care to learn how…yet.  Hopefully that will change with time.  Cooper will hold toys in his hands, feeling them, and then he uses them to stim.
  • The most helpful piece of advice I received made me view this transition differently.   This person made an analogy of being overstimulated to the refeeding syndrome.  While refeeding syndrome was/is a huge risk as the boys’ bodies learn to digest food after being starved, the same thing is happening with the boys in terms of how they were starved for love, affection, and attention.  To bombard their delicate systems with an overload of things they’re not used to (lots of love, attention, play time, cuddle time, chaotic family life) would be to put their little bodies at risk in a similar way that their systems are at risk of refeeding syndrome.  While we WANT to immediately give the boys excellent nutrition and tons of love, we have to approach these transitions slowly and cautiously, giving their systems time to process and digest these changes, slowly, but surely.


Both boys must get their labs drawn today to check for symptoms of refeeding syndrome.  We’re going to attempt to do this outpatient at a lab nearby (well, 30 minutes away, but that’s nearby since we live in the boondocks).  Since the boys’ veins clamp down and collapse, I would greatly appreciate prayer that both boys will be able to get their blood drawn with just one stick.  And, of course, prayers that both boys will not have any signs/symptoms of refeeding sydrome/organ failure.


I have a feeling this outing will be WAY overload for the boys, so please pray for them to be able to calm down and recover quickly.


I also wanted to note that with all of our adoptions, we’ve always kept each child’s world small.  What I mean by that is that we have always tried to reduce the amount of stressors in each adopted child’s life (especially when they’re newly home) because simply being home and in a family is a huge stress to a child who hasn’t been living with a family and/or in a home.  We’ve chosen to not have visitors, to not go in public, to not attend church outside our home, to home school, to help our children experience a safe life in, in a safe family, in a safe home, in a safe world.  Usually, that means staying home, home, home, having little to no visitors, and having a consistent schedule with as little chaos as possible.  I highly recommend this for ALL families adopting, whether you’re adopting domestically or internationally, whether you’re adopted a young child or an older child, whether you’re adopting special needs or not.  This is important for ALL children transitioning home.


Another thing I’d like to address is sensory issues in adopted children.  Our two biological sons had sensory integration dysfunction way back when, both had occupational therapy for it, and The Out of Sync Child was almost as important as my Bible!!!  So, sensory issues don’t just occur in adopted children, BUT children who have lived in orphanages and institutions are extremely likely to have sensory issues.  I HIGHLY recommend two books to help with this:  The Out of Sync Child and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun.


On another note, I’d just like to thank our older kids for stepping up and helping in so many ways.  They played the role of Mom and Dad for a total of 5 weeks (while Matt and I were in Ukraine), then another 8 days while the boys were hospitalized, and now that we’re home, I feel like God has blessed me with lots of extra teammates.  Everyone pitches in so incredibly well that everything gets done even when I never mention the need for something to be done.  I’m so very grateful for the many helping hands and loving hearts God has blessed us with.  Thank you, Parker, Mattie, Meribeth, Sawyer, and Naomi for all you do to make our family FANTABULOUS.  We love you and are so proud to have you as our children.


And speaking of children, Kiefer (age 3) and Selah (age 1) have missed their mommy more than I realized.  While they’re adjusting to having new siblings, Kiefer and Selah have been extra cuddly with Mommy.  I’m loving having these extra cuddles, extra rocking time, extra kisses, extra hugs, and extra lovin’.  They’re doing GREAT accepting Conner and Cooper.  Kiefer LOVES to be a helper.  Selah is too young to understand everything, but she’s doing a fabulous job of sharing Mommy, even when she’d prefer to have Mommy all to herself. 


And, last, but not least, I want to thank the MANY friends and family members who blessed our kiddos with meals over the last 2 months!!!  I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to all of the many people who came alongside our family during this time.  Your service and gifts are greatly appreciated.  And to the many people who have donated to make this adoption possible, THANK YOU.  And to the folks who have donated clothing, baby supplies, bedroom furniture, bedding, and gear for our newest sons, THANK YOU.  God has seriously shown off through this adoption, more than He’s ever done with any of our other adoptions.  You, the hands and feet of Christ, have seriously blessed us beyond measure. 


We humbly thank you from the depths of our hearts.

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