|One of our first pictures taken with |
Jonas, just minutes after meeting him.
Our first meeting with Jonas couldn't have been more picture perfect. Zack held out Jonas's stuffed dog, he took it from him and walked away a bit, I called his name, he came to me and let me hug and hold him, and we've never looked back. Yes, he had one hard grief-filled cry one night in the hotel, but otherwise, he attached pretty quickly and easily. He doesn't seem to remember much about Kyrgyzstan, other than what we've told him and shown him in pictures. He had just turned two, and the ten or so words he did know in Russian were quickly forgotten. We talk about how he used to live in Kyrgyzstan, but Jonas doesn't indicate any attachment to the people or memories we share with him.
|We're not even sure she ever received |
this book we made for her.
She's leaving behind friends and a foster brother. She's leaving her foster parents, and she'll probably never see them again. She's lived with her current foster family for two years, going "home" to them each night (they live on the orphanage grounds) after spending the day in the orphanage at "school". Two years is longer than Jonas has been with us, and I can't even imagine what it would do to him to be taken away from everything he knows.
Articles we've read have likened this adoption experience to a "kidnapping" of the most extreme kind. While we're obviously not out to do her harm, Johanna will have no way of knowing that. Yes, there seems to have been some rudimentary explanation given to her (at least from what we can tell in the video chats) that we are Mama and Baba (Daddy), but who knows what those words mean to her? How can you explain the concept of a forever family to a little girl who's never had one?
From Johanna's point of view, we are complete strangers she's seen on a phone screen a few times, calling her by a strange name, speaking to her in a language she can't understand, feeding her unusual food, expecting her to follow rules and customs she doesn't know, and taking her away from everything and everyone she's ever known and loved. I'd be pretty upset at us if I was her! What is likely to be one of the best days of our lives will be one of her worst.
|Johanna and her foster mother|
on her 4th birthday last week.
But, and this is where this post is not all gloom and doom, studies have shown that kids who formed strong attachments to caregivers or foster parents before being adopted actually do better in the long run than those who didn't have any attachments. Because they've formed attachments before, they are able to do it again, and this has positive long-term outcomes for not only family relationships, but adult friendships and romantic relationships as well. So while the grieving we might see at first will be difficult, eventually (hopefully) Johanna will transfer her attachment to us.
We do plan on visiting Johanna's orphanage with her a few days after Adoption Day. Fuzhou is a couple of hours away from Nanchang, where she will be brought to us at the hotel. Some people find this to be weird, thinking why would we bring her back to the place she was just taken from? Won't that trigger memories, confuse her, make her think she's going back, make her go through the pain of leaving all over again, etc.?
|A rare smile was seen on|
one of our video chat sessions.
And who knows? We're kind of expecting the worst and hoping for the best as far as Johanna's transition into our family. Maybe the whole thing will be easier than we could have ever imagined. Let's hope so! But we are prepared if it isn't, and we understand why that may be the case. I just hope her little heart can handle what's about to happen to her...both the heartbreak of leaving her homeland and the love of the family waiting for her to come home!