After two years of waiting and a crazy suspension on adoptions from Ethiopia, we are FINALLY home with our sweet boy. It's been almost three weeks since we landed in Indy and our family of 7 is finally all on the same continent and under the same roof! Praise the Lord! The last few weeks have been some of the most intense, all hands on deck parenting gig, but laced with so much joy and thankfulness, even though at times it's been crazy and hard.
In so many things we weren't sure how Genene would actually respond, how he would personally cope with the biggest transition of his life, and how he personally would handle all things attachment. We've gotten a good feel for what our boy can handle and what is positively and negatively affecting him and wanted to share it with you. Mostly so you would all have a heads up and also so that no one gets their feelings hurt when we intervene or do things differently than might be expected or desired.
1. Please do not pick up, hug, or kiss Genene. If the doting Grandparents can hold off for awhile than you know it's possible anyone can! Haha. We know this stinks, especially since you are excited and have been following along with us. It pertains to both family and friends, so we aren't casting any group specifically out. But it is absolutely essential that Genene attaches to us in a way that newborn babies attach to their parents. This attachment is harder to form when they are older, like Genene is. Please don't interact physically with Genene- please refrain from picking him up, touching him, and hugging him. We were a little lenient on this in the last couple weeks and the negative affects were alarming so we are cutting it off completely. Also, if you put yourselves in his shoes, having lots of people physically touching him, hugging him, or picking him up, makes it very difficult for him to differentiate why Jon and I are different from whoever else is being physically affectionate with him. We know this is hard, but for now, we just ask that you just say hello and maybe a high five, and sometime soon you'll be able to give him a hug if he so wishes.
2. Please be mindful of play activities- please do not tickle, wrestle, play tag and "capture him," or engage in play activities that involve touching Genene or being physical. This is similar to the first and might sound ridiculous, but please trust us on this. Genene has no semblance of what a family is and no idea why a mom and a dad are any different than the next male or female adult. It is our job over the next many months and years to help him understand what "family" means, and more specifically that Jon and I are his parents and what "parent" means. There is no differentiation for him between adults and parents. When adults show up in just a "play" role this is very confusing to a child who is trying to figure out proper roles of adults and most importantly what a parent is, and who his parents are. Instead, he loves to run around and play with his siblings or other children that are present. It would be more beneficial and appropriate to just say "hi" and engage with words, although he likely won't understand you for some time. :) haha.
3. Please let us be the ones to tend to Genene's needs. Please be sure not to hand him food and definitely not candy. Need a shoe tied? Please send him to us. Want a drink? Please send him to us. Want to be picked up? Please send him to us. Needs his hands or face wiped? Please send him to us. Wants to be chased and "caught?" Please send him to us. It won’t always be like this, I promise. Over the past 3 years Genene has lived in an orphanage with nannies and caretakers, not a Mom and a Dad. He has no idea how to differentiate. If we don't teach him these vital things right from the beginning it could harm his ability to fully attach to us at all.
4. Please forgive us when we drop the ball on whatever it is we said we would do and then didn’t. Or messages we have gotten and forgot to respond to. I am certain that we will have committed ourselves to something and then, due to sleep deprivation or emotional overdrive, completely forgotten about it. So in advance I am just going to say it– we are so sorry!
Many of you have asked about Mekonen, Evie, and Penelope (and Sylvia's) adjustment and if you can help in any way with that. We are so proud of how much love, patience, and compassion Mekonen, Evie and Penelope have had for their new brother. It's a lot of fun but it's also really hard. Adding a non-newborn sibling who speaks no English and needs lots of parent attention is not easy. Less attention for them, more noise, more talking, more crying, a paired down environment, and less sleep for Mom and Dad for awhile (which means potentially shorter fuses for us). They are taking it in stride and doing so well. If you're local and have some free time I can bet the older kiddos will love, love, love to be snagged away from the house for a few hours.
We cannot even begin to thank you all for walking this road with us and for continuing to join us. We wouldn't be here without you!
With more gratitude in our hearts than you could ever know,
Orens, Party of 7.