Dustin and I went back to Uganda in November on an adoption related secret mission. It was secret and it was a freaking mission because last time. Duh. I was there for nine and a half weeks [Dustin was there for two of those weeks] and brought back a tiny person we call Wyatt around here. He’s one and a half and is giving us a run for our money. We are over the moon excited and slightly obsessed with the Ugandan currently residing under our roof. We mainly just sit around at night cracking up laughing because WE HAVE A SMALL HUMAN IN OUR HOUSE AND WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE DOING. But whatever, does any parent?
People have asked if I’m going to write about Uganda this go around and I’m just not totally sure yet. Yes? No? Maybe a little? For the most part that ship feels like it has sailed. It also feels somewhat overwhelming to talk about. Like, I have no clue where to start… I did this really big thing by myself and no one knew about it. It was hard. I cried a lot. I cussed a lot. I drank a lot of beer. I totally lost my crap because SINGLE PARENTS DESERVE ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS IN THIS LIFE. I came home. Next?… I do have a few thoughts that keep lingering though, so maybe we’ll just start there and see where we end up. Yes?
Wyatt is the cutest thing you have ever seen. We get it. We feel very much the same way. He’s little and pretty much the perfect snuggle buddy. He’s SO FRIENDLY and sends happy good vibes to all the people wherever we go. But here’s the deal: you can’t hold him (and a few other things) and here’s why.
Everyone has heard of attachment, right? Attachment between a parent and a child happens over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need, communicates that need, and the mom or dad meet that need and soothe the child. Attachment is formed through a lot of different things… feeding, changing diapers, comforting, hugs and kisses… really anything that makes the baby feel safe and secure. Every time a parent meets a baby’s need, the baby sees that person as safe and trust is built. Meeting your baby’s emotional and physical needs impacts them in the best of ways.
Our buddy, Wyatt, has experienced a whole lot of loss and a whole lot of change over the course of his lifetime. He has had several different caretakers. He went a lot of days never having his needs met. He spent a lot of days really hungry and really thirsty, and not sure when the next meal would be. He learned to stop crying because there just simply weren’t enough hands to go around to comfort all the babies.
Wyatt doesn’t know what it means to be in a family. He doesn’t know what it means to have a mom and a dad. He doesn’t know what it looks like to feel safe and to have his needs consistently met. We have to teach him that. It’s our job as his parents to teach and show him that we are his people, we are always safe and we will always meet his needs.
Wyatt has lost all things that were once familiar to him…. sights, sounds, weather, people, smells, language, food… Everything is new and everything is overwhelming. We are trying to slowly introduce him to all the new that surrounds him while constantly showing him that we will always be right there and that we will protect him.
We’re doing a lot of work in this house.
We’re essentially starting from scratch over here. We are trying to recreate the newborn/ parent connection he never had with us. This is the way he will learn that we are his parents and we are safe to trust. It’s also the way the he will learn about love and what that looks like in the context of a family. The best way for us to do this is for Dustin and I to be the only two people who hold, cuddle, comfort, feed, and instruct Wyatt.
It’s hard, we get it. It can also be somewhat confusing because we love the people in our life, we know you love Wyatt and we want Wyatt to grow to love you all as well; but we first want him to learn that we love him and it’s safe for him to love us back. It can also be weird because Wyatt loves people (he is his father in a Ugandan body). He may reach up for you to pick him up or want to give you a hug or ask for the food you’re eating. And that’s hard and awkward and strange to turn down the cutest baby ever.
So here’s the deal, the best ways you can support us and be around us right now look like this:
Don’t feed him… if you’d like to give him some food (ask first for goodness sake) and then give it to me or Dustin and we will feed it to him. Same goes for water.
If he seeks you out for a hug or wants to be picked up or comforted… ignore him. (AHHH THAT’S SO MEAN AND HARD.) We will redirect him or we will pick him up or comfort him in whatever way he needs.
Give high fives. Blow kisses. Wave. Play with him…. We still very much want him to know that our friends are his friends and they can be trusted, too.
This won’t be for forever. Pinky promise. But it is for right now.