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Letter to family & friends

As we prepare to bring Abby home, we felt it necessary to write a letter to our family and friends, letting them know what to expect in the days ahead. I am posting it here for you as well.

Dear Family & Friends,

After a year and a half of waiting, praying, longing, hoping--- little Abby is almost home! We are overjoyed at God's grace, but we also realize this will be a season of adjustment for our family. We know that each of you receiving this letter has-- in some way-- supported, loved and prayed for us. Because we know your care for Abby and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone around her to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation – emotionally, physically and spiritually.

In many ways, Abby will be like the children who entered our family through birth; we will seek to bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences in the way we have parented in the past.

We are confident of this: God’s design is PERFECT! His plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of His love for us. Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need. The primary caretaker (usually mommy) meets the need and soothes the child. This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent; the baby is hungry, cries in distress, mom nurses & calms the baby – which teaches her that this person is safe and can be trusted. By God’s very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their learning, conscience, growth and future relationships. The security provided by parents will, ultimately, give children a trust for and empathy towards others.

Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother and father at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts. Abby will soon experience the loss of familiar and comforting caretakers as well as the sights, smells, and language of her birth country. When Abby comes home, she will be overwhelmed. Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about her new environment, but also about love and family. She has not experienced God’s design for a family in an orphanage setting. Her world will turn upside down. She will struggle with feeling safe and secure and she may lack the ability to trust that we will meet her needs. The good news is that we can now, as Abby's parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds.

The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed her. As this repeats between us, she will be able to learn that parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Abby starts to establish this important bond, she will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.
Abby will have, what may seem like, a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us. Although it may appear that we are spoiling her at times, we have been advised that it is best that we meet every need quickly and consistently. She may show her grief and confusion in many ways, and we are prepared to help her through it and prove that we are a forever family. You may also notice us tighten our circle a bit, stay close to home, and we may seem a little less available socially, at least Rachel and Abby, for a while. Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on our personal research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We will be doing what we believe is best to help her heal from those interruptions in attachment as effectively as possible.

Why are we telling you all of this? Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our Abby settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future. There are a few areas in which you can help us:

The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Abby. This will (for a while) include things like holding, excessive hugging and kissing. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone – which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Abby should know that the people with whom she interacts are our trusted friends.

Another area is redirecting Abby's desire to have her physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet them. Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the child. To share this is difficult for us because you have openly loved on our other children and we have loved on yours as well, and treasure that connection. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have Abby hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. But until she has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct her to us if you see that she is seeking out food, affection or comfort.

Also, please feel free to ask us any questions at any time. We are learning, too, and are grateful that you are seeking with us to help Abby feel loved, safe, and secure. We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones around us. We couldn’t ask for a better extended family & circle of friends for our precious Abby. Thank you so much for your love and support over the past year.

We love you all,
Joe & Rachel
Josh, Nathan, Hannah, Danielle, & Abby

*I read other adoptive families' letters, and appreciate the wisdom and verbage I was able to pull from them for our letter, primarily the one from Babe of my Heart.


Lara said...

Very well put. I may be copying and pasting this when our baby comes home!

Jennifer said...

This is a fabulous letter!! Wish I'd had these words when we adopted our then 18 month old daughter from China. Who knows, it may come in handy with the next kiddo God brings into our family. :)
We are praying for you all as your family grows!! God is SO good :)

Christy said...

Wow, you are so gifted with words! Praying for you!

Unknown said...

Beautifully & wonderfully written. No doubt this was a gift from the Lord!!! If I can have your permission, I'd love to be able to share this with other families so they can alter it a tad to their family & help educate their family. It will be a HUGE tool in helping them. We wrote something similar after our daughter came home once we realized everyone wasn't 'getting it'. Congratulations!!!! ~stacy

Jessica Smith said...

Rachel, This was beautifully written and I am just so excited for your family! Princess Abby is a doll baby and I can't wait to watch your family bond together.

You are in my prayers! I hope to give you a great big hug and Abby a high five ;) when I see you next!

Lots of love, Jessica

Karly said...


I too would love, with your permission, to copy this letter to explain to our families the attachment process.

This is so beautifully written! Congratulations to you and your family!