All human beings have the ability to transform like a caterpillar emerging from its cocoon and taking to the sky. ~Jim Rohn
We adopted HM in June 2014. She had been with her biological family for two and a half years then in orphanage care to a foster family and back to orphanage. How does a little girl living happily with her mama and daddy suddenly find herself sitting in an orphanage? How does that mom and dad suddenly begin a life without their child? Impossible answers but clear insight into WHY cocooning is SO critical.
To the outside world cocooning can look as if we are hiding away from the world. Our busy life full of distractions makes it very important to supporting our newly adopted child, and encourage transformation from little caterpillars to brave butterflies.
I want to share a few musts for helping this period of respite successful.
10 Musts for Successful Cocooning
1. Hold As Much As Possible:
Touch is important to healthy attachment, and can be difficult for a highly sensitive child. A younger child is easily held. An older child can pose a challenge but sitting close and sharing an activity is very healing.
2. Feed on Demand:
Children from orphanages have felt deep hunger so feeding on demand can build trust. Nutrition and a healthy balance of exercise is necessary. Progress is shown when children ask for more or verbalize they are full.
3. Low Stimulation:
Keeping a child’s world small and revealing one new thing each day can reduce over stimulation children might experience. Toys without sounds or lights are great. Activities we introduced in China like stickers, crayons, or play dough are best offered first because they are familiar and soothing. Repetition with the same items and activities can also build the bond of trust.
4. Get on the Floor:
Getting down on their level makes it easier to hold, play, and nurture our children giving a sense of security. Feeling safe is key in attachment and bonding.
5. Fill Love Tanks:
All children must have attention and pulling them in first thing in the morning makes a difference. It certainly does in our family. A little talk with hugs and kisses makes that child feel like the most important person in the family.
6. Don’t Forget your Spouse:
Scott and I both agree dating helps keep our marriage strong. Early on when WP came home, we needed to get away. We took him with us and all was well. He was in our laps and we were able to focus on each other. Where there is a will, there is a way.
7. Offer Special Items:
We like to save blankets or stuffed animals for home and not offer them in China. It has helped our children from healthy attachments to the items instead of it reminding them of sad days in China.
8. Encourage Eye to Eye Contact:
Games such as patty cake is successful in getting children to give eye to eye contact. Lifting their chin gently or putting a soft hand on their shoulder gives them assistance in building trust and security.
9. Communicate with One Word or Short Phrases:
Our number one question asked: “How in the world do you talk to them? You must speak incredible Chinese”. We know a few phrases, but we begin to immerse them in English when in country, and are amazed by how much they understand and repeat. Giving one to two word phrases at first will help build communication quickly. Reading books allows them to hear language in a beautiful way. By the end of six months, most of our children were speaking in broken sentences and understood most everything. Families also find sign language helpful too.
10: Take Time for Yourself:
All of our children slept with us in China, and we continued for a short time once home. We transitioned them into a bed or on the sofa in our room. Bedtime can be very scary so staying by their side until they fall asleep is necessary. Our children sleep through the night now, and we believe working through issues early made a positive difference.
A Smile and the Little Word Yes:
We have found a smile is the universal language and helps little hearts settle down. Using the little word yes is often easier than no. It can certainly reduce the number of meltdowns we encounter.