We first noticed in China Meili’s avoidance of eye contact. Not too surprising coming from an infant having grown up in an orphanage but it was enough to jar me into the reality of recognizing that we have our work cut out for us. From China, we ordered the book “Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child” on Amazon and it showed up before we got home. I just completed the 2nd chapter and I realized that this blog is probably going to serve another purpose in the coming months and years.
Meili is certainly in our home but she is far from being home in the emotional sense.
Studies have shown that newborn infants are able to discern the departure of their birth mothers (having been attached to them for 9 months prior) and will quickly develop what is referred to as the Stress Shaped Brain (we give off calming chemicals in response to stress in our brains and adopted children have been shown to be dramatically lacking this chemical compared to non-adopted children). What that means is the departure of their mother from their lives and then the parade of orphanage nannies creates a fight or flight response to their surroundings in an effort to find a way to survive the emotional turmoil. In short, these adopted children carry with them an enormous amount of tragic hurt that far surpasses any physical special need that may have landed them in the orphanages in China in the first place. And it takes years to rewire a brain that is programmed to respond in the fight or flight manner out of shear desperation to survive.
So, it may take years for Meili to truly come home but we will be here waiting for her when she emotionally arrives. Until then, we will try to offer up lessons that we learn and keep you updated on our progress in the hopes that the information might help others. And in case you think otherwise, we are glad we have chosen to undertake this enormous task and look forward to what God will teach us through it.
For those of you waiting on our “Advice for Adopting Parents” post, that is coming up next – it is currently over 2,000 words long and still growing. Hang in there…