Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Empowered to Connect

Our dossier was sent to Bulgaria on Friday of last week so now we are waiting to hear from VESTA in regards to the referral for our little boy. We are praying daily that no errors or problems will be found with our paperwork and that Bulgaria will work quickly to translate everything and send us our referral. In order to make the wait less stressful, I have decided to keep myself even more busy than usual. This is somewhat easy to do since I have a seven year old who has karate two to three nights a week, who always has homework, who in constantly hungry because she is growing, and who is happiest when playing games with Mommy.

To keep myself busy on this past Saturday but to also give me the much needed sense of actually doing something to help with our adoption, I attended the "Empowered to Connect" conference in Nashville. Dr. Karyn Purvis, author of the best selling book on adoption entitled "The Connected Child", was the main speaker at the conference. Other adoptive parents also spoke and shared their struggles and stories of hope found on their adoption journey. It was so great to be in a room with so many people who were adoptive parents or who were in the process of adopting and who shared our desire to be the best equipped parents to raise these precious children who sometimes come from very hard places.

Dr. Purvis had my complete attention and respect after she spoke her first few words. She told the audience that in raising these precious children "love was not enough." I cannot count how many times well-meaning people have said that to me while on this journey, but it is difficult to explain to them in a few short sentences why their comments are sweet but simply not true. Rob and I have learned through the various adoption books and through our adoption training at our agency, in addition to speaking to other adoptive parents what the reality is for our children.

I have to admit that when I first started seriously considering international adoption I was very naive about many things, in particular what life was like for many of these precious children growing up in orphanages. Dr. Purvis' book was one of the things that really opened my eyes and what she said at Saturday's conference only reinforced what I had already learned.

I guess the best example would be to use my own daughter. From the moment of her birth, Julia has been cared for by two loving parents. In the first few days of life, she realized that if she was hungry and she cried then mommy would feed her. If she cried and needed comfort, mommy or daddy would be there to hold her and to rock her. If she had a soiled diaper and cried, someone would come to change it. All of these simple things built a connection between Julia and me, in addition to building a sense of trust within Julia that I would always provide for her needs. The act of her crying also gave Julia a voice even as an infant. She would cry, speaking her needs by her cry, and I would answer by meeting her needs.

For an infant in an orphanage, this is a completely different story. Infant rooms in an orphanage are said to be some of the most eerily quiet places in the world. Why you ask? Because the baby learns very quickly that when he cries no one is coming to feed him, change him or rock him so he then stops crying. There are simply not enough caregivers for all of the children to be given large amounts of individual attention. His voice, in effect, has been silenced.

My son will need love and lots of it. My heart is bursting with the love that I am ready to lavishly give my little boy. But, he will need more, so very much more than that from me and Rob, and we need to be ready to provide for him in every way. That is why I am using this time to read more on adoption and go to as many adoption events as I can. If you are adopting and haven't read Dr. Purvis' book, I highly recommend it. She also has a great website, http://empowerdtoconnect.org, which has lots of resources and tools to help adoptive parents with issues from attachment to sensory processing.

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