Attachment and Cocooning

So I’ve been very delayed in writing this as I wasn’t sure in what way I was going to approach it. Some of the ideas/”notions” have developed over time, through reading books, American blogs, Adoptive families magazine, groups etc. Some are a little more concrete in where they came from and others are just notions that have developed from my collection of reading.

I want to highlight that these are choices that J and I are making and what we feel are what will be “best practice” for our child and family. As in every walk of life, different families will make different choices for their situations and there is certainly no judgement from us with regards to what you will do or have done with regards to introducing your child to family, friends or your attachment building preferences.

Attachment is basically THE most important basic need of an infant/child. A healthy attachment between a child and their caregiver means that all their other needs are met as this is how a healthy attachment has been achieved. Unhealthy attachments or no attachments for a baby/child in childhood can lead to developmental issues and relationship/social problems in adulthood.

Therefore we are prioritising bonding and attachment over everything else when our little person joins our family. We will be 3-6 weeks in Vietnam. We are looking forward to this precious time when it’s just the 3 of us and no expectation placed on us.

Based on our reading and research we have decided that we are going to cocoon when we return home. “Cocooning is a very intensive time of care where mom and dad are the sole primary caregivers. Mom and dad are the only people to hold, change, feed, touch, kiss, comfort, and play with baby/child. Often times, especially when babies or children are brought home and adopted from institutions (orphanages), new family members won’t even be introduced for a period of time and the child doesn’t leave the house. There are varying levels of cocooning.” https://adoption.com/cocooning-should-i-try-it-with-my-adopted-child

The general recommendation for the cocooning period is 1 month for every year of age up to the adoption, so we are looking at up to 5 months at the moment! The child will likely experience feelings of loss and grief; loss of caregivers, friends, culture, language, familiarity of environment etc. Loss that is followed by adequate grieving can be resolved well enough that the child and parents can begin to establish new bonds, therefore we want to allow the time to be given over to our child’s needs and during this time offer them a secure base in which to do so. We’ll be in no rush but we will follow the child’s lead and if there’s days in which they are looking to get out of the house then we will do so. There will obviously be G.P. appointments etc. during this time also. It will probably be a little strange as when we are out we may bump into people we know and they will then have met the child and some of our closest friends may not have met them but what can ya do!!

We have decided that the grandparents are to be included in the cocooning period as we feel their relationship with the child is important and should also be nurtured during this time. We would like them to play with them however not fulfil any of their needs and take physical contact if offered but not request any etc. If they seem to be asking/looking for something we ask that they be referred back to us and short visits initially, 20/30 minutes. As we only have 3 siblings between us, along with their spouses, there are 5 aunts and uncles in total and 2 cousins’, we hope that within the month of returning home we will have been in a position to have had them visit us. So I suppose it won’t be a strict cocooning period but as we have a small immediate family we’re lucky in that sense.

We request that no gifts be given directly to the child, we feel it is especially important in regards to the people closest to us such as grandparents, as we want the relationship to develop based on interactions, fun and play, not on the basis that they bring presents and/or sweets etc. If you want to help or give something, dropping a dinner off in the early days or some food shopping, a voucher for a takeaway etc.

So introducing them to our wider family and friends, we haven’t decided what we will do. We could literally arrange visitors for every week for months but on top of us having family time, grandparents visit and the aunts and uncles so that relationships are being built, we’d have no time to ourselves for months! I think this would not be in the best interests of the child and would end up too overwhelming and portray a life in that initial year home that wouldn’t be normal. So we are thinking at the moment that perhaps, at the 4 months home mark or something (depending totally on the child), that we will have a gathering of friends in the local community hall and set up a play area and some refreshments and invite our friends, family and neighbours to meet our little person.

Alot of the time we’ll will be winging it and following our instincts and the child’s needs and doing what is best for our little family.

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