Cocooning is a popular term in adoption and it refers to a period of time where the adoptive family allows their newly adopted child to get comfortable within the home environment before venturing out into the community and school. This time of bonding helps to establish parent and sibling relationships as well as the family home as a safe space. When adopting internationally, there are so many new sights, sounds, tastes and experiences that the home environment alone can be overwhelming. As we prepared to welcome Josie into our family, we knew that some form of cocooning would take place.
All our children stayed home from school the day after Josie arrived. We needed a long weekend as a family to just be together. We had time for movies, art projects, snuggles and treats (lots of treats). I find it so important to do the first days right and not rush the process even when the child seems ready for so much more. What our previous adoptions have showed me that in those first weeks I don’t know my child’s subtle signs of stress, anxiety or fear. Children who have spent time in institutions are good at hiding these emotions and later on I can see how stressed they were. Josie was leading the weekend in her need to rest and quiet down.
Here is where real world comes in. By Monday, our other children headed to school. Eve had therapies. There wasn’t a possibility for the beautiful cocoon the adoption books talk about. Life happens and we do the best we can. Our schedule is as un-busy as we can make it, but life happens. Soccer happens. Homework chaos happens. Thankfully, Josie is easy going and small outings are ok. In some ways, doing small outings are good for her because our medical appointments will begin soon. We have also arranged for extra help during this time as layers of support. Neighbors and friends have arranged for meals and gift cards to restaurants to help with the evening busyness. I accept help easily and without guilt because this is too important.
Daily, while caring for Josie’s needs, I pay special attention to our other children as well. We validate feelings, talk about concerns and navigate new siblings relationships. Overall, our children are pros at welcoming another sibling and they are understanding. But as I run an errand, I take one of them with me so we can have special time together. All interactions have to be intentional and purposeful. We indulge a bit more and give grace. This will be a short season and then we will find our new normal.
I have never met a family that regretted taking time to cocoon with their child. It is time well spent toward a long lasting attachment. Sometimes life dictates the length of it and our isn’t perfect, but it gives such a great foundation to attachment.