Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All in a heartbeat

I believe it is crucial for babies to be just that, a baby. To be loved, cherished, cared for, picked up when crying, consoled, held for a bottle, rocked, hugged, snuggled, kissed. To experience that gentle touch, soft body to snuggle, close feeling of being held, soft blanket to hold, things that are familiar. Things that create security and allow an infant/toddler to be calm, feel loved and safe.

Did you know a newborn baby knows their Mother's heartbeat from being in the womb and is comforted by that same heartbeat on the outside of the womb? But if an adoption plan is made for them, they never hear that familiar heartbeat again. Instead they hear a different heartbeat, or two or three or a different heartbeat each time they are picked up.

One of my munchkins had the birth mother's heartbeat, first foster mother, hospital nurse heartbeats for a week, second foster mother, travel escort and then me. All in a matter of 5 months.

Jet missed the first eight years of "normal" infant/toddler experiences. That sense of security and familiarity. That is alot of different heartbeats.

I had gone through 2 infant adoptions without much knowledge of the attachment part. Nine years ago very little was shared or talked about related to attachment in adoption, particularly in infant adoption. What a shame that was and continues to be, with such a small focus on the losses infants experience. I know now the mistakes made with our first child and the consequences there are for that lack of knowledge. I was very determined to do what I could to set Jet off on the right foot.

Allowing him to be my baby/toddler in as many ways as possible was what I set out to do.

Most suggestions I read about in books were targeted for the toddler adoptions. If my son wanted to lay in my arms and have a bottle that would have been fine, however with a 6 and 8 year old in the home, I couldn't imagine the new 8 year old would even think about it.

I knew we would snuggle, I would hold him in the crook of my arm like I did my babies and still do with Peanut and Bug, I would sing to him, I would apply lotion for the touch, I would find opportunities to feed him, ensure we were the only ones to offer food for a long time, keep him close by, help him with daily skills even if he could do them on his own.

But I felt like something more tangible was needed. Something that would always be there to remind him he WAS able to experience baby/toddler time with his mom and dad. To heal that loss he had experienced. Peanut and Bug are both still blankie kids so I got Jet a baby blanket. We took it to Thailand with us so he would have it from the start.

As a side note, I was very bothered by the idea we would be leaving even the clothes he had on at the orphanage. I knew it was very important to have that one familiar thing and to not wash the clothes right away so they could have the familiar smell as well. I thought the blanket could serve for both. As it turns out, he did not have to change his clothes.

I had the blanket ready for the first night and made sure it was with him every night since then. He showed no real interest in it until about 2 weeks ago. Then boom! His baby blanket has become very important to him and goes all around the house. He asks to take it in the car with us, reads with it and snuggles it at night. I quite frankly have yet to wash it either!

I am so thankful he has taken to the blanket and I feel it is playing a small role in his healing the past losses he has experienced. I would highly recommend using something like this if adopting an older child!


Ellie said...

So sweet, Megan! What a wonderful mommy you are!!!! Jacob still loves his blanket that my mom made and brought to him when we went to get him :)

I wanted to let you know that we're going private, and will send you an invite if you'd like one. Just email me at, and I'll add you to the list.

Have a great weekend!

Holly said...

you are so etermined and dedicated to your children, it is really wonderful

Jen and Jeff said...

That is really so sweet! We sent Ruby a little mini silky blankie last November that I am hoping they let her play with or sleep with. I think it's wonderful how much you are aware of the attachment things with Jet. What a special bond you will have!

Angie said...

Thank you, Megan. We're flying out tomorrow to bring Amarin home, and I'm headed out today to get a baby blanket! Great idea and thank you for sharing!

BluePixo said...

By far the most important releasing stimulus to the human infant is the sense of touch. The skin of a new baby is far more sensitive than that of an adult. It flushes and mottles at every sensation. It is through his kinesthetic awareness, through being touched and moved and handled, and through the things that touch his sensitive mouth, that a baby first locates himself and makes contact with reality.

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