Saturday, March 31, 2007


We have taken about 200 photos since we have been here and I wish I could share all of them with you, but I can't.

It is customary for adoptive parents to give gifts to the orphanage director, doctor, and caregivers in addition to a donation to the orphanage as a whole. We chose to take new clothing and medical supplies as our orphanage donation and presented the director with two gift bags full of alcohol swabs, band-aids, ace bandages, paper tape, and even a stethoscope. The director was thrilled and quickly handed over the stethoscope to the doctor exclaiming, "This is a do you say in English?"

After seeing how sick so many of the babies in the orphanage are, I wish we would have taken more to help them. They need formula in a bad way. We were told that JJ was given 8 oz of formula each morning, but have a hard time believing that. I am guessing he was only given this amount a couple of times a week. They are also in desperate need of jarred baby foods and vitamins. We could have purchased these things cheaply at the supermarket in Bishkek, and had we known the circumstances were so grave, we certainly would have done so. I even thought about purchasing these things after we returned that first day, but the drive into Tokmok was just over an hour away and there was not a time we would have been able to return. For those families who have not yet travelled, my best advice is to take money to purchase the much-needed supplies at the Beta Store.

The photo on the left was taken in the orphanage courtyard. The colored gazebo contains two large play pens and is where the babies play when the weather permits, which according to these people is not often. It could be 70 degrees outside and they would still dress the babies in three sleepers and a hat. It is still hard to comprehend that a little over a week ago our baby was living in a place with such incredible circumstances.

JJ is too cute. He loves attention and grows restless when sitting or laying in one place for too long. It is hard to imagine that this is the same boy who, according to the orphanage director, slept nearly 16-18 hours per day and was only released from his crib at mealtimes and for one hour of play. He seems to be adjusting well, and from all signs really likes his new parents (although I think he likes Jerret best).

Throughout the adoption process we read books or participated in courses about attachment disorder, anxiety attachment, post-adoption stress disorder, and hyperstimulation – all issues that JJ could face. We are so happy with our new baby that we sometimes forget that he is dealing with some very scary circumstances. After all, he grew inside the womb of a person who was supposed to love him and take care of him forever, and was born under severe conditions in a hospital to the same woman who left him there after only a few days. He had no one since the very beginning and was sent to the orphanage in Tokmok where he had no choice but to grow attached to the only people who ever showed him any type of affection. The caregivers at the Baby House obviously cared for this boy very much. They had been caring for him for so much of his life, and even after we found him at 3 mos. old, continued to care for him until we could come and get him ourselves. He didn’t know those women were not his mother. He didn’t even know what a mother was. And then here we bust into his life and tear him away from the only people who had ever loved him. Most people, including us, believe it is enough to go and bring a baby home and shower it with love, and that baby will realize what is happening to him. Yet that is never the case. How does he know that we too will not abandon him after a short time, or that another family isn’t waiting in the wings to swoop him up the same way we have? He doesn’t. Although we haven’t seen any signs (yet), attachment disorder makes perfect sense.

You would think that because we are spending so much one-on-one time with the babies that they would attach quickly, but that is not always the case. One of the other couples in our group returned to their child’s orphanage the other day to retrieve a blanket they had forgotten and as soon as they entered the familiar place their son bolted for one of his favorite caregivers. The staff was overjoyed at his return and their ability to see him once again, and for one last time.

There are tricks to help overcome some of these attachment issues. We are told to hold the baby as much as he wants to be held and not to let him lay in his crib until he is able to cry himself to sleep, but to instead console and comfort him. Feeding is another important bonding time and although JJ can hold his own bottle, we are to hold it also so that he knows we are there to provide for his needs. To deal with hyperstimulation, it is recommended to limit the babies activities for a while, which (for some) could include no TV or not letting everyone in the world hold the baby until he has sufficiently bonded with the parents. When we were at dinner tonight one of the waitresses was commenting on how cute JJ was and asked to hold him. I handed him over without even thinking, but after a second wondered if it was a mistake. I know he was not going to grow attached to a waitress who held him all of one minute, but if I continue doing things like this would he grow less attached to me, thinking I might be quick to hand him over just as his first mom did and even as his caregivers at the Baby House did?

As I was typing this post, I overheard Jerret singing this song to JJ:
(to the tune of B-I-N-G-O)

I know this boy, his name’s JJ,
And he liked the buckeyes
Watched them on Saturday
And we drove to the game
Then we slept on Sunday

I know this boy his name’s JJ
He drinks from a glass
Yes he can can can
You can drink from a glass
But not from a can

We just changed the second-worst diaper we’ve had since we’ve been here. We’re getting much better at it. This is one messy baby!

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