Monday, June 22, 2009

Cuddling an older child!

Chris asked a great question- "How do you cuddle an older child?"

I can tell you what we are doing but please feel free to add any suggestions!

When we first met Sarah she did not want me to touch her. Well, she was fine for the initial "Hello and a little hug" but after that- it did not feel comfortable for her. She hardly even knew me, I couldn't expect her to even want me to touch her like a mother touches her child. I think that was something I had to earn from her. 

We started slow. She would hold Katie's (23 yr old sister) hand and I would hold Katie's other hand. I helped her in the shower in China, helped her get dressed, brush her teeth and combed her hair. I prepared her food and handled all the money. So if she OR Katie wanted anything it came through me. She slept with Katie when we were in her Province but then in Guangzhou we all slept together and she was in the middle of us. On the plane ride home I sat next to her at all times- we only had 2 seats together.

With our first adoption our SW mentioned that hubby should do more daily cares for our daughter for bonding purposes- we have always remembered that and it holds true for ANY age child!

As Sarah got more used to us we were able to hug her, carry her, give piggy back rides, have her sit on our laps and hold hands.  After we were home about 3 days Sarah said she wanted to sleep with us! That was a big breakthrough! Katie went back to college and we were still there for her. Sarah was ready for a kiss on the cheek after a couple weeks.  She slept with us for 3 months and then we suggested she sleep next to us in a separate bed. (We needed the sleep- she was becoming a kicker;-) Her next little milestone was when she was ready to sleep in her own room she would be able to get her ears pierced. We noticed she started playing in her bedroom more and more- 2 months later she was ready to make the change to sleeping in her own room!!

To answer more specifically how do you cuddle an older child-
You do it on their terms when they are ready.
You show that you are eager to give them love as soon as they are ready to accept it!
Have inadvertent touch- standing close to each other, resting a head on each others shoulders, sitting close to one another, high fives, etc.
We sometimes feed them a special treat, a spoonful of ice cream or a bite of candy
If you can you carry them- we carried Sarah when we were in the house . Jim carries her more as she is a bit heavy for me.
You do daily cares for them- comb hair, bath, brush teeth, help dress, etc.
We often squish in a chair that is too small, so we are nice and close and read a book.
We give lots of hugs!
We pinky swear!
We all give kisses- we are a kissy family.
We say "I love you", a lot!
Now that Sarah is not sleeping with us she comes in on Sat. and Sun. morning to cuddle before we all wake up.
Our extra special secret weapon is butterfly kisses and eskimo kisses - nobody can resist those!

The most important thing is this all needs to come from the Mom and Dad. As a parent you do all the things you do for your "little one" but on a different scale. They have spent so much time without this TLC- they need lots of it!
Sarah would have loved to have been home for those early years and often looks longingly at the cares Anna gets. We do our best to recreate it for her.

An older child is such a blessing and so much fun!

Today we took Mark shopping for a few new things. The store we went to had perfume. Sarah had no idea what it was but loved trying it out. It smelled so good she had to ask if she could lick her arm? Sorry honey- it only smells good- it would taste- yucky!

Thank you Jesus for these children!


David and Janet Hurley said...

Lots of meat in those last few posts, keep up the good work. Our adopted kids were 13mo and 25mo, now almost DTC for a 5yo. We were pretty strict with this kind of stuff before adopting,,,,my 15 and 17year olds have never been to a sleepover, except at church. UGH-excited for all the joy of adopting again, but not looking forward to all the "educating" we must do for other parents out there. I've made mental notes here, as DH says he's open to more adoptions, but no more diapers=) Janet

Chris said...

Thanks, Jean, I sort of knew this stuff, but to see it printed helps. I guess educating the "public" is the hardest part of the whole deal.

Lori said...

That was an amazing post Jean!! Really fact, I need to re-read it so it all sinks in!!

Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.

Suzette said...

Thanks for the post. Our newest daughter will probably only be around four years, but my biggest concern has been how will we bond. That is so important to us and our other daughter came to us at 5 days old so bonding was NO problem at all. We are all she has ever known. Thanks for the encouragement that bonding will happen in time even with an older child.

Jennifer&Eric said...

I love this post, Jean! I have been following your blogs for several months (I think I found you from a fellow AWAA blogger). We are adopting an 8 year old girl from Taiwan (she turns 9 next month)-- actually just got approved by her orphanage last week!! :-) I really appreciate all your honesty and practical suggestions. They are truly helpful and encouraging. I will continue to read!

BTW-- congratulations and blessings on your upcoming adoption of the 2 sweet girls waiting for you in China. :-)

Dh Eric
Dd Noelle (a. March 08 China)
Dd#2 waiting for us in Taiwan!!!

Laurel said...

One of our girls pretty much resisted all touch for the past year since bringing her home from Ghana. We recently discovered that her body had been violated for many years. As soon as the secret was out; as soon as we talked about it; as soon as she knew that mommy and daddy would keep her safe ... a beautiful butterfly emerged from her cocoon. Seriously, there was an amazing transformation within 24 hours of her being able to release the long-held secret.

Praying that your daughter will emerge from her cocoon, and let you in.

mama of 13