Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Preparing For Our New Normal

This topic has been rolling around in my mind for quite some time now, but I haven’t blogged about it yet because I wanted to make sure everything comes out just right. SO many people have been loving Samantha and me throughout this last year, and I know everyone is anxious to meet her and love on her in person. 

Here are just a few examples of the love that has been shown to Sam and me:

My mom, sisters, and dear friends threw me and Sam a Reece's Rainbow themed baby shower.
Everyone signed in with a green thumbprint and signature on this tree made by my friend, Ashlee.
And to top it all off, we ended our time praying for Sam's court hearing. I know, huh? Wow.
Here are some of my most favorite people in the whole world...my youth group.  Praying for Sam.
And here's the 2nd grade class from St. Peter Lutheran School in Lodi...
having a bake sale to benefit the children of Pleven...
They raised more than $1,000!!! Thank you again, Mrs. Steiner!
I know there is also a group of kiddos at a church in Indiana who raised money for Sam as part of their VBS mission project. Thank you again, Sarah!!

And thank you to EVERYONE who prayed, advocated, gave, supported, encouraged. 

I want you all to know that I’m looking forward to sharing Sam with you.

And I thank you in advance for being patient with us.

We’re going to take things very slow for the first several weeks back home. Please don’t take this personally! As much as I am anxious to share my incredibly sweet daughter with all of you, I am even more anxious to give her the best start I possibly can to this new life of ours. And for now, I know it is in her best interest that we lay low for a while. For several reasons, really.

Our New Normal. I want to teach Sam what its like to be part of a family. She needs to get used to her new normal. This means spending lots of time in her new home, with her new mom, getting used to her new schedule. The more consistent I can be during this time, the more comfortable she will be and the safer she will feel. 

A Solid Foundation. Sam will most likely need full time care from me for the rest of her life. Her first months at home are laying the groundwork for many years to come. It is important that I be diligent in bonding with her and teaching her during this time. For example, as cute as it is that Sam may want to hug and kiss everyone in sight (as many children with Down Syndrome do)...I can’t let her. 20 years from now, when she is all grown up, strangers may not find those behaviors quite as cute as I do :) I want to make sure I am setting Sam up for success later in life.

Attachment. Sam has been “cared for” by many people over the last seven years. No day for her is the same as the last. The adults she sees in the morning are different than the adults she sees at night. As far as she knows, all adults are the same, and they all may or may not feed her, change her, bathe her, etc. I want to teach Sam that she can trust me to care for ALL of her needs. If she needs to be consoled, if she is hungry, if she gets hurt, if she wants to be held...she can look to Mommy and get what she needs. Our bond will be closer the more she depends on me to meet those needs.

“How can we, your friends and family, help you to be successful in bonding with Sam during your first weeks at home?” 

Well, thank you for asking! 

Here’s some specific ways you can help:
  1. Please allow me, her immediate family, to touch only; hugs, kisses, and holding need to belong here for an unknown amount of time. High fives and fist bumps are great! And you can absolutely talk to her and make her laugh! But when she reaches out to be held or hug, please redirect her and offer her a high five or handshake instead.
  2. Allow me to feed her.  If food is offered, allow me to feed it to her.  She needs to know that her immediate family will meet her physical needs. 
  3. Don't worry at all if you forget! Just please don’t be offended if I redirect you, saying,   "Oops, no hugs from friends, lets high five instead!"
  4. Pray that God will help me meet her heart needs and see/sense what she cannot tell me.
Thank you so much, in advance, for your help and understanding. And for your continued prayers! Less than three days till we leave and six days till we break Sam out of Pleven! I CANNOT WAIT!!! 

Katie and I promise to take lots of pictures and videos and keep all of you updated while we are away!

Until then,

Lots of love to all of you.


  1. There is a child in my life who has RAD, and having experienced her issues, I TOTALLY respect what you are doing with regards to helping her attach to you. RAD is nasty stuff to mess with, we deal with the fallout from early years every day we spend with A. She does not have DS (some developmental delays and ADHD, a significant speech delay) but her RAD issues are by far the most daunting. She pushes away the people who are closest to her in favor of strangers... because she's used to the people who are close to her hurting her. It took me a long time to teach her that I will not hurt her or leave her if I have any choice whatsoever. She's experienced a lot of back and forth and I think she would be in better shape with her RAD issues if it weren't for that. Similar situation - no two days of her life were the same, she didn't know what to expect minute to minute, let alone day to day. If I could've kept her with me exclusively and done the things you describe wanting to do for Sam, I think she'd be doing so much better. Even in a week of vacation with only me she came so far. Just want you to know that I totally understand and respect what you are doing, and I don't think I'm anywhere near you but I am absolutely content to watch her blossom through your words and pictures - whenever you get a free moment, which I know is a huge challenge with a child around! Bust those doors of Pleven wide open... so many families traveling in the coming weeks! Can't wait to see you break her out.

  2. Grace,
    you did a great job explaining Sam's needs to us, and I know you are going to be an excellent mommy to her. Hang in there, I can't wait to celebrate with the world when she arrives home.

  3. God bless your journey and your homecoming, Grace! We will be praying!!

  4. Grace,
    Jon and I send you our thoughts and prayers, and wish you bountiful blessings as you prepare to bring Samantha home! We think about our time at Calvary often, and wish we could be there to be a part of this special time in your life. Know that you are surrounded by people that love you, and that we also send our love! Thank you for the warm welcome when we were at Calvary, and once again, many blessings!
    Love from Jon and Whitney Severson :)

  5. Sending you prayers and wishing you such wonderful moments (both good and hard to make sure you know you are a mom! :) ) while you travel and upon getting home. It is an honor to pray for your little family and your journey. XOXO Jane in California

  6. I am so excited for you!!!! You are already doing great as a MOMMY!!!

  7. Grace, you explained it beautifully! I agree with Amanda; you are already rocking this MOMMY thing! It is so thrilling to anticipate Sam's homecoming, and I'm praying that her love receptors will be wide open to you and Jesus in you. Love you!

  8. Grace, I am so excited for you! Please know that I will be praying for your travels and for your first week with Sam!!!!

    Mike and I are doing these same things with Ana. We started out letting other people hold her because we felt so bad telling them no. However, she began lunging out of our arms and reaching for anyone that was standing close to her. So, for the past month we have been the only ones to hold her and it is going so much better. It is obvious that she is starting to feel safe with us. We will be continuing to do this (with occasional exeptions... like when I'm out of hands :) for a lot longer. I'll be praying for the bonding for you and Sam!