It is a word in the adoption world that you hear mainly in reference to infant adoption. It is a part of the bonding process. The adopted child is in essence placed in a cocoon...a world of mommy, daddy, child, and home... all the child's needs are met by mommy and daddy...the child is only held by mommy and daddy...socialization is limited to mommy and daddy until the child recognizes who their mommy and daddy are and a strong bond is formed. Then little by little the child breaks out of the cocoon, experiencing extended family and community little by little as tolerated.
We sent an introductory video to our children along with a photo album and a gift in a care package that they received at the orphanage weeks before our arrival. The staff at the orphanage began talking to them about their new family...their role in "a" family...the rules in "a" family...the expectations of "a" family.
We met Thunder and Lightning on presentation day and off we went...Day 1 of our new life. Not only did Thunder and Lightning not know the ropes, but we weren't sure ourselves exactly how to function as a family of seven. There was going to be learning to do on both sides of the fence.
On Day 19 of our new life as a family of seven, I am an advocate of cocooning in the case of older child adoption.
I can speak honestly about the advantages of being secluded from others in these early days as a new family.
The orphanage did a FANTASTIC job through the years, and particularly in the weeks before placement, preparing Thunder and Lightning for "a" family, BUT it would be impossible to completely prepare them for "the WORLEY family" with our rules, workings, idiosyncracies, and expectations. As our boys walked out of the orphanage nearly three weeks ago, they left everything they knew behind...people, friends, teachers, school, recreation, food, clothing, toys, language, a schedule...EVERYTHING...and they walked into a world of almost complete unknowns.
They had new clothes, new toys, new people, new language, new food, new rules, and a completely new schedule in a completely new place...and that is plenty of NEW at this point in time. Cocooning, secluding ourselves from others, DYNAMIC IMMERSION INTO THE WORLEY FAMILY, allowed these things to become familiar without distractions from others.
Protecting their eyes and ears from others allowed them to focus on the essentials around them without comparing, or being compared to others. They had time to become comfortable and feel accepted in their "new skin"...with their new ways...with their new schedule...in their new clothes before having to show it to "the world". They have had time to figure out that we are on their side...that we will willingly meet every need in a timely fashion...that we kiss and clean boo boos promptly...that night after night we follow the same routine and we sing the same songs...morning after morning starts with hugs and kisses...day after day the rules remain the same, no matter what.
Cocooning, DYNAMIC IMMERSION INTO FAMILY, has given us a chance to improve our communication with each other. They can read my body language and my looks. They recognize what is playful and what is not. The know when to carry on the joke, or the game, and when to stop it all together. I can read their faces and their little twitches. I can see a storm brewing and head for shore. All of this is because we have been secluded, in close proximity to each other, learning together what being a family looks like for us now.
I came with index cards and a strict schedule in my back pocket, but I have realized that with my boys, I don't need it. I read their cues. I know when they are happy and I do not upset the apple cart. When the voices get raised and the shoulders slump, I intervene with a friendly clean up song and an enticement to do something different. I do not put us in a box OR keep us in a box...although the basic bones of our day are non-negotiable.
We wake up at almost the same time everyday.
Breakfast is a necessity...followed by flexibility for a few hours until lunch, another necessity...followed by flexibility for a few hours until dinner, another necessity...and this is where we begin to follow a hard and fast schedule. We prepare dinner. We set the table. We pray. We eat. We call Daddy. Lightning bathes, puts on p.j.'s, brushes his teeth, climbs into bed, and I sing a round of lullabies while patting his back. He falls asleep. While this is happening, Thunder bathes, puts on p.j.'s, brushes his teeth, tip toes into bed, and then I move over to his side to sing him a round of lullabies while rubbing his back.
There have been no exceptions to the basic framework of our days and I believe that that has built security into the more flexible hours of the days here in Colombia.
Again, cocooning, being DYNAMICALLY IMMERSED IN FAMILY without the distraction of others, has allowed us to create our own schedule and get involved in activities that suit us...things that strengthen the ties that bind us. Thunder and Lightning can show their vulnerability. They can soak up hugs and kisses all day long. They can test rules. They can try and retry behaviors without having anywhere to be or anything pressing to do.
They can be who they are while discovering who we are.
They have built confidence each and every day. They have bonded and become very close siblings. Their affection for everyone in the family is spontaneous and sincere. They have learned to share. They laugh...oh how they laugh! And when patience runs short or tempers flare, we have the time to "work it out"...to walk them through reasonable solutions because we are in our cocoon...just us...no distractions or temptations.
In the cocoon, they are learning the Worley family way and it is a BEAUTIFUL thing.
|Our drinking water.|
|My favorite aguacate.|
|Delicious Colombian "Green Beans"|
|A Chiva...one of my favorite sites here.|
|Beautiful seed pod from a Colombian tree.|
|A typical restaurant...open air dining at its finest!|