adoption cocooning: our plans to become hermits

Moth No. 2 by Peter Loves JaneMoth No. 2 by Peter Loves Jane

I want to approach this carefully but honestly. Here’s the bottom line: We plan to cocoon once Theo and Elliot are here, and we don’t want you around.

What is cocooning? 
In the adoption world, cocooning is the practice of keeping days calm and consistent while the adoptive parents act as the sole caregivers for an adopted child. Some families do this for a week… Some do it for six months or longer.

Why cocooning?
Cocooning is a way to foster safe, secure, loving attachments among adoptive parents and children during the sweet, important weeks after homecoming. In our case, it appears that Theo and Elliot are securely attached to their foster parents, with whom they have lived for two-and-a-half years. We want to effectively transfer those attachments to us. Though we could do a big old welcome party, we’d prefer to start this attachment work as soon as possible. 

What will we be doing, really?
We plan to lay low and act as Theo and Elliot’s sole caregivers for three months. This timeline is just a plan! We hope to be insightful enough to be able to evaluate our progress and decide if more or less time is needed. And we’ll probably make some exceptions along the way. We all are gonna get stir crazy, friends!

During these three months, we will be focusing on nurturing the boys while still setting firm boundaries. We’re going to work hard to keep their routine predicable and fairly consistent. Hello, visual schedule project! We’re going to keep the number of toys and clothes and activities simple. We’re going to minimize outings and avoid chaotic places. No Children’s Museum on a Saturday. We won’t be taking them to Sunday school or leaving them with babysitters.

As a family of five (!!) — six, counting Oscar — we’re going to spend time focusing on attachments within our family structure. Theo time playing with Milo. Mama time reading to Elliot. Papa time singing to Milo. Theo and Elliot time throwing the ball for Oscar and learning that he isn’t scary. (I’m worried about this one, y’all!) Mama and Papa time sitting on the front porch rehashing the struggles of the day and our total exhaustion. 

What you can do?
Understand that we may step away from social media and our phones for a while. It won’t be because their transition is miserable, it’s because we want to focus on our kids! Please also understand that their transition might be horrible! We want to be mindful about sharing this part of their story in a way that does justice to the reality of adoption but still respects their privacy.

Please don’t ask if you can stop in “just real quick.” We’re going to be firm on this one! If friends and family desire to bless us with meals or other necessities, we’re going to accept these, but we’re probably going to ask that you do a stealthy porch drop-off.

Know that we aren’t pulling away from family, friends, and our church community. We are simply relying on you in new and different ways. Adoption is different than childbirth. Adopting three-year-olds is different than adopting a newborn. We’ve been waiting for this for three years, and we don’t want to regret not making clearer goals for developing these attachments.

You all have been so kind and supportive of us. Thank you, and we can’t wait to introduce these sweet ones to you when the time is right! 

For more on cocooning and these first weeks home: A formal, educational perspective and a real-talk perspective from Jen Hatmaker

  • V. Lyons

    Congrats on being closer, Natalie!! Is it weird that I’ve thought about doing this when I have kids? 🙂 The whole Southern “everybody in the delivery room” thing has never appealed to me. I think I may just steal a page from your book say I’m cocooning. Best wishes to all of you guys as you move forward!

  • So proud of you all and I’m so excited for you!

  • Jane Mason

    Very wise….wish we would have been more intentional about this. And Sadie was terrified of our dog for a while….I thought we may have to find another home for him for the first few weeks. But now she is his biggest fan and he always chooses to sleep at the foot of her bed. (We did have him staying with family for the first few days we were home so she didn’t have to deal with him right away.)

  • I love how well you’ve spelt this out Natalie! For those not in the adoption community this can be a difficult concept to understand. We completely had the same intentions but our little guy was so great at setting boundries for himself and others (ie he wouldn’t let others hold him, except maybe our parents and even then just for a couple of minutes) so we didn’t cocoon for as long as we’d expected. Praying all goes well for you and your little guys!

  • Very understandable. Good for you for setting the boundaries you think will best enable your growing family to bond. Congratulations on your multiple adoptions!

  • Ashley Smith

    Great call! I remember reading Jen’s thoughts on cocooning awhile back. It’s a fantastic idea. We’ll all be here whenever you decide to come back to social media. ….Are you going to tell us before you officially drop off the face of the earth? 🙂

  • This sounds like a great plan! I hope that this helps in this time of transition for all of you and will be praying for this valuable time together as a family.