Ways we tried to prepare Ivy for the big move

We are aware there is going to be a mourning period in her transition to us, her forever family. She has been well loved and spoiled in her foster family. She hasn’t lacked for much there. Especially during her early childhood. Living on a farm is pretty idyllic. 

But Ivy goes to bed at 10 or 11 PM. And has a hard time falling asleep. Her mid-day naps are late and long, and that might be one of the reasons. The foster family watches the last show or family friendly movie together, and it’s easier to keep her up than do a bedtime routine for her earlier than the other adults in the house. 

Ivy is hyper-reactive to noise. When she came to visit in Cluj, back in February, she took a 45 minutes long nap. It will also be an adjustment to life in an apartment, even if we have lush nature all around us, and space to explore the outdoors. She will have to share a bunkbed with her sister who sleeps like a log. 

When her foster mom told her she will sleep here in Cluj, she cried. It’s a big change. But I’m glad she also brought it up, to know that she has the foster mom’s blessing to be here with us. When she was visiting three months ago, after the first visit, in the evening, she said she wants to stay. She said she doesn’t want to go back. And her comfortability with us was so encouraging. The agreement was to take her back at night. She then started having a harder and harder time to say good bye to us. She was very sad so see us go. She would plead that we’d stay longer. She would try all kind of tricks, bring out more games. As a matter of fact, when we had to take her back when she visited, she would say she needs to eat, she needs to pee, she needs to brush teeth then again, bring more games, to distract us from taking her back. 

But I know… she will mourn her foster family. She feels the transition coming. She hears us talk about it. Jackie tells her about the time she will move here for good and will spend the night. Sometimes she just listens, sometimes she says she has to go back because her foster mom is expecting her and cries after her. 

We brought the two plush toys we gifted her in the first weeks, a dog and a lama, to Cluj, to give it a go in spending the night in Ivy’s bed.

She knows and loves her bed. During our time apart, when she would call us, she would ask us to go show her the bed and her toys. She has taken baths here. She has taken naps… but overlapping the two families for three and a half months has been confusing. It created a tighter connection between us all, enmeshing us. 

I recorded a video of the lama and the dog preparing for the night and giving ivy a report of their sleep in the morning. We are shooting blanks in the dark. I have no idea what will work with her. It took the pandemic to put aside completely our experience with Jackie. Jackie had a different relationship with her foster family. She was more attached to her foster dad. There was a new foster baby in the house as well that took her foster mom’s attention. Also, the foster mom threw her back during the last weeks of visitations. It is them who suffered silently the drama of the transition, and carried the heavy weight. We were protected to enjoy Jackie’s company and attachment fully. It was easy. I’m aware our attention is split more now, and Jackie feels the pain of this impending change, but also, Evelyn is very different and her foster family experience has been different. 

I’m bracing myself for sleepless nights. Because they will happen. I pray for a kind heart and a loving attitude though the mourning period, through Ivy pushing us away, testing us, asking to go back. Through her deep sadness and I pray we will have energy left to foster a peaceful and joyful home feel, and help Jackie not resent the change.