Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The question being answered was about attachment issues and older kids from Ethiopia in particular.
Thank you Kelli for allowing me to post your comments here.
From Kelli Denman:
Here's my unofficial take on this - these kids are usually (not always) cared for by parents/relatives until the parents/caregivers die or can no longer feed the child. So the formative years for attachment - birth to 3 - there was usually the mom or close caregiver. Once that bond has been established, it is easier for that child to bond again, whereas a child that never had that bond may be unable to completely bond. Ever. That goes against what some believe, but as a former foster parent of a RAD child, I had lots of training and did lots of research. The physical synapses were not formed and the child may be incapable of remapping their brain. But there's no way to know, so I guess it really doesn't matter.
Now in some cases these kids were on the streets from a very young age - I can think of a referral of an 18 mo old who was living with 4 & 5 yr old kids on the street - that one's a big, big red flag for attachment issues.
The best bet to reduce chances of RAD or permanent attachment issues (all children will have some attachment issues, because of their trauma, some may attach to everyone they see and others may fight attachment, but it's not a permanent thing) is to know the circumstances of the child's history. The longer the child was in an orphanage, the higher the risk. The younger the child was when going into the orphanage, the higher the risk.
We chose waiting children for that reason, after a yr of foster parenting a RAD child, I knew that was some place we didn't want to go again by choice. Not that we wouldn't have that happen, but the risk was lesser. Our boys were raised by their mom until they were placed in the orphanage, were there for nearly a yr. As far as we can tell, they were cared for by their mom and loved and had no abuse.
But, there's never a guarantee. If you have the resources in place, if you plan for the worst and hope for the best, then that's all you can do if you're willing to take a risk. And there will be issues with your special needs child, because that child is more fragile. I have a special needs kid too, and that was one of our worries and why we went with younger or same age as him (turned out one is older by a yr).
Why is ET different? Well, in Russia there's a higher incidence of RAD for two major reasons - (a) fetal alcohol syndrome is high in Russia and that's another cause for RAD and (b) the children are not well cared for in many orphanages there, spend years languishing. In China they have changed the way they do things so much there that the children have, in many instances, 1 nanny to 3 babies - it's better than being in their crib or tied to a potty chair all day, but that does still happen in smaller orphanages. Again, the babies are abandoned as babies so they need to form that bond at the orphanage.
Besides RAD, be sure to think about predatory children. You have lots of young ones in your house and there can be such a thing as a predatory 5 yr old who preys on younger and older children. Be sure you know the signs, the symptoms, ways to safeguard your existing children, etc. Make sure it's something you'd want to help a child thru if they'd been abused in the past. Make sure you have access to adoption counselors, therapists.
You not only have one child who's at high risk for being abused, all of your kids are at high risk because of their ages, even if the sibling is younger. While your heart is in the right place, be SURE that you are first protecting the children you have in your home.
You already have a special needs child that requires extra attention, adopting two children at once can be extremely challenging, even if they are siblings. You have lots of bonding and attachment things to do even if they have little to no bonding issues, it's still a process that requires time and energy and focus on the one child, seemingly to leaving out the other children (but it must be done, one on one, with the new child). Do you have the time, energy and resources right now to do this? I'm not questioning your ability, just making sure you are working with your head as well as your heart. :)
I am by no means trying to discourage you or anyone else from adopting. But I have seen people rush in with their hearts and to the detriment of the children they adopt, are not prepared for the possibilities. If you are prepared, are willing to trust God that He will get you thru whatever lies ahead - then go for it. If the worst case scenario happens - God has a plan. Trust it. If it doesn't, God had a plan. Trust it.
And to also think about regular childhood issues, personalities. For me, THAT was the biggest challenge. I went from one quiet, plays by himself boy to 3 noisy, wild, all-boy boys who love to test the boundaries and love to take things apart and see how they work. no attachment problems, no real behavior issues, but 3 boys are, wow, they are tough! We were prepared for the "other" stuff, we weren't (or I wasn't) prepared for the "regular stuff" of boys tackling each other, putting mud in their hair, etc. I should have spent some time with someone else's 3 boys to get a clue of what i was in for. :)
Toddler Adoption, the Weaver's Craft we have read this one and it was very helpful
Parenting your adopted older child
Our own: adopting an older child
Older Child Adoption
Blogs of other families who have adopted "older" and truly older kids:
Choosing to Follow
A Bushel and a Peck
On line resources:
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I am not going to tell you that these agencies here are all bad. Other families had good experiences with them. But, I am going to say, get your facts. Search the internet for reports from families who have used the agencies you are thinking about using. Search the UNICEF site, news casts, etc.... Be a critical consumer.
This is a link to an ABC news story about an agency with Christian in their name. An agency we thought about but felt uneasy with. We know numerous people who have happily used them. But the allegations here are that they have been "harvesting" children. This is a serious crime. When we were there there was a family with this agency at our guest house. They got a bogus story on their child's history and name meaning. Later I found out that the name meaning is really different. In fact, indicates a wanted child rather than one who is not as they were led to believe. This agency did not help them when they had embassy issues and the poor dad was really stuck. He made it home with his son, no thanks to the agency.
Another agency who's name includes "God" has been exposed in deceptively and deliberately placing a handicapped child into a home which had not been approved for a child with special needs. The child will be in a non communicative and vegetative state all his life. The family was not even approved for special needs. No compensation has yet been made. We looked at this agency and decided not to use them because we found four families who this had happen to them in 2007 and 2008. There were others who felt the director was manipulative and unprofessional, they felt coerced. Again, there are many happy families out there who have used this agency. Obviously it is a small percentage of the families and children who are effected.
Under labels: adoption resources (to the right), i have a list of questions you can use to make your own list and links to sites to find out about agencies. It is well worth your time to check out the agencies. Don't just take their list of references, do your own research. Try to find unhappy families and decide on your own if this is right for you. Ok, some families made their own mistakes and blame the agency.... others just get mad about things that are not really worth being upset about. Others are upset because of things they can not control, like Ethiopian standards and time. Court dates not passing for legit. reasons, etc...... But, deception, child "harvesting", etc.... those things are just not acceptable.
Again, I KNOW there are a lot of families happy with these agencies. And, I also know that doing your homework is no real guarantee of avoiding similar situations. Things change in every agency and corrupt people seem to pop up when least expected. I felt this post was justified as the program has grown so much and there are so many people looking for answers.
This is a good list as a checklist for looking at agencies. This is a GREAT way to choose and filter your options. Click Here for the link.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
We had met someone at a store who did not have any children. Of course if the boys get a chance to talk they ask if the person has kids and so found out that she did not.
K said to me, "Why she not have any kids?"
I said, well, some people just don't, that is not really anything we need to worry about.
N says, "She can go to Etopia and buy some!"
Me, "oh no, it is wrong to buy people. You buy things, but you should not buy people."
N "Well, you go to Etopia and pay money for us."
Me, "Oh no we did not! Adoption is very different. It is not ok to pay money for people. We did not buy you. We adopted you. In an adoption you pay money for a job done, like paperwork or visa or help with language, but not ever for children."
The boys are questioning a visiting friend:
K "do you have kids?"
M " no, no I don't have any kids."
K "No, i mean do you have any boys like us?"
M "no, i don't have any little boys."
N "well, you can just go to Etopia and get some! Then you will have some."
Another conversation before bed:
K "mommy, do all boys come from Etopia?"
me " no some come from other places in the world and some come from the mommy they live with."
K "oh, did we come from you?"
me "No you grew in your Ethiopian mother and then she took care of you until she could not any more and she choose to help you find a new family to take care of you for the rest of your life. That is us. We adopted you. We love you so much!"
k "oh, what about Phoebe, Oliva, did they come from you?"
me "yes they did."
N "all girls come from mommy, all boys come from Etopia!"
No not really.....
this was a bit much to explain..... however, the next day N stated that he was going to grow up to be a mommy and his babies were going to come out of his tummy. Um, no...
me "you can be a daddy Nate, but only girls can be mommys."
N, "how do i get kids then?"
K "you get them from Etopia" (like, duh of course!)
Me, "well, you will need to find a lady who loves you and loves God and then you get married and she is your wife and then you can chose how you get your babies."
After that, N states in many situations and to many persons and when playing that he wants to grow up to have a wife!
K insists that we get a baby "because I loves them sooooo much. Why don't we have a baby? We can go to Etopia and get one. I will share my bed and my toys with her." (interesting that it is a her.) This kid loves babies! He ooggles at them, and tries to feed them and picks up things for them and says OH a cute baby! How cute, and things like that. He is defiantly a baby person. Hope he stays that way for a lucky future wife!
We saw cows yesterday. One nursing. They wanted to know all about that.
Did mommy feed them like that?
no, your Ethiopian mother fed you when you were a baby. It was good that she could take care of you when you were so small.
What about Phoebe, Oliva? (the ever present question).
me-yes, i fed them like that.
So, N lifts up his shirt and demonstrates how you turn it on and off like a machine. Such a boy.
No, not quite like that.........more like how the cows were drinking.
what about daddys, can daddys do that too for babies?
no, only mommy's can feed the baby like that.
K lifts up his shirt, "then why do i have them if they don't DO anything!?" The engineer.
Ummm.....(I don't know that!) that's just how God made people.
OK, hope you laughed as much as we did.
Monday, September 14, 2009
"A remedy for the cold can be found in the medicine drawer."
Ok, so for the first one I got totally hung up on Plumpy Nut as a remedy for starvation in Ethiopia. I think it is fun to say Plumpy Nut and I think it is a good way to teach my kids the reality of the world. So, she ended up using one of those many sentences about Plumpy Nut on her vocabulary test. What a smart, aware kid, using big ideas like Plumpy Nut. Of course her brothers just came from this environment, so of course she is aware! :)
What is Plumpy Nut you ask? Well here is a story about it's use in Ethiopia, and another story about it being made in Ethiopia too. This helps the economy too.
Here are two recent articles in Time Magazine about Ethiopia's hunger crisis. And a video about it too.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Well, I know most reading this are involved in African adoptions, and this is put on by the Asian Pacific Development Center out of Denver. The adoption topic workshops can be chosen by the participant and so if you are just interested in the adoption topics not the Asian topics because you have African kid-o's then you can tailor it to your own needs, I would think there would be at least a few of you interested in both. It is $85 individual. I think that is a fair price for what they are offering. Check out the web site here, Journey of Asian Adoption: Building a Multi-cultural Family.
Just a little taste of what they are offering:
1C: The Trials and Tribulations of Adolescence and What Your Adopted Child Might Not Tell You
Adolescence can be a trying time for all children and parents. What special issues are key to understanding the mind of a growing adopted child? How does being adopted affect the developmental passage from youth to young adulthood? How does this passage differ for boys and girls? This workshop will also explore many developmental issues that may affect the whole family as a young multicultural adopted child develops, including sexuality, discrimination and attachment in the teen years. This workshop will help parents understand the “real” thoughts of adopted children as they journey through their teen years and beyond.
2A: Round-Table Sharing: What My Adoptive Child Has Taught Me
Adoptive parenthood can sometimes challenge parents to see the world a bit differently. This workshop will explore the ways our adopted children teach us about adoption and parenting. A trained therapist and parenting expert will facilitate the discussion that will include a panel of adoptive parents with children in different stages of development. The group will open the floor for discussion to hear questions on the minds of workshop participants.
3B: Evolving Identities in Adoption
What do adopted children, raised in multiracial families, need in order to grow up understanding their identities? A panel of young adopted adults will share their struggles and successes in their evolving identities and the middle ground they sometimes face when deciding where they belong. The panelists will discuss what helped their growth and how they have evolved and embraced their own identities. The workshop will also address the differences in identity development for males and females.A special aspect of this workshop will include a discussion of emerging adult adoptees and the new adventures they may face as they venture off from family. More and more, when adopted children leave home, they come face-to-face with identity issues and discrimination and endeavor to create new support systems for themselves.
3C: Challenging Emotional Issues and Strengths of the Adoptive Child
It has been said that parenthood is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs. This is not any different in parenting an adopted child. Sometimes parents may be faced with an adopted or biological child with emotional issues that require outside support and/or intervention. This workshop will help parents identify and discuss some of the emotional issues special to the adoptive family, including attachment and grief. A mental health care professional, with a specialization in treating adoptive families, will share resources and discuss the role the entire family plays in parenting an adoptive child with special emotional needs.
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