September 10th, 2011
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Holding HandsHaving just gone through the home study process, I’m new to the whole experience of international adoption. I have read several adoption books, but I haven’t made it to the adoptive parenting books on my shelves. (When expectant mothers read books about pregnancy, they certainly don’t skip to the chapters about delivery, right?)

But as I browse adoption blogs, I have come across several health and developmental topics that are new to me:

  • There are medical centers and doctors across the country that specialize in international or adoptive medicine. In addition to treating adopted children, they offer pre-adoption evaluations to help parents understand the medical information they receive during referrals.
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder and Sensory Integration Dysfunction are conditions that can particularly affect children who didn’t receive optimal care during critically formative times.
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  • Grief is a common challenge for adoptive children. They may mourn the loss of parents, but they may also be mourning the loss of their birth country and their cultural identity.

During our home study, our caseworker mentioned something I will never forget. She said, “You might consider that discipline techniques that work with your biological son might not be as appropriate for a child who spent time in an orphanage.” Huh? She pointed out that the popular “time out” might cause more stress or produce anxiety for an adopted child. Instead, she recommended a “time in”, where a child takes a break from playing by sitting in a chair that is still in proximity to the rest of the family.

My point is that parenting an adopted child, particularly one from another country, is bound to be different than parenting a biological child. Parenting books that are specific to adoption are valuable resources…and a great way to get you through the difficult waiting periods of your adoption process.

That’s not to say that the issues we face with intercountry adoption are any worse than what other parents face. My dear friend has a happy, healthy baby boy, and the daily challenges she endures are completely different than what I experienced with my son. Every child or baby is special, with their own traits. But parenthood is unconditional love. We play the cards we’re dealt, and we are lucky to get those cards.

To learn more about adoption health concerns, click here.

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3 Responses to “What I Didn’t Expect About International Adoption”

  1. Lanita M says:

    It is good to see that the caseworkers are preparing parents for what to expect with their internationally adopted children. I was broadsided and wish I could have been more prepared.

  2. astanley11 says:

    I really appreciate this as a social worker with Lifeline International Adoption. It’s so great to hear how you are preparing and how your worker is educating you all. And my advice to you guys is to keep that in mind the entire process – unconditional love. Trust me, the end result is well worth all the bumps in the road and the time wait. Best of luck!!

  3. I agree with you, there are so many different ways to love them and help them through the hard times, I have found support groups and friends to be the best way to deal with it all. I am now writing about this more and more 6 years into the adoption. Seeing the changes that have transpired in my 2 older boys is amazing, one is now the captain of his football team.. That’s along way from 6 years ago when he didn’t even speak English…
    I feel that if you keep an open mind and talk to other adoptive parents you will learn so much and find the right way for you and your child. As you hit 5 years the changes in the family are incredible, some much more positive comes thru and you see all your efforts making a difference in their lives and it feels so good!

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