Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flashback 2006: Hopscotch Adoptions FIRST Adoption Completed!!

As we enter this Holiday Season..Our family will be remembering, and giving thanks for our Thanksgiving in Armenia five years ago. It is amazing that it has already been five years...Time flies once your child comes home.

We are blessed to be the parents of two beautiful little boys. Our oldest son Nate came home from the Republic of Georgia in September 2002. After 13 years of waiting we were finally parents! He was beautiful, precious and perfect in every way.

In the summer of 2003 we sent off our dossier for baby number two..This time around things did not go as planned. We spent the next two plus years waiting. With many disappointments, ups and downs...Ending with losing a referral.

All of which, lead us to Robin, Hopscotch and our beautiful, precious, perfect in every way, Armenian Angel! On December 1st, our little guy Chance will turn six years old. His birthday also marks the day we returned home five years ago as a family of four. Tim and I are blessed and thankful for each and every day we have with our boys. They are gifts from God!

Thank you to Robin and her amazing team...Hopscotch. We were blessed to be the first Hopscotch family!

—The Locker Family

Hopscotch Adoptions Holiday Card

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 2011 IAC Results

Click here for the November 2011 IAC Results (PDF) including referrals that were issued in IAC Session 197 which was held on 10/14/11.

"Not Clearly Approvable" Defined

Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates have limited, delegated authority from the United States Citizen and Immigration Service to approve Form I-600 petitions that are found to be clearly approvable. Clearly approvable means that the petition and supporting documentation clearly establish that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law; all criteria identified on the Form I-600A approval regarding the child and any state pre-adoption requirements are met; and there are no concerns of fraud, child buying or other inappropriate practices in the adoption process.

In cases where the evidence is insufficient to establish that the child is an orphan or that the I-600A criteria have been met, the consular officer will allow the petitioner to respond to issues and questions that can be quickly and easily resolved. If issues and questions can be quickly and easily resolved and the case is clearly approvable the consular officer will approve the petition.

All non-Hague cases require an I-604 investigation to determine orphan status. In many instances this is a simple review of the documents and facts in the case. However, in some cases, an investigation by consular staff may be necessary to clarify doubts related to documentation presented or concerns of inappropriate practices. Investigations may include, but are not limited to, visits to the child's town of origin; interviews with birth relatives, orphanage staff, or social workers; DNA testing; and/or a field investigation.

If additional clarification and evidence does not fully resolve the issue quickly, the consular officer must send the petition to USCIS for review and adjudication. USCIS is the only agency with the authority to adjudicate NCA cases. If a case is identified as "Not Clearly Approvable", the consular officer sends the petitioner notification of the transfer to USCIS and provides contact information so that further inquiries may be directed to USCIS.

Copyright Intercountry Adoption

Welcome Home to Hopscotch's Second "Concurrent Inter-Country Adoption" Family!

Miss E. from Bulgaria is adorable and her handsome brother R from Armenia have brought us all so much joy in seeing them join your family. You Made It!!!! Hooray!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

2012 Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program

The Foster Youth Internship Program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is an internship program for young adults who spent at least 24 consecutive months in foster care at any point in their life and who have completed at least 4 semesters of higher education by May 29, 2012.  CCAI places these interns in Congressional offices in Washington, DC for a 9-week internship program.  The goal of the program is to educate policymakers about the experiences of foster youth in an effort to inspire legislative improvements to the foster care system.  Interns participating in this program benefit both personally and professionally, gaining experience and networking with professionals from various fields that will bolster their careers for years to come.  In addition, interns are given the opportunity to share their recommendations for improving foster care by writing a policy report that is presented at a briefing and disseminated to policymakers and advocates across the country.  Housing, travel, and a weekly stipend are provided by CCAI.  Applications are accepted now until January 6, 2012.  The program will run May 29-July 28, 2012.  For more information and to apply, visit

Kybele: Holiday Open House and Merchandise Sale

Sunday December 4th - 2:00 - 4:00pm
131 Wing Haven Circle
Winston-Salem, NC 27106

No RSVP Required.
Come as you are anytime during event hours.

Make a lasting impression this holiday season with a unique gift from one of Kybele's partnering countries.  Shop from a wide variety of colorful handmade bags from Ghana, stylish pashminas from Turkey, papyrus wall hangings from Egypt, jewelry from Romania, and much more.

View our newsletter here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Redjeb Jordania's "Concerto Classico for Percussion Solo" and "Symphonic Winds" New Edition Released

The Georgian Association in the U.S. would like to share the following information with you:

In honor of Redjeb Jordania's 90th birthday, Driftwood Press
is releasing a new edition of his seminal
Concerto Classico for Percussion Solo and Symphonic Winds
Russian Federal Orchestra, Vakhtang Jordania conductor,
Alexei Amosov Percussion Solo

Also included on the CD is Redjeb's 

Perkiomen Suite
Original 1963 recording with the composer at the piano
(to hear samples, go to below or download attached)

About the Music       
Loosely inspired by Prokofief's Classical Symphony, the Concerto Classico for Percussion and Symphonic Winds is written in an accessible musical idiom within a traditional four-part format, while the percussion part is limited to instruments commonly used in classical times. Paradoxically lyrical at times, it displays high virtuosity throughout, particularly in Part 4 with its Georgian dance rhythms as well as in the cadenzas and the intricate concluding sequence.

Master-percussionist Evelyn Glennie writes: "Your Concerto Classico for Percussion looks wonderfully exciting and fun! The performance given by the Russian Federal Orchestra and Alexei Asomov is wonderful. The writing for the winds is challenging and effective, as is the percussion."     

The Perkiomen Suite is named after the eastern-Pennsylvania village  where the composer landed coming practically straight from Paris in 1960. It is comprised of eight light-hearted sound-sketches depicting people and events of the locality, not forgetting the HEX signs so ubiquitous in the region.


Further Information or

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

FREE Course: We're Home! Now What?

During November, Adoption Awareness Month, Adoption Learning Partners is offering We're Home! Now What? for FREE to our families!

We're Home! Now What? helps new, internationally formed families address the immediate issues new families face while getting to know one another. Subject matter experts give practical suggestions related to: language, sleep, eating, discipline, attachment and medical care.     

Read more and register for the FREE course!>

Send Us Your Adoption Stories For ‘Home Is Where You Make It’ Week!

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the States and aside from considering ways to instill gratitude in our kids, we’ll also be celebrating National Adoption Month. We’ll be sharing a variety of stories surrounding adoption and opening your home to others in the spirit of family.

Read the full story & submit your entry at>

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Collins Family Gets the Surprise of Their Lives!

Kathleen and Tim Collins adopted four young boys from Ghana. This loving couple has hit a financial rough patch, but Ellen's got a huge surprise up her sleeve that's sure to help them get back on their feet! You don't wanna miss their inspiring story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ellen DeGeneres Show and Hopscotch Family

Exciting news!!! Our client family and friend to Hopscotch, Kathleen Majoras, just called to say that they had a knock on their door Saturday morning and it was Ellen DeGeneres!  Ellen wanted to feature their family on her show!  So, they filmed some at their home and now they’re all in California filming the on-set parts of the show.  This family brought 4 boys home from Ghana.  A really beautiful story you don't want to miss!

It is set to air tomorrow.  Join us and watch this amazing family!!!

Benefit Concert for Children's Cancer Center in Georgia - November 19, 2011

The St. George Foundation and Princess Diana Bagrationi Foundation are organizing a fundraiser concert in New York to help the Children's Cancer Center in Georgia. You are cordially invited to attend.

For more information about the concert, please refer to the brochure below.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spotlight on Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc Board Member, Kristin Dadey, Esq.

Kristin Dadey, a licensed attorney, lives overseas in Cairo, Egypt managing anti-human trafficking programs for the International Organization for Migration. Before moving overseas in 2003, Kristin practiced labor law in Washington, DC, working in both the government and non-profit sector. She received her Masters in Public Administration and Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and College of Law in 1998. Kristin’s work in Indonesia, the Republic of Georgia and Egypt changed her in profound ways, witnessing firsthand the extreme vulnerability of children, especially in developing countries. Her years of overseas experience have given her a keen understanding of the international rights of children, and dedicated to the basic children's rights' principle that all children have the right to grow up in a permanent family, Kristin is passionate in her advocacy on behalf of orphans.

Kristin and her husband Sean are the proud parents of one adopted daughter from Indonesia, one adopted daughter from Ghana and two biological daughters.

Kristin has personally visited with our partners in Armenia, Georgia and Ghana.  November, 2011, she will visit with our partner in Morocco.  Hopscotch is honored to have an experienced and passionate child advocate as a board member to Hopscotch Adoptions.

In Kristin's capacity as a board member, her visits to our programs allows firsthand knowledge and oversight, further endorsing Hopscotch's commitment to best practice and ethical permanency planning for orphaned children. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ever After: Encouraging attachment with lifebooks and family albums

If you haven’t already started a lifebook, memory book, or a new volume of your family album when you decided to adopt or got your referral, now is the time to catch up and get active with this important project. You may decide to also tell the story of your adoption trip itself. With an older child you may be able to use joint work on a lifebook as an enjoyable shared activity that reinforces your child’s place in the family and in your heart. For a younger child, such a book will also capture so many little details and feelings about your adoption journey and your child’s arrival in the family that are easy to forget later on.

You can approach this creative task in many ways, depending upon your own skills and perspective. Many adoptive parents put together a lifebook for their child that includes information, details, photos, and a narrative or little story about the child life before and after adoption. Some parents use a photo album or one of the ready- made lifebook albums available, others more try more elaborate, scrapbook-style approaches.

Whatever you choose, your efforts are a heart-felt gift from you to your child of your child’s own story: beginnings, the work towards adoption, arrival home and beyond.

Lifebooks can help adoptive parents feel more comfortable, more matter of fact in talking with children about sensitive issues in adoption. We may not know all the information about our child’s birth and time in care, but we can sensitively present and reframe the thrust and possibilities. For example, rather than use the work “abandoned” when birthparents could not parent a child, we can focus on how birth parents’ difficult decisions assured that their child would find a safe place and a new family. In addition, lifebooks communicate the message that being adopted and being part of an adoptive family is a positive thing. Adoption is “just another kind of normal”, another strong and healthy way parents and children come together.
Here are some practical resources for lifebooks:
  • Adoption Lifebook: A Bridge to Your Child’s Beginnings by Cindy Probst (a Workbook for International Adoptive Families)
  • Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child by Beth O’Malley
  • Adoption Life Books
  • Adoption Shoppe
Also check out the following children’s books for ideas
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Behaviors in the Beginning of Adoption

Common behaviors of children newly adopted internationally usually reflect the child’s sense of confusion and loss. A few children, easy-going and good-natured (or carefully guarding their feelings from others), seem to express these feelings openly in such behaviors only when in stressful situations, like when overtired or sick. Other children seem to explode with emotions and behaviors, at times out of control. From time to time, most parents encounter at least of few of these behaviors as their children adjust to the new environment of home and family.

Please note that these typical behaviors are generally related to the stresses of moving from familiar territory into the unknown of an adoptive family. Although some of these may in addition be related to a child’s inexperience with attachments or more serious attachment issues, at the beginning of a placement it’s not always easy to tell. When these symptomatic behaviors persist over time, especially when combined with other behaviors related to attachment problems and resistant to parental interventions, then an assessment needs to be done and professional quidance considered.

Typical for children new in families and adopted internationally
  • Constant crying; either hypersensitive to injuries or inappropriately stoic
  • Poor eating patters (or overeating, gorging, hoarding)
  • Listless, withdrawn, sleeping a lot (or disturbed sleep);sense of       shock  
  • Impulsive; frantic activity; controlling; acting out, raging or angry behavior      
  • Overly clingy, refuses to separate; or indiscriminate with affection
  • Resistant, indifferent, ambivalent, confused about parent interactions:
  • Poor or limited eye contact
  • Poor or resistance to clinging, holding, cuddling
  • Limited response to parental play, interactions, smiles
  • The behaviors listed above on loss, if they continue over time and despite intervention; especially poor eye contact, resistance to parents’ touch/attention
  • Developmental delays; speech and language delays; incessant chatter
  • Tactile defensiveness (flinching, startling when touched)
  • Poor sucking response; poor crying response
  • Inappropriately demanding, clingy; indiscriminately affectionate
  • Indifference to others; or lack of discrimination between parents and strangers
  • Self abuse (head banging, biting, etc.); destructive without remorse
  • Extreme need to be in control; tantrums, raging; manipulation, lying
  • Lack of impulse controls and social cues; continual anger
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Monday, November 7, 2011

“When to…” Suggestions: The Beginning Months

During the first months after arrival home, when should parents...?

Be concerned that same your child just adopted internationally is not at the level as other children you know the same age:
  • Children who have not had the affection and attention of family care are usually behind those who have. Children in orphanages also usually haven’t had the same level of health care and nutrition. This is typical for children in international adoption.
  • Studies have shown that the majority of children adopted internationally make significant gains in overall development, size, and health after being with their families for a while.
  • Your pediatrician should compare your child’s patterns of development and growth against those of other adopted children adopted from the same country, not against other children born into families in your community.
  • Your adoption agency and other adoptive parents may have some of the resources, charts, and articles you and your pediatrician may need about development and international adoption.
Worry about the bonding process between you and your child:
  • While some children seem naturally to be adaptable and open, it may take weeks, or sometimes even months, before your child really feels comfortable with you and safe at home. Then attachment can grow.
  • Children who miss their familiar home and caretakers grieve these losses, and may hold off from making connections with you because of this. You may not, however, be able to plainly see their sad feelings: instead children may seem standoffish, withdrawn, angry, overly compliant, or have acting out behaviors.
  • Talk with other parents who have adopted children who were the same age as your child at arrival home, especially those who have adopted from the same country. Share with them your concerns and ask for advice and suggestions.
Worry about attachment problems for your child:
  • You will probably feel and be able to act on feelings of attachment well before your child feels this and is able to feel safe in expressing it. You, as parent, have responsibility for of guiding and encouraging attachment with your child.
  • Some behaviors that grieving children display are also symptoms of attachment problems. It may take time, and professional assistance, to determine if there is a real problem.
  • Check in with your agency and support group for suggestions about resources in your community knowledgeable about attachment and international adoption resources in your community.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Sunday, November 6, 2011

“When To…” Suggestions after you first come home

Some suggestions about when after arriving home you might address a few of the common situations for new parents with a child adopted internationally.

After you first come home, when to:

See the pediatrician:
  • Within the first week after coming home, for routine physical
  • Sooner, at any time, if you have any concerns you feel can’t wait or might be an emergency.
Take your child out to stores or other public places:
  • If possible, limit this in number and in time spent out. Your child can become easily over-stimulated and overwhelmed.
  • Avoid taking your child out if he or she is running a fever has a cold or running nose or with other health issues. (Check with your pediatrician if you are concerned.)
Hold a welcome home party or baby shower at home:
  • If it’s adults only, with the baby asleep, go ahead and schedule it for a time when you’re over jet lag.
  • If your child will be included, wait several weeks until your child feels more familiar with you and the new environment.
Get a sitter
  • Try for at least one parent to stay close to home with your child for the first few weeks, if at all possible.
  • But do find ways to take time out and time away: taking turns with your spouse for childcare; having a person familiar to your child come after he or she is tucked in for the night; saving naptime as time you spend just for yourself, not chores or work.
  • When you do have a sitter, introduce this person and have the person sitting spend some time with your child before the day will need the sitter. Take it gradually.
Have a get-together somewhere outside your home:
  • If possible, delay this until at least two weeks after you return to recover from travel fatigue. This may be too soon for your child.
  • If you will leave your child with a sitter, some parents find it’s helpful to schedule this after your child’s bedtime and with a person your child has become familiar with over many days of interaction. Delay until after the first two weeks, if possible, since you will all be recovering
  • If your child is included, wait until after the first month, longer if your child needs more time to be comfortable with strangers, new places, crowds.
Be concerned that your child prefers one of you more than the other
  • Some children seem to resent new moms for replacing their previous caretakers, others latch onto to new mothers for dear life and ignore Dads; many children who have never seen men (or only a few) can react with suspicion or rejection or think Dads are a wonderful new novelty. 
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Some Suggestions About Encouraging Attachments: Here are some helpful things to consider trying with your new child

  • “Wear your baby”: Avoid baby seats and stiff carriers: hold your baby instead, and keep your baby close to you; try flexible “snugli” type carriers. (But please use car seats when in cars).
  • If children are older, sit them on your lap to read, eat, watch tv; if your child will accept it from you, feed him/her yourself or make a fun game out of feeding your child. (One mother whose child avoided eye contact with her made getting eye contact into a game: every time her child would look at her during the game she fed child an M&M candy. The child’s spontaneous eye contact with her began to improve.) Go back and repeat behaviors and interactions from earlier developmental stages.
  • Don’t use “time out” as discipline, where child is removed from parents. Instead use “time-in”, so that your child must be close to you. If possible, transition slowly from what your child is used to by repeating regular patterns and schedules, and foods, toys, blankets, music, etc. that your child is used to. Make changes in these, including names, gradually.
  • In any case, keep your routines and schedules as consistent and simple as possible, which reinforces safety, trust and, eventually, attachment.
  • Use the simple words in your child’s language that your child knows/uses.
  • Use simple hand signs from American Sign Language to help with the transition from one language to another.
  • You alone, as parents, should take care of all tasks related to direct baby care, for as long as possible: changing, feeding, bath, play, sleep, etc.
  • Touch your child gently as often as possible, while smiling, singing, or using soft voice and baby talk.
  • It helps if children can sleep where they can see parents if they wake up.
  • Feed your baby yourself, instead of letting the child self feed or propping up a bottle. Make loving eye contact and smile; use soft touches and soft voice, try singing while feeding.
  • Hold and rock your child several times a day, holding close to you, heart to heart; use eye contact, smiles, singing, and baby talk.  Try infant massage each day; stoke, soothe, brush hair, put on lotion. When changing, feeding, bathing, playing- use positive eye contact, smiles, soft baby talk or singing.
  • Frequent physical interactions that are fun: simple toys or play like peek-a-boo and clapping hands that your child enjoys. Try silly faces and voices, gentle tickles,” tickle kisses”, return smiles when your child smiles at you. But keep it low key, and repeat the familiar; don’t over stimulate.
  • Keep the environment at home simple, calm, and consistent: avoid constant TV or videos, loud music, changes, too many stimulating toys and other things, lots of people; use soft textures a lot for toys, clothing.
  • Introduce new things and changes slowly and one at a time.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Friday, November 4, 2011

Preparing for Nesting and Bonding at Home: Practical Suggestions for Simplifying the Arrival Home

Keep it simple
  • Complete or delegate (or postpone for a much later date) as many chores, responsibilities, and obligations in and out of the house that you can before you make your adoption trip.
  • Get a trusted person to help you with routine chores like meals and cleaning when you return, so that you can rest, recover, and spend time together alone with your child.
  • Let your answering machine do it’s job: record a message announcing your good news, and that you are spending time as a family resting, recovering, and bonding. Limit visitors to very short visits, one or two at a time, after the first two weeks.
  • “Cocoon” together as a family, blocking out as much of the world as is practical, and concentrates on learning about and enjoying each other.
  • Keep the home environment, especially your child’s room, simple and uncluttered. Reduce possible sensory overload.
Build a secure structure and routine.
  • Try to arrange a simple routine that lowers stress and helps your child feel that things in this home are dependable.
  • Expect that a somewhat untidy house is a positive reflection on your commitment to spend time first with your child.
  • Take time for yourself and take care of yourself, but in ways that allow the child to have the consistency of parent as caretaker.
  • (sitters after bedtimes or during naps; switching off childcare with the other parent.)
Don’t expect instant attachment or parenting perfection
  • Attachment is not a prize you win or an immediate goal, but a developmental process that keeps growing over time.
  • You didn’t create the issues your child struggles with. Your child’s behavior or misbehavior should not be viewed as a personal and purposeful insult to your parental skills, authority, or love.
  • Children don’t need (or appreciate) perfect parents. Children need parents who are there for them, no matter what.
  • Although we learn from our mistakes, so do our children: they learn from our example how to graciously admit mistakes, correct them and ask for forgiveness.
Focus on your child above all.
  • Your most important role right now is parent. Your most critical job right now is parenting. All else is secondary.
  • Attachment takes time. It also takes effort from you to keep it growing.
  • If you are having a hard time connecting with your child, you may need to find even more ways to enjoy each other, to share healthy touch and share fun. Usually the more than children (and parents)resist this, the more they need this vital connection.
  • Hold, rock, cuddle, touch, soothe, sing, play, laugh, tickle, smile.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Parent Suggestions on How to Avoid Visitor Overload: How to tell well-meaning friends and family you will need time alone for a while.

  • Start early: Spread the news among your family and friends well before you leave that you will need time alone as a family without visitors, and then give a reminder again right before you leave on your adoption trip.
  • Ask other adoptive parents how they have dealt with this issue of time alone after arriving home with their own families and friends, and any suggestions the might have for you.
  • Arrange to have someone you trust be there for you at home after arrival to help with chores like laundry, bills, and meals, and fend off phone calls and visitors who drop by.
  • Send off a group email, or have a friend address a pile of pre-printed, addressed postcards for you, with the announcement that you are leaving on your adoption trip and when you expect to be back, plus reminder to hold off contacts for two weeks after you return so you can recover from the trip. You can do this beforehand, and just put in the dates.
  • Arrange for a group email (with new child or new family photo, if possible) to be send off to everyone during your trip or right after, with the announcement of your good news and the request that everyone wait a few weeks to contact you, so that you can all rest and recuperate from the long trip. Or do the same with card of postcard (perhaps printed in advance) that a trusted helper can mail for you.
  • If you do decide to have a just few important visitors, like new grandparents or great-grandparents, tell them you need to limit the visit time to just an hour or less,(unless it’s after your child is in bed asleep) since your new child needs rest to recover from the long journey and many new adjustments.
  • Ask those most likely to ignore your requests or most likely to be hurt or offended by them to help you by spreading the news about this request for some private time. Tell them they will be the one of the first to be invited to visit with you after this time.
  • Those people, who want to baby-sit to help you out, sign them up for a firm date in a few weeks time or ask them to run errands for you, which would be an even bigger help right now.
  • If there are still some stubborn hold outs about visiting, defer to a bigger authority: “Our social worker says that we must wait two weeks for the first visitors, and then limit the number and time for visits.”
  • Send out emails with photos of your new child to all those eager to see him or her.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making Adjustments at Home

Parents adopting internationally are usually concerned about what will happen after they meet and bring home their new child and what factors can affect this, both negatively and positively. They want to know what they can do to have the most positive adjustment possible, for their child and their family. Questions parents may have before adoptive placement include:

What will affect my child’s --
  • Initial reaction to me  
  • Behavior while traveling
  • Transition to a new home
  • Gradual adjustment to a new home and family
  • Attachment to me/us as parent(s)
  • Long-term adjustments, behavior, and development
How much of the influences for adoption adjustment come from –
  • My child’s experiences and age before adoption
  • My child’s genetic inheritance, intelligence, and health
  • My child’s individual temperament and personality
  • My own preparation for international adoption challenges and parenting
  • My own personal strengths and limits in coping with parenting and stress
  • The support and resources available to me, my child, my family
So much of adoption adjustment for families- both children and parents—is dependent upon the unpredictable interchanges between all of these factors, plus the addition of unexpected issues, both small and large, such as weather and travel problems, political and social changes in the child’s country, lost paperwork, unexpected health issue, and so on. The range of possibilities is vast and mind-boggling. And two or three families going through the same type of experiences may have two or three very different opinions about the adoption process and travel, based on their own experiences and strengths.

There are a number of practical suggestions, however, from adoptive parents and adoption professionals, which can help families, prepare for and cope with many of the expected and unexpected challenges in international adoption as parents head for the “home stretch” with their new child. Most parents and professionals say it is enormously helpful to understand as many of the challenges you may face in international adoption and related strategies for coping with these, as is possible. Their views about international adoption might be summarized as “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not Yet Attached is not the Same as “Unattached”

International adoptions generally involved children who have lived in orphanages traveling home with parents they have only just met. Children are separated from everything and everyone they have ever known and whisked away by virtual strangers through the confusion of international travel to a new place where nothing is the same and no one speaks their language. Some children are able to adjust better to these many, many changes than others, and with a more affable disposition. Other children are completely distraught and in considerable shock. Most children fall somewhere in between on any given day.

The behaviors children when they first arrive home vary widely, but there is one overall statement that can be made: children take time to make true attachments. Attachments are not fully formed at the first meeting or even in the weeks that follow; this is the introduction of the interactions that nurture attachments. Some children are more open to accepting positive interactions; some children need time to grieve their losses; some children are resistant to new attachments (or attachments in general) and need assistance. But in the first few weeks and months of being part of a family, children are still checking out these new parents; relationship have the potential to grow depending upon the combination of both child and parent experiences and flexibility.

Because new parents must take the lead in encouraging attachments with their child, preparation for international adoption includes information, insights, and approaches on, first, helping children with the transition to a new home and then, second, encouraging healthy attachments. Parents have the task of figuring out what their children need at any point in time and then adapting what they have learned to respond to those needs. This can seem a daunting task, and feel overwhelming at times. The support and encouragement of agency and other adoptive parents can be a tremendous help to new parents.

In the beginning, there are a number of different behaviors a child might display that are typical for children separated from the familiar. These can be considered normal for the situation, not necessarily part of attachment problems. Not yet being attached to parents just met is not the same as being an unattached child. One describes a child being at the beginning of an important but not yet established relationship, the other a child who has serious difficulties with making attachments. Whether these typical reactions to separation and loss will depend on how intense and long lasting these symptoms are for a particular child, whether there are other critical symptoms, and how resistant these are to interventions. Remember that in most cases, parents begin to fall in love with them. 

Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009