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 You may not, however, be able to plainly see their sad feelings: instead children may seem standoffish, withdrawn, angry, overly compliant, or have acting out behaviors.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

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