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Question about international adoption, particularly older children


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This is on my mind; I'm not sure if there's anything meaningful to it.

 

I see pro-adoption video clips, say, at church (often likely to happen there). At this point, there is a lot of adoption of older children, not babies or toddlers. Perhaps that has much to do with the Hague convention rules or maybe it's just becoming "trendy". (Sorry to use that word. That's how it appears to me sometimes.)

 

The video clips show these beautiful homecoming moments or what-not, everybody hugging these precious children and welcoming them to their forever family. It's heart-rending, chokes me up for sure. But there's something that seems...like propaganda in it. How can two children from Haiti (or wherever), who are being transplanted from all they know, even if it's dire poverty - how can this possibly be accepted to them as a joyous moment in their lives? How do those children ever, let alone immediately, assimilate this entirely all-encompasing upheaval? Do children adopted under those circumstances truly come to be a part of their new western family?

 

I am very tender-hearted towards children living orphaned and/or in dire poverty the likes, I'm sure, of which I don't even grasp. I have petitioned dh a few times to consider adoption, but it seems very improbable now. I guess I'm wondering what's going on with those videos - are they selling an emotional dream that cannot possibly match the reality? Are successful older child adoptions from an extremely different culture truly happening - some? At all? Often? I really don't know.

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I am not an expert. I do know some families with really successful older child adoptions. One thing they seem to have in common is that as the process unfolded they visited and wrote and sent things like pictures to their children, so it was a little less of everything all at once. I don't know if that's typical or if it helped... But some older child adoptions can really end in happily ever after. and some don't. Hopefully someone with more then anecdotes can chime in!

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I think it depends. My sister has 3 kids adopted from India. Two of them were 2 when they came home, and the last one was 5-6, they're not sure of her age. The last one was at a Sisters of Charity orphanage, and was told repeatedly by the nuns that her family was coming to get her and take her home where she belonged, so she was excited, but a little apprehensive at first. She remembers her life before the orphanage. She was living on the street by herself and was in her words, "hurt by bad men." So, she was extremely happy to meet her family and to reassured that she would never have to go back to that old life. She did miss some of the nuns, but she seems to have gotten over it.

 

Dh's stepmom and father adopted 3 kids, 2 girls from El Salvador and 1 boy from Chile. One of the girls was older (once again they're not sure of her exact age, but they think she was around 7) and the boy was 9. The girl had suffered horrible trauma and physical injury at the hands of her birth mother, and so she has never fully recovered and has many, many issues. The boy still has issues and had severe attachment and anger issues, but he's managed to pull his life together and become relatively successful. He has always thanked his family for standing by him through the very rough times and never giving up on him. So, I'd say that his is a happy ending.

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The statistics show that "older child" (non infant) adoptions result in disruption (i.e. the child is placed in a new home) 10-25% of the time. The older the child at placement, the higher the chance of disruption.

 

Think of it this way: from the first moments of your children's lives, you fed them, bathed them, comforted them, and taught them how to interact with the world -- every hour of every day. Because of this, your children feel safe, know they are loved, and are learning to control their actions and emotions. Home is a safe haven for them. Orphans or children removed from abusive homes did not have that experience. No one did those things consistently and the child feels angry, scared, unlovable and unsafe. They don't know how to control their impulses or deal with their anger, and they will try to recreate the unhealthy parent-child interactions they experienced in early life.

 

When you adopt a child whose world was unsafe and scary, even if that period of time was brief, you *will* have issues. The child will not trust you for a long time -- perhaps ever -- because they expect you to resort to the kind of abuse or neglect they experienced in their earlier lives. (Would you trust a strange adult if the people who're supposed to love you were neglectful, abusive and untrustworthy?)

 

Sometimes the issues caused by neglect and abuse resolve with love and therapy. Sometimes, the issues are so large that the child will never be able to live in a "normal" family. The longer the scary/angry/unpredictable or neglectful parenting goes on, the longer it takes to heal the damage. If the abuse/neglect is bad enough, it may never be healed at all. Those are the kids whose adoptions are in jeopardy, because most parents are unprepared to deal with the scope of behaviors children with these issues can exhibit.

 

Lisa

mom of dd 18-bio and ds 13-India, adopted at age 4.5

 

 

This is on my mind; I'm not sure if there's anything meaningful to it.

 

I see pro-adoption video clips, say, at church (often likely to happen there). At this point, there is a lot of adoption of older children, not babies or toddlers. Perhaps that has much to do with the Hague convention rules or maybe it's just becoming "trendy". (Sorry to use that word. That's how it appears to me sometimes.)

 

The video clips show these beautiful homecoming moments or what-not, everybody hugging these precious children and welcoming them to their forever family. It's heart-rending, chokes me up for sure. But there's something that seems...like propaganda in it. How can two children from Haiti (or wherever), who are being transplanted from all they know, even if it's dire poverty - how can this possibly be accepted to them as a joyous moment in their lives? How do those children ever, let alone immediately, assimilate this entirely all-encompasing upheaval? Do children adopted under those circumstances truly come to be a part of their new western family?

 

I am very tender-hearted towards children living orphaned and/or in dire poverty the likes, I'm sure, of which I don't even grasp. I have petitioned dh a few times to consider adoption, but it seems very improbable now. I guess I'm wondering what's going on with those videos - are they selling an emotional dream that cannot possibly match the reality? Are successful older child adoptions from an extremely different culture truly happening - some? At all? Often? I really don't know.

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Lisa, do you think perspective adoptive parents are being sold a bill of goods when they see these videos and happy-hype? I really have no illusions that I am superior in any way WRT parenting skills or could ideally manage a child who suffered trauma. I do feel like I must get involved in this type of outreach; I'm just not sure how that will look or if I should guard myself from getting any "ideas" in my head.

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As both an adoptive mom and as an adoption social worker, I can tell you that the adoption of older children IS tough. Tougher than you can imagine, and often the hardest thing you can ever do. It doesn't always work out. For every picture perfect moment, there are a dozen that will break your heart. However, in my humble opinion, it can also be the best thing you will ever do with your life, as well as the most rewarding.

 

If you are even considering going down this road, read, read and read some more of all you can get your hands on about international adoption, older child adoption, attachment disorder and raising traumatized children. There is a lot of good literature out there. Talk to adoptive parents online...there are many good support groups. Research agencies that will tell you everything they can manage about the tough parts of adoption, that have good educational programs for parents, great social workers and even better aftercare programs, counseling referral lists, etc. They do exist! The worst thing you can do to a child, your family or yourself is to go into something like this blind.

 

That said, adopting special needs children has been and will continue to be the greatest joy of my life! God can and does bless those who care for His little orphans, but He never promised it would be easy and fit into a Norman Rockwell print! He does promise to walk with you, though. ;)

Edited by Twinmom
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Most of the time, older children (whether foreign or US) understand adoption well enough to get excited at the prospect. From what I've seen, they are generally screened to determine which ones are likely to do well in a family situation (since there aren't enough families adopting older kids, it makes sense to present the best candidates for adoption). The kids interact in a community where they "get" the benefits of having a forever family.

 

Yes, there is emotional trauma and grief because of leaving their old life behind. This may be unexpected but it's quite natural. It takes some time for the child to distinguish feelings about the loss of the old life from feelings about the new life, and also to understand what being a member of a family "really" means.

 

Someone above mentioned disruption statistics at 10% to 25%. As tragic as that is, it also means that 75% to 90% of these adoptions outlast the problems, and many have happy endings.

 

I don't know how much education each agency provides, but hopefully prospective adoptive parents do independent research so they can go in with their eyes wide open. They should look for a program that ensures the kids are candidates for family living, and identify support resources in case troubles crop up. Adoptive parents need to be emotionally strong enough to be patient with grief and confusion on one hand, and on the other hand, recognize when they need help and go seek it in a timely manner.

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My $.02, although no one asked for it. LOL My direct experience does not include older child adoption, dd at 8 mos and dd at not quite 3yrs, but both international.

 

Anyway, yes, I do think some adoption agencies are "selling" a dream, dc arrives in US & you all will be a perfect family. But, good, reputable agencies will require or at least strongly suggest you receive training, education etc. on what is more likely to happen and worst case/bad case scenarios.

 

Our 2 adoptions went very smoothly in our eyes. We were prepared for much more difficult scenarios, but many people look at our situations and say they could have never done it. Agencies that require proper preparation plus provide proper support once the children are home with their new families are key. This is especially true when adopting old dc but applicable to all international adoptions, in my opinion.

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I think any social worker worth their salt would share the realities of adoption during the information gathering stage and/or the homestudy process and that often the adoption education process can scare many, many potential adoptive families away.

 

Our first homestudy worker was very harsh in her wording of alot of things. I think if we had not felt the calling to adopt, we could have been scared away.

 

Our second homestudy worker was a much more realistic but positive personality. Due to circumstances beyond our control our little girl never came home.

 

That said, adoption is something that you can't go into with rose colored glasses on.

 

Adoption has been a lifechanging event for our entire family. And some days are hard. We domestically adopted an infant with some special needs and other risk factors, so I've not walked the international road with an older child. But I have alot of friends that have adopted in all kinds of situations/paths.

 

But of course, he is an amazing little boy that we adore. I am constantly in awe of how it all worked out. :) For us, it really has been a blessing!

 

Our adoption loss remains one of the saddest moments of my life. I still cannot look at the things that we bought for her and hearing the name we chose when we are out and about still literally knocks the wind out of me.

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I see pro-adoption video clips, say, at church (often likely to happen there).

<snip>

The video clips show these beautiful homecoming moments or what-not, everybody hugging these precious children and welcoming them to their forever family. It's heart-rending, chokes me up for sure. But there's something that seems...like propaganda in it.

 

Because it is. Any agency worth its salt will recommend a low key transition only to immediate family for quite some time. (If Grandmother and Grandfather live in the same household, they are immediate family, otherwise, they are not). So "everybody" hugging this child in transition is simply not recommended.

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I think the videos support what most people *want* to see -- the idyllic image. People who adopt (me included) have a fantasy that the child who is plucked from a bad situation will thrive with the love and attention of good parents. Sometimes, that happens. Often, especially with children older than about 3-4, it doesn't work out that way for a very long time -- if ever.

 

I have a master's degree in mental health counseling. Dh and I have a very strong, loving marriage. B/c of this, I naively thought, "If anyone can handle a child with issues, we can." The truth is that it is very, very hard to fall in love with a child who feels unlovable.

 

A child who thinks he's unlovable ACTS unlovable. To get a sense of how hard that kind of situation is, imagine that you've been told you're to be married to a new husband who's been chosen for you. When you meet him, he glares at you, spits on you, refuses to talk to you, won't eat food you prepare, won't do anything you ask of him, cuddle, smile or even sit near you. Instead of hugging, he pinches. When others are around, he's charming and friendly. When you're alone, he's angry, resentful and demanding. How quickly would you fall in love with a husband like that?

 

When a child acts like that, most parents will keep trying and trying and trying to get the child to let them love them. In some cases, it works. In others, the "unlovable" behavior continues, making it harder and harder for the parents to act lovingly toward the child.

 

There's much, much more to attachment disorder than the "husband behaviors" I mentioned, of course. The reality is very hard to explain, because these kids can cause more chaos and trauma to the family that one could ever imagine. You literally cannot imagine how difficult parenting a child with attachment disorder can be. Obviously, not all kids have attachment disorder. Many do not. But IMHO, it's good to remember that no child is an orphan because her early life was idyllic. Children are placed in adoptive homes because something happened to their family of origin. That "something" is never a good thing for the child, and will have an effect of some kind.

Edited by Lisa in Jax
Added clarification.
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Think of it this way: from the first moments of your children's lives, you fed them, bathed them, comforted them, and taught them how to interact with the world -- every hour of every day. Because of this, your children feel safe, know they are loved, and are learning to control their actions and emotions. Home is a safe haven for them. Orphans or children removed from abusive homes did not have that experience. No one did those things consistently and the child feels angry, scared, unlovable and unsafe. They don't know how to control their impulses or deal with their anger, and they will try to recreate the unhealthy parent-child interactions they experienced in early life.

 

When you adopt a child whose world was unsafe and scary, even if that period of time was brief, you *will* have issues. The child will not trust you for a long time -- perhaps ever -- because they expect you to resort to the kind of abuse or neglect they experienced in their earlier lives. (Would you trust a strange adult if the people who're supposed to love you were neglectful, abusive and untrustworthy?)

 

 

Our oldest was adopted at 11 1/2 months, but was TERRIBLY abused before she came home. She had 8 broken bones that were HEALED when we got her. Praise God, they healed correctly. Because you can pretty much bet that she didn't get help from her abusers. She doesn't remember the actual abuse, but let me tell you, she is NOT 'normal'. She suffers from anxiety and depression. At age 10. She also has PDD-NOS (mild asperger's) and Executive Skills Dysfunction. Yes, some kids have these things and are not abused, but for someone to have ALL of these... Oh, and she has dyspraxia--She's VERY uncoordinated.

 

Now, I attributed all of these to her pre-adoption abuse for a very specific reason. *I* was in 7 foster homes before I was placed at 18 months. And I have most of the same maladies: Executive Skills, dyspraxia, and while I don't have PPD-NOS, I do have ADD, and anxiety, and depression. On the up side, I am able to help her with some of her issues. Not fix them, but help her and see that she gets the proper and most appropriate treatment available.

 

And my daughter and I were under 2 yrs old when we went through the abuse/ lack of attachments.

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Because it is. Any agency worth its salt will recommend a low key transition only to immediate family for quite some time. (If Grandmother and Grandfather live in the same household, they are immediate family, otherwise, they are not). So "everybody" hugging this child in transition is simply not recommended.

 

This is what sprang to mind when I was watching one. I know I've seen that said on here by the wise adoptive mamas. This was a TON of people - friends, church members, other kids, whatever, at the airport. This just looked like a terrible entry here for the children. :(

 

I think the videos support what most people *want* to see -- the idyllic image. People who adopt (me included) have a fantasy that the child who is plucked from a bad situation will thrive with the love and attention of good parents. Sometimes, that happens. Often, especially with children older than about 3-4, it doesn't work out that way for a very long time -- if ever.

 

I have a master's degree in mental health counseling. Dh and I have a very strong, loving marriage. B/c of this, I naively thought, "If anyone can handle a child with issues, we can." The truth is that it is very, very hard to fall in love with a child who feels unlovable.

 

A child who thinks he's unlovable ACTS unlovable. To get a sense of how hard that kind of situation is, imagine that you've been told you're to be married to a new husband who's been chosen for you. When you meet him, he glares at you, spits on you, refuses to talk to you, won't eat food you prepare, won't do anything you ask of him, cuddle, smile or even sit near you. Instead of hugging, he pinches. When others are around, he's charming and friendly. When you're alone, he's angry, resentful and demanding. How quickly would you fall in love with a husband like that?

 

When a child acts like that, most parents will keep trying and trying and trying to get the child to let them love them. In some cases, it works. In others, the "unlovable" behavior continues, making it harder and harder for the parents to act lovingly toward the child.

 

There's much, much more to attachment disorder than the "husband behaviors" I mentioned, of course. The reality is very hard to explain, because these kids can cause more chaos and trauma to the family that one could ever imagine. You literally cannot imagine how difficult these kids can be.

 

:grouphug: Yes, I have heard and read bits about attachment disorders here and elsewhere and it is shattering some of the things I've heard. And it probably only brushes the tip. I admit - I feel exceedingly unable to manage that.

 

It's tough, though, because this thought has pulled my heart for many years. It has morphed and changed over the years, but I have craved doing something with real meaning for the orphaned, the rejected, the homeless for years and years.

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Because it is. Any agency worth its salt will recommend a low key transition only to immediate family for quite some time. (If Grandmother and Grandfather live in the same household, they are immediate family, otherwise, they are not). So "everybody" hugging this child in transition is simply not recommended.

 

Yes, when we brought our son home we didn't do the airport party and just had grandparents waiting with our other children at home. (Somebody had to watch our kids and the other grandparents were a bit jealous, so we included them.) They knew there would be no cuddling and big emotional displays.

 

We held him and kept him at home with only us for a significant amount of time.

 

We did all kinds of things to help in his transition from feeding him similar foods to bathing him in the way the orphanage did. And I held him *a lot*. He couldn't sleep by himself for about a year, but that facilitated bonding. It is very complicated and those who bring a child to America and think it is best to jump right into life because, "Kids are resilient and he's doing great!", are likely to experience trouble down the road. It is super important to minimize changes as much as possible because the child is already dealing with phenomenal changes.

 

A friend of mine was asked to participate in a "campaign" for adoption and she told them that she would only do it on the condition that she be able to share the hard parts. However, people don't fully understand the hard parts even when they are included. There is a blog post out there somewhere called, "After the Airport". It is a nice summary of the real transition. The one thing she doesn't really address is what the transition from the home country to a totally new culture does to a child. It is part of the grief and terror, those feelings do not only originate with abuse and neglect in the home country.

 

The current push for international adoption is fueling great good and great evil (corruption and baby brokering). There are children who need families and there are countries that are not able to find homes for children in-country, but one must be very careful about their agency and be very educated about attachment and trauma. Through a lot of prayer we adopted a child older than our original plan (under 18 months) and he has transitioned very well.

 

As someone mentioned above how the child was treated when young has a huge impact. Our son was loved in his bio family for 6-7 months and doted upon in his orphanage. He still has issues, but they are minimal compared to what many children have.

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When a child acts like that, most parents will keep trying and trying and trying to get the child to let them love them.

 

And spend another night crying, worrying that it just may not happen. These behaviors may change everyone's

lives forever in really scary, awful ways. I worry if they can ever become happy and healthy people.

 

Obviously I don't always dwell in that direction. And the kids have made amazing progress. I hold onto that.

We'll "just keep swimming...."

 

ETA: My kids aren't being adopted internationally and may not be considered "older" by some definitions either. I would guess this part is similar though.

Edited by 2J5M9K
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May have said my thoughts much best than I can articulate them. Yes, after living it (even with an infant adoption), they are selling a dream. I brought home a 5 month old who struggled for years to securely attach 100% and to not have food issues. Adoption is traumatic to many children. Even as an infant, he was shell shocked and traumatized. I can only imagine the issues and older child adoption could have. My agency didnt prepare us at all for any issues, and we were too naive to expect them to do so.

 

Now 5 years and 2 adoptions into parenting, I am pretty convinced that most agencies are in it for the money and absolutely know how to sell their commodity, especially the Christian agencies. Sad. (wow, I sound quite jaded!)

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And spend another night crying, worrying that it just may not happen. These behaviors may change everyone's

lives forever in really scary, awful ways. I worry if they can ever become happy and healthy people.

 

Obviously I don't always dwell in that direction. And the kids have made amazing progress. I hold onto that.

We'll "just keep swimming...."

 

ETA: My kids aren't being adopted internationally and may not be considered "older" by some definitions either. I would guess this part is similar though.

 

I worry, too.

 

DS will have been home nine years in August. He's doing well overall, but there are many lingering issues that worry the heck out of me. He loves us. We love him. But at times, it's clear that he still does not 110% trust that he is safe, that we know best for him, and that we will always love and protect him.

 

He has come SO far from the boy who peed in the closet, who raged daily for 2-3 hours -- the boy who barely slept, was hyper beyond belief, who refused the simplest requests (at times), who screamed and pinched and kicked and dissociated...

 

He's much, much better in so many ways. But the early abuse and neglect have permanently affected him. That's the part I didn't realize, I guess. I knew he would have been affected, but I thought that love, safety and empathy would heal most of it over time. I was wrong. His psychic scars aren't open wounds anymore, but the scars still exist, despite love, empathy, counseling, and time.

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Is it propaganda? Yes, in the best intentioned meaning of the word.

 

We adopted our daughter at 13. Even though we have been exposed to older child adoption via family, living it is a reality unlike any other. We were as well prepared as most, but the day to day of loving a child who has experienced severe trauma and neglect is...challenging. Adopting an older child not only changes their lives, but everyone's in your family. It is more than just adding a child.

 

I also think people are caught up with this stereotype of "orphan" - a child who is lonely and just craves love and security and a family and will be happy and at peace. As a pp said, you don't become an orphan because you were raised with the Cleavers and neglect/abuse causes major changes emotionally, mentally, physically and physiologically. People picture orphans as two dimensional - they are full people often with deep, painful wounds, likes, dislikes, fears, interests, etc.

 

I would love to show a video clip of our regular life at church to promote orphan ministry. :lol:

 

(I WILL say to the OP - it sounds to me like you have a real heart for helping the hurting, and as an adoptive mom who has hard days, I would be blessed beyond words to have someone with your passion in the adoption community one way or another. Don't be discouraged by the "marketing" if God is calling you to serve in some way.)

 

I second reading "After the Airport" by Jen Hatmaker. She has a blog...you can find it if you Google it. WELL WORTH THE READ!

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Our oldest was adopted at 11 1/2 months, but was TERRIBLY abused before she came home. She had 8 broken bones that were HEALED when we got her. Praise God, they healed correctly. Because you can pretty much bet that she didn't get help from her abusers. She doesn't remember the actual abuse, but let me tell you, she is NOT 'normal'. She suffers from anxiety and depression. At age 10. She also has PDD-NOS (mild asperger's) and Executive Skills Dysfunction. Yes, some kids have these things and are not abused, but for someone to have ALL of these... Oh, and she has dyspraxia--She's VERY uncoordinated.

 

Now, I attributed all of these to her pre-adoption abuse for a very specific reason. *I* was in 7 foster homes before I was placed at 18 months. And I have most of the same maladies: Executive Skills, dyspraxia, and while I don't have PPD-NOS, I do have ADD, and anxiety, and depression. On the up side, I am able to help her with some of her issues. Not fix them, but help her and see that she gets the proper and most appropriate treatment available.

 

And my daughter and I were under 2 yrs old when we went through the abuse/ lack of attachments.

 

both these stories make my heart hurt. Thinking about the thousands of children who live their entire lives under this type of abuse is horrifying.

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But sometimes there is a happily ever after.

 

I have such mixed emotions about these sorts of threads. I am absolutely all for going into adoption (or not adopting) with your eyes open, and my heart truly breaks for those whose families have been broken by adoption. But I also look at my 12 year old, adopted from China at 15 months. She came to us with some mild attachment issues, but I see her daily give and receive love, and I see her thrive. In my heart of hearts I know she would have died if she had stayed in China. I also know that my family and this world are better because she did not die in that orphanage. Yes, she has mild learning and physical issues my biological children do not, and who knows what might come up later, but she also has gifts they do not.

 

Will she always bear scars from benign neglect (not "benign" as in not harmful, but benign as opposed to outright abuse) and early malnutrition? Absolutely. But I would take another child like her in a heartbeat. So please, please, remember that despite the potential pitfalls--and I do have a good friend who has had nothing but trouble, serious trouble, from an adopted daughter from Russia, so I know pretty close-up what that can look like--that is not always how it plays out. I worry that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction, i.e., from "adoption is all warm fuzzies" to "adoption is the end of your family's happiness," and certainly neither extreme is what always happens. Every family will weigh the risks differently, and many may find that the extreme potential downside is not worth any potential upside, but I just wanted this out there as a reminder that there is a potential upside.

 

Terri

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Now 5 years and 2 adoptions into parenting, I am pretty convinced that most agencies are in it for the money and absolutely know how to sell their commodity, especially the Christian agencies. Sad. (wow, I sound quite jaded!)

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree:Absolutely. 100%

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I worry, too.

 

DS will have been home nine years in August. He's doing well overall, but there are many lingering issues that worry the heck out of me. He loves us. We love him. But at times, it's clear that he still does not 110% trust that he is safe, that we know best for him, and that we will always love and protect him.

 

He has come SO far from the boy who peed in the closet, who raged daily for 2-3 hours -- the boy who barely slept, was hyper beyond belief, who refused the simplest requests (at times), who screamed and pinched and kicked and dissociated...

 

He's much, much better in so many ways. But the early abuse and neglect have permanently affected him. That's the part I didn't realize, I guess. I knew he would have been affected, but I thought that love, safety and empathy would heal most of it over time. I was wrong. His psychic scars aren't open wounds anymore, but the scars still exist, despite love, empathy, counseling, and time.

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

This is us too, Lisa. It is just so hard. I know dd knows how much we love her, and I know she wans our love. She has told me MANY times that I have done so much for her She will only let herself go so far and then she will do everything under the sun to sabotage our relationship because that GOOD feeling is too scary for her. It is exhausting beyond belief. And to be honest, sometimes I hold back because I just can't handle that which I know will come. :sad: A person can only handle so much.....

 

Dd, too, has come so very far. I try to focus on that. I try not fear the future with her. It's hard.

 

I never imagined a 14 month old could be so irreversibly damaged and broken. Never in my wildest dreams.

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But sometimes there is a happily ever after.

 

I have such mixed emotions about these sorts of threads. I am absolutely all for going into adoption (or not adopting) with your eyes open, and my heart truly breaks for those whose families have been broken by adoption. But I also look at my 12 year old, adopted from China at 15 months. She came to us with some mild attachment issues, but I see her daily give and receive love, and I see her thrive. In my heart of hearts I know she would have died if she had stayed in China. I also know that my family and this world are better because she did not die in that orphanage. Yes, she has mild learning and physical issues my biological children do not, and who knows what might come up later, but she also has gifts they do not.

 

Will she always bear scars from benign neglect (not "benign" as in not harmful, but benign as opposed to outright abuse) and early malnutrition? Absolutely. But I would take another child like her in a heartbeat. So please, please, remember that despite the potential pitfalls--and I do have a good friend who has had nothing but trouble, serious trouble, from an adopted daughter from Russia, so I know pretty close-up what that can look like--that is not always how it plays out. I worry that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction, i.e., from "adoption is all warm fuzzies" to "adoption is the end of your family's happiness," and certainly neither extreme is what always happens. Every family will weigh the risks differently, and many may find that the extreme potential downside is not worth any potential upside, but I just wanted this out there as a reminder that there is a potential upside.

 

Terri

 

:grouphug:thanks:grouphug:

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My brother and his wife adopted two older children (a biological brother 8 yo and sister 9 yo) from Haiti. They have been here two and a half years now and have adjusted beautifully. The boy barely spoke English when he came. They arrived sooner than expected because of the earthquake. I'd say they are one of those stories that would qualify for a promotional video. My brother and his wife stay in contact with many other families that adopted from the same orphanage. Some of those families had problems in the beginning with the children peeing in the corners of the house and they are still having issues like attachment problems and food hoarding. I don't know what is different about the situations to know why my brother's kids have adjusted so well and why others didn't. Every child will have different issues. :(

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I think the problem is multi-faceted. It is heart breaking, gut wrenching what children endure and deep down, we all want a fairytale, happy ending for each and every one of them. I do believe that many adoption agencies, who have to "move" kids in order to stay open, take advantage of that emotional response and put that "face" out there. Yet, on some level, as the general public, we want them to do that. We want them to show us that it works. To some degree, we want to keep our heads in the sand or put our fingers in our ears and scream, "La, la, la" because the reality is frightening; the reality makes us queasy.

 

The single biggest issue is that when it doesn't work, when marriages and families are torn assunder by children who are too damaged to live in a traditional family unit without wrecking total chaos, there isn't any reasonable alternative. This makes the whole thing that much more bleak. We do not have any kind of decent mental health system for children in this country. What we have for adults isn't great, but my word, it's exponentially worse for the children. That leaves adoptive parents with just about zero alternatives.

 

It can work. But, for many of these children, it will not unless there is a LOT of mental health support for them and frankly, their parents need access to reliable, trained, respite care because dealing day in and day out with the constant deceit and safety issues leave parents and sibs totally, wretchedly exhausted. Unfortuntely, this kind of care is virtually non-existent and those few workers who do it, myself included, burn out rapidly.

 

A family that I used to do respite care for adopted an 8 year old boy from a Russian orphange. Today, they have a small home (sold the larger one so they could afford an extra living space) and a small apartment. Neither parent lives under the same roof. Said child is too unsafe to have around children or animals. As a matter of fact, he hasn't attended school in three years and the truancy officer NEVER visits. The school district does not want him back.

 

This doesn't happen to all families, but it happens often enough that it's high time we got some honesty, brutal honesty, injected into the adoption process and establish some serious mental health treatment for children in this nation.

 

That's my soapbox. I'll get off now!

 

Faith - a former, RAD foster/adopt respite care volunteer

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Is it propaganda? Yes, in the best intentioned meaning of the word.

 

I would love to show a video clip of our regular life at church to promote orphan ministry. :lol:

 

(I WILL say to the OP - it sounds to me like you have a real heart for helping the hurting, and as an adoptive mom who has hard days, I would be blessed beyond words to have someone with your passion in the adoption community one way or another. Don't be discouraged by the "marketing" if God is calling you to serve in some way.)

 

I second reading "After the Airport" by Jen Hatmaker. She has a blog...you can find it if you Google it. WELL WORTH THE READ!

 

Hehe! That would be a little bit funny, in a dark sort of way...you could start with the happy airport clip and then fade to some....um, really hard reality shot. ;)

 

I do want to do something. I am totally uncertain about what that something is going to look like. I have a friend heading to Haiti this year to work missions in an orphanage. I have a notion of doing that trip next time around; maybe that would be the beginning of something. OTOH, my own church also has a ministry and several different outreach programs, so maybe I'll look into what is right there.

 

Funny you mention Jen Hatmaker. I googled "After the Airport" and was astonished at the coincidence that it was her. She just did a speaking engagement at my church, promoting her new book "7." I read "After the Airport" and it is Jen at her best, I would say. :001_smile:

 

But sometimes there is a happily ever after.

 

I have such mixed emotions about these sorts of threads. I am absolutely all for going into adoption (or not adopting) with your eyes open, and my heart truly breaks for those whose families have been broken by adoption. But I also look at my 12 year old, adopted from China at 15 months. She came to us with some mild attachment issues, but I see her daily give and receive love, and I see her thrive. In my heart of hearts I know she would have died if she had stayed in China. I also know that my family and this world are better because she did not die in that orphanage. Yes, she has mild learning and physical issues my biological children do not, and who knows what might come up later, but she also has gifts they do not.

 

Will she always bear scars from benign neglect (not "benign" as in not harmful, but benign as opposed to outright abuse) and early malnutrition? Absolutely. But I would take another child like her in a heartbeat. So please, please, remember that despite the potential pitfalls--and I do have a good friend who has had nothing but trouble, serious trouble, from an adopted daughter from Russia, so I know pretty close-up what that can look like--that is not always how it plays out. I worry that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction, i.e., from "adoption is all warm fuzzies" to "adoption is the end of your family's happiness," and certainly neither extreme is what always happens. Every family will weigh the risks differently, and many may find that the extreme potential downside is not worth any potential upside, but I just wanted this out there as a reminder that there is a potential upside.

 

Terri

 

I'm glad you said this, but, just as Faith says below, I think the biggest fear is that if you adopt and find you're in way over your head, the resources are lacking to get adequate help. Your choices seem to be: disrupt the adoption, which almost guarantees the child will be lost forever, not to mention the scorn that will be heaped upon you by people who cannot fathom what RAD can look like; or, keep on trying, hoping nobody dies or goes to prison before the child is 18. It's terribly scary, I won't lie!

 

We also adopted internationally and it has worked out beautifully. One thing to keep in mind-adopt younger than your youngest child. You don't want to disrupt the birth order.

 

Carol

mom of 3 ds

 

I have heard this before. That would be relatively easy to do at this point, as I mourn the age of my youngest, who is 7 now.

 

I think the problem is multi-faceted. It is heart breaking, gut wrenching what children endure and deep down, we all want a fairytale, happy ending for each and every one of them. I do believe that many adoption agencies, who have to "move" kids in order to stay open, take advantage of that emotional response and put that "face" out there. Yet, on some level, as the general public, we want them to do that. We want them to show us that it works. To some degree, we want to keep our heads in the sand or put our fingers in our ears and scream, "La, la, la" because the reality is frightening; the reality makes us queasy.

 

The single biggest issue is that when it doesn't work, when marriages and families are torn assunder by children who are too damaged to live in a traditional family unit without wrecking total chaos, there isn't any reasonable alternative. This makes the whole thing that much more bleak. We do not have any kind of decent mental health system for children in this country. What we have for adults isn't great, but my word, it's exponentially worse for the children. That leaves adoptive parents with just about zero alternatives.

 

It can work. But, for many of these children, it will not unless there is a LOT of mental health support for them and frankly, their parents need access to reliable, trained, respite care because dealing day in and day out with the constant deceit and safety issues leave parents and sibs totally, wretchedly exhausted. Unfortuntely, this kind of care is virtually non-existent and those few workers who do it, myself included, burn out rapidly.

 

A family that I used to do respite care for adopted an 8 year old boy from a Russian orphange. Today, they have a small home (sold the larger one so they could afford an extra living space) and a small apartment. Neither parent lives under the same roof. Said child is too unsafe to have around children or animals. As a matter of fact, he hasn't attended school in three years and the truancy officer NEVER visits. The school district does not want him back.

 

This doesn't happen to all families, but it happens often enough that it's high time we got some honesty, brutal honesty, injected into the adoption process and establish some serious mental health treatment for children in this nation.

 

That's my soapbox. I'll get off now!

 

Faith - a former, RAD foster/adopt respite care volunteer

 

That is so true. I also wonder sometimes if introverted parents who don't have 276 super-close friends (if you kwim) fare worse when things don't go well. I'm not a reach-outer, you know? Seems like it would be at least a teensy bit easier if you are well-stocked with be-there-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, good Christian buddies who could understand and be a help. This doesn't describe me.

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I think the problem is multi-faceted. It is heart breaking, gut wrenching what children endure and deep down, we all want a fairytale, happy ending for each and every one of them. I do believe that many adoption agencies, who have to "move" kids in order to stay open, take advantage of that emotional response and put that "face" out there. Yet, on some level, as the general public, we want them to do that. We want them to show us that it works. To some degree, we want to keep our heads in the sand or put our fingers in our ears and scream, "La, la, la" because the reality is frightening; the reality makes us queasy.

 

The single biggest issue is that when it doesn't work, when marriages and families are torn assunder by children who are too damaged to live in a traditional family unit without wrecking total chaos, there isn't any reasonable alternative. This makes the whole thing that much more bleak. We do not have any kind of decent mental health system for children in this country. What we have for adults isn't great, but my word, it's exponentially worse for the children. That leaves adoptive parents with just about zero alternatives.

 

It can work. But, for many of these children, it will not unless there is a LOT of mental health support for them and frankly, their parents need access to reliable, trained, respite care because dealing day in and day out with the constant deceit and safety issues leave parents and sibs totally, wretchedly exhausted. Unfortuntely, this kind of care is virtually non-existent and those few workers who do it, myself included, burn out rapidly.

 

A family that I used to do respite care for adopted an 8 year old boy from a Russian orphange. Today, they have a small home (sold the larger one so they could afford an extra living space) and a small apartment. Neither parent lives under the same roof. Said child is too unsafe to have around children or animals. As a matter of fact, he hasn't attended school in three years and the truancy officer NEVER visits. The school district does not want him back.

 

This doesn't happen to all families, but it happens often enough that it's high time we got some honesty, brutal honesty, injected into the adoption process and establish some serious mental health treatment for children in this nation.

 

That's my soapbox. I'll get off now!

 

Faith - a former, RAD foster/adopt respite care volunteer

 

This is EXCELLENT. I am speechless.

 

I hope you stay on your soapbox!!!

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I have no calling to adopt and don't have close friends who have adopted. Just my disclaimer ;)

 

I am SURE that adoption agencies show the best airport and homecoming scenes they can. IT just makes marketing sense. Maybe that's a pessimistic way to look at it, but you will get more families interested in adoption if the videos are full of smiling, loving families than if you show videos of families coping with 2 hour rages and property destruction. Which would make YOU more likely to consider adoption?

 

Would you be more likely to use the window cleaner sold by the smiling woman with the sparkly windows or the harried housewife with muddy floors and one clean window being approached by a toddler coated in chocolate pudding?

 

Well, the latter might, just for the comic effect....

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[quote name=Quill;

 

That is so true. I also wonder sometimes if introverted parents who don't have 276 super-close friends (if you kwim) fare worse when things don't go well. I'm not a reach-outer' date=' you know? Seems like it would be at least a teensy bit easier if you are well-stocked with be-there-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, good Christian buddies who could understand and be a help. This doesn't describe me.[/quote]

 

in my opinion, the introverted RAD mom has it easier. She won't feel such pain and rejection when her close friends judge and criticize her. These "friends" will easily be fooled by her RAD's charm and blame her for all the issues.

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maybe it's just becoming "trendy". (Sorry to use that word. That's how it appears to me sometimes.)

 

I would recommend that you not use this word again, regardless of how it appears to you. It's in no way whatsoever reflective of how and why people build their families through international adoption, and, frankly, it's offensive.

 

how can this possibly be accepted to them as a joyous moment in their lives? How do those children ever, let alone immediately, assimilate this entirely all-encompasing upheaval? Do children adopted under those circumstances truly come to be a part of their new western family?

 

There are no simple answers to this. Some children are extremely happy to be adopted. Some, not so much. Some adjust very, very well. Others, not so much.

 

My child is definitely part of my family.

 

Are successful older child adoptions from an extremely different culture truly happening

 

Yes. I adopted my dd from an overseas orphanage when she was 11. She turns 18 this summer, she is entering her senior year in high school, and this summer she is participating in a summer internship at the medical school of a nearby university, an opportunity which has netted her her first year's college tuition free of charge. She has also played for a professional soccer team's youth academy and lettered on our district's BOYS varsity soccer team.

 

We have struggled mightily with attachment issues. But we also recently had a discussion about whether she was, ultimately, glad she was adopted, and she said yes. She said that as she moves toward adulthood she finally understands what it really would have meant to have spent the rest of her life without a family.

 

Tara

Edited by TaraTheLiberator
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We also adopted internationally and it has worked out beautifully. One thing to keep in mind-adopt younger than your youngest child. You don't want to disrupt the birth order.

 

We adopted our oldest out of birth order. The birth order thing has never caused problems for us, I think because there is such a large gap between the oldest and the younger two. I definitely don't think that adopting out of birth order should automatically be ruled out. I know MANY families who have done it successfully.

 

Tara

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I would recommend that you not use this word again, regardless of how it appears to you. It's in no way whatsoever reflective of how and why people build their families through international adoption, and, frankly, it's offensive.

 

I'm sorry. :( I definitely didn't want to offend.

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I'm sorry. :( I definitely didn't want to offend.

 

I was not offended. I definitely understand what you mean. Angelina Jolie, Ewan McGregor, Madonna, and Meg Ryan, just to name a few. If they all started driving hybrid cars or wearing a new designer and we followed, it would be considered a trend. I hope that international adoption is not a trend brought on by celebrities. I hope people continue to give orphans EVERYwhere a home.

 

And I am a trendy mom ;)

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We adopted our youngest when she was 8. Actually, quite a few women here actively provided encouragement and support all the way through. I would be the first to say that it is not easy. Not at all.

 

We hosted Katya during the summer of 2008 and then moved forward with adoption in November. This might be a great way for you to give an amazing gift to a child and prayerfully how it works for your family. My link to my blog is below. I started this blog as "Welcoming Katya" when we decided to host her. You can read whatever posts interest you, or read from the beginning to mid-November 2009. That's when we brought Katya home. Of course there are plenty of Katya-related posts after that. Feel free to email me or PM me, if you want to "talk" off the board. My email address is easily available at my blog.

 

Adoption of an older child is terribly hard and everyone who walks this road should be well-aware of the challenges. For our family, we knew God was directing our steps. Having this confidence enabled (an enables) us to wholeheartedly pursue welcoming Katya into our family. We have no regrets.

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I was not offended. I definitely understand what you mean. Angelina Jolie, Ewan McGregor, Madonna, and Meg Ryan, just to name a few. If they all started driving hybrid cars or wearing a new designer and we followed, it would be considered a trend.

 

Celebrities are people just like everyone else. Just because a celebrity does something that other people already are doing does not mean it's suddenly a trend. I think that celebrities adopting internationally has brought attention to the fact that you can do this, but I don't think it's made it a trend. Increased awareness is definitely not bad.

 

I would really hope that homestudy agencies would weed out people who want to adopt to be trendy. Even further, I would hope people wouldn't want to adopt to be trendy in the first place.

 

Tara

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I don't think it's propaganda any more than TV commercials which show parents going home with their newborn babies--all smiles--huge smiles. Pretty music. More smiling. That kid could turn out to be a problem child within a short time.

 

A good adoption agency will let you know all the info/risks associated with older children adoption.

 

People of all faiths have cared for and adopted orphans for thousands of years. It's not a trend.

 

If possible, you could financially help someone who has done the homework and is just waiting for the paperwork to be done.

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There is a documentary on netflix called "My Flesh and Blood"about a single mum who adopted 12(?) special needs children, some of them older at the time of adoption. At least two are from russia (born without legs). I highly recommend it.

 

I'm sure the adoption agencies make things look glossy and happy because their job is to attract potential adoptive parents. I don't know any statistics about how many turn out happy, how many tolerable, how many unhappy. I remember watching a 60 minutes episode about international adoption and one girl deemed by a family to be a psychopath went on to be adopted by another family who had no problem with her... so a lot probably has to do with your attitude, expectations, and so on. I do know one adult russian adoptee who isn't quiet about the fact that she wishes she'd been left in the orphanage. She despised her adoptive family and refers to herself as a "mail order child."

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I was not offended. I definitely understand what you mean. Angelina Jolie, Ewan McGregor, Madonna, and Meg Ryan, just to name a few. If they all started driving hybrid cars or wearing a new designer and we followed, it would be considered a trend. I hope that international adoption is not a trend brought on by celebrities. I hope people continue to give orphans EVERYwhere a home.

 

And I am a trendy mom ;)

 

:iagree: we looked a little in to international adoption since our domestic was taking sooooo long. The agency said that the wait for China was getting longer and longer since so many people were wanting to adopt from China. I definitely think that there is some "trendiness" to international adoption thanks to Madonna, but especially Brad & Angelina. You literally can't open People Magazine anymore without seeing them and their family. (I read People at the allergist and I'm there every week). I believe that does have a huge influence on people if they can afford it.

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I'd be surprised if you could identify one person you know who adopted internationally because it was "trendy."

 

I know many people who have adopted internationally before Madonna / Angelina etc. did. As for me, I guarantee my inspiration did not come from Hollywood. In fact, statistically, adoptive families tend to lean conservative, so I don't see them as looking to the entertainment world to make personal decisions. You may find some folks "thinking out loud" about adopting because Angelina did it, but thinking and doing are very different things. International adoption is a very difficult and emotional (not to mention expensive) process. Heck, after my kids came home, my step-niece said she was looking into IA - despite having just birthed her fourth out-of-wedlock welfare baby and having no work history and a record with CPS. But hey, anyone can dream, right?

 

As for the "happy" ads - hopefully adult consumers recognize that seeing an ad is supposed to spark your interest, not fully inform you. Anyone remember the Olestra commercials? Did they show anyone puking? No. Everyone was smiling from ear to ear. And nobody in junk food commercials is fat, either. The Lexus commercials don't mention that you might have to cut your food budget to make the payments. We're supposed to research the other side of what we see marketed.

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