At 16 every child
with an IEP must have an Individual Transition Plan in preparation for
future job skills development and independent living, but for an internationally
adopted child it may be too late to begin at this age - the process
must begin much earlier to lead the child to such change.
Our counselor Jeltje Simons offers a lot of details on when and how
the family should begin the process.
Does the thought 'How will he ever manage in life?'
sometimes cross your mind? Maybe the thought 'Will I have to manage
those behaviors in the coming 10 years?' also make you worry. When the
children are young and cute and you're three times bigger, you may not
worry about their future too much, but it is better not to sit back
and wait in the hope the children mature and gain skills, necessary
to live independently, hold on to a job and have healthy relationships
with other people. Most adopted children cannot afford the wait and
see approach, there needs to be some sort of plan, and waiting until
they are 15 before starting to think about their future is a bit late
for most. You should give it some thought simply because you need to
develop their strengths and interests, and this takes a lot of 'preliminary
steps,' so it is better to start as early as possible.
My child feels generally pretty useless; he does not believe
he can do a lot, and he's not totally wrong here, as for him to learn
anything, he needs to invest more efforts than 'Jane Average'. He makes
comments like 'I do not like myself', 'My birth mother has thrown me
away', 'Nobody likes me', etc. Low self-esteem, - and that is understandable
and also very sad. He is like many other adopted children. That's why
it is so important to find activities where they can flourish, feel
good about what they do.
My son presents quite able: most people on the outside
world see him as capable and cute and have no understanding of the difficulties
he faces. They think he can move on to higher education because he plays
violin so well, but in reality this is not possible simply because he
lacks the intellect, the motivation and perseverance.
Only yesterday he puts himself down saying he has been
practicing violin for months and still makes mistakes. 'Of course,'
I told him, we started practicing this concert 5 weeks ago and now he
can already play the three parts from memory, and that's amazing. It
needs to be played from memory as he will play in a festival later this
year. Of course he still makes some mistakes, but it is a huge accomplishment,
even for a child without his learning difficulties. He then continues
about his birth mother, as if he feels that his discontent has nothing
to do with his violin. What can you answer when a child says 'My birth
mother has thrown me away'? I try to minimize the meaning of these words,
tell him it's not really like that, tell him that his birth mother did
not see any other choices etc, etc. But the reality is that he lives
with me and not with her. She left him in the hospital.
'She did not want me' is the next thing he says. I tell
him I think that his birth mother had a lot of problems and could not
care for him. No matter what anyone is going to say, it will not make
him feel better about himself instantly. He is too young emotionally
to understand the circumstances around his abandonment, he comes quickly
to very wrong conclusions with the little information he has.
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