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International Adoption Info

Newsletter #171 for Internationally Adopting Parents
September 2, 2014
PAL Center Inc.

Recent Articles
    B. Gindis Ph.D.
    Difficulties with socialization and peer interaction in older internationally adopted children
    Socialization implies accepting, either consciously or subconsciously, the values, attitudes, norms, social roles and styles of interaction that are prevalent in the group. In this article I discuss difficulties of IA children in the process of gaining the knowledge, social skills, and appropriate language that allow for integration into a peer group.
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The expectations and realities of parenting
a post-institutionalized child

Jeltje Simons
BGCenter counselor

Before adoption I never fully realized how much of careful planning and organizing would be needed to spend a quiet day at home or take my children to places, meet people etc. Before you adopted you too might have had ideas how your child would have friends and would be able to decide where to play in an afternoon without much of your intervention. I thought I would take my child to a swimming pool and it would be a relaxing experience and he would enjoy swimming, and my child would be attentive to me, and of course, my child would cooperate and be happy to be hugged by me.

Then it turned out that I cannot leave my child just to get on with anything, and if I do, he causes trouble, hurts my pets, breaks toys, steals food or other family member's belongings. Swimming is not that much fun either, he resents hugs and physical contact on my terms, yet is pushy and heavy-handed when he demands hugs on his terms.

My 8 year old needs a supervision level of a 4 year old and it is sad and worrying but true. In reality this means that he cannot just walk in and out of our backyard whenever he wants to play, he cannot play with other children without adult supervision, he cannot be left alone with his older but more vulnerable brother longer than 5 minutes, he cannot go upstairs to his bedroom during the day whenever he feels like it as he 'stores' food and other 'taken' things there. When he uses the toilet, the rule is that the door is slightly open, as he may eat cat food there and other things he gets his hands on (yes, I do feed him well!) - I want an access whenever I think he is up to something.

Of course there are adopted children who adjust more easily to their new families, and after an initial period they manage it quite well. Unfortunately a lot of adopted children have been not only through the trauma of abandonment and have acquired institutional behaviour that is now deeply ingrained, but they also have various degrees of brain and nervous system damage. And those children are very tricky to parent and it takes a long time and a lot of intervention to give them the best chance in life.

When I look at my child's and my own life as a child, there are a lot of differences: I could go to play at friend's houses whenever I wanted as long as my mother knew where I was, I could play in my bedroom whenever I wanted, I was allowed to cycle around the village, play outside by the river or on the street, I was free as long as I was home at 5 o'clock and my mother knew where I was. I was a "free range" child. When I compare the things I was allowed with what I allow my children to do, there is a world of differences.

My oldest is allowed certain freedom like cycling alone to visit my(!) friends (he does not have his own really). But my youngest child is very restricted even it is perfectly safe for other children to play outside in the place we live: it's necessary to keep him out of trouble and safe to function in my family. I prefer to prevent things going wrong instead of fixing the problem after the fact. And that is really what most post- institutionalized children need: not freedom but structure, and boundaries, and preventive parenting until they prove they are able to deal with more choices and ultimately with more freedom. Set up situations for them so they succeed, not fail.

I have to say there are periods when I feel my child can deal with more freedom, and I give him a tiny bit more of it, but at the moment when I write this, I just took all this newly gained freedom back (he was allowed to cycle in front of the house alone during the last 2 weeks or so) as I just discovered that he had broken my car's window wipers.

Why?
The answer was: "Because I felt like it'.

Read about J. Simons services

 

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