Entry #10 Emigre to Immigrant
Taking Yasik through immigration, Dave was asked, “Is your wife landed?” Dave assured him, “Yes, yes, she is just over there, waiting by the luggage”. The customs officer tried again, “No, is she landed?” And Dave proudly repeated, “Yes, we both went to get our son and she is waiting by the window.” Did the officer’s training finally kick in? He clarified, “No. Is she a citizen?”
And we were back in Canada. My parents, brother and his family, sister and her husband were there to pick us up and hustle our son into his new family, taking pictures, hugging and talking. We felt so full at this moment, with love, family, satisfying occupations and interests, sufficient money coming in to keep the roof over our head and the bills paid. We drove home to find my sister, Barb, had streamers, balloons, welcome signs, new toys, clothes, a car seat, and a big meal ready …… Book after expert advice book on adoption cautions against overstimulating a new adoptee with people, parties and presents, just so you know.
After eating we gave the wrapped toys to Yasik to open. He picked up a gift but the wrapping stumped him. Goggle told me only recently that generally Russian gift giving etiquette says that cheaper gifts are not expected to be wrapped in paper, only expensive ones. It is safe to say that any gift he may have received up to that point came unwrapped.
For most of my twenties and thirties I lived in other cultures. At work I talked about the impact of culture shock on our mostly foreign-born students. I was not a stranger to culture shock. Yet it did not occur to me or any of the other adults in the room, half of whom had dealt with as much culture shock as I, that Yasik, now in Canada for roughly three hours might be dealing with this phenomenon as well. It was merely cute that he needed his 3-year-old cousin, Kyle, to show him what to do with gift wrapping. Were Dave and I given any heads up about an international adoptee’s perspective on a new culture? Not likely as our adoption prep seminars focused on adopting locally. And remember, we had little time to prepare for an international adoption. Does that hold up as an excuse? Adoptors today appear to have much more information to prepare them. Try a quick Google search for sites dealing with international adoptees and culture shock. You will find advice giving adoption sites and journals providing research of the issue.
Yasik studiously set about practicing the gift unwrapping lesson Kyle offered. Any diffidence at being the center of attention in an unfamiliar social setting disappeared. The little gift-wrapping hiccup turned out so positively for him, he moved on to giving his new Aunt Rena Russian language lessons, laughing at her pronunciation. Some of our family’s first observations were that the orphanage must have taught him manners for he was polite.
After the meal as everyone prepared to leave, Dave scooped Yasik up, thinking he might have fun helping Dave move our vehicle out of the way. Yasik burst into tears. Given the lack of sleep and jet lag it shouldn’t have been a surprise but I noted the outburst in the journal because the tears stopped as soon as Dave returned from the driveway. This was one party he did not want to leave. Or could we dare to imagine it was an attachment hook we could put hopes on?
My mom and dad gave Yasik a teddy bear almost as big as him. Dave found him at 4:30 a.m. the next morning hugging and talking away to it. Studies in Attachment began early in the twentieth century. Dr. Rene Spitz a psychoanalyst studying hospitalized infants
[observed that] these babies [abandoned infants who received little individual attention in group care] developed odd reactions to strangers, .… the usual behaviour was replaced by something that could vary from extreme friendliness to any human partner combined with anxious avoidance of inanimate objects to a generalized anxiety expressed in blood-curdling screams which could go on indefinitely” 1.
But he liked his teddy….
Having only a few days left of ‘parental leave’, we slipped quickly into what most families in our neighbourhood seemed to do; we took him to the playground. Other than a bit of experimenting with a play water pump on the periphery, he simply stood to the side holding our hands, watching other kids playing. Getting him to actively engage took commandeering Kyle and climbing ourselves up the no-thrills slide the length of our own bodies.
A visit to the doctor was next. The Hague Convention requires countries, of which Russia is one, to provide a translated medical report but adoption handbooks warn that this could be incomplete or possibly even inaccurate 2. Our pre-adoption medical report listed convergent strabismus (fixable), adenoids enlarged, dermatitis, speech delay (normal), short for age. Our doctor agreed that other than being small for his age, a common side effect of orphanage life, he was quite healthy. It was the doctor’s opinion that he may have built up a strong immunity by more exposure to bacteria and whatever else did not have had to battle Purell. And that seemed a good conclusion for he was never sick with any of the childhood plagues others battled with each year. His motor skills were in line with his age as were his eating and sleeping habits. The one concern that is also fairly common but would involve specific correction, was convergent strabismus. Initially it seemed surgery would be involved but glasses became enough.
Odd, isn’t it? Impervious to bacteria yet not getting enough nourishment to meet standard growth charts. And it isn’t merely a matter of a lack of veggies and salmon as the experiment conducted by the German king, Frederick II, demonstrated in the 13th century when his curiosity about the development of language led to his forbidding care-givers in an orphanage to speak to or hold the infants in their care. The babies all died.
Born for Love gives Chapter Three to an examination of the repercussions of early life in an orphanage. The focus in this chapter is a girl adopted from a Russian orphanage but some of the research behind her story is taken from studies of Romanian children who spent their early years in orphanages during the time and under the experiments of President Nicolae and Deputy Prime Minister Elena Ceausescu. One of the charges for which they were ‘summarily executed’ as the saying goes, was the claim of their ‘research’ “that children will develop just fine without individualized attention and affection” (53).
The 25-year study at SFU on the Romanian orphans provided a paper which says this under a heading titled Physical Growth:
While the malnutrition of institutionalized children contributes to their growth deficiency, another contributing factor may be the poor quality of interaction and stimulation offered by the low caretaker-to-child ratio in these institutions. This type of growth deficit, known as psycho-social dwarfism, can be very serious. However, upon removal from stressful or neglectful conditions, children suffering from psycho-social dwarfism tend to make tremendous gains in both height and weight…. Nevertheless, at three years postadoption, length of institutionalization was correlated with physical size, and of those children who had spent eight months or more in an orphanage, 31% remained below the 10th percentile in height…. 3.
I found current definition and study on psycho-social dwarfism, now called psycho-social short stature, at Front. Endocrinol., 07 October 2020 Sec. Pediatric Endocrinology
This article and others in this search make the point that lack of nurture in infancy and early childhood compromise physical growth. This can be mitigated once a child is placed in nurturing care. At our first post–adoption interview it was noted that Yasik “appears to need much cuddling” but that over the course of the three years of post-adoption interviews he went from 39.5 inches to 47 inches. Okay, so still not the class giraffe but also not the only one in the front row of the class photo.
The ‘Heads Up’ suggested by most adoption authorities or anyone really who might see themselves as authorities on adoption is on a separate page I am calling ‘The Standard List’. That list includes the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) checklist. Yasik’s ACE score was likely 6 or 7 when he came to us although the ACE was not published until 1998. Yasik had definitely experienced physical and emotional neglect, likely physical and emotional abuse, and had definitely been exposed to domestic violence and household substance abuse.
And those shoes Yasik wanted to put on the moment he awoke in Moscow. We bought him new runners and tried to make the shoes disappear for they were already cramping his toes. That evening we got the shoes off him and set them by the door. He wailed. He seemed to have the idea that taking off his shoes meant bed time, probably an orphanage routine. The wailing stopped when no one headed him off to bed. Taking his shoes off at the door like a good Canadian became a new routine he comfortably settled into. Like a proud mother, I also note in the journal that he was happy to help with household chores. And like a proud mother who believed in education I have noted that in those first few days we have taught him A and B.
Yasik has now moved from émigré to immigrant in less than a week. He has moved from an orphanage setting to a residential home, no one but him in a large bedroom. Routines have been dismantled and recreated; cultural changes have been made with absolutely no orientation; no one speaks the only language he knows other than about 10 words to cover the necessities of life; he is interacting with two strangers whom he has been told are his mama and poppa; little of the food is familiar other than macaroni and sausages, and what about jet lag? All this newness at every hand and he is handling it entirely alone.
Yasik is being given more stuff to call his than he has ever had access to. Remember he left the orphanage with nothing. This stuff apparently comes with having a mama and poppa of your own. I have read here and there that for children in institutional care, the hope of having parents is the Holy Grail. We don’t know how much Yasik understood of his situation as a ‘social orphan’ for about those years Yasik continues to say he remembers nothing before the jet ride to Canada. Did stress or even trauma from the first four years shrink the memory center, the hippocampus, or put him in a dissociative state in order to cope with the lack of consistent nurture? 4. Is it not possible to think that becoming a member of a family in a strange new world has added a further level of stress, however delightful the stress, to a young and still developing mind. Stress, which separation from a caregiver and accustomed living conditions, abusive or otherwise, now heaped with the transition to an entirely new life may stymie memory. These two strangers are what he perhaps came to understand he was to hope for. All of these strangers’ attention is solely on him and any desire he manages to communicate, but everything is new and mostly impossible to explain when these two strangers have neither language or culture awareness to reach out to him. Attaching in Adoption (p 149) cautions: “The comfort and competence that children feel in their own culture is lost as they enter a new surrounding”.
What was that doing to this young heart, mind and body?
Google presented research into the effects of trauma on early childhood development as well as articles written by therapists. One article offered a good balance by suggesting while a child sometimes dissociates from memories of trauma, it is just as possible and much more common that, as emotions which re-enforce memories are still developing in a young brain, the memories are not retained 5.
As the first post-adoption report notes, initially Yasik “appeared reluctant to let [his parents] out of his sight”. Yet Yasik was quickly overcoming shyness around others. One relationship that particularly warmed our hearts was with Tony who himself was raised in Canada’s early adoption and foster system, one that was very difficult for him (See ‘A Canadian Story of Adoption in the 1930s’, Becoming Family). Tony showed Yasik his bee hives and he went home with a jar of fresh honey.
We also found a night time routine that worked for us: play, watch a video, bathe, read a bit 6, kiss a lot to which Born for Love (135) says, “Like an addict with a tolerance, it takes a higher “dose” to get the same effect”. Yasik initiated the kisses as easily as we did, taking our faces in his hands or blowing a kiss at us and beaming.
We did put together a photo album of the orphanage and the kids there. He looked at it often in the early days. I would end the evening with a little prayer to ‘Dear God’ with him and he was out. We were not inclined to incorporate church-going into our life style but I wanted Yasik to have some awareness of a god. Praying was what I did and passed on to him.
|Daily Routine at Ashley Down Orphanage
06:00 Rise, finish washing and dressing, older children helping
07:00 Girls knitting, boys reading
08:30 Morning service`
09:00 School (some older children first help to make beds etc.
17:30 Evening service
18:30 “useful work” – girls “at their needle”, boys in the garden
20:00 Younger children to bed
21:00 Older children to bedhttps://www.mullers.org/downloads/Teachers%20resources/Daily%20routine%20at%20Ashley%20Down%20Orphanage%20Poster.pdf
Institutions dress themselves in routines, but was the one at Yasik’s orphanage as airtight as the George Muller Orphanages begun in the middle of the 1800s and reaching into the middle of the 20th century? Human Rights articles acknowledge that Russian orphanages do offer education as well as meeting the physical need of the children. Nonetheless, a study of two St. Petersburg orphanages reported a 2 care-giver to 4 child ratio. Staff at these orphanages worked 40-hour weeks. Routine is implied, even if possibly weighted in favour of staff over children 7. Update: I am currently doing some ‘gentle art of Swedish death cleansing’. In cleaning out the ‘important papers’ box, I came across some notes that appear to be notes I took in the one meeting we had with staff before Yasik became ours. His schedule may have been: 7:30 up, wash, dress, exercise -it says he likes to swim in the pool; 8 to 8:30 breakfast, then lessons- that it says in the notes that he likes to do the following suggests these activities were offered: to draw or work with clay modelling, construct houses, play with cars, learns poems by heart, likes having stories read to him, walks, entertainment; 12:00 dinner; 1:30 to 3:10 toilet and nap; 3:30 snacks of cookies, buns, yogurt, fruit; 4:30 to 6:00 walk; 7:00 supper, games, cartoons, toilet; 8:30 bed. One note says he pees the bed sometimes – heavy sleeper or limited toileting options? Not so different from how George Muller managed the lives of the children in his care. And not so different from the way responsible parents manage the lives of their children. There is no ‘Breaking News’ to the place of routine particularly in the early days transitioning from an orphanage environment to a family home. Google will offer advise like
STICK TO A ROUTINE
Children crave structure and routines. It helps give them a sense of control and allows them to develop trust. Having set bedtime rituals for a younger child, or a weekly family movie night for an older child, are great ways to establish a connection. Routines establish a solid foundation to grow from. In turn, your child will bond with you more easily! 8
The Adoptive Parents’ Handbook (85-86) quotes a researcher:
Routines and rituals help children create expectations about the predictability of their external environment. Young children rely on their primary caregiver to help them organize their experiences and to guide them in exploration and mastery of new skills through practice and repetition. Children who have experienced complex trauma frequently have lived in an environment void of structure and routines. They form a perception that the world is an unpredictable and dangerous place, and their capacity for developing competencies though self-exploration and mastery become inhibited by fear. One of the key principles for restoring a sense of safety for a child is implementing predictable daily routines that establish safety, help children organize experience, and to develop mastery.
Here an index finger might stab the air: as noted above, we were (or I was) managing to tuck in some educational moments, working with Yasik on the alphabet. Well, we had bought this cute little easel to hold big paper. Really ?!?
This was his first week with us and kindergarten had not yet become a consideration. So OK, begin to establish routines as soon as needed but the whole perfect parent moulding the perfect child plan might be spaced out a bit. The first post-adoption report put our early days with Yasik in social workese,”[Yasik] likes to have structure”.
The journal has reminded me that we also had another 10-day wait period before Yasik was truly, truly, truly our son. The journal records that four days after we returned to Canada was the end of the ‘wait period’, perhaps part of the wait period begun in Russia. But that was not the end of uncertainty. Yasik became our son in 1997 but not until September 2000, having completed 5 interviews, at a cost for the interviews with a social worker and the cost for translation to Russian, were we assured there would be no more post-placement interviews. The BC Adoption Act and Financial Administration Act: Adoption Regulation, last amended March 30,2022, appears to request only one report. Our first interview/report in November 1997 concluded with this statement: I recommend that this placement continue to proceed. It appears to be an excellent match and all are enjoying forming a new family together. What if it had not been recommended to proceed three months after Yasik came into our lives? Little caveat here: actually release from yearly interviews came after Dave wrote to the adoption agency that we thought we had made sufficiently plain that Russia need no longer worry about Yasik’s rearing. The BC adoption agency wrote back to say that the number of post-adoption reports came at the request of Russia which has experienced a few ‘rehoming’s or returning the adoptee to Russia.
Still, in this two-week parental leave, we began to get Yasik’s Canadian paper work together when we ran into one of the hiccups I had noticed at work particularly with Sri Lankan students. At the top of his landing papers, the government had written Yasik’s name using the Cyrillic alphabet. At the bottom of the paper his name was written in the letters we call the right ones. The government was going to use the letters at the top on his citizenship card and his care card. The person on the other end of the telephone would not budge, telling us that it would require a change by an office in Victoria and would cost $225.00. Immigrants with limited financial resources and hesitancy to make waves regularly found themselves with names that were too long for computers to cope with for they included the tribal name as well, the part of their name these prospective new Canadians did not use even in their former countries. But we were people much more secure in our rights as Canadians. Dave called Victoria and told them quite firmly that there was no sense to using the Cyrillic alphabet in Canada. The preferred spelling at the bottom of the page was as clearly written as the Cyrillic. The voice on the other end of the phone acquiesced. I have not discovered if this remains a problem for the newly arrived.
The journal goes on to admit that both Dave and I did have an ‘adjustment’ moment wondering if we could really do this, even did we want to!?! Yes, it warrants an exclamation mark accompanied by a question mark. Note though it was a ‘feeling’, not anything we acted on for the next line goes on to reassure that the feeling petered out. Yasik had the resolution “weighted unfairly in his favour”. He beamed at us and it was game over. Bruce Perry tells us our brain reward system sinks us.
What could prompt parents to give up sleep, sex, friends, personal time, and virtually every other pleasure in life to meet the demands of a small, often irritatingly noisy, incontinent, needy being? The secret is that caring for children is, in many ways, indescribably pleasurable. Our brains reward us for interacting with our children, especially infants: their scent, the cooing sounds they make when they are calm, their smooth skin, and especially, their faces are designed to fill us with joy. What we call “cuteness” is actually an evolutionary adaptation that helps ensure that parents will care for their children, that babies will get their needs met, and parents will take on this seemingly thankless task with pleasure…. In the case of responsive parenting, pleasure and human interactions become inextricably woven together. This interconnection, the association of pleasure with human interaction, this is the important neurobiological “glue” that bonds and create healthy relationships 9.
And now it was the first week of September, 1997, the September week that Mother Theresa died, and even more absorbing for the globe, Princess Diana died. Over a decade later, we would share another eventful week with the royal family. School for Dave and me was days away. We tucked in some picnics with family and Yasik’s first dental appointment. He seemed to take lying in the dental chair in stride but he looked to me so defenseless that I found the experience more emotional that I had expected. He did not have the language needed to understand what was happening or to express his thoughts about what was happening. Heart strings were pulled and then snapped back a bit.
There were two disconcerting pieces to this otherwise week of honeymoon. I noticed at the park how quickly other children noticed how small Yasik was, his inability to speak English and that he had one lazy eye. With this, and too readily for Dave, Yasik would at times hit or try to bite at me in unacceptable excitement. Where did the biting and hitting come from? Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate in Hold On To Your Kids lead me to wonder if this was a learned behaviour in the orphanage environment where children would of necessity be more peer-oriented than parent-oriented in learning social behaviours. Attaching in Adoption (81-2) says, “Children who lived with busy orphanage workers or with depressed or drug-affected birthparents learned to get louder, more persistent, more irritating, or more charming, to get basic needs met”. Attaching in Adoption (24): “The rule of thumb is that, when first placed, children will relate to new parents in much the same way that they related to former parents or orphanage workers”.
It does bring to mind Lord of The Flies.
Or it came from the trauma of the first four years. “The aggression and impulsivity that the fight or flight response provokes can … appear as defiance or opposition, when in fact it is the remnants of a response to some prior traumatic situation ….” 10. Our minds default to choices based on associations to memories.
This is important because all of our previously stored experience has laid down the neural networks, the memory “template”, that we now use to make sense out of any new incoming information. These templates are formed throughout the brain at many different levels, and because information comes in first to the lower, more primitive areas, many are not even accessible to conscious awareness …. This happens because our brain’s stress response systems carry information about potential threats and are primed to respond to them as quickly as possible, which often means before the cortex can consider what action to take …. What this also means is that early experience will necessarily have a far greater impact than later ones. The brain tries to make sense of the world by looking for patterns. When it links coherent, consistently connected patterns together again, it tags them as “normal” or “expected” and stops paying conscious attention 11.
Or was this anti-social behaviour a child’s way to express the separation/the strangeness of all the newness jumping up in front of him like goofy characters on a subterranean canal ride at a theme park, an inappropriate response but perhaps the only one he knew.
Or as Attaching in Adoption (173) offers, maybe hitting or biting were simply overload reaction to not having enough language to cope.
And about Yasik’s inappropriate response when things upset him? At first when he hit out, kicked, spit, slapped or punched, we held him down, put him in bed and even spanked him once. He would cry but then calm down and all would be fine again for our little newcomer with little language living in a world still very strange to him. By the end of the first week, we hit on the ‘novel’ idea to put a chair in a corner and have him sit there to cool down. Again, Born for Love (135) reminds parents, when your attachment is still insecure then
… social punishments like a “Time-Out” [can be] less effective. Being less loved – or having repeated early experience of loss … can also make loving itself harder and less satisfying. Like an addict with a tolerance, it takes a higher “dose” to get the same effect…. neglected children or those with other attachment disruptions are much harder to soothe or to teach…. each little dose of affection has a smaller, less lasting effect….
Were we just plain lucky that one or two opportunities to explore a time out and a nod toward the chair led Yasik to cool it?
The Adoptive Parents Handbook (78) suggests that instead of ‘Time out’, parents have ‘Time In’ where a calm adult rather than putting the child away alone, removes a child from a situation but sits with the child, talking a bit about the problem perhaps but moving to re-directing. This is not about the adult seeking revenge to calm him or herself.
Bruce Perry learned from a woman he called Mama P. the need for calming a child who chronologically should be more self – regulating but because of a disruptive or traumatic early life experience, needed cuddling rather than punishment, even if this seemed to be rewarding the misbehavior. Perry came to understand that Mama P.’s cuddling worked because she was now nurturing a child’s development in areas neglected earlier, in hopes that the little person would then be able to catch up on the stimulation missed earlier. Perry explains:
These systems respond to rhythm and touch: the brainstem’s regulatory centers control heartbeat, the rise and fall of neurochemicals and hormones in the cycle of day and night, the beat one’s walk and other patterns that must maintain a rhythmic order to function properly. Physical affection is needed to spur some of the region’s chemical activity. 12
John Brooks reflected on his and his wife’s first night with their daughter. They were tired after all the detail of the day of adoption and wanted some rest. Their infant daughter was upset, trying to rock herself to sleep in this strange bed in a strange room with two strangers. Brooks looks back at the night:
“… we should have taken her into bed with us, held her and soothed her. If it were possible, we should have held her for our whole first month together without putting her down. Maybe we would have had a different result. What she needed then was lots of human touch” 13.
Attaching in Adoption (231) says “If children throw tantrums, hold them close…. to … comfort them”. Bear in mind talking about hugging as comfort is NOT talking about what is called Attachment Therapy, Holding Therapy or Re-Birthing Therapy which is ignorant at best but essentially abusive. A child is held down and forced to make eye contact with the idea that fear of attachment will be reset. The most such ‘therapists’ can hope for with this would be an obedience based on fear. Such treatment still surfaces in 2022 as “breaking down a child’s defenses” with a diagnosis of R.A.D. or autism particularly 14. A quick google marks the therapy as controversial and even banned in some regions.
The other explanation often provided was the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Adoptive parents are warned against jumping on this bandwagon to quickly as it is now considered by many researchers to be rarer than first thought. Initially, as adoptors sought to understand their adopted children who were not acting particularly perfectly, RAD was a handy blanket explanation. For us having to deal with a couple of tantrums would have made rushing to a diagnosis of RAD ridiculous. As Dr. Perry’s Mama P. would see it, Yasik was still an emotional baby and needed to be treated as such to allow catch up for those areas of his psyche still underdeveloped 15.
Or as Attaching in Adoption (275) explains:
Children who have experienced deprivation early in life tend to have brains that do not regulate emotions well. They over-react and under-react in a way that is adaptive to their old environment. When they are nurturing, comforting, and positively stimulating, parents give children experiences that form a new perceptual map.
For as a mother adopting from China found
It had been so cold in the winter that the babies had quilts tied across their lined up cribs so that they stayed warm. They were only picked up on a schedule, due to the demands of so many babies and the difficulty of keeping the quilts in place…. [the] anxiety and frustration [which] were supposed to have beginning development in ages three through six months [continued long after, not having been cared for at the appropriate developmental stage] (273).
Our two-week parental leave never really accessed my union’s allowed three days. We had the last two weeks of August and then it was time for school. Luckily I guess, that particular year I had evening classes so the first days of September gave me a schedule that allowed me to be at home with Yasik in the morning. Dave dropped some of his course load, taking only morning classes three days a week. Yasik’s needs were directing his art education. I stuffed Yasik into his car seat and worked against afternoon homeward bound traffic to Emily Carr University, picking Dave up. He took the driver’s seat and headed further into Vancouver to my school after which Dave and Yasik caught the bus home while I taught. Two weeks into the school year with this schedule and we furrowed our brows. Perhaps we ought to just see about a possible kindergarten for Yasik.
And that day he got signed in.
The journal says “And childhood is over – the staff at the community school down the street urge starting kindergarten as best for him for socializing, school prep, and ESL(the Kindergarten teacher spoke some Russian). And he has been watching the kids at the park – we feel he is ready”. We would be keeping our promise to the Russian judge for this was not (God forbid) abandoning him to day care.
And what do the experts say about that:
“The key problem is the lack of consideration we give attachment in making our child-care arrangements. Perhaps the most obvious task of attachment is to keep the child close” 16. The title, Hold On To Your Kids: why parents need to matter more than peers, lays out Gordon Neufeld’s focus on parents’ need to ensure strong orientation first to themselves as the child’s parent before encouraging a peer orientation. Being raised in an orphanage, Yasik would be regarded as more peer-oriented in his choices than parent or responsible adult oriented.
Adopting Older Children (67) bluntly states:
“As a new adoptive parent you should take time off from work after your child comes home. You will need time to get to know your child and your constant presence in the early days of her placement may help her adjust better…. In all cases, building trust is a process that cannot be rushed”.
Attaching in Adoption (22):
sometimes the building of attachment takes much more time than anticipated because children are younger emotionally than their chronological age. When children are adopted at an older age, parents need ample time for bonding activities. A social dilemma already exists about the balance of career versus adequate time for infant attachment. When older children are adopted, there is even less appreciation for the generous amount of time needed for parents and children to form attachment.
For us more specifically, the ‘social dilemma’ seems to have come down to bowing to the dollar over the hopes of the heart strings much the same as when we chose to adopt Yasik for we had to find a way to pay off the adoption debt and the mortgage and Dave’s education, and the life we promised to provide this child, but we did also believe we would be meeting Yasik’s language needs and the social needs we understood a child of his chronological age needed. And once again we were working with our lack of awareness of the emotional impact of his past.
Bruce Perry says, “But it’s important to know that young children are extraordinarily susceptible to the spiraling consequences of the choices we – later they – make, for good and for ill”17.
Adopting Older Children shrugs a bit (222), “You also need to give yourself permission to not be a perfect person or a perfect parent. Sometimes you will just be a “good enough’ parent and that’s okay”.
We chose to send him to kindergarten.
Endnotes for Post 10
- Understanding Attachment 33-34
- Adopting Older Children 162
- Paediatrics & Child Health, 2006, Feb: 11(2) 85-91
- Born for Love 66-70, 255
- Born For Love 312
- Structural characteristics of the institutional environment for young children. Developmental Psychology, Volume #9, 2016
- The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog 90-91
- The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog 52
- The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog 26
- The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog 152, 153
- The Girl Behind The Door 183
- The Adoptive Parent’s Handbook 61
- The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog 101-102
- Hold On To Your Kids 33 & 65
- The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog 132