Saturday, December 7, 2013

Various Adoption Questions Answered

 These were questions that were asked over National Adoption Month on my FB page or the blog.  

I will preface this with saying I am NOT an adoption expert, professional or paid employee of any kind.  These are simply my answers to various adoption questions.  Though not an adoption expert, I have been in the adoption community for over 14 years and have been an adoption advocate for various agencies here and there.  In addition, I've successfully adopted 11 children and had one failed adoption attempt.  That all being said, I think I have the knowledge and background to be able to answer a few questions regarding adoption.  Disclaimer done.  LOL.  Here goes.

1.  What is the difference between an International adoption vs an adoption in the United States?  There are differences for sure.  Obviously, I am more versed in international adoptions and the laws that pertain to them.  And this year we completed one domestic private adoption via a rehoming situation and had one failed adoption via rehoming situation as well. When we looked into private adoptions years ago, they were around $50K. It varies greatly now and most of it is dependent upon race of child and also if child is special needs.  Rehoming is a whole different ball game and totally do NOT rrecommend it if you have never adopted before.   Children that are being rehomed typically come with mental health issues and other emotional baggage that does take experience to understand the root of it all and help them heal.  It is not something to be taken lightly.  International adoption timeline varies on country.  Some are quick and just take a few months to complete the process.  However, some wait times for a healthy referral can be three to five years.  Most international adoptions now require either one very long trip or two trips.  And I would say minimum average cost would be around the $30K mark.  Average.  Again, many variables to international adoption.  International adoption is also very paperwork intensive.  Now, adoptions through the foster care system are a whole different ball game.  We've never personally done one but looked into it and told no.  In our state, most you can have is 5 kids.  Our county also said only one special needs child.  So, we could not adopt via foster care.  I have friends who have done it successfully and I have friends who have not.  Many states require you to foster first before you adopt.  Typically, it is older children available through adoption versus younger.  Now, with private domestic adoptions,  you usually have to present yourself w/ letters to birthmothers and such.  We wrote one letter years ago when we heard of a situation of an infant with CP.  That letter triggered us to realize we were not done forming our family yet.  this was many kids ago.  Though a lot of differences, a lot of similarities as well.  Just depends on personal preferance really.  One type of adoption is not any better than another.  End result is a family formed and that's what counts.  Not so much the process of how you got there.

2.  I don't hear you mention counseling or therapy much-do you recommend counseling for your FASD kids? I am thinking it may help for self esteem but others have told me that their kids spent years in therapy with no results or little results. Of course WE try to boost him up and make him know his worth-the bouts of talking bad about himself are usually when a melt down happens or when his impulse control is lacking and something happened. Thanks."  Keep in mind I am not a therapist, doctor or professional of any kind.  These are simply MY parental opinions based on my experiences.  We did play therapy with our first two home.  We personally did not see a difference having therapy.  I think the money we spent on that was better spent w/ doing things and getting closer to them.  Learning how the FAS mind thinks.  I'm not saying therapy isn't for everyone.  Just saying it did nothing for us and we have not done it w/ subsequent children.  You also really must watch as many kids adopted w/ mental health disorders can lie and manipulate.  I know a few in private groups that therapy did more harm than good to the children.  Again, much of this is situational as well.  We have read quite a bit over the years, studied, participated in various studies, and in the end we just do what works here.  We don't harp on the fact that 7 of the have FAS.  They're treated the same.  We've learned how to talk to them to get a response versus anger.  We've learned processing time is longer in their thinking.  We've learned they can do things others said they can't.  We've learned where to push and where not to push.  For self-esteem, you must not do a ton of activities.  Find one they like and let them guide you to focus on it.  For one, it is art. For another soccer.  For another writing.  Each will find something and allow them that.  I'm not saying let them win all the time.  They also must learn real life and in real life,  you will lose sometimes.  that's just fact. 

3.  Which child/children did you feel attached the quickest?  This is a tough one.  I will be honest though.  I think Nik was my quickest to attach but truly think that was situational as well.  He needed us much more than the others.  And, you must remember, many of ours came with much emotional baggage so to speak.  You must deal with that part first to heal them and then the closeness seems to happen faster.  Hope that made sense.  But definitely Nik was the fastest out of all them.  Now, that doesn't mean we didn't attach to the rest.  Just means it was faster with Nik for a variety of reasons.  I think his dependency on meeting his needs due to lack of language was a huge factor.  

4.   Do any of the kids express any interest in meeting their biological parents? Would that even be possible?  Yes, some.  None of the boys express an interest but most of the girls do.  Well, ones that understand what it means.  It would be near impossible.  We would LOVE to hire a searcher but the costs are staggering.  Just can't do it for each child.  Still really would love to. Each one has a story of how they got to the orphanage.  I know some more than others.  Would love to be able to fill in the gaps. Some it would be possible to find out more info.  One I know was abandoned at the hospital and mother left falsifying info so could never find out anything.  I know one daughter's bio parents have passed away.  But her sister is out there.  Her brother in a mental institution.  Would have been her fate too had we not adopted her.  I have found part of Nik's sibs and rest are in Russia still.  I truly want to do this for them and would start w/ the older kids first.  I don't think kids can handle things till a certain age.  Just my opinion.  If we could find bio parents, we would try. 

5.   Why did you adopt me?  Simple Irina.  It was love at first sight!  Even in that horrible boy haircut you had.  LOL.  Just something in the video that said this is MY daughter.  Love you! 

6.  Who was first?  Irina and Max were adopted first back in 1999.  Seems like forever ago.  We went to a small remote village named Abdulina.  It was in the Orenburg region.  First two kids.  We had NO idea what the heck we were doing.  LOL.  First adoptions too so you can imagine.  News crew in Abdulina following us around b/c first Americans there we were told.  Heat wave to boot.  Had custody of Max and Irina before court b/c it was 4 hours to the city center for court so they had no choice.  Definitely an adoption to remember.  Tiny, tiny kids.  Max at 4yo wore a size 18 months and Irina at 6.5 yo was in 2T.  Not now. 

7.  Do you have any FASD center/professionals in your area? Contact info would be great if you do. From there I may be able to find someone in FL.  We have an awesome support group in our area and are very well connected with them.  There are many sites on the web dedicated to FAS.  I'll have those in a separate post very soon.  I would highly recommend getting in touch w/ your local support group.  I'll also write you privately on FB and give more local support info. 

8.  How is it going with Sophie? If you adopt from a disruption and the child seems to thrive, what could that say about the previous family?  Wow, have a lot to say about this question. First off, it is going fantastic with Sofie.  However, you do have to remember, I base this on her FAS age and NOT her chronological age.  Big difference.  Sofie is potty trained during the day.  Something I thought would not happen for another year.  She is talking up a storm but no one can understand her very well due to her severe speech apraxia.  But, the therapist seems to think she will eventually talk.  She has so much to say, trust me.  Sofie is very bonded to the family.  Yet, she has attached well enough I can ask her do you want to go w/ mommy & daddy or stay home.  She'll tell me which one and have no fears of me leaving and not coming back.  She's outgoing to be sure and friendly.  She lets everyone know who her mommy & daddy are.  LOL.  She's a drama queen to a tee.  She showed me a cut the other day and I said "Sofie, you're not dying."  She stops plops on the floor like she's dead and gives me a smirk.  I said "fine, go get a bandaid.  Sofie is delayed but catching up with many things.   She seems to have tremors but her MRI was clean.  She's gained weight, g-tube is out forever, & takes no meds.  She has terrible motor control but is working on it.  She's been in speech but I"m working on adding OT.  Meanwhile, working on fine motor at home and she's progressing well.  Sofie fits in perfect with this bunch.  I think it says she's in the right place.  Sometimes in a disruption situation, it is not the previous family that is the problem.  Sometimes it is.  But sometimes it's the child themselves.  What I have noticed not just in our disruption circumstances but many in general these past 14 years, is that the previous families give it more than 150% to try everything.  They go above and beyond.  Many times in older kids, the child blames the first family from taking them away from "everything."  Though adoption may be int eh child's best interest, the older child does not see it as such.  They rebel.  Sometimes, the first family is just not the right fit for the child.  Sometimes there are surprise dx's such as FAS and RAD.  These are NOT easy things to deal with let alone for someone new to adoption.  We get questions literally almost everyday from other families dealing with FAS. In the end, you really must do what is right by the child even if it means the child would reach their fullest potential elsewhere.  Emotional health & stability in an adopted child is just as important as physical health. 

9.  A question about questions.... what's the strangest question (other than this one) that anyone has asked you.  You know, I'll ask Warren but I honestly can't remember.  We always get "did you have to go get them?"  I want to say no, they rode the boat over but I never do. 

10.  Did you ever get this Stephanie? Does your child speak Russian?  We did get this even after years in the country.  Fill in whatever language too.  I loved when they asked me even if I had older kids that could answer for themselves.  You know, that were talking English.  LOL. 

11.  Is it helpful to have a professional diagnosis for a child that is "different"?  Yes, I do think an official diagnosis is imperative most of the time.  We have official FAS dx's for all our kids that have it except for one of them.  The dx's  of various mental health issues especially, help school educators sometimes to understand why things are the way they are with the kids.  Not all the time, but some.  Now, my two with RAD, are not officially dx'd with it.  However, a psychologist did say one had it but I never got it written on paper to make it official. Does it make a difference?  not for this situation.  I think having a diagnosis also helps the parents to know which direction to tailor behavior modifications, adjust some expectations, and parent a little differently.  If you know what is the root cause of things, it does indeed make a difference b/c then you are not always second guessing yourself.

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