Tuesday, April 13, 2010

International Adoption: The children are ALL special needs

I hate to be the one to deliver this message but there is little chance any child internationally adopted - both older and younger - is going to be "normal". Knowing what I now know about the physiology of the brain, it is impossible for the neuro connections and the chemistry to be normal with the kind of environments these kids emerge from.

I agree with many other professionals when they say, "All international adoptions are special needs [adoptions]..."
It is probably true that most families don't dissolve [dissolution] (after the child is legally adopted) or disrupt (before the adoption is final) children. However - I do hear people throwing around generalized terminology about dissolution of adoptions when there are no real statistics on this. There are some stats kept on domestic adoptions but no national database and no stats on international adoption. I was involved in the early discussions about the Hague which I don't necessarily agree was the best thing for international adoptions (that's a whole other discussion) and a small group of us hammered home over and over the importance of keeping statistics on adoptions that were disrupted and dissolved  --- no one would  even discuss it. No one wants to talk about what happens when an adoption goes wrong.

I don't know of any agencies who really screen parents the actively the way it should be done. Anyone can pass a home study and even with the 10 hours of "required" education, the education is so passive, there is no way a family has any idea what they could be in for when adopting internationally.  I have a child who could easily be a candidate for dissolution -- not that we would ever consider doing that - no way. But I have been told by many other parents and by professionals who DO "get it" that our child is the kind of adoption that would be disrupted or dissolved. If I had not had the background I did and the resources to fight the fight we are still fighting, there is no way we could have handled the immense magnitude of her problems. I can not tell you how many people who know her story have said, "Thank God she was placed with you." In a way that is quite the insult - because many of those telling us this (are saying under their breath - thank God I didn't get her.) But she is mine and I love her. When we made the commitment to adopt, my husband and I agreed we would be adopting the child we were meant to parent. No one is promised tomorrow and that includes adoptions or "normal children" who could get hit crossing the street tomorrow and suffer a traumatic brain injury.

Bruce Perry, MD (author of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog) said it best when he said this, "Once you know what trauma looks like, sadly you see it everywhere."
A young child from a third world country can not come out of an institution with multiple caregivers without have their neuro pathways disrupted. The odds are it's physically impossible.
Before anyone starts up the tar and feathers -- with that said, some children display this in a much more mild mannered way while others who were subjected to extreme abuse and chronic neglect - are like my daughter.

What's important here is to recognize that adoption and in particularly international adoption is a very complex issue which most people never even think about let alone talk about it. Parents need to be taught extensively about the normal way children attach and what happens when that normal attachment is disrupted with trauma (neglect and abuse).

Some Helpful Links
Helping Traumatized Children Learn
The Long Shadow of Trauma
Child of Rage Documentary - Interview with Beth (a child with RAD and trauma history)
Trauma Information Pages - Alan Schore

CHILD OF RAGE the documentary

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