Newsletter #29 for Internationally Adopting Parents
August 27, 2006
PAL Center Inc.

In this issue

There is no substitute for preparation to adoption of an older child from abroad.
There will be difficulties - guaranteed.
Think how you can approach
expected issues well in advance.

Check out the course library,
use the opportunity to speak to the instructors.

Q: I understand the rationale of placing a newly adopted child a grade behind age level peers. However, if this is not done initially, is it advisable to do it five to six years later?

A: Any decision on holding an adopted child back is highly individual. It's a balancing act between the child's educational needs, developmental history and age (the need for socialization and peer interactions grows with the age, thus making holding back less acceptable). In other words, all things considered, not each and every child will benefit from holding back, though most internationally adopted children are developmentally delayed on arrival.

More over, it's not really a big help if the child is simply held back without intensive remedial help, because the whole idea is not just give him/her time to gain grounds in the new social, cultural and language environment allowing to compete at a lower developmental level for another year. The main goal is to intensify the recovery to the maximum in order to prevent Cumulative Cognitive Deficit and resulting secondary cognitive, emotional, and behavioral issues. The intensity of this effort that can't be sustained without additional remedial help is a real key here. So, holding back (in some cases) and implementing an intensive multi-faceted remedial program (always!) is the best approach.

If the child is considered for holding back five-six years later, it's already a sign of things not going well, and surely an investigation - a full psycho-educational assessment of the origins of the issues - is warranted, because the alternative is one more school year, lost in repeating the same without addressing the roots of the problem.
Boris Gindis, Ph.D.

Bgcenter accepts files and videos
for an early stage screening
of your perspective child.
Due to their size, such files often can't
transmitted via email or
delivered quickly via regular mail
(ex.: while you are abroad).

Call the center for instructions
on uploading your files for a psychological screening

You receive this newsletter as a former client of the Center for Cognitive-Developmental Assessment & Remediation, or a former student of the Bgcenter Online School, or a user of the International Adoption Articles Directory.


Latest Articles
from the

International Adoption Articles Directory

Boris Skurkovich, MD, Bilingual Board Certified Pediatrician joins Bgcenter Bilingual Extension network
Dr. Skurkovich is a native Russian speaker who graduated from medical school in Moscow and came to the US in 1979. He completed pediatric residency at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Boston City Hospital and Boston University. Dr. Skurkovich is board certified in both specialties and has been on medical faculty at Brown Medical School since 1988, where he is currently a clinical associate professor of pediatrics.

Dr. Skurkovich started International Adoption Clinic at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, RI in 1999 and has been its director from the inception. In addition, Dr. Skurkovich practices general pediatrics in Providence and cares for children from 56 different countries. He provides both pre-adoption and post-adoption services including consultations with the families while they are in the country of adoption.

Additional information about Dr. Skurkovich, his services and fees can be found on his website at

From Our Database

Attaching to My Child

From the online class
JSBG2-Adopting older children internationally:
Making a decision and coping with post-adoption difficulties

Much of the attention to bonding and attaching is from the perspective of the child's ability to bond and attach to the family. There is not a great deal of focus on your ability to bond and attach to your child. Folks eagerly anticipating the adoption of a child, find it almost incomprehensible to imagine not being able to love or connect to a child you have longed for.

Imagine yourself in a room of ten adults. Look around. First let's start with appearance. Aren't there a couple individuals that you may feel drawn to based on looks? Maybe it isn't necessarily beauty or attractiveness or whether or not he or she is handsome or pretty. Maybe it is their dress, their mannerisms, their facial expressions, the way they carry themselves, their smile or their sense of confidence. Maybe they just have this approachable, warm demeanor. Maybe they have what you consider to be the "it" factor. Look again. There is probably someone that you notice immediately that may present or look like someone you have no interest in getting to know at all. Maybe they slouch or look mousy or overly loud and full of themselves. You feel almost a visceral dislike. Shift your focus to a classroom of children. Aren't there one or two that you are drawn to immediately? Maybe it is the quiet, soft spoken, seemingly intelligent little girl in the back. Or the one with the shy, sweet smile. Or maybe you are amused and instantly attracted to the boisterous, mischievous little boy who needs the occasional reminder from his teacher to quiet down and focus on his work. You see a little boy over in the corner sniffling and whining because one of the other children took his pencil. He keeps raising his hand and tattling to the teacher. You feel instantly annoyed and turn your attention to the other kids.

Now you have your own child that you have waited a lifetime for. At first giving him gifts and providing all the things he didn't have, gives you great pleasure. Now he acts like you owe him and every time you say no, he looks at you with loathing and pouts and turns his head. You tell him a thousand times not to ride his bike in the street and every day it is like beginning again and you find yourself resenting the fact that he doesn't "get it" and you have to be outside supervising rather than getting your chores done. He doesn't smile much and when you tell him no, he says he wants to go back to the detsky dom and sometimes he even smiles and mocks you as he deliberately does something you tell him not to. This isn't what you signed up for, anticipated, invested in! You look at him and you just feel a deadness inside, you can't conjure a feeling of love, not even a feeling of liking him. You feel ashamed, you wish you never did this. You long for your old life and feel angry at your agency for not telling you the truth. These kids don't want a family. They don't appreciate what you are offering them. How can you admit you don't even like this kid? You feel like a failure, an impostor, a bad person.

Guess what? You aren't the first. You really cannot just tell anyone, because not every one will understand. Some folks may even think you are a bad person and that there must be something wrong with you. Don't talk to them. Suddenly, you recall how critical and superior you felt when, while you were exploring adoption options, someone shared their negative adoption story with you. You did judge them and you actually thought there was something wrong with them; you wrote them off as the "glass half empty" type.

Adopting an older child is similar to an arranged marriage. You basically "sign up" before you have the full story; there is no courting and getting-to-know-you prior to commitment. Beyond first impressions, there are a myriad of challenges in merging histories, world views, personality, interests and styles of coping as you build a history together. Family members are rarely clones of one another but they generally begin with a shared history and experience. It is difficult to work towards that if you are stuck in "I don't like this child." The lens through which you view his every action and behavior will be distorted by your negative feelings.
DO NOT ISOLATE. Talk to your agency, your local support group, another adoptive parent, a therapist. Get help and support. Believe it or not, they will help you find a way to take care of yourself, validate your feelings and connect with your child.

Jody Sciortino, LCSW,
Boris Gindis, Ph.D.


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