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International Adoption Info

Newsletter #165 for Internationally Adopting Parents
December 16, 2013
PAL Center Inc.

New Service at BGCenter

Parental Techniques & Counseling
for Adoptive Families

    How does the counseling service work?

    Counseling is not a family or child's psychotherapy, its goal is very practical: help you - the parent - to find a working approach for resolving day-to-day issues in your adopted child's life. It's a practical advice for you on how to handle one hurdle at a time in your specific situation.

    There is a large range of problems that can be prevented or corrected with the right parenting techniques needed to bring up a post-orphanage child, and Jeltje Simons can help you with it.

    To initiate a counseling session with Jeltje Simons, you will need to do the following:

    Step 1. Send an email message to Ms Simons at talk_adoption@yahoo.com briefly describing the issues with your child and indicating the following:

    What is your child's age and sex?
    •How long has your child been home?
    • Does your child have any known special needs? Please specify, if any.
    •Please describe a typical day.
    •Which problems are you experiencing when parenting your child?
    •What have you done to prevent those problems reoccurring?
    •What's the best part of the day for you to have a consultation and if you would like to call on the phone (to Sweden) or Skype?

    Step 2. You will get a reply from Ms Simons within 3 business days with 2 possible time segments to select for your initial consultation. Confirm the selected time segment.

    Step 3. Pay for the initial consultation by PayPal and call Ms Simons on the phone or Skype, as arranged, to discuss her suggestions on how to handle the problem.

You receive this newsletter
as a former client or correspondent
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
New Articles

Moving out of an orphanage is something not to be underestimated

The child sits quietly staring at the airplanes, having very little idea that soon he will lose everything what was familiar, including most of his history. Later, much later when he speaks English, he may be able to share some memories, but knowing what is real, fantasy or half-truth is difficult.
Jeltje Simons
One boy who called an orphanage home

I'll tell you my story of bringing home a little boy from Bulgaria less than 4 weeks before his 6th birthday. Visiting and removing a child from the only place they have ever known, their home - an orphanage - is exciting for the new parents, but it is an overwhelming experience for the child.

Moving out of an orphanage is something not to be underestimated. Just take a moment to think how many changes the child will face. The child's adoptive parents speak another language and communication is difficult. He will wear new clothes that smells differently and he will eat food never tried before. For the first time they sleep in a hotel or apartment, eat in restaurants, are taken into shops, etc. Then traveling in a car and in an airplane, having to wait in line with hundreds of people around, changing planes, traveling to the new home, maybe meeting new people, first time sleeping in his new bed, maybe alone. The list of new and first experiences is endless and will be all cramped into a few days. This is not really preventable, of course, but there are little things you can do to make it a bit easier for the child.

They are likely to miss their caretakers, the routine of the orphanage, the other children, and even the man who did maintenance and always gave a wink when walking by; they will miss the smells, the sounds of the building and certain privileges or status they had gained.

Orphanages are bad places for children to grow up, but they do not know it; orphanage life is all they know, often with no other experiences outside to compare. International adoption is about gains for the child and for their new parents, but it's also about loss, especially the first year when all the changes and losses are recent, but this is a theme that will come back time and time again when the child matures. It might not seem important and you forget about it, but earlier or later children will ask questions about their culture, their ethnic heritage, their country, their birth families, their abandonment or removal, and much more. Some questions you may be able to answer, others will stay unanswered forever, but it is important that we, as adopters, realize that there are huge losses involved, even when it appears to us that everything will be 10 times better than the child was used to.

Everyone is your best friend and how to avoid this

It is good to be aware that when your child is in transition from orphanage to home, the behaviours you observe might not be the entire picture. The child can appear to be up to anything, smiling golden smiles at you, be comfortable receiving care from you, and cuddle and hug, but their real acceptance of the new situation may amaze you. I was surprised how easily my son let me touch him, how often he smiled, how 'happy' he appeared. Only to realize that he had no interest in me as soon as other people were around, that he stared and stared at strangers, trying to get eye contact and then smiled intensely at them.

I remember my mother asking if he was attaching to me, letting me hug him, if he would give kisses, etc. My answer was "yes", but the only problem was that he attached to everyone, smiled to everyone, touched everyone, and was happy to be cuddled by everyone, if I let him. You too might feel uncomfortable when you realize that everybody, even a stranger at a supermarket gets those golden smiles, that your child has no preference when it comes to who does the caring. These are post-orphanage behaviours, there is nothing personal: the child has learned that he would gain the most by smiling and being super friendly. It's likely during the first weeks and months when the new parent is just another caretaker for them, as these children often have no frame of reference about what parents are, what families are.

My son thought that every child lives in an orphanage, and he was asking where the children lived if we visited friends with children in their own homes. He assumed they were there to visit too and would return 'home' to their orphanage in the evening.

From the outside it looked good, and though it 'did not matter' for others that he was indiscriminate with affection, I knew he needed to understand boundaries. As a 6-year-old still has a 'cuteness' factor, it does not look totally inappropriate for the outside world if the child wants physical contact. My child is a magnet to any adult who is a bit 'needy' , any adult who wants to be 'liked by a child' and any adult who wears their emotions on the sleeve. These people would feel sorry for him, and even if I told them why, they still would ask why he was not allowed to hug them or sit in their lap.

What helped my child to understand the rules of social interaction a little better was a paper with everyone we knew being placed in a special circle. Start with the child and parents in the inner circle, then the next outer circle is for close family members like grandfather and grandmother, close aunts and uncles, may be also for close friends. Then the next circle is for friends and 'further away' family, maybe doctors and therapists, teachers, children in school. The outer circle is for strangers.


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