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International Adoption Info

Newsletter #157 for Internationally Adopting Parents
January12, 2012
PAL Center Inc.

Internet Digest

    Christie Findlay
    Adopting a 3-Year-Old Child
    I thought adopting an older child would be easier than bringing home an infant. It was harder than I ever imagined—but I never doubted we were doing the right thing.

    The topics below and other related to international adoption issues are presented by the company.

    Assistive Technology
    Autism Spectrum
    Behavior & Discipline
    College/Continuing Ed
    Due Process
    Future Planning
    High-Stakes Tests
    IDEA 2004
    Juvenile Justice
    Law School & Clinics
    Letters & Paper Trails
    Military / DOD
    No Child Left Behind
    NCLB Directories
    NCLB Law & Regs
    Parental Protections
    PE and Adapted PE
    Procedural Safeguards
    Progress Monitoring
    Research Based Instruction
    Response to Intervention (RTI)
    School Report Cards
    Section 504
    Teachers & Principals

    Heidi Mitchell
    Two Families, Two Takes on Virtual Schooling
    With all the talk about online education lately, it's clear that the vision evoked by the words "home schooling" is changing. The image of Mom and kids sitting at the kitchen table has given way to a child logging onto a virtual class from the home office.

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B. Gindis, Ph.D
Twenty Years in Service

I remember the sunny, cold morning in January 1992. The folder on my desk, with the documentation for my next appointment, contained a request for a typical psycho-educational assessment in the Russian language for a child named Alexander.

I entered the waiting room and, as usual, greeted the parents in Russian. They both smiled and said they did not speak Russian. I apologized and turned to the boy, greeting him in English. The parents again smiled and said the boy did not speak English.

I was confused. "Is he your son?" - I asked.
"Yes, he is our son, we adopted him from Russia nine days ago."
"Adopted? From Russia? What does this mean?" I was puzzled.
"It looks like you never heard about international adoption", the parents laughed.

It was true - I knew nothing about international adoption at that time and could not even imagine that such a thing was possible in the country I was too well aware of. I could not have realized at that moment that this morning would be a turning point in my life: I was stepping onto the path that would change me as a person and a professional; that my interests, aspirations, preferences, attitudes would be dramatically transformed; that from then on I would have an uplifting feeling of "doing something real", that the expression "helping profession" would make personal sense to me. I certainly did not realize that I would have to navigate uncharted waters.

I thought I was well prepared to examine Alexander: I was a licensed psychologist, educated in both Russia and US, with many years of practical work and research in the field of developmental and educational psychology. I had native fluency in the Russian language and first hand familiarity with the Russian culture, including the specific sub-culture of Russian orphanages.

I was knowledgeable about the American educational system and mental health resources available for newcomers. However, it took years of hard work and learning to become professionally competent in this emerging, dynamic, and rapidly progressing field of international adoption. In addition, to my surprise, I found myself emotionally involved in the whole new world of turbulent and extreme feelings, high hopes and bitter disappointments - human drama, playing out in front of me with every new patient. I got acquainted with many interesting people, colleagues from different fields and adoptive parents.

I am proud that over the last twenty years my small personal practice has developed into what is now known as the BGCenter, with offices on the east and west coasts and a first-rate professional reputation. We cooperate with a network of outstanding specialists in the field of medicine, neuropsychology, educational law, psychotherapy, language pathology, and other related professions. We continue to accept patients from all states and abroad: Canada, Swaziland, Denmark, and Germany (mostly American citizens living in those countries). At the BGCenter we have developed a unique methodology of initial screenings and offer them in three languages: Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. Over the years a new methodology of a combined developmental, neuropsychological, and educational assessment specifically tailored to the sometime extreme circumstances and remedial needs of international adoptees was created and tested.

The new notions and ideas that I developed and popularized in varies publications during these 20 years, such as: internationally adopted children lose their functional native language extremely fast; an initial psychological screening in the native language on arrival is a must for successful schooling for the majority of IA children; school placement should be based not only on chronological age, but on the actual school readiness of IA child; from the start there is an urgent need for an extensive remediation of older IA children in order to prevent cumulative cognitive deficit in children with delays, - these and many other novelty concepts are now well accepted by the adopting community and some educational institutions.

Tatyana Elleseff MA CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Strategies for Multisensory Stimulation of Internationally Adopted Children

Recently I participated in a professional adoption email discussion regarding developmental stimulation of infants and toddlers in orphanages and it got me thinking about not just the importance of stimulation for institutionalized children but also about stimulation activities for post-institutionalized children. Orphanages have long been infamous for sensory deprivation as well as a host of other adversities. Even one month spent in an institutional environment can significantly disrupt functioning in a number of areas including health, language, cognition, and behavior (Johnson, et al 1992). But what of the children who spend several years in orphanages before their adoption takes place? After all, just because the children become adopted doesn't mean that their problems magically disappear.

As a speech-language pathologist I work on improving or developing post-institutionalized children's speech and language abilities, feeding and swallowing abilities as well as social pragmatic skills. But I also realize the importance of multisensory stimulation for these children and try to incorporate that into my speech and language therapy session activities.


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