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All Abroad: What You Should Know About International Adoption

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Lots of couples these days are choosing to adopt. In fact, adding an “underprivileged” child to their brood has become the latest en-vogue cause for celebrities and commoners alike.

Adoption, experts agree is a great way for couples to have a child (if they are experiencing troubles doing it the “traditional” way) and for them to take “humanitarianism” and “good deed doing” to the next level. Plus, it’s a great way to give a child (who otherwise may not have it) love and an opportunity in life.

Yet, adopting children from other nations has its "complexities". In fact, experts note a variety of special concerns that adoptees need to consider.

Be Proactive And Know What You Are Getting Into: From depression (brought about by life in an orphanage to specific medical and psychological issues, adoptive parents need to be well informed and well versed in the various risks associated with international adoption.

Professionals point out that once you decide which country you have a preference in adopting from, you need to recognize the potential problems that may arise and that you may be confronted with, with health issues being a main concern. For instance, Russian babies may often experience fetal alcohol syndrome, due to the prevalence of healthy alcohol use during pregnancy inherent to that nation. This condition can lead to dire disabilities, metal retardation and severe behavioral problems. Additionally, in China, due to use of lead-containing gasoline and coal, lead poisoning, linked to learning disabilities and brain damage is rampant.

The pre-eminence of poor healthcare, in other countries, also lends itself to children who are at high risk for various parasites, rickets (a bone disease caused by vitamin D deficiency), and scabies (a contagious skin disorder, all of which are treatable. There is also the increased risk for exposure to tuberculosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis A, and in some rare cases, exposure to HIV.

The good news is that global communication has made help keep such incidences at bay. Should a child be diagnosed with a contagious disease the orphanage and oversees adoption officials investigate and take immediate action to ensure that other children do not become infected.

Risky Business: The only way to “assess” the potential risks and “problems” of a child you’re considering adopting id by paying close attention to information
presented or consult a professional who can. You would be surprised at how much adoption specialists can glean from just some “basic specifics”. Professionals are trained to chart the head, height, and weight measurements and examine the child’s pattern of growth. They note that often times orphanage children tend to be smaller due to malnutrition and social distress.

It’s imperative say experts that parents adopting children from poverty-stricken areas to expect “some” risk. These they note are classifies as average, mild, moderate and extreme….and they say, (especially since often times you don’t know the whereabouts, condition, and/or habits and circumstances of the biological parents), there is no such thing a “risk-free”.

Reading Between The Lines: Parents in the process of international adoption should be warned about the need to discount some of the information offered in the medical abstract. Why? Simply because, according to professionals, much of it is unreliable. In fact, in some countries, such as the former Soviet Union, there is a “science of defectology” which states that people are healthy unless proven sick. In fact, may Russian physicians claim that we are all born defective and recuperate over time. So, according to this philosophy, it is common for babies (there) to be diagnosed with some serious illness they don’t actually have.

Furthermore, professionals point out that some of the developmental assessments may be incomplete. Usually, these evaluations are done by orphanage workers who lack training in child development, and many times the same form is used for assessing children in various categories and age groups. For example an Asian child may be noted as playing well with other children when in fact the child is only several months old. This is merely a byproduct of the worker’s lack of understanding what is normal development for kids.

Behind The Scenes: Interpreting “Reality” Based On What You See: Experts note that while most orphanages don’t give a bad impression, they don’t look or smell bad, they are generally grim places lacking “life” and despite the caregiver ratio or claims of being among “the best”, can be a dreary, dehumanizing place where children are frequently not viewed as individuals with unique personalities and needs, but rather as just another mouth to feed.

Experts claim that often time the children could be exposed to poor hygiene or racist comments, and that the ramifications of being “trapped” in such an environment can be quite serious and severe and deserve serious examination and consideration.

They assert, that children in orphanages and foster care can often become depressed, reserved, and anti-social, all issues which you need to address before adoption, and can’t be “diminished” or overlooked.

Ability To Live A Normal Life: The one thing all parents worry about is their child having the ability to succeed in life. And, many may feel that children that have been exposed to less than adequate situations may be at a major disadvantage.

According to professionals, parents should not be discouraged. They note, that these children are survivors, and that only about 5 percent have serious, long-term disabilities….physical, emotional, or both.

Furthermore they assert that most of these kids do well. Only about 25 percent exhibit minor developmental delays and do a great job catching up to their peers, post adoption, within the first year. Approximately 70 percent need some physical or speech therapy for mild or moderate impediments, and some get up to speed within months.

The most important thing, experts note, is that parents remain aggressive about having their child’s progress assessed at frequent intervals. And, they suggest that your pediatrician should remain closely involved in your child’s development, and, especially because of their background, no concern should be dismissed or overlooked (no matter how “small”).

Expectations and Adjustments: While you are excited about your child, and your child is (possibly) excited about his/her new opportunity, experts note that you should expect instant bonding. Both you and your new family member need time to accept and adjust (to) your new lifestyle and circumstances. Keep in mind that the child may still need coaxing and TLC to come out of his/her shell, and that it’s your job to make him/her feel loved and at home. Professionals emphasize the need to be tuned into and follow your child’s cues as a lead of how to act and what to do. And, they remind parents to embrace him/her for whom, how, and what he/she is….and where he/she has come from. Never feel sorry for your child. Accept that we all have issues and baggage and work at moving past this as a (loving and supportive) family.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > All Abroad: What You Should Know About International Adoption

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