Tag Archives: international adoption

URGENT request about Russian adoption

Today, Gus delighted in grapes, being out in the hot sunshine and some cuddling when he was feeling tired. The simple joys of being 2, right?

My kids are amazing people and I don’t generally dwell in their pasts and what might have been, but the reality is that, there’s a whole different life out there, one that they used to live and could still be living if laws in their birth countries were different.

Unfortunately, as we all know, in Russia, those laws have changed and those kids, kids who should be in someone’s backyard, eating grapes, cuddling and enjoying the beautiful weather, are waiting in orphanages. Here’s your chance to do something.

Senator Landrieu is currently circulating a letter for signature by members of Congress. The letter will go to President Obama and will urge him to prioritize the matter of the pipeline families trapped by the Russian adoption ban and find a solution when he meets with Putin at the G8 Summit in mid-June.

In short, what you need to do is call your Senators and Congressmen and say “I’m calling to ask Senator (insert name) to please sign the letter for President Obama about Russian adoption. I’m a constituent from (insert location) and Russian adoption matters to me because…”

There are many families who have met their child, and promised their child that they would be back, with no clue that Russian adoption would shut down entirely. Can you imagine meeting your child, saying goodbye thinking you’ll be back in a month or two, and 6 months later, your child still waits with no end in sight?

Here’s a suggestion on what you can say, as well, as the details and content of the letter from a friend of mine who is one of these waiting families…

Senator/Congressman ________,

My friend is currently in the process of adopting a child from Russia with Down syndrome and met their child before the adoption ban went into place. They fell in love with their child when they held them, played with them, laughed with them, and truly became a family while they were in Russia. They very much think of this child as their son/daughter. They cannot just forget about this child and “move on” because their child will grow up in a mental institution for the rest of their life if they are not adopted.

Senator Landrieu is currently leading a sign-on letter for both House and Senate members to sign in support of these families to encourage President Obama to prioritize this issue when he meets with President Putin in June at the G8 Summit. We are calling/emailing because we think it is very important as one of your constituents to support these families and this issue. This week these families are in Washington D.C. visiting you and are delivering you letters requesting your support in this matter. We want you to show your support by signing the letter that will be delivered to President Obama.

To sign on, please contact Whitney Reitz in Senator Landrieu’s office at 202-224-5824 or email her at whitney_reitz@landrieu.senate.gov The deadline for signing this letter is the end of business on Wednesday, May 15th.

The following members have already signed the letter:

Blunt, MO
Brown, OH
Cantwell, WA
Cardin, MD
Gillibrand, NY
Inhofe, OK
Johanns, NE
Kirk, IL
Landrieu, LA
Paul, KY
Portman, OH
Sessions, AL
Toomey, PA
Warner, VA
Wicker, MI
Franks, AZ
Israel, NY
King, IA
Loebsack, IA
Lummis, WY
Rangel, NY

We would like to see your name join along side theirs. The text of the letter is included below:

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to request your assistance with finding a solution for the small number of Russian orphans who have already met and bonded with their American families, yet were not able to have their adoptions completed due to the Russian adoption ban. We understand that you will be meeting with President Putin in June during the G8 Summit. We ask that you prioritize this issue and seek commitment from President Putin to finding a humanitarian solution.

Politics between the United States and Russia have become personal to several hundred Russian orphans and the families in the United States hoping to adopt them. These are children without parents, families, or homes. Many are in need of urgent medical care; all are in need of a future filled with promise. These children have no voice. These children have already been promised homes in America, and they have bonded with these American parents. The Government of Russia’s unwillingness to allow their cases to be completed adds yet another trauma to their young lives.

We have met many of these families and spoken with them frequently. They remain completely dedicated to these children, and they are trying everything in their power to help them. Approximately 230 of these families had traveled to Russia before the adoption ban to spend time with the children with whom they were matched. These devoted families already think of the children they were matched with as their sons and daughters.

Mr. President, we must find a humanitarian solution for these children and these families. We were cautiously optimistic when the Government of Russia sent a delegation to the United States a few weeks ago, but the outcome of that visit was disappointing.

We ask you to raise this issue with President Putin directly in the hopes that two world leaders can step back for a moment and find a way out of the political morass for a few hundred wounded children. Based on the briefings we have received from the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, we know that there are options for bringing these children home, despite the ban. The issue, then, becomes a question of convincing the Russians to put the children’s needs first. We thank you in advance for your efforts on behalf of this group of children and families.

Sincerely,

Names of senate members will follow

We truly appreciate your support in this matter. We know that you are compassionate and understand these parents’ love for the children that they see as their sons and daughters.

Thank you,

YOUR NAME

I think the area code for these numbers is 202
http://www.senate.gov/general/resources/pdf/senators_phone_list.pdf
http://www.house.gov/representatives/

What I wish I had done differently…

A few weeks ago, I did a blog post with a series of answers to the question “What do you wish you had known before adopting?” Shortly after I asked that, I also asked the same group of moms what they wish they had done differently. Here are the responses…

In the Process

“I wish I would have done more research from the start. Home study agency, costs, timeline, all things I wish I would have had a better handle on. I agree with others, the whole process took about twice as long as I thought it would have.”

“I wish I would have been more aware of the spiritual warfare that descended on me once we started the process. I spent months feeling terrified and full of doubt, and I didn’t even recognize it for what it was. Had I battled those demons and trusted God far more, I could have had a lot more joy in the process.”

“I wouldn’t have put so much importance on what our families thought about it seeing as how we knew God called us to this. That caused some unnecessary grief in the beginning.”

“I would have not allowed the process to rule our lives. I feel like I don’t remember much of that year. Between paper-chasing, worrying about the money, fundraising, obsessively checking my email, waiting by the phone for calls, desperately searching the internet for any random photos of my child, or blogs from others who might have been to the same orphanage…. I lived and breathed the process. And now, looking back, I realize how little any that worrying and obsessing mattered. I wish instead I would have cherished each day, taken care of whatever I needed to when it was due, and otherwise, let life go on. If my agency called at 4pm, it would have been okay to get the message at 8pm; waiting by the phone wasn’t beneficial to the process in any way. Next time, I hope I will be able to keep this in mind and enjoy each day as it comes.”

“I wouldn’t have gotten caught up in other people’s (adopters) drama. Trying to “help” in crisis situations only drained me. I could also write a book on agency related stuff, but it doesn’t really seem appropriate given the circumstances. But I will research better next time. I also think that given what we’re watching unfold, I might guard my heart even more. Not talked in terms of “my” child right off the bat. Held my cards a little tighter to my chest.”

“I can’t handle adoption drama. And I don’t mean literally drama with people’s adoptions, things going wrong, etc. I mean the drama created by other adoptive parents. I have met some amazing friends through this process. I’ve also met some people who can suck the life out of you if you let them. Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

 

In Country

“I would have asked even more questions at the orphanage. I would have pushed a little harder to learn more about his past. I would have pushed harder to get his grandmother’s information who visited him. I wish I had spent more time with the other children at the orphanage or had taken an extra day or so in country ti do something on the orphanage grounds, like a service project… man I wanted to mow that grass and give those kids a place to play!”

“I have ALWAYS been hugely disappointed that our adoptions have taken longer then expected. On EVERY adoption (we have adopted 10 children, 7 different adoptions). It is so horrible to pass that date on the calendar when you felt your child would definitely be home by. Plan on your adoption taking twice as long as everyone else who has ever adopted from that country! Then if they come home sooner, you will just be thrilled. Do not just write off adoption timelines that took longer then expected because something went wrong. YOU will have lots go wrong and it will add to your timeline too.”

(In reply to the previous comment) “Part of me wishes I had guarded my heart better and NOT spent so much time with the other children. I am all too aware that that sounds and feels terrible. Those moments were precious for me, but they came at a high price. Three children I held and loved (including one of our two Russians) are now stuck without their families because of the ban. There are [several more children] without committed families that are being transferred this month or next. Those faces bring with them a lot of “survivor’s guilt”. Why did [our daughter] get out? Why did [other recently adopted children] get out? Why are [names of other children stuck at orphanage] being sent to places that the baby house director referred to as “just north of Hell”? I can’t be Mama to all of them (nor do I want to)…but what their lives will become does weigh on me…”

After Homecoming

“I wish I would’ve let friends and family know that I was struggling when we first came home. Pre-cooked meals would’ve been nice.”

“I wish I had been gentler on myself and been more aware that adoption is hard. I spent way too much time beating myself up and overanalyzing the parenting of my adopted child. I would also seek out more people who would pray for our family and actively encourage me throughout those first few months home.”

“I would definitely carry him more (he rejected being touched for a long time, so we didn’t use carriers/slings, but I think we should have). I would aslo bottle feed him right from the start. I didn’t think it was necessary, since he was two when we got him, but when I finally started bottle feeding him after six months of being home, it really helped our attachment.”

What I wish I had known about adoption

In light of some recent, tragic events, there’s been a lot of talk in the adoption community about how well agencies are preparing their families for adoption. In no way do I believe it’s my job to prepare families, but I also understand that I have a platform to share about adoption and I need to be sharing everything, not just the glowing snapshot of our daily lives. Please understand that the glowing snapshots are significant part of our daily lives, as is cleaning up spaghetti sauce or yogurt from all over the dining room floor. For the most part, our lives are pretty normal, just like any other American family. But, there are some challenges that adoptive families face, especially in the first few months home.

I asked some of my favorite mamas what they wish they had know about adoption before they gave it their “yes” or maybe just at any point before their child was home and the difficult work of parenting began. Also, be aware in reading this that all of the mamas quoted below have adopted children with special needs who were in institutionalized settings before adoption.

Preparations

“I’m glad I read somewhere that its okay to be honest with yourself about what you want in a child (age, race, gender, etc.) before you decide to adopt. It’s okay to have limits and to stick with them. And I think it’s important to have those decisions well thought out before all the various players (agency, SW, family, friends, etc.) start weighing in. I get really self conscious in public and we live in a very racially homogenous area, so I knew a child of another race for our first adoption just wasn’t something I was ready for. Don’t feel guilty making those decisions, would be my advice.”

“I would not adopt out of age order again now that I see first hand what happens to your younger child…more space between the last child already in the family and the newly adopted child. There are reasons this is not recommended, why do I always think we will be the exception to the rules???”

Institutionalized behavior

“I wasn’t really prepared for what “institutional behavior” meant. Really blindsided by lying, stealing, manipulative behavior. When I mention this to “professionals” they all say, “what did you expect, her to act like a nurtured child?” I guess I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t expect screaming tantrums from a 7 year old. I think it would have been helpful to have a list of possible “behaviors” and a well thought out effective response to them. I wish i had done more legwork on this before she came home instead of trying to scramble to find answers while we were in the middle of it.”

“I wish I had known what a culture shock it would be going into her orphanage and how unsocialized the children would be. I had read a lot about it, but nothing can prepare you for the smells, the desperate looks directed at you, and how abnormal my child would seem. I had a normally developing child of the same age at home, and even though I knew [she] would be behind, her mannerisms and movements were jerky. She wasn’t talking at all, and she was scared of her own shadow. It’s scary when you’re going in and have no idea how far behind the child is because they are just staring at you like a deer in headlights. I also wish I had known the signs of starvation because in retrospect, [her] jerky movements were symptomatic of her severe protein deficiency. It would have saved me a lot of fear.”

Development

“I wish I would’ve known that adopting an almost 8 y/o actually meant that she was developmentally between 2-6 years old depending on the task. That we would be mourning together: me- the loss of the child I thought was coming home and her – everything she had ever known. That post-adoption depression is REAL, and it doesn’t make you a bad mother. That bonding takes months, and I constantly felt like I was babysitting someone else’s kid for a long time.”

“On adopting a child with Down syndrome… I have to continue to remind professionals he is ESL. So many things are coming up as ‘developmental delays’ that I believe are actual rooted in language. I wish I had had him evaluated in Russian right away for the schools because I’m sure he’s lost so much of that now. Eight months later we are in this weird spot where English is not 100%, yet we have no way of knowing how much if his native language comprehension is lost. ‘Point to the animal that barks.’ Well, does he know what ‘bark’ means?”

“Having a child who doesn’t speak english is difficult but listening to a child learn english is adorable.”

“My advice is not to freak out at the extremely low test scores, and stand your ground for what you know as the appropriate placement for your child. IEP meetings are generally no fun to begin with, but be prepared for a whole new battle for your adopted child.”

Attachment

“I wish I knew that my daughter would reject me as hard as she did and that her first year home would be so very difficult so that I could have been more prepared. I was told it could happen, but did NOT have a true understanding of how hard it would be.”

“I was so naive to think that the brunt of the adjustment would be between me and the adopted child. I never believed (or let myself believe) that one of my children would have to bear the brunt so graciously. When we adopt, we really are calling our other children to serve alongside of us, come what may. I knew that….but I just didn’t think it would be our situation. I thought I could keep the other kids in a bubble while I did all the work.”

“My biggest struggle was dealing with our son’s inability to attach to me. I was the only one he rejected and it was really hard to be that only one. It took him a whole year (and a few months of intensive attachment therapy) to finally start bonding with me. I definitely was not aware of this when we were adopting, especially since he was so young (he was only two when we brought him home).”

“I wish I had allowed myself to feel ‘differently’ about my adopted child without the fear of thinking that meant I loved him less. Of course it’s different, silly me!”

“I think one of the huge things is not to judge bonding (yours or theirs) the first year. Also do not judge what your life is now going to be like with this new child until a year passes. The first year tends to be hard but also a time of huge change. Things look totally different year 2 and on.”

“My number one thing would be that the feelings you have for the child prior to them coming home are not the same as the feelings you’ll have for them once they are home. They are, however, critical because the memory of how you once saw them will you see through months 1-4 or more.”

Daily Parenting

“I am so glad I read The Connected Child full of so much awesome advice, especially regarding setting limits and remaining in control. It would be so tempting to give in to this new and emotionally fragile child, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed and needing a break. Standing my ground and being “Nazi Mama” really helped her understand our roles as her parents.”

“I learned that my “plan of adjustment” needed thrown out the window and I would have saved a lot of stress by just waiting for her to tell me when she was ready for new foods, ready for school, ready to be left with grandma, ready for her own room, etc.”

“How much I need prayer, daily. I used to be able to coast through life, and now I need God to have a good day each time.”

“Spending lots of one on one time with bio kids is crucial after adoption. We were so overwhelmed with [our adopted child’s] needs that we totally ignored [his siblings] till [his brother] had a nervous break down.”

“The hardest thing has been the defiance. I get so tired of her looking at me and telling me no any time I ask her to do something. It is frustrating. She is so sweet and cuddly (as long ad it is on her terms) and extremely stubborn at the same time. Although things are beginning to improve and I still love her to pieces.”

Mourning, Fear, and Anger

“One thing I was SO happy that I did know was that it’s common to go through a raging/mourning phase at some point after they come home. I was actually relieved when it happened the day after she came home because it showed she was getting comfortable with me, and I felt like we were getting it out of the way and could move on.”

“I wish I would have known how to deal with terror. And to forget even talking or working thru it… I knew my daughter would be scared but I had no idea how to deal with her terror. It’s infrequent these days as long as I leave her door open when she sleeps.”

” I was completely unprepared for [her] fear of being naked, of being touched, or even of me taking her socks off. Seeing a toddler literally watching her back is very unsettling to see.”