Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are you ready to Adopt?

At some point, couples experiencing infertility who want to move forward towards having a family will have to bridge the gap from infertility to adoption by acknowledging and accepting infertility.  Couples will have to confront the grief and loss associated with infertility. Resolution prior to adoption is necessary. It provides a strong foundation for couples to become emotionally and physically healthier and ready to bond and attach to a child. 

That may not be an easy process, and will necessitate a change in the thinking process: moving from the means to an end.  This requires couples to move away from the idea of having a biological child as the way to become parents to focusing on the end result; which is still being a parent, but by the use of a different means: by adoption.

Indicators that a couple may be ready to move forward with adoption:
  • Have exhausted viable, medical options without success.
  • No longer have the desire to pursue medical assistance.
  • Feelings of relief when discontinuing or thinking about stopping attempts to conceive.
  • The realization that actually being a parent is more important than how they became parents.
  • Spending more time talking about adoption.
  • Noticing more or seeking out adoptive families.
  • The belief that God is calling them to adopt.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stress Reduction

Infertility, adoption, finances, these are all areas that can produce stress, but any form of physical activity can help you unwind and can become an important part of your approach to easing stress. A regular exercise routine not only helps mange stress but it can also help you get ready to carry around your new baby or chase and active toddler.  

How does exercise reduce stress?
  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, other activity can also contribute to this same feeling.
  • It's meditation in movement. After exercising you may find that you've forgotten the day's dilemmas and irritations because you are concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. This can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
  • It has social benefits. Most often physical activity involves others and gives you a double dose of stress-relief with the combined benefits of exercise and fun with friends. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Do Russians Celebrate Halloween?

Generally speaking the answer is no; however, it has been gaining in popularity in recent years. Most often, if recognized, it is in the form of a private or school party. Don't look for Russian children to be going door to door, trick or treating anytime soon.

Halloween is supposed to be a fun fall holiday, but for kids who are experiencing it for the first time it can be scary and overwhelming. Proceed with caution with young children, especially those who have recently been adopted. All the scary aspects of Halloween may be magnified in children who have no experience in seeing monsters of any kind and for those raised on tales of "Baba Yaga." It may seem like the stuff of nightmares has came to life.

In Slavic folktales, Baba Yaga is often seen as a witch who flies around on a giant mortar, has iron teeth, kidnaps (and eats) small children, and lives in a house on chicken feet that can move around by itself. Misbehaving children are often told that if they do not behave, Baba Yaska will come and get them. 

Although she is mostly portrayed as a terrifying old woman, Baba Yaga is sometimes a helper and wise woman who gives advice and magical gifts to heroes and the pure of heart. Just remember if you make a deal with this crafty creature, she will expect you to hold up to your end of the bargain. To see more about Baba Yaga, see

Friday, September 7, 2012

The 7 Core Issues of Adoption

I was recently thinking about how my teen and some of her friend’s life experience’s may effect there relationships, especially as they enter the dating scene. I decided now might be a good time to review the “7 Core Issues of Adoption” as described, Silverstein and Kaplan.  Many members of the adoption tirade describe these as being life long and can affect adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents. The descriptions below look at adoptee and adoptive parents.  

Loss:  significantly impacts all members of the adoption triad. For adoptees, loss is most often equated to abandonment by birth parents. Adoptive parents who experienced infertility may suffer from self-esteem issues. The impact of infertility may be unacknowledged and trivialized. Adoptive parents may try to overcompensate. 

Rejection: An adoptee perceives that they were rejected by their birthparents and responsible for the rejection. This may results in self-esteem issues and an anticipated response or rejection from others.   Adoptive parents may feel a sense of isolation from their peers. They may reject or blame their partner.

Guilt and Shame: Adoptees may feel guilt because they believe they are responsible for their loss. They may be ashamed of being different, or feel guilty that they survived.
Adoptive parents may feel responsible for their infertility. They may believe they are being “punished for their past sins”.

Greif: Loss of a birth family/culture is often unacknowledged. If a child is not allowed to grieve, this can lead to emotional or behavioral issues. Adoptive parents with unresolved grief may have problems attaching to their child. They may perceive a child’s grief as rejection.

Identity: The personal identity of an adoptee may be affected as they struggle with the question “Who am I?” Adoptees, especially trans-racially adopted children may struggle with a sense of belonging. Adoptive parents may lose their sense of identity through crisis levels of stress, post adoption depression, infertility or a difficult adoption process.
Intimacy: Having experienced loss, rejection, self esteem, and identity issues, adoptees may struggle with intimacy issues. They may have a diminished capacity or resistance to attachment. Adoptive parents with unresolved grief may struggle with intimacy issues and martial problems.

Control: Loss of control can result in control issues and power struggles. Adoptees may struggle to control their environment in an attempt to feel secure.  Many aspects of adoption are out the adoptive parent’s control. Overcompensation caused by lack of control can become a continuing frustration even after an adoption is finalized. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parenting A Toddler

Approximately forty percent of all children adopted are toddlers between the ages of one and four. Adopting a toddler is not the same as adopting an infant or newborn.  Parenting techniques will be different depending on whether you adopt a younger or older toddler. His life experience and developmental level; not chronological age, will determine what strategies work best for him.
    Children; who have missed important developmental stages, may respond faster to parents and establish stronger bonds for forming attachment, when regression techniques such as bottle feeding a toddler who can drink from a cup are used. Children may need to be taught to play, eat properly, or to relax.
  Many toddlers who have spent time in an institutional setting will have developmental delays, fine or gross motor skill delays, or emotional or social delays. Speech delays are the most common.  A widely accepted calculation used to estimate developmental delays for children in orphanages is a one month delay for every three to four months in an orphanage. Using this equation, a 36-month-old child may be at the developmental equivalent of 24- 27-month-old. Most parents report that during the child’s first year in their new home that they experience catch up growth, improved coordination and cognitive development. 

Parenting Tips for Toddlers 

1.      Acknowledge that early days together can be very frustrating, keep temper in check.
2.      For older toddlers, learning simple phrases in the child’s language can be very beneficial. 
3.      Determine causes of anxiety. Something easily overlooked such as a doll with eyes that don’t close, monster toys, or even buttons
4.      Snuggle and hold often.  If they are hug resistant, start slow with simple non-threatening moves, while you establish trust.
5.      Don’t confuse transitional issues with attachment disorder.
6.      Join a post adoption support group.
7.      Use natural consequences and attachment parenting techniques.
8.      Don’t leave your child to “cry it out” When he is upset, he needs to be comforted.
9.      Establishing a daily routine will help your child feel more secure. 
10.  Feed when hungry. For children with food insecurities, try leaving healthy snacks in a convenient and easy to reach location. 
11.  Use time in, not time out.
12.  Interact and spend as much time with your child as possible. Limit television and avoid solitary activities. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Moving Forward with Adoption

It’s not unusual to find one spouse ready to start looking at adoption before the other is ready.  During this time, it is important to keep the ones of communication open.  Acknowledge your spouses reluctance and discuss concerns openly and honestly.
    If your spouse’s reaction is not what you had expected, they may need more time or space to help sort out their feelings. It may be necessary to slow down, regroup and move forward slowly.
    Seek out others who have adopted, or find an infertility or adoption support organization. Talking with others who have been there and done that may be beneficial. Meeting children and families formed by adoption may be just what they need.

Indicators that you may be ready to adopt are:

  • The realization that actually being a parent may be more important than how parententhood was achieved.
  • Spending more time talking about adoption.
  • Noticing more or seeking out adoptive families.
  • You have exhausted viable, medical options without success and no longer have the desire to pursue medical assistance.
  •  A feeling that a child waiting for you or that God is calling you to adopt.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tips for New Parents

• Remain Calm, count to ten, and most importantly, and don’t lose your temper.
• Learn the child’s native language. (This was invaluable.)
• Remember your child is scared. Try to find ways to reassure and comfort him.
• Don’t self diagnose or assume your child has a medical condition, developmental or behavioral disorder based on a short period of time together. If a condition continues or worsens, seek help as needed.
• If your child has developmental delays, get him involved early intervention services ASAP. Services include child development center programs, early intervention, English as a second language (ESL), speech, physical and occupational therapy, etc.
• Find a post adoption support organization.
• Use simple attachment play.
• Pick your child up when he cries. If he has a minor injury, comfort first: ask questions later.
• Establish a routine.
• Feed them as often as they are hungry.
• Try to identify and remove causes of anxiety.

Don’t forget to…
• Apply for a new birth certificate and social security card for your child
• Add your child to your health and life insurance
• Be your child’s best advocate. Take advantage of available financial & medical subsidies, tax credits, reimbursements, & other post adoption services.