The majority of children adopted from Ukraine are not infants.
They are children with personalities and a past. In this article
a mom and her daughter, adopted at age 9, share lessons learned
about older child adoption in this beautiful article.
Every child is unique and every adoption and family experience
will be different. However, as an adopted parent of an older
child much of this story resonates with me.
Since it is a very long piece, I have broken it up into segments.
My comments are in "quotes". Enjoy.
What We Wish We Had Known
By Judy and Sara Myerson
Initial bonding with an older child is extremely important.
Any child who was in an orphanage or foster care will have had
major interruptions and disruptions with primary caregivers, and
at worst, never had an adult with whom to bond.
We were lucky. Sara came to us with a memory of strong primary
attachments to both her birthmother and birthfather. She also
came with the history of having been abandoned by those parents,
with no explanation of why she had to go or why she was the one
so chosen. In her four years at the orphanage, she did not find
one adult who took care of more than her physical needs. She was
not about to trust that we would truly be there and remain. She
had also perfected a number of survival skills-a defensive
prickliness and pushing-away behaviors-that could make it hard
for someone to want to bond with her.
When I watch Sara's adoption video now, several things jump out
at me. The first is how often I allowed Sara to walk with, hold
hands with, be given things, and be comforted by our guide,
rather than me or her father. The second realization is how my
energy was focused on caring for two-year-old Mia, not Sara.
We should have been doing all the care-taking. I should have been
holding Sara's hand, not a shopping bag. Mia could have been
cared for by her brother. Those first moments, when Sara was most
afraid and vulnerable, were golden opportunities to establish us
as the ones she could turn to, and to establish me as her mom.
"When adopting from Ukraine, you have the unique opportunity to
spend time with your Ukrainian adopted child in their
environment. The first days and weeks are critical. Build trust
with your child by always keeping your word and your promises. Be
on time for all your meetings with your child. Remind them you
will be there tomorrow, and be sure to warn them in advance if
you will have to miss a day. You need to show your newly adopted
child from the very beginning that you will be there for them
always and they can trust you to be there."
"Remember you are the parent. You need to set rules and
limitations right away. Be careful not to allow a child to do
things while you are with them in Ukraine that you will not allow
at home. That double standard will be hard for the child to
understand. Remember, it will be a dramatic and possibly
traumatic change to a totally new living environment when you
return to the States. Be as consistent as possible with your
parenting. The more you can keep consistent and unchanged, the
easier the transition will be for your newly adopted Ukrainian
Adoption Services International unites loving US families with
Ukrainian children. We provide a unique combination of
professional, individualized, quality service (including a
maximum guaranteed adoption fee), personal adoption experience,
affordable local cost and 20 years Ukrainian experience.
If you or someone you love would like to expand your family,
provide a permanent home for a needy orphaned child, welcome a
sibling for an existing child or discover an alternative for
infertility treatments - contact us to learn more about Ukrainian
adoption, Adoption Services International can help.
Ukrainian Adoption Information Meeting
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:00-8:00PM
Location: Wellness Rocks: 133 Rupell Road, Clinton, New Jersey