Mothering Forum banner
1 - 2 of 2 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
9,902 Posts
I'm not sure what kind of info you're looking for.

DS was born in Ethiopia, and joined us a year ago, shortly before his 5th birthday. I can tell you that there is a HUGE need for homes for older children, especially in Ethiopia. And in international adoption, things are always changing. When we decided to adopt DS a year and a half ago, he was 4.5, and was a waiting child. These days, some Ethiopian adoption programs have a waiting list for parents who would like to adopt a child under the age of 7. Children younger than 7 are referred families almost immediately, while older children wait a long time for families.

As for adjustment, I'm going to be honest- it was hard. It was really hard. DS did have some attachment issues. I could be totally off base here, but I believe that many of our adjustment issues had to do with DS's age at placement. I've never adopted a baby, so I'm not sure how different of an experience that is. But adopting a 5 year old was vastly different experience for me than giving birth to my three bio children. Rather than having time to get to know DS, as I did with my bio children, it felt like we were thrust into a new family situation with a ready-made child. I didn't know this kid- I didn't know his favorite food, or what it means when he smiles a certain way, or why he was shy around certain people and not around others. It was similar to falling in love with my DH- I had to get to know DS first, and figure out what made him tick, before I felt that I knew him well. So for me, it was nowhere close to 'love at first sight' with DS. And DS didn't love us or attach to us immediately, either.

The language barrier was definitely a contributing factor to some of our adjustment difficulties. Think about how hard it would be to communicate with a child who doesn't speak the same language. Although DS did pick up English pretty quickly, it's something he's still working on. He was able to master the basics pretty quickly (I'm hungry, I have to use the bathroom, etc.). But he still has trouble finding words to describe his feelings (I'm feeling sad because...). Another challenge for me was the lack of physical contact. I didn't get to parent DS when he was a baby, so I missed out on providing him all of the cuddles and holding that I gave my other kids. Yes, you can cuddle and carry a 5yo, but it's different. I don't know if it's personality, environment, attachment issues, or what, but my adopted DS does not seek out physical closeness at all. Even after being with us for a year, he'll never choose to sit on my lap, give me a hug, or climb into my bed in the morning to snuggle with me. He will now accept hugs and other displays of affection- but it just never even enters into his mind to offer those things or seek them out. He generally doesn't come to me for comfort (I got hurt!), although he does come to me for justice (my brother took my toy!). I had to make a conscious decision to seek out that physical closeness, otherwise it just wouldn't have happened.

Going in, I knew it was going to be hard, but I guess I didn't realize how hard. I didn't realize how much it would affect me to live with a child who didn't love me. I knew that he would reject my affection at first, that we would have to live together for awhile before we felt bonded to each other. But I didn't realize how hard it would be to do that month after month after month.

Surprisingly, DS bonded/attached to his siblings much faster than to me or DH. He had built-in playmates, which really helped. Our kids are closely spaced- our four children were born in a space of 3.5 years. Sibling dynamics were pretty interesting for awhile when DS first arrived. We had the regular fights and squabbles, but it didn't take long for the kids to get their bearings.

Now, with all of that said, I don't regret our decision to adopt DS. I love him, and it's obvious that he loves us as well. I'm not sure when I fell in love with him, but it was somewhere between 8 and 12 months postplacement. I did have to work at it, but we're there. And despite our rocky beginning, things are really good now. I never know what to say these days when people ask me how things are going with DS, because I don't have much to report. Things are just normal. We're just a regular family, living our lives each day.

If you're considering adopting an older child, I'd suggest doing some serious research on the subject. I read tons of books and websites, so I had at least some idea what I was getting myself into. And it was a huge comfort to me, after reading through those books, to know that my feelings were normal. It was okay if I didn't feel an instant bond to DS, it was normal to feel frustrated that I couldn't communicate with DS, it was even normal to feel like adopting him was the worst mistake I ever made. And, if the experiences of others were any indication, we were going to make it through to the other side. It was possible to surmount the challenges we were faced with, and come out the other side as a happy, healthy, well-adjusted family.

I know that some people have a much easier transition than we did, and others deal with much more serious issues (such as true RAD). But I'm glad we were prepared for the possibilities, and I'm even happier that we made it through that rough first year, to a place where we're just a normal happy family again
 

· Registered
Joined
·
9,902 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by HappyMomAnna View Post
There are some great points in adopting pre-school ages, I think the best was that I still had some time with Jeremiah before he started school. I did NOT have time with Makala before we had to get her enrolled in kindergarten and If I had it to do all over again I would have home schooled for the first year at least.
While I don't think it's necessary to homeschool 'older' adopted children, I believe that homeschooling has really helped with the adjustment for my DS. It's helped with attachment, it's helped me to get to know my DS better. Simply put, the more time I spend with my DS, the more of a connection I make with him. Although we are relaxed homeschoolers, I do sometimes use curriculum with my adopted DS. I've found that doing this with him has really helped me to feel more positive about DS. I feel proud of DS because I'm able to work with him and see how much he is learning, and see how much he is improving.

We did consider sending our adopted DS to school when he was having difficulties during his first few months. But we rode out the difficulties, and I'm so glad.
 
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top