for Your Child Overseas
Nelson-Erichsen and Heino R. Erichsen
You will be caring for your child in his or her native country for two
weeks or several months, depending on the country you are adopting from
and the length of wait for the final adoption decree. This is a stressful
period for most people. It takes a lot of fortitude to focus on the adoption
proceedings, to get to know your child, and to begin to win his or her
For children over one, use a hand puppet. The puppet can act out ideas
for both of you as well as provide some comic relief. If your child is
too large to be carried and held a lot, giving the child smiles, pats,
and light back massages when he or she is sitting or standing near you
is an excellent way to give the child a feeling of closeness.
New children are fearful, but they may cover it up. Since they were rejected
once, they may be again, or so they may reason. Boys and girls who begged
on the streets and lived in orphanages have learned some survival techniques,
some of which will probably stay with them forever.
Older children need to believe that you will be there for support when
they have problems - when something good happens or something bad happens.
Be creative these first few days to start winning their trust. Attachment
begins when you acknowledge their feelings and share their experiences.
Shared laughter and shared tears are the glue of parent-child relationships.
We tend to treat Third World orphans as First World kids, overwhelming
them with toys, furniture, and clothes. However, they have never even
had the luxury of making personal choices regarding style and color. And,
if they had the leisure to play, they probably made their own toys from
stones, sticks, and paper. Your carefully chosen educational or trendy
toys will probably be played with for five minutes and then carefully
put back in the toy box. That was our experience with Omar, and countless
other adoptive parents have reported similar behavior. Most psychologists
agree that parents should separate a child’s rights from a child’s rewards.
After you provide the basics, teach your child that rewards and privileges
must be earned.
Your child has likely been eating the cheapest food available with little
variety and no second helpings. Each child responds to this situation
differently. They may eat the crumbs off the floor and hoard food. At
home, your refrigerator and pantry will become a source of wonder and
pride. The child may eat twice as much as you do, creating worries about
obesity. Such concerns are usually unfounded. Let the child overeat for
several months. You can control the calories by carefully shopping for
meals and snacks. Children are no different than adults when it comes
to seeing food as a comforter. Since their emotional needs have not been
met, food soothes the soul, as well as the stomach. As children become
more secure, food will lose its importance. Other children may eat very
little and be suspicious of new foods. Introduce new foods a tablespoon
at a time. Don't worry or fuss about it. In a few months, things will
change. Concentrate on meal time as a happy family time. Turn off the
TV and get to know your child. Struggles over food can hurt your relationship.
Many parents also report incidents of bedwetting. If you discover your
child is a bedwetter (nocturnal enuresis), do not despair. Most Third
World children are beaten for this problem, thus they will probably try
to hide the evidence. Help is available as soon as you get home in the
form of behavior modification, bed alarms available from Sears, or large
size disposable diapers for nighttime for a while. See a doctor; the condition
often responds to treatment within a few weeks.
| Author interview | Purchase
'How to Adopt Internationally'
Nelson-Erichsen and Heino R. Erichsen are the authors of How
to Adopt Internationally, a hands-on book loaded with practical information
for families who seek to complete an international adoption. The Erichsons
are the founders of the Los Ninos International Adoption Center in Texas
and the parents of four children adopted from South America.
© Copyright by Mesa House Publishing. This article was published
in How to Adopt Internationally 2000-2002:
A Guide for Agency-Directed and Independent Adoptions by Jean and Heino
Erichsen. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
For more information, contact Mesa House Publishing. Phone at 888-306-0060