Adoption – delayed emotional development
Here’s another post about parenting difficulties, especially those faced by parents of children adopted from orphanages. Both my children pose challenges, but Karen has been especially difficult for us at times. She still seems to cycle in and out of moods where she regresses and seems to act like a 2-3 year old.
Most of us know that children from orphanages have many types of delays. We are used to having those issues dealt with by doctors and specialists. Some PT, good nutrition and healthy physical activity and the child improves quickly. Emotional delays are harder to deal with and continue to affect the child long after speech and physical delays have been resolved.
With Karen, behavioral triggers can be any new, especially emotional, development in her life. A hurtful scene at gan, and suddenly we have a few weeks of hitting, intentionally breaking things, destroying clothes, etc. Ok, some are funny, like when she puts her feet on the table while she’s eating just to see if I still have the energy to say, once again, “Karen, please take your feet of the table”; “feet with shoes off the furniture”; “please stop wiping your hands on your clothes while you are eating. There is a reason you have a napkin”. These are the funny ones. Not so funny is when she’s intentionally rough with Matan, or says really hurtful things under her breath. I stopped taking her to the supermarket after she whispered, “You’re stupid”, while standing in line and staring at the checkout clerk.
Lately, I’ve been reading some good books on adoption which my sister sent me when we got home with Matan. I wish I had read some of them earlier, much earlier, like maybe 3.5 years ago when we adopted Karen. One theme I’ve found very relevant is the thesis that adopted childrens’ emotional age will depend on how long they have been with their adoptive family. This is a rough estimate, but means that if Karen was adopted at age 2, and today she is 5, then her emotional age is around 3. That would account for her meltdowns over minor issues, especially those resulting from fights with girlfriends who are usually more emotionally mature.
Right now I’m reading “Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child – from the first hours together through the teen years”. I strongly recommend it to anyone considering an international adoption. Includes good case studies that follow the development of a small group of internationally adopted toddlers.
Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child is a wonderful, thoughtful resource for adoptive parents. As both a therapist and a parent, Patty Cogen offers valuable, practical advice with hands-on suggestions and great tips. This is a book that will grow with you as you navigate your parenting journey. –Carrie Kitze, author of We See the Moon and I Don’t Have Your Eyes