Karen, before

Today, someone arrived here after searching for “delayed physical development in toddlers in orphanages”. This is an issue that most potential parents consider when making the decision to adopt internationally. I hope the person searching comes back and reads this post. Better yet, if anyone wants my direct feedback, send me a question and I’ll do my best to respond.

Nearly all institutionalized children will suffer some level of physical, mental and emotional underdevelopment. Not only do they lack the love and affection given by birth parents, but they also tend to have diets poor in protein. Most countries with orphanages and children available for adoption are also poor, so their is little funding for enrichment. Caretakers may be numerous, but they can only care so much for children they see on a rotating basis.

But the good news is that most children thrive after being adopted by caring parents. I just think about the difference in how much my kids eat when they are nurtured compared to how I saw them eat when in the baby home. When my youngest indicates he doesn’t want anymore, I let him leave the table, but I still run after him with the bowl and spoon to try and finish out the serving I intended for him. That would never happen in the baby homes I saw.

And then there is love. I don’t know if scientists have quantified how love increases development, but I’ve read studies that even plants thrive when spoken to. If kindness affects a plant, how much more will a child thrive with love and affection.

I’ve seen Karen go from being severely underdeveloped in everything except her willpower, to become a healthy strong little girl who is on par with her peers in almost everything. Like many children, she even exceeds in some areas like athletics. On the other hand, she remains emotionally underdeveloped. See the featured post on emotional development here.

Physical development is only one piece in the whole child. Mental development is also often considered, but few people think about emotional development prior to adopting. From my experience, emotional development is the toughest to overcome, but I plan on doing it eventually.