Leigh Anne Harrington, LCSW, PIP
UAB International Adoption Clinic
Parenting children who are adopted abroad from orphanages or foster care is different than parenting children who have been in a nurturing family from birth. These children have experienced multiple losses and disruptions in attachment. They need educated parents and teachers who understand their needs and who are willing to help them adjust.
For many children the most difficult period of experiencing separation is when they are actually in the healing process and have begun to experience both the joys and inevitable vulnerability of feeling attached to a safe person who returns that love.
Childcare providers or teachers can help by:
- Recognizing that these children have missed many of the nurturing and educational experiences that other children in school have received. Thus, they are often emotionally younger than their peers.
- Understanding that a gradual transition from new parents to daycare is vital. Allowing a parent to stay at school with the child until the child is comfortable and never suggesting that the parent sneak away from the child. Establishing the child's trust and continued reliance upon parents is the goal.
- Having photos of parents and something from home (momma's pillow) is helpful to these children.
- They need nurturing structure that they can depend on - changing teachers can be very difficult - adjust transitions slowly.
- These children need teachers and childcare providers who understand that there is a reason that the child may be behaving differently and that he or she will need support to continue to grow and develop.
- These children need providers who can help them feel safe and allow them to go back to being more socially and developmentally immature in his or her company.
- Parents need providers who will not judge their parenting techniques without asking the reasons behind them.
- Realizing that the child may be superficially charming and indiscriminate in their affection with adults to which they are not emotionally close. These are cues that attachment issues are still present and parents need to know.
- Parents need communication from schools and daycare. They often don't see issues that are present at school. They need to know if their child cries excessively or is withdrawn or aggressive.
- Bring mom and dad into conversations with the child- "your mom loves you" "your mom and dad sure do nice things for you"
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