These are the findings of Dr. Elinor Ames' research on the Development of Romanian Children Adopted to Canada. In 1990, Dr. Ames, an adoptive parent and professor of developmental psychology at BC's Simon Fraser University, began her research on the effects of institutionalization on children adopted to BC from Romanian orphanages. That same year, 1013 children were adopted from Romania to Canada, the single largest influx of intercountry adoptions in Canadian history.
by Brenda McCreight, PhD, RSW
by Dana E. Johnson
The most difficult area in adoption medicine is predicting the needs of children adopted from orphanages. We are only beginning to understand how these kids are doing. Studies have been too few to say with certainty what percentage is normal (even if we could define "normal"). Also, the situation changes with time. Some children resolve problems, while others begin to exhibit them as the years pass. Because studies only deal with a two-to-five-year period after adoption, no one can speculate on long-term issues.
A summary from Dr Jill Waterman's session at the North American Council on Adoptable Children Conference in Pasadena, July 28 - August 1, 1999, on outcomes for adopted children affected by drugs. Waterman is the head of Clinical Psychology at UCLA and co-instigator on the TIES Adoption Project in LA. TIES provides Training, Intervention, Education, and Services to support the adoption of children who were prenatally exposed to alcohol and/or other drugs.
Why did you adopt special needs children?
At the time we had three birth children who were boys and we wanted to experience raising daughters. We had fostered special needs children for many years and felt we were able to meet the challenges that come with parenting special needs children.
How long did it take?
Celine and husband Dan Green live in a small town nestled in the BC mountains. Like many, they could not produce children biologically and found the intercountry adoption option too costly. However, they were sure about one thing: They wanted children. As independent business people well connected to their small community, said Celine,"we had a lot to offer a child, and we wanted more fulfillment in our own lives."
The Decision to Adopt
Kathy and Rick Miller already had four birth children between the ages of nine and 16, when they decided to add a sibling group of two to their family. "We enjoy children a lot," said Kathy, who has a degree in Child and Youth Care. "We have lots of parenting experience, and we felt we had a lot to offer as a family." She and Rick, who is a teacher, wanted more children, but felt that it was better "to expand our family by adding children who genuinely needed a home, rather than biologically."
Trauma and Brain Development
The brain develops from the inside out. A newborn’s brain has about 100 billion cells. At birth, the primitive brain, called the brainstem, is sufficiently developed to insure that vital functions can be maintained independently for a short period. Baby can breathe, the heart beats, the body temperature self-regulates, reflexes are operating. This is nature’s way of insuring that survival has a chance.
Both of *Melissa Berry’s children want information on their birth families, but at this time, only one, Kaiya, aged 11, has. Nine year old Brooke has to cope with the knowledge that, unlike her sister’s birth mom, hers is not ready or is unable to make contact with her. Brooke came home at 11 days old. Though her adoption allowed for an open arrangement and her birthmom indicated she would be interested in written communication, it has not happened. The Berrys have sent information via the Ministry but have not had any response.
"If I were an adoptee, I think I'd want to search for my birth parents. I'd be curious, I think," Cathy tells me. "Oh, no, I wouldn't want to," says Joanne. "I was raised by my biological parents and I may look like them, but I am nothing like them in personality. Who cares whose nose or hands you have?"