Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

My Sentiments Exactly - International Adoption, Attachment, Etc.

The orphan situation in Haiti has generated much discussion and action in the adoption world. While I absolutely stand behind anyone who advocates to ensure that all children to be adopted meet the necessary criteria, have the appropriate documentation, etc., I am concerned by more extreme lobbying to stop or slow adoptions unnecessarily (I know, those advocating these measures would not say they are unnecessary).

My concern is not specifically about Haiti - which is a complicated situation right now, to say the least - but more generally in regard to the idea that it is better for orphaned children to stay in their home countries, raised in foster or institutional care, than to be adopted internationally into permanent families. This is not about political correctness, or cultural competence, but about a core value which in my opinion transcends culture, race, and politics - a fundamental need for a child to be part of a family as early in life as possible - build, and learn how to build healthy, fulfilling relationships, and to have a pretty good chance at the kind of education, social skills, and social network required to build a safe and healthy life for themselves when they leave home (which, for many orphanage-raised children, is questionable, and happens far too young). While the goal is most definitely for countries to be able to make this happen, international adoption has to be part of the picture, at least for now. The following quotes do a great job of explaining my position, and providing a little food for thought in regard to one of the big reasons children need to be in families - attachment. We have a social responsibility NOT to increase children's risk of lifelong difficulties as a result of delaying or neglecting to find them families, wherever those families may be. Have a look:

The Role of International Adoption:


"...orphaned children deserve a chance at having permanent homes and families. International adoption is not a perfect solution to the problem...but it saves lives, gives children a chance, one adoption at a time.

Of course, most would agree that international adoption should not be the sole answer to poverty faced by nations around the world. No rational person would think so. International adoption should be seen as a stopgap emergency measure taken while the United Nations, human rights groups, humanitarian organizations and the governments of these underdeveloped countries seek answers to the abject poverty, high birth rates, AIDS epidemic, malnutrition, lack of education, lack of women’s rights, and massive unemployment which lead to parents making these hard decisions about the future of their offspring. International adoption is one temporary cog in the wheel. UNICEF and other detractors and critics of international adoption have continually failed to recognize the vital emergency role of international adoption and how compromise and middle ground solutions could serve the orphaned and abandoned children."



"Attachment can be defined as the ability or capacity to bond emotionally with another person."


"[A child's ability to form attachments with others starts] with pre-natal care, then moves on to the conditions at birth, conditions in the orphanage, the staff/child ratio and the natural resiliency of the child. Any infant who is neglected when she cries can be at risk for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). RAD can develop within the first few months of life...the longer a child is exposed [to risk factors, including institutional care], the greater the risk [of attachment disorders], so there is some correlation between RAD and age at adoption."

Arthur Becker-Weidman, Ph.D., Centre for Family Development, Williamsville, NY

Subtle Signs of Attachment Issues:

1. Sensitivity to rejection and to the normally attuned connections between mother and child.
2. Avoiding comfort when the child's feelings are hurt, although the child will turn to the parent when physically hurt.
3. Difficulty discussing angry feelings or hurt feelings.
4. Over-valuing looks, appearance, and clothes.
5. Sleep disturbances, not wanting to sleep alone.
6. Precocious independence. A level of independence that is more frequently seen in slightly older children.
7. Reticence and anxiety about changes.
8. Picking at scabs and sores.

The longer a child is in alternate care, the more these subtle signs become pervasive.

Specific Difficulties Related to Attachment Issues:

1. Superficially engaging and charming behaviour, phoniness
2. Avoidance of eye contact.
3. Indiscriminate affection with strangers.
4. Lack of affection on parental terms.
5. Destructiveness to self, others, and material things.
6. Cruelty to animals.
7. Primary process lying (lying in the face of the obvious).
8. Low impulse control.
9. Learning lags.
10. Lack of cause/effect thinking.
11. Lack of conscience.
12. Abnormal eating patterns.
13. Poor peer relationships.
14. Preoccupation with fire and/or gore.
15. Persistent nonsense questions and chatter.
16. Inappropriate clinginess and demandingness.
17. Abnormal speech patterns.
18. Inappropriate sexuality.


"In a 6-year study of post-institutionalized children adopted from Romania by British couples, researchers found that children who were 6 months or younger when they were adopted had higher IQs and experienced fewer attachment disorder behaviors than children who had spent more time in orphanages."

www.nacac.org/adopttalk.orphanage experiences.html

"Probably our most important finding was that there was a lot of variation in how well children did three years after adoption. The early-adopted children generally had few serious problems, and as a group looked very much like children born in Canada. Of the children who spent eight months or more in an orphanage, some resembled children born in Canada, but others had many problems and were still very different from their Canadian-born counterparts."

(Discussion of research on Romanian adoptees, conducted by Dr. Elinor Ames)

"All orphanage children were developmentally delayed when adopted. The longer they had spent in orphanage, the more delayed they were.

Before signing off, I do have a quick nod & disclaimer: I enjoy reading about groups and individuals who have taken their love and concern for orphans, and have put it into practice internationally by establishing child-focused and success-oriented models for group living, such as small-group family-style care, and programs focused on education, skill development, and long-term outcomes - any such effort plays an important role in ensuring the nurturing and health of children who need it!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

In Stitches

Here's what we've been up to...

Geoff is becoming quite the crafter, I must say. The critters are all his handiwork. As for me, I started experimenting on the weekend with these necklace/bandana kinda things:

Monday, 25 January 2010

Cheer Up

So, this link may explain why today is, ah, a little gloomy around here (well, it may not explain the events that have transpired on this particular day, but at least it is fitting):


It seems that the last Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. The article (and the news report during which I first heard of this earlier today) mention things such as post-Christmas blues, bills, and grey weather as possible contributing factors. In my case, today, you could add a not-very-pleasant work-related email, a frightening one-hour computer crash (it turned on again eventually, but I lost lots of work time after already being off to a slow start), topped off by a growing sense that I am already running behind in 2010. It is also possible that I had a subconscious hope of waking up to a perpetual day off - like the movie, "Groundhog Day" - but alas, it is Monday.

Must get back to work again in a moment, but first, here are a few photos of the past couple of weeks:

First, the hounds, meeting a new friend. 6-month-old basset, Sydney, came for a visit. And it's a good thing our campground won't let us have three dogs (and that our friends seem to plan on keeping her), because this little beauty looks just like a Gladwyn-Hesper combo, and is a lovely dog. Our girls thought she was fantastically interesting.

Next, my Motet. Here, she is the subject of a test photo on our new camera, with Geoff holding the lens about an inch from her face:

Also a new-camera test shot, using the "retro" feature:

And, lastly, a little outdoor friend who hung around for a day (hopefully not trying to find a way to make our attic its new home - been there twice already):

Monday, 18 January 2010

I Was Failing Blog Social Skills 101

Ok, so, it's true. I am a blurker. And I have only recently been realizing that's not the coolest thing to be in blog-world. Because I am not a creepy or sneaky type (I don't think so anyway), I figured I was just harmlessly reading peoples' blogs, enjoying a smile here, a bit of wisdom there, maybe some common understanding, etc. Oh sure, I've posted a comment the odd time, but not on most of my regular round of blogs by far. I'm generally the type who figures that if others have already posted my thoughts on a matter, or if I have nothing brilliant to say (which is often the case - that is, not feeling brilliant), then there's no point in typing just to see myself in type...but maybe I have been missing part of the point, and am happy to try being a bit more generous in my commenting. So here goes - I am about to begin de-lurking!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

I am a winner!

And that's not just motivational self-talk, folks!

I am very excited, because I won a draw for a hand-made doll, to be created by a fellow blogger and Ethiopian adoptive parent-in-waiting who is getting crafty.

Winning things is super-fun, and I am a sucker for dolls and critters of all kinds, so will eagerly welcome this new little creation when s/he arrives! Can't wait :)

Hmm, on further reflection, maybe I should pay it forward and do something similar with one of my bags. I've been keeping up with a bit of knitting these days, in the evenings, but am quite serious about getting back to consistent daytime sewing once the house is back in order (which means, sadly, that I have begun de-Christmas-ing the house). Oh, and Geoff's sewing is turning out very well - will post some pictures once we have a few finished projects to display!


Lists are pretty much one of my favourite things.

I even bought a book recently, Listography Journal: Your Life in Lists (by Lisa Nola and Nathaniel Russell). So very fun.

Today is a big list day. Emails are being sent as I write, and soon we will know where we sit amongst the families waiting for siblings through our agency. The agency kindly agreed to provide this information given all the upheaval around the bankruptcy and the resulting uncertainty regarding timeframes. I used various bits of incomplete information and conjecture to come up with a bit of an estimate as to how many sibling requests there might be, and where we might fall within that line...and will soon find out if there was any basis to my calculations at all!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Infectious Crafting

Geoff decided he wanted to go shopping today, looking for a craft book for sewing critters of some kind. Yes, that's right. Geoff is still the only person to have used the lovely sewing machine he bought me for Christmas. I picked up a knitted critters book, and he found a sewing one. As soon as I am finished my snack break I'll get back to my knitting. I am itching to sew as well...but may have to do that while Geoff's at work, since it seems we have to share machine time. Will post some pictures once we have finished a creation or two!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

An Ethiopian Christmas Gift for a Canadian Family!

At least one Canadian family received a referral today, of a baby girl. This is the first we know of since the offices re-opened on Monday after the holidays. And this one makes 5 since restructuring! Again, the conservative estimate in the restructuring proposal was 5 referrals per month starting in March. A wonderful memory for this family to celebrate each Ethiopian Christmas, January 7, from now on!

Update: Seems that there have been at least a few referrals today. Wow.

Merry Christmas Ethiopia!

I have discovered even more reason to keep celebrating...it is Christmas in Ethiopia today. I was pretty excited to learn this, as it means in future we can have two Christmases, complete with taking the day off, cooking up a traditional meal (or eating out at one of the Ethiopian restaurants in town), and maybe even saving a gift or two. How very exciting!!!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

It's Not Over 'Til It's Over (or, We're Having a White Christmas After All)

Just a friendly reminder (and cheer - hooray!) that it is still Christmas (and I continue to wish you a merry one)!

To be honest, I am always quite disappointed when people stop celebrating the Christmas season by Boxing Day. As much as I love everything to do with the season, I would personally feel it was hardly worth putting up a tree a week or two before Christmas and then taking it down within a couple of days afterward. I need the warm-up to the season, and then some wind-down time to savour everything once all the preparation is over. Besides the fact that I am absolutely unwilling to use my time off for un-decorating. Much rather sit with a new book or movie, enjoy the lights, take a snowy walk or two...all while my decorations continue to spread their cheer.

Leaving the decorations up and celebrating the season at least through New Year's seems entirely reasonable (and traditional). What is the rush? I know, I know. Some folks are back to work right after Boxing Day (or work right through it all). I do understand that, and don't want to seem unsympathetic to those in that particular situation. Although, I might respectfully suggest that working through the holiday season is as good a reason as any to leave things up a week or two longer, and meander into the new year without the pressure of having everything packed up and hidden away for another year right after opening the gifts.

At the heart of it, it's not really about the decorations (although I do enjoy seeing the odd tree or house lights twinkling away into January). Do what you must to stay sane and relaxed. The issue is more about the concept of festival, and celebration, and the trouble our fast-paced, efficient, practical (sometimes, anyway) culture seems to have in drawing a thing out, keeping it going, and observing a season, rather than just one day (because I'm not totally sure that the hectic lead-up to Christmas really lets most of us observe the season adequately, so that time period only partly counts). It makes me sad when people ask me on December 27 whether I "had" a good Christmas. I'm just settling into it by then (and usually have one or two primary family gatherings left to attend). I would rather be asked how I am enjoying my Christmas.

To really make the most of things, I plan at some point to develop some 12 days of Christmas traditions, where we mark each day of the season with something - even a small reading, or playing of a particular carol with a focus on the meaning of each symbol and event through the holidays. Today we held an Epiphany open house, to round things out. I've been wanting to do this for a while. Today was Epiphany Sunday, and the Christmas season traditionally and "officially" ends on Epiphany, January 6, which marks the coming of the wisemen and essentially completes the Christmas story.

So there is my rationale/excuse for keeping things going through the first week of January. And besides, we finally have snow, so it would be a shame to have "finished" Christmas already! Actually, we have so much snow that our sidewalk has at least 3 feet of it, which prevented street parking for our open house on the side streets (or meant folks had to walk on the highway to access our place. Thankfully, with our cars on the side streets, and the particular flow of visitors, folks were mostly able to use our driveway). Side note: we have decided, after 9 years with this long driveway and highway snow piles caused by plows, that we need a snowblower.

We may be back to work in the morning, but will be enjoying the Christmas season for a few more days, along with our lights and trees. By next weekend, or sometime the week after, we will be in the mood for putting things away (and bringing out my little snowman collection along with a few white lights to keep the winter twinkling, and ease the transition from full-blown Christmas decor). Still have a few Christmas CDs to enjoy once or twice more, too.

"Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day (crivoice. org). With it the Christmas season reaches its peak with a commemoration of the arrival of the...kings with gifts for the newborn baby Jesus (theworldwidegourmet. com). [Typically] if the Epiphany does not fall on a Sunday, it is observed on the previous Sunday, which is then called Epiphany Sunday (kencollins. com)."