Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

Just a Different Kind of Awful August 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 6:32 PM

Today I got to talk to a friend of mine who has also recently adopted a toddler from Korea. As many of you APs out there know, it is such a relief to be able to talk to someone who is having the same kind of experiences as you. We were discussing some of the issues we have faced with our boys in the recent months.

I have to admit, things are getting better around here all the time. Matthew is thriving in preschool and I see some breakthroughs happening. One MAJOR success we have celebrated lately is that 2 nights ago, he woke up in the middle of the night and said, “Mommy, drop it.”

Doesn’t sound like such a big deal?

Well for 9 months, if he needed anything at all at night or whenever he woke up in the morning, he would do one of two things. He would scream hysterically or he would go, “EEHHHHHHHHHHHH” at top volume. How very pleasant to be woken up or greeted in the morning. I called it is “morning EHHHHHHHHHHH”. So when he woke up at 4 AM and said, “Mommy, drop it”, I knew that he had dropped his teddy bear on the floor. I was shocked….and thrilled.

So yes, we are making big strides. At the same time, there are some issues that concern us. Namely, anger. I see some anger issues in Matthew that raise a red flag for me–I won’t get too specific because that part isn’t important, but I think that this is something that we are going to be working on with him for a very long time….possibly something that he will struggle with throughout his life.

Lots of kids have anger issues, you might say. You can’t necessarily blame it on adoption. That’s true.

Except when I described this issue to my friend today, she confirmed that her son has reactions that are eerily the same in similar situations…..right down to body language, facial expressions and the amount of time it lasts.

My friend was explaining this (along with some other issues she was concerned about) to someone at her adoption agency. This woman was shocked. She said that she might expect things like this from “those Russian kids” but not Korea!! After all, isn’t the Korean system one of the very best?

Of course, foster care is WAY more preferable to orphanage care. There is absolutely no doubt about that and if a biological family is not there, then another family environment filled with love and meeting of the child’s needs is essential. VITAL. But these kids from Korea aren’t coming home at 5-9 months of age anymore. And by saying that I, in no way, am saying that children adopted at 5-9 months of age are immune from problems…..or am I saying that children adopted at an older age are doomed for life.

Even “healthy” referrals from Korea are coming home at 14 months and older. Of COURSE they are angry. Sometimes I think about children leaving the orphanages. TRAUMATIC, yes. But there is at least the small upside of finally getting nutrition, attention, love. Our (Korean) kids are yanked from what they all believe to be their families. Both situations bring with it their very own set of issues.

Attachment disorders, developmental delays.
Anger, mistrust.

Yes, I absolutely thank God every day that my son was blessed to be placed in a loving foster home, but parents adopting from Korea shouldn’t think that these optimal conditions make their child immune to all of the scary issues that come along with adopting.

And no, this post isn’t anti-international adoption….in any way! Although I do think that it should only be a last resort.

Orphanage? Foster care?

In the end, it all equals being taken away by strangers to a strange land.

One might seem better than the other, but if you look at it from our children’s perspective, it’s just a different kind of awful.


7 Responses to “Just a Different Kind of Awful”

  1. I would be really interested to talk with you about these issues… we see lots of undesirable, angry behaviors in I that we expect will take a looooong time to decrease.Thanks for bringing this up.

  2. kelly Says:

    Elizabeth, I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying. This new trend of coming home at a later age has GOT to have some repercussions. I guess we'll be finding out …

  3. Nora Says:

    This is a great post–thank you. As a PAP in-process for a waiting child from Korea, we anticipate that our child will be 18mos–3yo when he/she joins our family. We started out considering Ethiopia for our adoption, and I find that the conversation surrounding these issues is much more lively on the ET boards than on the Korea boards.

  4. Thanks for bringing this up. Often I feel like we're the only ones who are experiencing issues like this. I'd like to talk to you as well when you have a chance (jlopressey @ yahoo.com). We're seeing an increase in anger and extreme frustration issues with M. I'm at a loss as to how to handle it – but it has to be nipped in the bud now if possible.

  5. Chaukie Says:

    I was just having a conversation with someone about the trend in Korean adoptions now. We were blessed to be able to bring our children home at 4 and 5 months, both of which had pretty easy transitions. I can't help but wonder how much more difficult it is for the children now that they are generally over a year old before they meet their adoptive family.

  6. Kristen Says:

    I could not agree w/you more. I certainly don't think all adopted children are doomed to have issues or are permanently damaged, but I think the trauma of adoption is minimized by many people.Maybe it is b/c as APs, we love our children long before they come home and know from the beginning they will be w/us forever and its painful for us to realize its completely different for our kids. Whatever the reason, there seems to be this opinion that b/c children are in foster care that they immediately adapt to their new homes and that adoption has no impact on them whatsoever. Our kids were taken away from everything they knew and loved…its not surprising that they grieve or get angry or feel insecure. I think these are things that each child must deal with in his own way and I think it doesn't make them permanently damaged, but I do think it takes time to overcome. Thanks for opening up about a topic that sometimes seems off-limits.

  7. […] I would be curious to hear any thoughts on what you think of this–is either one better than another or are they both just different kinds of awful? […]

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