Cultural Differences in raising babies

There are a few things that new parents need to be aware of when their baby is first placed in their arms in China. Ways the baby has been raised that are different than the way Americans and (I assume) most Europeans will raise the child. If you don’t understand these things, life is going to be harder for parent and child.

For starters, the traditional potty chairs in China are not open on top, like a seat. Think of them more like a high chair that they can be strapped into, with sides coming up to keep them from falling off of it, a hole in the seat, and chamberpots under the hole. Babies are propped up in these chairs as early as a few weeks old, and learn to not “go” unless they are seated on the chair. In the home the mom learns the babies’ signals and puts the child in the chair when she sees them. In the orphanage, babies may spend hours a day seated on a chair, basically they sit there until they do something. And in some SWI’s they are spanked for “going” in their diaper. Depends on the orphanage, and the caretaker. Some orphanages just potty train infants for bowel movements, others also train for urine. Many families don’t understand why a child will go for days without a BM. Sure, some of that is the stress of leaving everything they know and being handed to strangers who look different than any other person they’ve ever seen. And some of it is the change in diet. But a lot of it can be that they are used to sitting on a potty for that, and that they’ve had consequences for using their diaper in the past. And now they are not being sat on a potty. Being held on the big toilet in your hotel room may not equate in their mind to being strapped into a wooden potty chair, they may not realize that is what the toilet is, they may have never seen a porcelain toilet before. (As with everything, there are no absolutes, some will have, but not all.)

Another thing that is different is the use of split pants. The use of split pants means that clothes don’t have to come off very often. Diapers can be changed without taking the pants off. The child can sit in the potty chair without removing pants. In the winter, it’s possible that a child may keep the same clothes on for weeks. Both of my girls hated to have their clothes removed. As new parents, we undressed GG too soon. She completely freaked. We waited longer before we undressed TT – four or five hours. She still freaked, but hopefully it wasn’t as much of a shock as being handed to people who almost immediately undressed her. Also, since they weren’t used to being undressed, they were no help at all in maneuvering. It was like dressing and undressing a newborn. Actually, probably worse than that, because they did not want their clothes removed and did their best to make it difficult, and then when we were putting more on they were pretty ticked off about the whole thing.

And this takes me to the issue of baths. Neither of my girls appeared to have ever been in a bath before. I didn’t push it. I cleaned both with a washcloth for a few days, until I hoped some trust was in place. They’d been that long without a bath, another day or two wasn’t going to hurt. And I took a bath by myself, with RK holding them so they could watch, for a few times before it was time for them to join me. And then I got in the tub, in about an inch and a half of water. and let them slowly get into the water. Standing on my leg, out of the water. Sitting on my leg, with just feet in the water. And finally, sitting in the water between my legs. One of them took to it a lot better than the other. Both were terrified at first, but I let them set the pace, and one of my girls was having fun by the end of the first bath, though it took a few times before the other actually enjoyed the process.

I don’t think this one is a cultural thing as much as an orphanage thing: Many SWI’s cut the end of the nipple off, so the formula just falls into the mouths of the babies, no sucking needed. The SWI workers add enough rice powder to the formula (or, just the water if there is no money for formula) to make it a little gloppy, so it falls out of the bottle slowly enough. The baby literally just lays and lets it fall into their mouth and swallows when needed. Both of my girls were accustomed to this and didn’t have a clue how to suck. To counter this you’ll need to take a lot of nipples, and every couple of days cut a hole that is a little smaller than the previous hole, (and make the formula a little waterier than it was for the previous nipple) until the child is finally sucking.

Oh, and the heat of the bottles. Both GG and TT were used to water that was practically scalding. On an orphanage visit I was horrified to realize how hot the bottles were for the babies. But, they are used to it, and won’t like it if it isn’t hot. Experiment around with temperature if you think you’ve got everything else right and the child is still not interested. I’m not advocating you start out with water that hot, just that if the child isn’t interested and you’ve tried everything else, make the water a little hotter than you think it should be.

I’ve heard lots of stories of toddlers and preschool aged children who had trouble eating from a fork or spoon, but were fine being fed with chopsticks. If you can’t handle chopsticks then take some cheater chopsticks with you to feed your child, just in case your child is a finicky eater and will only eat rice and other solids from chopsticks and not from a fork or spoon. It’s not forever, just until they get used to you and your ways. Those first days and weeks are hard, don’t make them harder than they have to be.

I’m sure there are things I’m missing. If people want to point them out in the comments I will add it to the post, so we can have them all in one place.

Part of forming attachment is in getting the child to trust you. Forcing them into a bath right away and scaring the bejeebers out of them is not going to help your case very much. And if you give the child a regular bottle that they don’t know what to do with, they may wonder about your parenting skills. Think of it from their end, if the formula has always fallen into their mouth and they don’t have a clue how to suck, they are going to wonder about your ability to take care of them if you can’t give them a bottle like they are used to, where the formula just falls into their mouth. They will be hungry, with no one to feed them as they are used to being fed. You want them to feel like you are capable of taking care of them, and sometimes that means doing things closer to the way they’ve been done for a little while. Their world has been turned upside down, the least we can do is try to understand their world a little bit to try to make the transition as easy as possible.


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69 Responses to “Cultural Differences in raising babies”

  1. waiting for megan Says:

    Thank you. This is probably the most valuable ‘adoption tips’ I have come across in one place. And it is all based on common sense of parenting while understanding and respecting the cultural differences. From reading some of the adult adoptee stories I was aware of the potties (scared, but aware.) I, too, was thinking better not to rush a bath or take away that familiar scent of the orphanage on her clothes. I had read about how they are fed in the orphanages but didn’t really focus on the children not knowing how to suck on the bottles or to use a chopstick to feed them – again providing more of the kind of comfort or familiarity they are used to. We’ve probably all been told how the women will scold Westerners for not dressing the babies warmly enough – but this was pretty much it. This is all going to be so helpful in making lots of transitions go more smoothly. Great post.

  2. TR1140 Says:

    My daughter is 5 years old and I still have to heat her milk in a microwave before she will drink it. Yes – she still drinks milk out of a bottle, but it’s a comfort thing and I don’t want to take it from her. Plus, she drinks a ton of milk, which has been great for her growth, so I don’t dare mess with it! She drinks everything else perfectly fine from a glass, but she still wants a bottle in the morning and at night.

  3. Tresordasie Says:

    This is great info, RQ. I’d also add a snippet about pacifiers and how most babies have never used one in China. If your baby doesn’t spit it out when you give it to her or him in China, well then it’s people on the street who will think your chocking your baby by sticking that in his mouth!

  4. Tresordasie Says:

    ha! ha! I meant “choking” of course!

  5. edfknoxadopt Says:

    This is very good information and true in alot of cases..our daughter was 91/2 months old and had extremely good care was very adjusted ate primarily a bottle and formula but could really suck well. She also would try various things even though she had not teeth. She had worn diapers but wanted them changed asap, but still most babies do. She was really on target in pretty much all areas except maybe she was just a little behind in her strength…I say all this to say be prepared for it all, but also recognize that most of this depends on the care and it is very different from SWI to SWI. The other tip I have is always question and always advocate…if something does not seem right it likely is not…our daughter did not walk until 15 months we had her evaluated against recommendation from anyone only to find out…she was smart and needed to be left barefooted and in a onesie so she would have the confidence to walk on hardwood slick floors…2 weeks after the evaluation and us following the recommendation she took off walking and never looked back.

  6. lilysmom2b Says:

    Thanks for the info. Just a few thoughts on our adoption from Vietnam. The transition for our child was easier than what you describe with your girls. Going potty wasn’t an issue. He had no trouble going potty in his diaper though we were told he was not used to wearing diapers! We were very concerned about how he would handle a bath. So, we thought that we would see how he would handle being in the hotel pool with us. At least in that context, he would still have on clothes (his little trunks) and there would be other kids around playing. We quickly found out that he LOVED the water. I don’t think he had ever been in the water before because he acted very uncertain at first…but once he warmed up to it, he really enjoyed it. So after that, we put him in the hotel tub and he LOVED it. I don’t know if this strategy of using the pool to introduce a baby/child to water would be helpful for everyone but it worked well for us.

  7. superbonbon Says:

    Thank you for the valuable information. As future first time parents this is just what we are needing.

  8. bmd Says:

    WOW! this is great advice. Thank you.

  9. At Last Says:

    Excellent post. This site really is a wealth of information and insight.

    One tiny thing I would add is this. The trust factor is so important, especially in those first few hours and days. After I received my daughter in Nov 2005 and we returned to our hotel room the first thing I did was sit her down in a chair (and I sat down facing her) and handed her a chocolate lollipop. She hadn’t really made eye contact with me up till then. She stared at this lollipop for a bit, I put it in my mouth and sucked on it and handed it to her. She slowly put it in her mouth and I could see the change. She sucked on that thing and stared at me like I was, well, God, I guess to her. She kept eye contact the whole time and it just broke the ice. She was smiling and in my arms moments later.

    This probably sounds trite (and some might argue against sugar for one so young) but I think the principle is a good one. In order for these little ones to learn to trust you we must win them over. Anything that does not tramatize but rather, comforts and helps the bonding is a good thing.

    We should be returning very soon for our second daughter and the first thing I’ll be packing is…….chocolate. (Ahem….some for me too ;-)

    LID 03/15/06

  10. RumorQueen Says:

    At Last – we got the same results with Cheerios.

    And, we could make Cheerios available all day long. Which we did.

    We joked that GG thought “you look funny, you talk funny, and you don’t really seem to know what you’re doing… but these little round things are pretty good and there seems to be an endless supply, so this just might work out”.

  11. babygirlsmom Says:

    We took an attachment and bonding class a few months ago, and one of the things the lady spoke about was “sugar”. I’m not a huge advocate of pumping a bunch of sugar down kids, (I grind wheat to make my own bread, make my own granola, etc etc.) but this was interesting to me. She said, all human beings connect sweet things with nurturing. She connected it back to breast milk and the sweet taste of it. There is a bonding that occurs with that sweetness. (of course the close touch, etc helps too) That is why if you want to attach/bond with your new child who may have issues with all of that, you SHOULD use sweet things to connect with them. It then makes sense to use it to show them you will be nurturing one. Anyone ever heard of this before?

  12. waiting4Ash Says:

    Awesome post! THANKS!!!

  13. sophie_mom Says:

    TR1140, my daughter will be 3 years old at the end of April but she still drinks Pediasure from a bottle first thing in the morning. The rest of the day she drinks water, milk, and juice from a sippy cup, but still enjoys Pediasure (warm) in a bottle. American culture I’m sure would frown on giving a 3-year old a bottle, but she’s very tiny and this way she consumes more calories, and most importantly…it’s a comfort thing for her. I won’t take that away from her until she’s ready.


  14. debwise Says:

    Wow, this post is great! How I wish I’d known these things 3 years ago when we adopted Mia from China! I know this has been addressed before, but she was terrified of me and only accepted Daddy. She screamed if I held her and freaked if he went out of her sight. We understood it and helped her through it, but for a new mom (who has been waiting a long time to hold her daughter) it can be pretty disheartening.

  15. BeiLeesmom Says:

    If you get an uncircumcised boy, it is important to know that they may not have cared for him like the baby books advise. My son’s foreskin had never been retracted and cleaned, therefore it had adhesions and could not be retracted. So when I followed the advice and tried to clean under the foreskin, it caused a lot of pain to my son. We decided very quickly that this issue could wait until we got back home to the pediatrician. He had to have a complicated circumcism to remove the adhesions, and was not a happy boy. Thankfully, we waited until he trusted us completely before we put him through the pain of the surgery. Sorry to be so graphic, but we adopted SN, and this issue made his SN look easy.

    Also, I second any comments about bonding through food. My son’s first words were “BeiBei yum” as he happily popped Teddy Grahams into his mouth. He then said “Mama yum” and fed me a treat. He would wake up every day and walk over to the “pantry” I had set up in the hotel room and just stare in bliss at all the new foods. It was worth hauling a suitcase of food halfway around the world just to have that wonderful bonding time, snacking away the first week in our room. Susan

  16. PapayaKiddo Says:

    Great Information! We just got back with our DD so I will add a couple helpful hints too.

    Cheerios: We did the same thing as RQ did with the Cheerios. We wouldnt have survived the trip without all the Cheerios we bought. And, you CANNOT buy Cheerios in China…we tried and tried. They do have some sugary kind in GZ…but we wanted the plain ol’ Cheerios. Be sure to bring some. We were begging other families whose kids didnt like Cheerios to take pity upon us and give us their extra Cheerios.

    Formula: Our DD had lots of sugar added to her formula to get her to drink it. Unfortunately, we found this out after 3 very stressful days of desperately trying to get her to drink it. It wasnt pretty…our guides made the bottles, we made the bottles…nothing worked. She hated the taste of the Chinese formula and the American formula…all because there was no sugar added. (On the bright side, we traded all our american formula away for Cheerios!)

    Milk: Our guides finally switched us to cows milk…our DD drank it from a cup with ease or they have these sippy-box type things in China. She also started eating gobbs of real food…and has never ever eaten formula since. Our DD was 14.5 months at family day, and I just think she was ready for “real food”. (Have you tasted formula? Not so tasty is it…)

    Toileting: Our orphanage used a certain noise when the kids would be on the potty chairs. We were told specifically the noise and told how to use the hotel toilet. Our DD used the hotel toilet from day 1, with us holding her on it. We also needed the baby food prunes and pears that we brought with us for the first week or so mainly because her new parents couldnt read her cues regarding when she needed to go potty so she had some constipation. Poor Baby!

    I would add to be sure and ask as many of these questions of the orphanage people. I wrote them down beforehand..since I knew that I would be unable to think once she was in our arms and I had had no sleep!

    Hope that helps!

    Cheers, PK

  17. Sagent Says:

    9 months ago I would have read this and thought “great information” will really need to work on trust issues
    now, 9 months after being handed my newborn babies, I read this and feel sick to my stomach. I understand the needs that need filled especially during the first 4 months of life now and I understand how 60 seconds of not filling that need led to uncontrollable hysteria and the thought of hours worth of that makes me sick.
    I absolutely believe a baby can cry themselves to the point of choking to death if left to do so.
    9 months ago I thought of the age of chinese adoptions as a perk, I wouldn’t have to deal with newborn sleeplessness.
    now, I thank god I was able to fulfill those early needs as hard as it was/is.
    This just makes me so very sad.

  18. weasley Says:

    Thank you for the helpful information! We definitely will have to revisit it when we are closer to referral.

    I will say that in my experience, the larger openings in nipples is cultural and not a function of the orphanage. My DH is Chinese – he was born here, but his parents were born in China. He always remembers his grandmother and other relatives being frustrated with the size of American nipple’s holes. They were always making them larger with a knife and stating that in China it was different – better bottles for the babies.

  19. ldw4mlo Says:

    It really does vary, even amoung our SWI group, we find there is different care and differences in the way our kids arrive and how they transition.

    It is always best (just my opinion) to prepare for the worst. We did. And our daughter transitioned beautifully.Which I am sure is part her nature and part prep on our part.

    Within 5 minutes of her arrival at our room, her dad got her a cookie, made her a bottle. I was getting her out of her snowsuit. She was hot and hungry. She took to that cookie and bottle and decided we were OK. We kept her in her outfit until morning.

    We started eye contact games, playing in the mirror, mouth to mouth feeding with the cookies that night.

    Her referral called out she was not potty trained, true. Loved baths also true once we figured out she liked to hold something while in the bath. She held the shampoo bottle like it was a football for months.

    She was fine with a fast flow nipple and as long as it was hot she drank. Spit the pacifer out, no milk, no point.

    We also did things like feed her in our room before we went down to eat. It was quiet and there was nothing else to distract our inquisitve 11 month old. So she could focus on us feeding her. The restaurant was for snacking and people watching for her. Meal times were just us.

    As much as I was there to “see” China, I was there to form a family first and bond. So we did a lot by ourselves. Again, she was a very inquisitive 11 month old, so we narrowed her world so she could concentrate on us and we could concentrate on her. We went to the playroom when no one else was there. Things like that. We perhaps didn’t tour or shop as much but I felt just hanging with her was more important. Wouldn’t change it and we will “see” China when we go back.

  20. lmm25 Says:

    Hi RQ,

    Very necessary information for AP adopting from orphanages. But in our adoption experience, and others from my group whose children lived in foster homes, none of this is applicaple.
    What you outline in your post are not cultural differences as the children I know who had foster parents experienced none of what you outlined except for a slightly larger nipple hole. Rather these are normal conditions in orphanages where unfortunately the lack of resources are to blame.

  21. slanz Says:

    What a great post! Thank you RQ. A lot of valuable information.

  22. luckymama2one Says:

    Just a quick note that while it’s good to be aware of the possiblities RQ mentioned, it’s not necessarily a given your child will have experienced any of these things. Our daughter, adopted at 12 months, did not and we had no problems with BM’s baths, feedings, etc. She was also very curious and loved going out and experiencing new environments.

  23. shanggirls Says:

    Here are my thoughts:

    If your baby seems clean……
    - let the bath go for a day or two.
    - try using the sink instead of the tub if they are frightened of the tub. Just sit them on the counter (of course hold them) and let them splash the water with their feet.
    - keep them on the formula they are used to drinking.
    - if bottles don’t work, try making rice cereal.
    - be flexible….if bottles don’t work, try cups. If formula doesn’t work, try milk. If cherios don’t work, try little pieces of bread, crackers or baby cookies.
    - peek-a-boo is a wonderful game to increase eye contact.
    - some babies will latch onto the dads first….moms….don’t take it personally
    - if you are having issues, talk to other parents in your group who are experienced parents. if their experience is through a China adoption all the better.
    - for those who travel to Guangzhou from their child’s home province, you will find this additional transition is another time where your child will really need you and gain trust in you as parents. Be aware of it and treat this transition time similarly to your first couple of days by meeting all their needs…..keep them close, provide comfort food. Heck, by this time, you will hardly remember what life was like without your child so meeting their needs should come naturally. This also goes for the travel home time.

  24. tyau30 Says:

    Even though we’re at least 2 years from our referral, I’m so thankful for this information! Not only from RQ…but also from all of you who’ve added your own great advice.

    I like that a couple of you have said “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best”. I think that being prepared for as many contingencies as possible, even if you don’t have to use everything depending on the child, is always a great thing.

    Thank you all!

  25. grits Says:

    Very good, info.

    BeiLeesmom, I concur wholeheartedly. Our little guy was in bad shape, so bad that our pediatrician would not let us wait when we returned home. Our son had his circumcision after being home only 3 weeks. Because of his age (3), it had to be done under general anesthesia. He did have some pain for a couple of days but it really didn’t slow him down. I honestly think he feels much better now. And, I think it actually helped with our bonding because I was there to snuggle and love on him. Bless his heart.

    As for sweets, our son does not like sweets at all. He would eat Cheerios but really wasn’t jazzed about them. The best thing we did was load up on Chinese snacks at the grocery. They had these milk crackers and he ate a bag per day. He loved them (so did we!)

    My only other hint is to not just put your child in a crib to sleep. Most children who are fostered have slept with their caregiver. It is very scary to be in a new place all by yourself. Our son slept with us and now, after two months has transitioned to a toddler bed in our room. We will wait a couple more months to move him to his room.

  26. Lee Says:

    I agree with the comment from ldw4mlo that there are even variations within an SWI.

    Our daughter had definite oral aversion issues and would put nothing other than a bottle in her mouth. Nothing. Not a toy, or a spoon for that matter. She had clearly been punished for putting things in her mouth (not uncommon in SWIs where germs can be a big concern). The information we received said she ate mashed noodles and bananas, which I think was complete fiction. She would not eat anything remotely solid. She survived on formula with rice cereal in it for weeks, and would finally take yogurt from a spoon from us after we’d been home for a while. But it was quite some time before she would eat anything resembling solid food, and she was 13 months old when we met her.

    Oh, and the first solid food she did eat? A pancake swimming in syrup — so the comments about sugar were right on for us!

    And I completely agree on the bath issue. I was amazed at how many parents went directly from meeting their child to putting them into a bath and a new outfit back at the hotel. Lay low that first day together, and minimize the cleaning up and changing into “cute outfits” to take your first family photos. There’s plenty of time for that, really.

  27. wrigsassy Says:

    Also, referral info is not always correct. Our’s said DD loved baths-she hated them, washed her with washcloth, then put her in tub with me for about 2 months and then in a blow up tub-now you can’t get her out. Said she ate congee and other solids-she couldn’t even stand the spoon in her mouth, didn’t eat solids for about 2 months, did babyfood, then she started with cookies-now she is an adventerous eater and will eat things that even I won’t. Said she had to have formula hot-she could have cared less what temperature it was. Slept soundly-hasn’t slept through the night for 2 years. On the other hand, she was incredibly healthy, happy, and friendly. She wasn’t afraid of either of us. She loved to be out and about (still does!) and everyone knows her whereever she goes.
    DS’s referral info was totally correct. So it just varies by place. Luckily both our kids were well loved and well fed before we met them.

  28. bluegrass baby Says:

    Wonderful information for us first time parents who may be feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by all the new changes that will be taking place as we meet their little one who will be facing these new changes as well. I printed them off for future reference. Thanks!!

  29. shanggirls Says:

    Keep in mind that each of our children had different experiences and you can’t take any one comment (even the ones I mentioned) as the way your child will react. There are commonalities, but there are differences too.

    Most of the babies in my last adoption travel group were placed in the crib and the lights turned off where they were living prior to the adoption. This was the norm for my daughter and she would put her head right down in the crib and go to sleep everynight. She lived in the orphanage at least for the last couple of months so her method of going to sleep may differ from babies/childeren who were in foster care.

  30. ladeeesquire Says:

    Great info! I think the thing to take away from this is that every child will be different so you’re going to have to take it slow and experiment a little. Also, its a time when those swi groups on yahoo can be invaluable.

    Our dd, now home 4 mos, wants all her food room temperature. Anything even remotely hot would be an absolute no go. She had no trouble with the american “fast” nipples, that worked for her.

    She’d obviously never been in a bath before. We started by having dh hand her to me while I was showering and I got her just a little wet, then turn, a little more wet, then turn until she was fully wet. She liked that. The first bath we took very slowly and she still cried a lot. By the 3rd day, baths were her favorite activity!!!

    It was also clear that she’d had her clothing changed irregularly. She didn’t fight so much as she just didn’t get it. I had to teach her to maneuver her little arms and legs into the clothing much more than you would expect from an 11 mo old. Of course, she learned and it was fine.

    Our dd also loved cheerios and to eat in general. We referred to the cheerios as “little happy pills”–we brought one big box (emptied into two gallon sized zip lock bags) and that was enough to last us the trip and share some with our travel mates. I was surprised they hadn’t brought cheerios, I thought everyone did!


  31. RumorQueen Says:

    lmm25 – the potty thing is cultural, infant bodily functions are just handled differently in China than in the US. What is done in the SWI’s is a modification of what is done in the home. If a child has been fostered and treated a child normally is then they’ll be used to giving some sort of signal and then being placed on a toilet, if you don’t know the signals you can’t do that, and the child will be at a loss as to what to do.

    The nipple thing is also cultural, though the nipples in the SWI’s are even bigger than in a home. they literally cut half of the nipple off, as in, not there anymore. You can stick your finger into the hole – it’s that big.

    Split pants are a cultural thing in China, I’ve never seen them in the US.

    Chopsticks are a cultural thing. Chopsticks are primarily used in China, forks and spoons are primarily used in the US.

    How can you say that I’m talking about orphanage things and not cultural things? What am I missing?

  32. Noendinsight Says:

    Great topic RQ.

    I’ve also heard of babies that are given baths in freezing cold water so they are terrified of them.

    An attachment exercise I read about that I loved was holding the child on your lap (preferably to the left as left eye contact is preferable) and sing to them when they make eye contact and stop when they look away. They learn to hear the singing they must make eye contact.

  33. RumorQueen Says:

    Also, you need to remember that foster care does not always mean the child will have been treated as a child in a home is normally treated. Some foster mothers have 6 to 10 babies, and no one to help them during the day. In some cases the babies get less attention in a foster home than they would in the orphanage. In an orphanage there is a bit of backup, if one caretaker is overwhelmed at the moment then a caretaker from another room may be able to step in and help out. That isn’t the case where there is a single foster mother home alone during the day while her husband works and her son is away at school. And it’s not like a mom home with six kids, as in that case some are older and there is likely only one infant to care for amongst the six. For the foster mom there may be six infants to care for at once. I just can’t imagine.

  34. hoping44 Says:

    When we brought our little girl home at age 2 1/2, she was very sick. She had a high fever and really did not feel like resisting anything we did. I think that’s why we had such an easy time with her adjustment. She learned to trust us very quickly out of necessity. Our little guy…exact opposite! He was almost 3, he turned 3 the day we returned home, and had been with a foster family. He was not happy with us, especially me. He was REALLY good at slapping in the face. He refused to have his clothes or shoes removed. He had bilateral clubbed feet and DH and I wanted to see his feet, but we felt like it was a control issue with him, so we let him have his way. We didn’t undress him until the next day to bathe him, and he still wasn’t happy. He still had on his split pants and we were able to get him to use the potty fairly easily by making the sounds, as someone else mentioned.

  35. Abracadebra Says:

    This is really great information. I have a question — how long are the kids typically on bottles? My bio daughter “threw away the ba-ba” at 11 months old and moved onto sippy cups and spoon (LOTS of spills!) so it is just dawning on me that a toddler might still use a bottle.

  36. pookie2shoes Says:

    I’ll add our feeding experience with our daughter who was 11 months at adoption and had been fed through a nipple with an opening the size of the tip of my pinky finger. When we adopted her in 2005 at 11 months old, she would eat NO solid foods, despite what her referral papers said and it was a struggle to get her to take a bottle.

    We were able to visit her SWI and it was feeding time when we arrived. Her nanny showed us how the babies were fed and fed our daughter. The nanny laid our daughter down on a table, put the bottle in her mouth and it literally poured into her mouth, down the sides of her face, down her throat until the bottle was completely empty (about 4 minutes later). After our daughter was done, they got another bottle and fed another child. It was an assembly line of feeding babies. Not knowing any better we followed the nannies instructions given to us through our interpreter and widened our daughter’s nipples on her bottle. Of course, I didn’t lay her on her back, but held her upright. Doing it this way, it took about 10 minutes for our daughter to finish her bottle.

    When we met our daughter she had what we thought was a chest cold as did a few other babies in our group. When we arrived back to the States we went through numerous meds trying to rid our daughter of the cold. None worked. Finally our pediatrician ordered a chest x-ray. We found out our daughter’s lungs were aspirated with formula. Essentially, the widened nipples and the speed to which the bottles were given caused formula to find its way to our daughter’s lungs. It also took 6 months of therapy for oral aversion to get our daughter to eat solids.

    With that experience, I am following our pediatrician’s advice for our 2nd adoption from China and taking Dr. Brown’s Y-cut nipples to China and not enlarging them any more than that. Our daughter is a healthy 4.5 year old but feeding issues were a huge hurdle for us her 1st year at home.

  37. soxfan Says:

    Our DD was just shy of 10 months when we met her. She was a robust 20 lbs and had a big grin on her face. Then they handed her to me and I sat down–grin was gone and that poor child wailed with every fiber of her being. She was a bit less hysterical with her Daddy so he did most of the holding while at the office in Nanchang. We even had to come back the next day to have our Visa photo taken because she was so distraught. In our parent prep class they said this was a positive sign as it meant the child had bonded to their caregivers and could learn to bond with us. It was still really hard though–I so wanted to be able to console her but was unable. On the plus side…within hours she calmed down and was a happy, laughing little girl. And almost 2 years later that is her general disposition. But if we had not been forewarned I think I would have been completely devastated.
    We traveled in July and it was wicked hot. DD was soaked with sweat and tears when we got back to our hotel. I resisted changeing her right away but we decided to try and go for a swim before trying to give her a bath. This was an idea I got from a BTDT Mum on this site. Anyway…that really worked like a charm. I held her close to me in the pool and did a few dips and airplane things–she looooved it. Later that night we gave her a bath and she laughed through the whole thing. And just FYI for all the newbie parents out there…don’t overfill the babytub…otherwise the baby cannot sit up.
    DD loved her bottles HOT and sucked them down in 30 seconds. She also enjoyed trying all the table foods–but had nothing to do with Cheerios the whole time we were in China. She adored the spicy foods (me too!!)
    She did not seem to mind changing her clothes but it was so hot that whilst in our room she mostly just wore a diaper. She wanted to be changed immediately if she pooped but did not seem frantic about a change if she’d peed only.
    We were very lucky–other than that first few hours where she was so upset–we have had a pretty easy time settling as a family.

  38. Noendinsight Says:

    potty training is certainly cultural. we are friends with two couples, one baby has a Chinese mom and the other both parents are Chinese.

    Both kids were potty trained for #2 by six months. One was trained for #1 (except at night) by 15 months and the other by 18 months.

  39. amykrisb Says:

    In my attempt to educate myself before I went to China, I read that it was good to give a child (baby, of course) a bottle for one year after the adoption to facilitate attachment. So, even though some pedis were saying to discontinue bottles at a year, we kept our daughter on one until about 22 months, when it had been almost a year.

    A word about Cheerios–my daughter was very young, and only had 3 teeth. She had some trouble eating those Cheerios, but I had also brought some Gerber Fruit Puffs. They were perfect and next time I will bring more of those in lieu of Cheerios if our child is a baby.

  40. Noendinsight Says:

    lmm25 – i have two friends who adopted children from foster care – one two years ago and the other five years ago and both experienced these things.

  41. Noendinsight Says:

    Abracadebra – most pediatricians say with BIO children to stop the bottle at 12 months.

    with post institutionalize adopted children, many experts are of the opinion to allow them to use a bottle as long as they want to. they never got a chance to be a baby and they may not want to let go of that. we plan on letting our future child use the bottle as long as she wants. (okay, getting an image of a 12 year old with a bottle now!)

    in any event, at least a year if they are on the younger side at adoption.

    i always remind myself that raising an adopted child and a bio child are very different.

  42. waitingforAbrianna Says:

    a thing about cherrios are if the baby is 10 or 11 mons old and referral says she has no teeth how would she eat cherrios??? just a question should I still bring cherrios anyways or gerber puffs too

  43. somedowde Says:

    In addition to reasons other people have already noted, can it be beneficial to bottle feed as long as your child is accepting of it (short of going to pre-school with a bottle:)as it helps with the development of muscle tone in facial muscles? Thought I had read that somewhere at some point, but can’t remember where.

    BTW, this is my first post, after years of lurking! Hate the wait for referral, but I have learned so much valuable info in the past 2+ years of lurking and know I will be a much better mom because of RQ and everyone here. Thank you all!

  44. Waitingforbabysis Says:

    I visit this site regularly but this is my first attemt at posting, let´s see how this works! When we got our little girl 4 years ago she was sleeping. Eight other babies in the arms of their new parents crying at the top of their lungs in the same room, but she kept sleeping. We were advised to wake her up but had a hard time doing so. She was completely exhausted after what was problably the first car trip of her life. So we got her undressed since she was red hot. She kept sleeping. We had prepared for anything but this!

    To make a long story short she finally woke up, looked at us with uncertainty and started to look around the room for familiar faces and was happy when she found one. She refused the bottle at that moment and couldn´t have cared less about the cuddly toys we had brought for her but was fine until we went back to our hotel room half an hour later. She cried for an hour, was comforted by daddy and hasn´t cried since. Then we went downstairs to the restaurant for dinner and she ate everything. There was no stopping her. I later found out that she had a little bug in her stomac, something which is not uncommon and which explained some of her craving for food. Antibiotics took care of that.

    Anyway it is not so common to have soft toys at the SWIs. We later realised that she was actually scared of that soft cuddly dog that we had brought. It took her a week to adjust to it after some convincing from our part and she still carries that same dog with her everywhere she goes. It´s now in rags but luckily we found a duplicate!

    She still enjoys a bottle of formula in the morning and one before bed and she just turned five! We are happy with it as long as it lasts since she doesn´t drink milk and need some source of calcium. And she clearly enjoys beeing small again when she´s tired.

    We brought a small potty and she went the first day. This was actually a great thing, some of the other girls didn´t want to potty in a diaper, the toilet was to big to sit on and so they didn´t go at all for as long as they possibly could.

    And we put her in a little baby bath the next day that they had in the hotel room, complete with ducks to play with. She was a little uncertain but soon enjoyed it. I think the ducks helped!

    Oh, and we didn´t bring cheerios or any sweets at all, she was happy with hard chinese crackers for babies who are teething, she also loved all kinds of fruits.

    So from our experience I would like to add hard toys and a potty to the tips already mentioned.

    Thank you RQ for a great site for so many people!

  45. lifewith3 Says:

    Just a word of warning on the bath front … I’m pretty sure that if a child has giardia, worms, or other intestinal parasites anyone who bathes with the child is at risk of also getting them. Dr. Aronson, at least, recommends against it. For some kids, I suppose you may not have a choice. My third baby came to me from a disruption and even though he’d been with a family in America for a year, the bath still terrified him and I had to ease him into it by getting in myself and then night by night getting him more and more wet until finally, one night, he was in the tub with me with his bum on the floor (not on my legs :-)).

  46. sophie3 Says:

    Three years ago while we were in China, our darling 13 months old Beatrice refused ALL foods. Our agency, here in Canada, had given us all kinds of helpfull hints and advice but we were desperate after 12 hours of cries. We had been told by the orphanage director that she was a good eater. She was calm when in my arms, played with our 7 years old daughter, looked at us, even smiled but when it came to food, beware! She refused, sippy-cups, bottles (different kinds from Canada), tumblers etc, hotter water, bigger holes in the nipples. After two days, we desperately needed to feed her something. I sent my husband of the market (it was called Guanzhou.. just like our sweetheart). He bought new bottles, Chinese formula, chinese baby food (pumkins, peas etc) and cereals (beef, porc, fish). With all those goodies I started with plain formula with a fruit in it and cereals (oatmeal), used hotter water than usual, made a big hole in the nipple, shaked and prayed. I put my baby in a blanket, swaddled her tightly and dropped a little bit of milk/mixture. She stopped crying, looked at me and then cried again, but then I knew what she wanted, I gave her the bottle and she dranked it in about 1 minute, fell asleep for 4 hours straight. When she woke up she crawled to the empty bottle (I had left if on pupose on the table) and she tried to reach it. From then on she was easy to feed, but never ate whole food until she was about 15 months. She is now 4 1/2 eats anything and will try anything, so mom-to-be, be prepared for anything, trusts your instincts and stay calm, everything will work out.

  47. lovemybulldog Says:

    Good info for soon-to-be traveling parents to put of their list of “might happens”… but please know your child could be completely different than RQ described! Our son was the opposite on every detail mentioned. I’m sure much of it had to do with his orphange having things like diapers, lots of donated clothing, etc., but he was fine with clothing changes, baths, bottles, sippy’s forks/spoons, etc. He was diapered in the SWI, no split pants, no cut bottle nipple, and not potty chair trained. It was certainly not what we expected.

    It’s important to be prepared for anything, and I’m glad we were, but every child is different, even if they came from the same SWI.

  48. RumorQueen Says:

    You don’t need teeth to eat cheerios, GG had zero teeth when we got her, just gums, and she gummed them just fine. Try it, put one in your mouth and just move it around with your tongue. It dissolves in your mouth into something that’s easy to swallow.

  49. tiredofw8ing Says:

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but my daughter wouldn’t have anything to do with a pacifier as I am sure most don’t. But I did notice she was sucking on my shirt and would pull up her own shirt to suck on it (or anything made of fabric really) to soothe herself.

    I had made her a few taggie blankets while waiting for our referral so I pulled one of them out. She LOVES LOVES LOVES her taggie blankets! She sucks away at those tags like a pacifier when tired or upset.

    I would recommend trying one of these.

    I think my daughter was in a really good orphanage so most of these other comments don’t really apply to her (doesn’t mind her bottles room temp, goes in her diaper just fine, no problems with lotions or bathing or dressing or feeding) but this is one thing that I have noticed with her.

    The other thing is that she hates to not see one of us when she wakes up. One of us always has to be in her line of sight or she freaks out a little bit.

  50. meimeiavery Says:

    Wonderful comments, thank you all so much. What is a taggie blanket?

  51. mainz1 Says:

    I think every scenario is described here! I can’t WAIT to see what happens to us when the time comes!! yikes! I mean everything! hopefully I’ll retain some of these personal stories to try on those hopefully not- too-bad moments!!thanks all! (who knew?? haha!)

  52. moonwater Says:

    Great advice!

    Two things I can think to add: DD#1 needed her bottles super hot, so we had to carry around a thermos with us filled with boiling hot water. We brought a thermos from home with us, which was good, since our travel mates had trouble finding a thermos in GZ. But our thermos had been used for coffee, so water stored in it had a coffee taste. For days, our daughter would only drink part of her bottles made with water from this thermos or refuse the bottle all together. Buy a new thermos for travel if you think you will need one!

    Also, DD#1 was adopted in August from Guangdong. She had some serious skin infections caused by the heat and insect bites. These skin infections are pretty common in South China in the summer, we found out. If you’re traveling in the summer, be sure to bring antibiotic ointment. Somebody in your travel group will probably need it.

  53. AKSC Says:

    There are a wide range of practices in the SWI system. Our daughter was in a small SWI about five hours from GZ.

    She wore diapers in the SWI and had a bath everyday. She never was strapped to a potty and never wore split pants. It depends on the region. It might be a good idea to get your facilitator to go over their every day routines so you know what actually occurred instead of operating on assumptions. We switched formula and went immediately to milk at home with no issues at all.

    Our DH ate everything, slept through the night, and had a very smooth transition.

  54. tiredofw8ing Says:

    A taggie blanket is a soft blanket that has the little looped 1/2 inch to one-inch (or approx) silk ribbons that stick out the sides. They suck or chew on or play with the ribbons.

    Taggie is actually a brand name. You can buy little soft books that have the ribbons on them too.

  55. drupp5 Says:

    I am curious if you have heard much about foster mother’s nursing their foster baby. My second daughter was in a foster home. I later learned she was the only baby the foster mom had at the time. When I got her, she refused to eat for 2 days. She appeared as if she had never seen a bottle and she would root around on me when she cried in the middle of the night. She was only 7 months old when I got her and she was a very mad baby. She finally grew hungry enough that she started to eat. She didn’t sleep straight throught the night for several months after we were home. I truely feel she was a breast fed baby. Just wondering if you have heard of this happening very much. Thanks! Debbie

  56. justplainbeckyw Says:

    The early potty training isn’t totally cultural… we used Elimination Communication and cloth diaper.. my oldest son was out of diapers by 18mos, my youngest was using the potty for #2′s by 6mos, and fully by a year.

    I think the best advice is… expect the worst, and be aware of all the possibilities!

  57. amykrisb Says:

    My daughter was 10 1/2 months old when she had a rough time getting those cheerios down. Part of it may have been that she was just inhaling food when we got her, so she wasn’t waiting for them to dissolve when she was trying to swallow them. She was the smallest baby in our group (16 lbs), although not the youngest and gained two whole pounds in the first few weeks. (She gains at a MUCH slower rate now and is back on the small end.) It worked out OK when I broke them in half, but that was tedious. The Gerber puffs dissolved almost instantly, so we had much better luck with them. We brought both with us, but wished we had more puffs. If our next child is older than a year, we will probably bring only Cheerios, because he/she probably won’t have that problem, and Cheerios are cheaper :). Also, my nephew, at the same age, had no trouble with Cheerios, but he was about twice her size.

  58. hopingfor08 Says:

    RQ, What a great post!!! I mean they all are but this one is very good info. that all APs should have before travel.

    I might add that our daughter, age 35 months at adoption and now home 7 months, still has an aversion to just wearing socks. Now she will gladly put them on when we ask her to put her shoes on or if she just wants to wear her shoes, but if her shoes come off then so do the socks. EVERY TIME. It is not a big deal but we tend to be a sock-wearing family. I even wear them at night. Not her! She is either barefoot or in shoes and we just follow her lead. Some days she wants to wear her tennies all day long. Other days she just goes barefoot here in the house. For bed, she will also not wear footie PJs but only ones that allow her feet to be out. I mean, the one time we tried to put them on her it was obviously very stressful to her. So we have not tried them again and she even does not want them in her PJ drawer so we just put them away. I have my ideas about that but will leave that for another day.

    I do think as someone else mentioned that perhaps she is fearful of falling on our hardwood floors when she does not have on shoes and/or with just the socks. She is walking great now and running too, but she was not when she came home. She was not fostered and her particular SWI seemed to have been very structured, so I wonder if they were either in shoes or barefoot. Maybe part of it for her is just what she is used to.

    Again, thank you for the post and everyone for sharing. Good information to be sure.

  59. tearoses1 Says:

    what an awesome trip down memory lane all this is!our daughter was 13 months, in the SWI since 2 weeks old, and adjusted much better and quicker than we did! she had NO interest in the bottle, and was ravenous for real food instantly. mouth open like a baby bird all the time, hoping food would fall in… and for sweets, the chinese rice crackers with sugar on them were her absolute favorite. we toured her orphanage and it was awesome, she was so well cared-for, lots of toys and nannies everywhere. we’re home nearly 4 years, and hope to be back within a year to pick up no. 2. i’m taking chocolate lollipops this time, along with the puffs and cheerios!

  60. Mom2Isabel Says:

    I am grateful that I had much of this advice before leaving. Having to travel (unexpectedly) by myself, I was thankful for the preparation I had. Along with Cheerios, I would highly suggest bringing stacking cups.

    At 13 months, my was also potty-trained. I was taught the sounds to make and told the time to make them. Since I was doing all the paperwork myself (with her in tow), the schedule didn’t last even one day. She was in diapers that night.

    Ditto on the scalding formula. I felt like child services was going to come in at any moment! It was ridiculously hot…and sucked down inless than 2 minutes.

    REgarding sleeping, I pulled her crib next to the bed and slept with my arm through the side, on her back. When she awoke, I just put her in the bed with me and we played.

    As was already stated, I had prepared myself for the absolute worse and was so very thankful that things went smoothly. Of the 18 girls in our two groups (one group had girls from 18-20 months old and the other had 12-13 month old babies), my daughter was the only one walking. Of course it would have saved my heart a jolt if I had known that beforehand. I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom when I swore I saw E.T. in the reflection. Nope…it was just her cruising around the joint!

    Oh…and she loved music…still does. How did I know (you might ask?) Because she discovered the knobs of the built-in radio at The White Swan. I almost had a heart attack one night. I was uploading pictures listening to some classical music when, out of nowhere, a VERY loud Chinese rapper voice is behind me. I almost had a heart attack thinking someone was in the room. (Who knew that rap came in Chinese???)

    One last (pretty funny) thing. The first night at The White Swan, the bed was turned down, lights on, chocolate on the pillow. Very nice…. well, it NEVER happened again. I thought to myself that it was strange that this “service” was only for one night. It remained a mystery until the (very early) morning that we were leaving. I pulled my card out of the door, only to see (for the first time) that a light was lit on the panel. Yup, you guessed it. Do not disturb. Apparently, the music knobs were not enough. : )

    Great advice and wonderful additional comments.


  61. CH Says:

    Some posters mentioned circumcision, which would be another cultural difference. The boys will not be circumcised. I’m sure there are going to be some that are, but most will not be. So, if you are getting a boy, ask a pediatrician to explain how to take care of an uncircumcised penis if you don’t know.

    It was mentioned in the commnets retracting the foreskin. You shouldn’t do this forcefully. I don’t have a boy, so I’m probably the last person to write about this, but as an European mom (meaning, usually no circumcision unless needed for religious or medical reasons) I have understood that for toddler and baby boys you shouldn’t retract the foreskin at all! Around four or so you can start retracting when in the bath/shower, but only as far as it will go, don’t force it!!! The foreskin is supposed to adher to the glans in small boys. (Hopefully someone with boys will correct me here, I’m only writing by what I have read.)

  62. HoosierBaby Says:

    The problem we ran into was misinterpreting some information we were given. We were told that our daughter was on formula and ate one egg a day. We got the bottle part right fairly quickly, but she wanted nothing to do with eggs. We tried scrambled and steamed. We also brought Gerber Puffs and Cheerios with us. That’s what helped us realize that she didn’t know how to swallow food. The Puffs were a big hit; the Cheerios not so much. She would hold the Puffs in her mouth until they dissolved, and then they would ooze out of her mouth. It took her about a day or so to learn how to swallow them. We found out a few days later that the SWI would mix a raw eggs into the formula. The fiery heat of the formula would cook the eggs, but, obviously, the children did not learn to eat eggs from this.

    Ironically, the first solid food that she ate was on our first morning home. We went out to breakfast. I was eating scrambled eggs with ham when she reached out, grabbed a piece of egg, and put it in her mouth. She’s loved eggs ever since.

    We did end up having to give her a bath the first night because she was a hot, sweaty mess. I made it as quick as possible. Our hotel had provided a baby bath, so I used that. She hated it.

    We spent most of that first week hunkered down in our hotel room. I would have loved to have seen more of Chongqing, but our daughter would shut down every time we left the room. We did do the tours just to get out of the room every day for a couple of hours, but I ended up staying on the bus holding a sleeping child for some of those.

    It was a challenging time, but trust your instincts and what your baby is trying to tell you.

  63. grits Says:

    CH -
    I don’t want to get into the great circumcision debate (not saying you are doing that – I just know it is a hot topic). You are mostly correct in your info. The foreskin does need to be retracted and cleaned as far as naturally possible. (or at least that is what our Ped has told us). Without going into graphic details, our son obviously received no care in this area and was in danger of his urinary system not working. Just another thing to check…

  64. LisaF Says:

    We adopted a 5 year old little girl last November. We took bubbles (she hated them), we took candy (she hated it), I showed her hairbows…but she told us that if I did her hair it would be ugly, only her foster mother could make it pretty. What won her over (kinda) was watching video’s of herself on the laptop and the new clothes that we took. She was especially proud of the tags and I think she still has them. She also liked picking out new clothes and shoes. She’s still a little shoe “freak”. She did NOT like me at all. She did tell me that she loved me in China but I am not sure if she knew what she was saying…It sure felt good tho.
    She had on 3 complete sets of clothing and immediately started stripping off clothes when she saw us. She was HOT. She had tons of pictures with her that were of her as a baby and with her foster family. She shared those with us right away.

    The only things that she ate on a semi regular basis in China (with us) was watermelon and chicken flavored Pringles. She would sometimes eat noodles at breakfast. Now, she is still picky…but will try one bite of anything.

    She didn’t like her first bath. She still doesn’t like them much…We didn’t press it. She was clean, well groomed, and obviously cared for. She grieved terribly. Now, when she is upset with DH or I she will cry for “Guilin Mama” and it breaks my heart. We encourage her to remember and talk about her foster family. We look at pictures and talk about specific events. She is able to tell us more and more every day.
    I know this was about babies…but she is MY baby so I’d throw in the bit that I know.

  65. Noendinsight Says:

    LisaF – i hope you don’t mind if i make a suggestion because this is similar to what a friend of mine daughter’s went through, also fostered until age five.

    my advice is, write EVERYTHING down for later on. DD will probably tell you things now about her foster family that you think you’ll remember and you might not. and, kids forget a lot of things later on. you might be doing this already ;-)

    my friend’s daughter has some blurred memories. she’ll tell me stories about her foster family and it was really a story about her adoptive mom.

    on a separate point – she calls her foster mom “my other mom” and doesn’t really seem to process the loss of her birth-mother.

    one time i had her for the weekend when she was about eight and she told me she had a bad dream a few nights prior. I asked, do you remember it? she replied, “yes, there was a killer…..he was trying to kill three people; my mom, my other mom and my babysitter. but not YOU, a different babysitter!”

    doesn’t take Freud to figure that one out – just about broke my heart ;-(

  66. LisaF Says:

    I have not been writing everything down…and I will. I suppose all memories fade some and this will help keeping them straight.

    She told me last night that her foster mom used to spank her with a stick if she wet her pants. She asked me if I was going to spank her….I told her “no”. The look of relief on her face and the kisses made me cry. I did tell her that accidents happen and you should try very, very, hard to not let them happen. I told her that if she ever had any kind of accident, the best thing she could do would be to tell her Baba or me so that we could help her figure out how to fix it.


  67. Jeroen1970 Says:

    first: thanks for being there. you made all that waiting more “acceptable”. This may we will have our first familyday….
    NB was 15 mths old when she came to us, she stayed in orphanages before and lives now in the netherlands, europe
    second: great tips and very very true
    third: i agree on the cultural differences… and there are many more and yes, they are cultural differences, so RQ you dont miss a thing
    more cultural differences? how about sitting on your lap? In China children often sit the other way arround: they face the world instead of you. our daughter felt at first intimidated when we tried “our” way and still likes to sit the “other” way.

    food is really different too. even in the orphanage they use a lot of spices and ginger. so “our” food can be tasteless.
    could that be cultural?

    also the way they correct children is very very different from ours. we dont have the impression that NB has been spanked a lot, but she sure knows what to do when we raise our voice. also this is not an orphanage thing but more cultural. in the western world children have lots more to choose and to like or not like than in the chinese tradition.

    how about kissing? chinese dont kiss their children as much on the mouth as we like to do. altho there maybe differences on this point between children from swi’s and foster parents but it is a (cultural) fact.

    music? ever listened to chinese music?? or how about books and pictures? in the beginning she didn’t like our books and music at all ! it was clear that she knew the concept but it was so different it confused her too much.

    if i think i could find more than just those mentioned above. we believe it is a very good thing to realise your child, no matter how old, has so far been raised in a totally different culture. especially since NB was 15 mths old and a smart girl, she already understood a lot. we could see if we did things different by looking at her (frowning) eye browes.

    we also think it is important to learn about those differences and, in the beginning, adapt to them in a way you soften the sharp differences. so we tried to learn before and still.

    we find it very helpfull to understand our daughter better to realise that cultural differences may play a role. they certainly exist!! but finally, we live here in holland, where the respect for cultural differences has been declining. it is usefull but she grows up in tha world of cheeseheads and, in order to survive, has to act like one.

    finally, RQ, dont get upset… when you talk about cultural differences some get confused by thinking that different is better or wrong. maybe it is, or it isnt, at least it is different.
    thks again for all your good work!!!


  68. snfsma Says:

    I also don’t want to make this a circumcision debate but no, you do not need to retract the foreskin of a baby boy. It is completely normal for the foreskin to be completely adhered to the glans, so nothing accumulates under there. Forcibly retracting it will cause pain and can create adhesions that then lead to a mandatory circumcision. Dr. Sears has some good info on this: . You do not have to do anything special to care for an intact boy. I’m the mom of an adult son and a 4 year old boy, both uncirc’d, so I do have some experience in this issue.

  69. Abracadebra Says:

    LisaF– thank you for sharing your experience with your 5 year old. I just got a referral for a 4 yo girl, and as I read through all the posts I thought how nice it would be to hear about some of the older-kid issues, and then there was your post! Very helpful.

    This was a great thread, even for those of us who are not adopting babies. If I may suggest, I would love to see a version of it focusing on children who came home at, say, 3 to 5 years of age. I’m particularly interested in hearing attachment stories and language learning info.

    Finally, I appreciate the responses on the bottle issue. I’m assuming my 4 yo will be post-bottle, but who knows. My bio sister actually didn’t throw away hers until she was 7, though it was a big, deep, dark secret from about age 4 on. I can see how it would be an important comfort tool for a post-institutionalized child who is used to doing a lot of self-comforting, but letting to of the bottle is often hard for our bio kids too. I know I just got lucky when my daughter was ready to “move on” at 11 months old. She never cared for pacifiers either.