The NSN Misnomer

As I’ve experienced adoption from China myself and through watching others come home with their children, I’ve come to the conclusion that non-special-needs is not an accurate description of the NSN program.

Any infant or toddler who has been institutionalized is going to have some special needs – be they related to attachment, sensory issues, general developmental issues, speech issues, personality disorders, etc. They may be mostly resolved within a year, or they may take lifelong work to deal with: something that can’t be “fixed” or “repaired” but must just be lived with. There are some children who spend their years in China in a good foster care situation who may not have developmental or sensory issues, but foster care is not a guarantee of that.

GlitterGirl had pretty serious anxious attachment issues, and we still deal with it here and there. It is no longer an overriding part of our life, but it’s certainly there, and I can see how it forms her relationships with her classmates as well. I worry about how it will show up when she starts seriously dating, as she’s a very touchy-feely person and that may not be the best thing on a date. She also had what seemed to be to be some major sensory issues, and we worked really hard on those for several years. When I read books I realize she was on the lower end of the scale with sensory issues, but it sure didn’t feel like it at times. I still have to keep the sensory stuff in mind, but once again, it’s no longer an overriding part of our lives, as it once was. Most of her developmental delays were resolved within a year of coming home, but it took a lot longer to deal with the worst of her sensory and attachment issues. I think that’s probably a little better than the norm, as I see a lot of people who spend the first two years dealing with developmental delays as well as attachment and/or sensory stuff.

TwinkleToes has major speech issues, as anyone who has followed the blog in recent months will know. We haven’t had as many attachment issues with her as we did GG, which is not what you’d expect since GG was very (very) young and TT was close to two years old. There is some attachment stuff, but comparatively speaking, it’s not so bad. Her sensory issues are the exact opposite of GG’s. Where GG couldn’t handle much sensory input, TT needs a lot more sensory input than is normal. But, it comes in stages, so we deal with it a lot one month and then it fades into the background for a few months and then comes roaring back with a vengeance, and occasionally she needs less sensory input, it’s not a cut and dried thing. The thing is, if I hadn’t read all of the books I’ve read about sensory issues, I wouldn’t recognize her need for more sensory input. It’s not terribly obvious.

I’ve personally known three people who swore their child had no “special needs”, that their child exhibited no signs of being adopted and they could be parented the same as a bio child. According to them there were no attachment issues, no sensory issues, etc. Nothing to worry about. All of those families now have children in third grade or above, and all of them are now having to deal with the issues they should have dealt with when they first came home with their children. From watching them at FCC gatherings I saw problems with all three kids, and I gently tried to suggest what I saw, or suggest a book on attachment I could let them borrow, but the parents didn’t want to hear it. Their “good baby” who never needed to be held and who preferred to be in her room by herself to sleep at night? It would have been a lot easier to create the attachment needed back then than to go through what they are going through now. One of them has a child who is in a special school, because she was expelled from two private schools and then was expelled from the public school she is zoned for – she’s basically in a school for troublemakers because that is the only school that will accept her at this point – the only school that can deal with her violent outbursts. The other two aren’t as extreme – one was held back and is in third grade for the second year and she’s spending two afternoons a week with a.. I don’t know if she’s a therapist or psychiatrist or psychologist or what, but the child is repeating a grade so she can spend the time needed with specialists to try to work on attachment stuff and sensory stuff and still keep up with her school work (which wasn’t that great either, but without the need for specialists she wouldn’t have been held back).

What I’m trying to say is you can work on it when you first come home, when you can possibly do the majority of it from what you learn in books, without the help of specialists… when the brain is still malleable and can more easily be changed… or you can do it when they are older when it is a whole lot harder, a whole lot more painful, and a whole lot more expensive.

If you’ve been home less than two years and you are convinced your child has no special needs then please step back and look again. Maybe they really don’t. But if you haven’t read up on attachment and sensory stuff then how can you be sure? Some of it isn’t all that obvious, some of it is. If someone at an FCC function tries to gently suggest you read a book on attachment, perhaps you should listen. If someone with a child a few years older than you talks to you about sensory issues, don’t shut them out. Maybe you are right and your child has no special issues that need to be addressed – but please educate yourself so you can truly be sure of that before you skip into elementary and middle school and then discover problems that could have been easily addressed at one and two years of age but that now are not so easy to address.

If you haven’t read any books on attachment or sensory issues, then please consider doing so. I recommend reading them before you travel, but if you’ve already traveled then better late than never, right? You can see some of my recommendations on this page, and the books I’ve reviewed have a link to my review of them.

My point here is not to scare people, it’s to try to educate. Social workers and adoption agencies should be doing this, and with the new Hague training I think it is better than it was… but I still meet people who have no clue. They hear “non special needs” and take it at face value. And that is a mistake.

If you’ve read my blog for long then you know that GlitterGirl is a brilliant, happy, friendly, and beautiful little girl who makes good grades, has a lot of friends, and excels at sports. Labeling your child with attachment and sensory and even developmental issues as a baby and toddler does not have to follow them for the rest of their lives. Not labeling them with issues they have can very well follow them for the rest of their lives, though.

* Attachment book review
* Sensory book review
* Page of book recommendations


Note from RQ: The section below is for comments from's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that I agree with any particular comment just because I let it stand. Posts are generally only removed if they don't follow the rules of the site. Anyone who fails to comply with the rules of the site may lose his or her posting privilege.

70 Responses to “The NSN Misnomer”

  1. chrisnstefanie Says:

    Incredibly well said. And SO TRUE!

    Please encourage your readers to vist No Hands But Ours for more stories, from families, on special needs from China… even those needs that aren’t labled *SN*.

    Thanks RQ!

  2. willowflower Says:

    Bravo. Great post!

  3. diana-dori Says:

    Very true!

    Great post!

  4. Noendinsight Says:

    good post RQ. anyone who regularly visits this site should know this information and if they don’t or don’t follow the advice they are just living in la-la land. THIS IS TOO SERIOUS AN ASPECT OF IA TO BE DELUDING YOURSELF. you’ll pay later and more importantly and unfairly, so will your child. one thing about adopting at this point in time is that we’ve have years of research and tens of thousands of overseas adoptions to learn from – the information is there – shame on us if we don’t utilizing it to do the best we can for our children.

    one thing about this wait is that for those of us still waiting there is NO excuse not to be prepared (especially those of us waiting for our first child who have more time).

    sometimes when i imagine our future daughter i get excited about things like – trick-or-treating….or traveling….or christmas. then i always remind myself – that won’t happen right away – low key – no sensory overload, etc. what i remind myself about those beginning days, weeks, months and sometimes years, that i find the most helpful TO ME is to remind myself that that time is about my daughter having a mother, not me having a daughter.

    i’ve read dozens of books in the past four years. in addition to the ones RQ recommends, i’d also like to throw out “parenting your internationally adopted child: from your first hours together through the teen years (cogen).”

    also, i found “taming the tiger while it’s still a kitten” cd good food for thought.

  5. zhaonuer Says:

    This is a great post. The only benefit of the wait is that we are all A LOT more informed than we would have been otherwise. Our agency and SW certaintly did not bring up anything, and we may not have sought out books and websites to review had our wait actually been 6 months.

    This kind of post highlights what I struggle with, though, as I do not see any issues with DS. I feel like that makes me a bad mom because everyone says all kids have issues. I read the attachment and sensory books before we traveled, and I used to be one that cringed when anyone said their kids had no issues. But I just do not see anything with DS. I worry I am missing something, but I also do not want to create an issue where none exists. I am sure as he gets older, particularly at new stages in development, we will have to be attentive for any issues that need addressing. I don’t know

  6. lightiv Says:

    RQ, thanks for the reminder. With all the waiting and dealing with that these types of things can be forgotten.

    LID: 06/22/06

  7. waiting4Ash Says:

    Excellent post!

  8. Littleladybug Says:

    RQ, thanks for the advice, I am going to pick up the books you suggested and start reading them. I have a cousin who adopted 5 children from Korea. That are all grown adults now, but they still have problems. 1 out of the five I would say grew up “normal”. She became a doctor married a wonderful man and has an adorable baby gir. The other 4 have many problems. My one cousin I could tell had sensory issues as a boy and nothing was addressed as he was growing up, now he spends his day and nights in jail for minor offensives. My other cousin never bonded with her family and turned to being an extoic dancer. I guess she figured this was the only way to get the attention that she craved. The other two boys seem to have stayed out of trouble but moved to far away cities and alianated their families and friends. I think it is very important to address these problems at a young age because ignoring it is not going to make the problems go away.

    On a different note have we heard any news when the next sn list is coming out.

  9. mom23boys Says:

    Loved this remider as well! Having a bio son with sensory issues, i can tell you that this has been so time consuming and frustrating at times to learn how to deal with, but each moment spent addressing it takes us one step closer. I am a trained teacher and work with many kids with disabilities- even yet I still struggled with these issues and how to deal properly as a parent and in the best way to help my son. This is one of the reasons we origiinally chose the NSN program. I knew the issues that could possibly present themselves even with a child without any extra medical needs. It is also hard to be a parent that knows what is right for your child- when others disagree because it is not the norm. The more educated you are, the better it will be for your child. Thanks for the post RQ!

  10. bsinchina Says:

    I think the key is to remember that every child, no matter how they came to us, has her own needs and that it’s our responsibility to recognize and address them. Our older child- the one placed in our arms (through domestic adoption) immediately following birth, has had sensory issues and developmental delays. It’s so easy to be self-conscious about “labeling” our kids as having special needs. But I’d much rather have that label, get the help for me and the kids that we need, than have my children labeled something actually bad (like “troublemaker”) later on.

    Sure, maybe I read into things too much (example: our 4 year old has recently been waking up multiple times each night, unable to put herself back to sleep, and I wonder — often– if it’s a product of her having been in an orphanage for the first nine months of her life, where she never slept alone). But I’d rather overthink it than ignore it.

  11. lovemygirls Says:

    Thanks for this post. Our daughter was 9 months when we brought her home and had very, very few issues. I had read all the books and tried to practice attachment parenting. Nevertheless, attachment issues arose this summer when she was 3.5 – and despite all my reading and the fact that I work in a mental health field, it took me several months to realize what was going on. We saw an attachment therapist a few times, who told me that the issues we were facing (anxious attachment, tantrums, night terrors) were an “easy fix” at age 3.5, but are much more difficult to deal with in an older child. Once we sought help, things got better fast and six months later we’re all much happier!

  12. KDforLeah Says:

    Thanks RQ. I’ve been somewhat aware of these issues but it’s time for action. I’ll be buying the attachment books today and start reading!

  13. RumorQueen Says:

    Noendinsight – so true. I read about people bringing their children home in December and taking them to Christmas functions to see the lights, and having the tree in the house and I cringed. That’s the last thing a child just out of an orphanage should be experiencing. We need to focus on the child’s needs, not ours.

    zhaonuer – I’ve heard from someone else who adopted a boy with no problems at all. He was actually a bit overweight, where the girls from there were undernourished. And the girls in their travel group were developmentally delayed, where the boy was not. The family wondered about that until they found someone on their orphanage group who had traveled for a heritage trip a few weeks before they got him. They learned that the orphanage director took him home every night, and that he spent his days with the director, not in a regular baby room. So even though he wasn’t technically in foster care, he was going home to a family every night. I’ve heard similar things from others who adopted NSN boys – that the boys were in much better shape than the girls. Sad, but I guess the cultural idea of boys being more valued than girls extends into many of the SWI’s.

    Littleladybug – that’s one reason I’m trying so hard to give GG outlets to get attention (sports, hip-hop, etc). She needs so much for people to like her and accept her. She’s one of the most popular girls in her class, and on the surface that looks good, but I worry that she’s made that happen because of her need to be accepted. Your cousin isn’t the first adoptee with attachment issues I’ve heard about who ended up an exotic dancer as an adult. I don’t know the statistics, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than the general population.

    bsinchina – TT is four (almost five) and about three months ago started having issues at night as well. We haven’t figured it out yet, either. She goes back to sleep in less than five minutes if we go in there and lay down with her, so it’s not a huge deal, and she doesn’t seem to remember it the next morning. But I wish I knew what was going on in her little head. Some nights I’m not even sure she wakes all the way up, she just cries and screams and gibbers something that we can’t understand. But when we lay down with her and hold her she calms down, so at least we are able to do something to help her. It happens maybe two nights a week, but when it happens it tends to happen two or three times in a night. So, she either sleeps through the night or she awakens several times. I even kept a diary for a while trying to see if I could identify a trigger, but I could not.

  14. Norahs_dad Says:

    I would also think “The Connected Child” is a good one to get.

  15. threetimesalady Says:

    Hi all-
    Would like to add our experiences. Our ten year old, adopted from China when she was 9 months old, as NSN, has an anxiety disorder, possibly caused in part by early trauma. A lot of this anxiety has its roots in food anxiety- she was near starving when we first met. We first became officially aware of this when she was five- she stopped eating when she started kindergarten-but she had always had some separation issues. Luckily we have access to wonderful mental health services and she is now doing great- although she will probably always need support, she has learned how to manage her anxiety.
    You never know- her docs are sure that she must have at least one bio parent with this disorder- however, being adoptive parents made us extra sensitive to signs of trouble.

  16. hopingfor08 Says:

    RQ, this is SPOT on. SUCH GOOD INFO. that all APs need to know. YES, YES, YES! And I too have friends who are doing so much wrong with their child who was adopted. “Oh, she is a baby and has attached so well, just seamlessly.” This was said after ONE MONTH home. They let anyone and everyone hold her, put her in the church nursery from day one, I could go on and on. What are they thinking??? And did their agency not require any reading on attachment???

    I do think those of us who adopt toddlers often find less trouble with attachment later on because we are so prepared (as anyone can ever be) to help them attach that we do the right things early on. DD has been home 15 months and she is doing well, but it has been gradual and one step at a time. We co-sleep and she has just started staying with grandparents at all, and she does well. But she definitely wants Mommy when we get back after a couple of hours.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing it so well. May we link to your site from a blog? I’d love to point to this some time when I do an attachment update on my blog.

    Oh and I have heard that some agencies refer to NSN as “non-specific needs” and that is so much more accurate. As the Mommy of a child who was institutionalized for 3 years, I can honestly say her “listed special needs” pale in comparison to some of the needs she has from being institutionalized for 3 years. Thanks again RQ!

  17. Noendinsight Says:

    RQ – i can’t believe what i’ve seen on some people’s blogs. home a few weeks and traveling all over staying at different places every few nights to visit friends and relatives. large welcome home parties, huge baby showers, etc. the children usually look shell-shocked to me and it makes me cry. i read one blog of a family that was home two or three weeks and wrote “she is finally letting other people hold her” with a picture of a huge group of people clearly waiting for her to be passed around. Ugh!

  18. Katiebug Says:

    I am in the process of adopting our dd from here in the states, we got her at 7 months old and by 9 and 10 months I was noticing little things in the sensory category and of course all my friends are saying “its normal” but it was the many little things together along with feeding issues. She dropped from 75% to 3%ile in weight. I went with my gut (after the doctor ruled out any medical causes) and had her evaluated, She is a sensory seeker and keeps me going and going, she also has issues with attachment at first and still does not like intimate moments such as kisses, hugs, and rocking. It can happen to any child and go with your gut feeling if you feel there is a problem regardless of what your friends say. I too am or was a special eduction teacher, the earlier the intervention the better the outcome.

  19. hann23 Says:

    I am crying right now. Feelings of relief that I am not crazy. SOmehow, you addressing this today just made me feel a lot less alone.

    DS2 is home a year and has repaird cl/p. He came with severe speech delay, no obvious developmental or occupational delays, perhaps sensory issues, and aggression. He hits, kicks and scratches us. Yesterday, his big brother just yelled and yelled at him to stop hitting, scratching and kicking him. It was gut wrenching. And DS2 laughed — I know it’s the laugh of anxiety and fear, but try explaining that to an older kid.

    He definitely has control and attachment issues. If he has a physical problem, his emotional ones increase exponentially. We do know he suffered trauma — alot of things — mainly abandonment, surgery and yes the adoption.

    We are doing everything we can for him — speech 3x a week, getting an attachment therapist, a county therapist, occupational therapist — anything. It’s exhausting, scary sometimes and my full time job.

    I just have been feeling alone on this with my child from China. Everyone keeps saying it gets better and we are doing the right thing by starting early.

    I hear them, but I’ve been listening to you on adoptions from China for years. You may not have meant too, but your post today really helped me. Thank you for your honesty and candidness. Hann23

  20. beenheredonethat Says:

    Oh yes! Great post RQ. I think it is important to keep ‘different’ behaviors in perspective, not everything is adoption/institutional behavior. But man alive, if they are, they can hit like a ton of bricks. My two NSN girls have two sets of issues, the one adopted at 9 months and very well nourished and healthy at the time of her adoption is by far (at this point) the most fragile. Anxious attachment, I could literally not go 20 feet from her and definitely not out of her sight, without a total meltdown. This started about 2 weeks after getting home. At 10 yrs she is shy and very dependent on me. I had to sleep with her until she was 9, I know darned good and well it would have damaged her further to force her into her own bed, she was terrified of her crib and needed me close. It was NOT a control game. I know there are people out there that condemn the ‘babying’ of our kids and my response to that attitude cannot be expressed adaquately here, but my thoughts of what anyone that feels this way can do to themselves is screaming loud and clear in my brain. I have very little tolerance for the ‘make em tough and independent’ attitude and I have heard it a lot. My 5 almost 6 yr old adopted at 14 months and VERY sick and malnourished at adoption, seems at this point to be very resilient. However, she has questions, very tough questions, that may not easily go away for her. I am prepared for some rough road ahead, I hope I am wrong. Obviously all kids can and do have issues, but for the most part, we are not bringing home mentally healthy kids IMO. Some are able to cope better than others, but for the most part, I think they are all going to have to face their demons and learn how to deal with them to live happy, healthy lives. This is not a job for the faint of heart if it is a job well done. This post doesn’t even touch on the physical. I am well aquainted with many NSN kids that have very serious physical issues also. I have raised birth kids to adulthood and I can without a doubt say that IA kids are much more challenging!

  21. Noendinsight Says:

    hann23 – hugs to you! you are noticing this eary and getting your son the help he needs! people who have posted things online who went through what you are going through and sometimes it seems like they go two steps forward and one step back – but you WILL get there – it just takes time.

  22. cangirl Says:

    I have the opposite problem – I have always wondered if there are attachment issues, only to be told by all the “professionals” that “she’s fine, she’s fine.” My fear is that I won’t recognize signs of problems when/if they surface (if I’m not missing them already). It doesn’t help that we live in a small town, hours away from the nearest large city (1/2 day drive east to 1 city; all-day drive west to the other city) and there’s little international adoption here, so the professionals don’t have a clue. The “professionals” being the daycare staff (there have been a few over the years with lots of education and experience and are “older” as opposed to “younger” so they see lots), the early literacy facilitator, infant development, and the GP. ALso, there are some kids in daycare with our dot who have behavioural issues to the point where they need a support worker, and that has been readily arranged (so some level of help is there if needed). As I say, I just don’t know if there ARE issues that I am missing. We have been told repeatedly that our dot is well-rounded, shows leadership, good at problem-solving (better than I am – she doesn’t get her knickers in a knot!), a good listener – etc etc – and first report card from Kindergarten had her “meeting” all and “exceeding” some “expectations,” but what, in the big picture, does all that mean?!?

    One interesting point – lately, when she is upset about something (like removing a sliver the other day – she was hysterical over the anticipated pain and the sight of the needle), she will cry that she wants her Chinese Mama…

    Thanks for any ideas anyone…..cangirl

  23. nanbwill Says:

    Good post indeed. A researcher at heart, I read all the books before our first adoption, then read them all again plus the newly published ones before our second adoption.

    Both my girls DD1 (NSN, now 8, adopted at 9 months) and DD2 (SN, now 6, and home for 2 years) both made very smooth transitions, but not without some minor issues.

    They both seemed to have had reasonably good orphange care. DD1, despite being so young at adoption, has always had higher than typical separation issues. DD2 has speech issues, not her SN, which she is overcoming but not at the rate I expected with her amazing adaptive ability in the other areas of her adjustment.

    Doing the research and being alert to the issues has made me a better parent. When the tough times happen, you also know that it is not unexpected and you are not alone in dealing with what must be dealt with.

    That said, do take your cues from your child. Both my girls and their Chinese cousin were all very social soon after arrival, in fact my second needed that interaction. Looking back, I can see that she would have benefited from enrollment in pre-school sooner.

  24. PETERK Says:

    Hello everyone,this has been the most interesting topic in awhile.I know my agency did not require reading on attachment issues. We got home in August with a beautiful 3 year old girl with a repaired vsd in China.Truthfully,I don’t know what to look for in attachment issues.She eats well everyday,takes a two hour nap by herself in her own big girl bed,loves to read books at night before bedtime with daddy and mommy,and most of the time sleeps at night by herself.she is always happy except when she is doing something she knows is wrong and gets corrected by a time out from mommy. she loves to kneel before the cross in her room and pray-i could not believe it the first time i saw her doing that. she needs some speech theraphy and all the early intervention people say she has no problems. The things she knows is wrong are going into the kitchen draws(which she figured out how to bypass the childproof lock) and sometimes playing with her food.I did notice one thing,when we first got home with her,every morning she would get out of bed and put her socks and shoes on by herself,nowfor the past two months,she wants help to do this.Is this a good sign? I do not know. Anyway,i thought i would share our life with her with others.Oh,and she loves to watch musicals like the sound of music and mary poppins.

  25. Waiting for Gigi LID 02 Nov 2007 Says:

    For us with a 4 year old and waiting for our second child from China, understanding that the process of development is always a challenge for the adopted child is paramount. I recently read in a book that put it best, the challenges our children will encounter will never have closure. Never.

  26. sophie3 Says:

    Great Post!

    When we came back from China (December 05) we ”cocoonned” for the whole Christmas time period. The four of us, our eldest daughter and the baby. Family and friends understood (I didn’t bother with those who didn’t) and getting back from jetlag, adapting to our new daughter and her just adapting to her new surroundings. Ex: The phone would ring (cries), the dishwasher would start (cries) our eldest daughter would start laughing loudly (cries)..get the picture. We had read a lot about it, but when you live it, it just break your heart to see this sweet gem in cries just looking at you and trying to understand what is happening. Not to mention when she would bump her head or hurt herself (no cries!). We had to teach her to come to us and show her that we were there for here, always. As for attachement, well she had issues. She always cried when I was on the phone or spoke with someone. She needed me available at all times. Very insecure, night terrors, the whole kit. With patience and a great support system at the IA clinic where she was followed (still is). Furthermore, living in Canada I had a great maternity leave (13 months). I decided to stop working until she was at school. I now work 2-3 days a week at her school library, could not ask for a better set-up. So I had a lot of time to be with her. Precious time. She is now five, in kindergarten and is thriving but when a new situation arrives in her life(sleep over at family (just started), she makes sure we will be there at the end of the day or the next morning to pick her up.

    Read, prepare yourselves but be prepared for the unexpected and most of all, be patient and have confidence in your instincts and feelings. You’ll get through it.

    Loooonnnng lid: 10/26/2006!

  27. ljsatx Says:

    I also recommend re-reading attachment books if you don’t think there are issues. I read them all before travel and had to reread them once we had DD home a few months. Many attachment-related behaviors are subtle and when looked at separately, many don’t seem odd (especially when others are telling you that it’s totally normal for a child that age).

    I have several friends who came home with their kids during the “boom” in 2006 (when there was less time for research– not that research wasn’t done, there was just a much shorter window to be exposed to attachment discussion) and their girls were “just fine”. At 4 years old, 2 of the 3 are now exhibiting issues that need to be addressed, and both were treated exactly like bio kids (cry it out, etc.) because they seemed so ok at first. The 3rd, who was very much not ok at first, is doing great now because her parents were aggressive with their attachment parenting techniques from the get-go.

    The moral of the story: if at first everything seems fine– it may not be. If you are pretty sure you know what to look for, be extremely sure.

    After two years of raised eyebrows from others because DD still sleeps with us, posts like this remind me that we are doing the right thing. I tell people who aren’t educated that if we’re wrong, the worst case scenario is that she’ll be spoiled, which is a far better worst case scenario than having attachment issues into adulthood.

    Thank you, RQ, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  28. doc33 Says:

    Great post RQ. I so wish attachment book were manditory reading before adopting…and like another poster said You have to read them, and reread them. We have has a lot of problems with attachment with our daughter, who we adopted in May at 5 years old. We are finally at a place were it is getting better, but we have sooo far to go. I have talked with so many parents who are clueless and have not read the first thing. Even though I have read the books I still have made mistakes, and I will probably make more. I continue to read and educate myself, and try to help my daughter…I DO NOT WANT HER TO END UP ON A POLE! YIKES!

  29. Michele Says:

    Great post! We had a lot of issues with ds (now 4 adopted at 2). It did seem to take about 2 years to sort through most of everything. Now I still very sensitive to his needs (needing to know where everyone is when he goes to school, needing to know the schedule for the day) but it is so much better. He is cl/cp but his speech issues are more then just articulation, he also has speech sentence structure issues. Good reminders from RQ, I do revisit The Connected Child when we are having issues.

  30. cellule Says:

    Thanks for that post! Well said and so true. ;)!

  31. Noendinsight Says:

    PETERK – yes that’s a good thing. she is looking to you to take care of her and do things for her. she probably didn’t have enough time to be a baby and it’s wonderful if you give her that time to be a baby. tell her that you are her mommy and will always take care of her and if she needs help putting on her shoes you will do that because that’s a mommy’s job to take care of her girl. think of it this way – she’s always had to take care of this herself and now someone comes along and says “i’ll do it for you.” isn’t that nice! ;-)

    regarding re-reading books – i have started using a highlighter on everything. i seriously feel like i’m back in college!

  32. MM Says:

    I know people who refuse to switch to the waiting child program but they are many, many years away from a referral. Our daughter was in the waiting child program only because whe was presumably premature. Thankfully, I wanted adopt from the waiting child program even before I knew of the slow down. Our daughter has been home 2 yrs. and she is doing wonderful. With a late 06 lid we would still be waiting many years. Our daughter did have issues, but relating to her so called special need of prematurity, but attachment. For at least 6 months she would go to anyone, reach up for any adult to pick her up. We had to work very hard on this, and educate everyone around us, and not allow others to pick her up and hold her for quite some time. This was the key, and she now understands the boundaries, and that mommy and daddy are the ones she is to go to. The waiting child program is wonderful, and I would recommend it to anyone!

  33. RumorQueen Says:

    MM – many people do not have the choice to switch to the WC program. It isn’t that they refuse, it’s that they don’t have that option. Lucky for you, you had an agency who sits up at night so they get the children with the least of the special needs. Not all people are in that situation.


    I’m going to leave this post up today because I think we’re getting mostly good comments, and I want it to get a bit more exposure. It’s important, it should get two days.

  34. Maxwellhouse Says:

    “Any infant or toddler who has been institutionalized is going to have some special needs – be they related to attachment, sensory issues, general developmental issues, speech issues, personality disorders, etc”

    I reject this premise. Where I do agree is that all children have needs. I think that maybe this is a definitional issue, but my daughter (home for 2 months) seems very “normal” to my social worker and the Interational Adoption specialists at a major Children’s Hospital in the United States (where they have seen hundreds of children from all over the world). She laughs, she loves, she travels well, she enjoys most visitors, eats well (she has added 4 pounds in 2 months). We were blessed by a wonderful foster family in China, and maybe we are the exception that makes the rule. Maybe there are problems to come, but isn’t that true for any parent of an 18-month-old?

    Yes, read books. Yes, consult with others in the adoption community. Yes, love your child and beware of the unique being that they are. But, it seems that many are searching for problems and waiting/watching for issues to the possible detriment of enjoying the special boy or girl that is part of their life today.

  35. RumorQueen Says:

    Maxwellhouse: You apparently missed this part: There are some children who spend their years in China in a good foster care situation who may not have developmental or sensory issues, but foster care is not a guarantee of that.

    There are many kids out there with no developmental or sensory issues because they were in a good foster program. That doesn’t rule out attachment issues, lots of kids in good foster care still have issues around attachment and trauma. And, not all foster situations are good, so for those expecting a referral, seeing that your child was in foster care is no guarantee. But for many kids, temporary foster care while they wait to be adopted is a wonderful thing.

  36. Noendinsight Says:

    Maxwellhouse – that’s wonderful that you daughter is adjusting so well, but two months is nothing. attachment issues sometimes take years to surface.

    even in an ideal foster situation, a child was still separated from their birthmother then separated from their foster family.

    think of a well taken care of one-two year old of a family member or friend. imagine going to that child’s house and having the family hand that child over to you and you leave and never go back. that child won’t have trauma and loss?

    as far as SN is concerned – thank you RQ. MM – please don’t assume the process is as easy for everyone as it is for you. we have a May 06 LID and have tried to adopt from the SN program for over two years. they don’t go in lid order, not all agencies get dedicated lists, not all agencies monitor the lists overnight, not all agencies HAVE sn programs, and so on.

    also, i think it’s wonderful to see all the people here with happily-ever-after special needs adoption stories. but the people without the happily ever after stories are probably not here. just because your SN OR NSN adoption worked out perfectly, doesn’t mean that that’s what always happens.

  37. KYMama Says:

    We have been home almost 8 month with our NSN daughter. (I love the term non specific needs BTW) She was with a foster family for all of her 15 months before she met me in China. I think she was loved and well cared for there. She was a healthy weight (21 pounds at 15 mnths) and grieved tremendously while in China and first home. She is doing fairly well attaching to our family but still anxious about me leaving her. I am lucky to be able to be off work on child rearing leave for up to two years and it has helped. She has speech and physical therapy. She is pretty delayed in expressive language (although age appropriate and above in receptive language) her SLP is becoming concerned about verbal apraxia. To sum it up, I think she had really great care while in China but we still have lots to work on. To my family she seems great. They all comment on how wonderful she has transitioned. And she has,she is funny, silly, and a delight to be around most times BUT….they don’t see how she can cry inconsolably if I am not home when it starts to get dark (DH is here), or how she started waking up screaming and thrashing around after about 4-5 months home, how she constantly looks for me,DH, and her big brother and sister to reassure herself none of us have disappeared. Just small things but they are clues to me that she is still not totally secure. It breaks my heart but we will (hopefully) get there.


  38. ratgirl Says:

    My DD was 10.5 months when we adopted her. She was in an orphanage, and definitely did not have any stable caregivers. There were 10 babies in our travel group, all from the same orphanage. All were completely unattached when we got them – they came straight to us, and never looked back at the nannies. Most of us realized right away that this was not normal.
    My DD is 3, and we have been working on attachment all along. She is attached now, but it is anxious, and she does things that I know are attachment related. She will do things on purpose that she knows not to do, and then when we tell her that she did the wrong thing, she completely dissolves in tears. It is like she is terrified she will lose us over the one misdeed. But then, she goes on and repeats the whole thing a day later. I really feel that she is testing us – if she does something really naughty, will we abandon her?
    She had food issues when we got her. None of the babies had ever seen solid food, at 10.5 months. She was clearly hungry and underweight. At first, she had trouble regulating herself when eating -she would eat to the point of a bellyache if I didn’t stop her. I had been warned about that behavior by a friend who had adopted from Russia. Now, my DD is good about food, except that she goes ballistic when there is candy or sweets about. She would literally climb to the top of our highest shelves if she knows there is candy up there. She will also steal candy and horde it.
    Finally, I have always felt that there is some core of her that is unconnected still, and which may never be fully connected. I can’t explain it. She is outgoing, happy, and popular at her preschool. She makes eye contact and comes to us for hugs. But she just seems so “self-contained”. Because she seems attached on the surface, and doesn’t do the things we see on the “attachment checklists”, most people think I am imagining things. But I don’t think so. I worry that she will have trouble trusting or forming relationships when she grows up.

  39. frteach Says:

    Don’t forget about sleep issues too. So many of us have had major sleep issues with our kids, either from the time they came home or at some later date. We went through 2 difficult years with our NSN daughter who was adopted at 11 mos old. She woke up screaming several times a night. We believe it was due to anxiety about separation.

    We haven’t seen any issues with DD#2 yet but we are always alert and keeping the signs to watch for in the back of our minds. Her time will come too, its just a mater of when.

  40. Noendinsight Says:

    ratgirl – from everything i have read, a child’s brain is more ‘alterable’ when they are young and most books site that it’s easiest to reach/stimulate unstimulated areas of the brain before the age of six. so you’ve got three years ;-) read away and keep doing what you’re doing.

  41. cungar Says:

    We adopted our daughter at 16 months on Christmas Day 2006. While I am not an expert at attachment or developmental issues I have to say that from the day when she sat on the hotel bed and smiled at us to this day 3 years later, we have not detected a single behavior that we would consider an issue. Our daughter was not fostered so we believe we have really been very lucky.

    She is outgoing, popular at preschool and loving to all her grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. If there are issues, no one including our social worker, our doctor or any of her teachers have seen them.

  42. Noendinsight Says:

    also, if i could add – even if our child appears to have NO signs and is adjusting really well, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything for you to do. carry your child facing you in a sling (not strollering). limiting travel and visits (despite how well your child deals with them), skin to skin contact, bathing together, mirroring….CONSIDER co-sleeping…I recommend “heart of the matters” seminars “because they waited”?

  43. MacyGirlInChina Says:

    Just when you think that you are moderately informed about the issues of an adopted child….WHAM! Along comes a post like this. We have read numerous books on attachment, most have been reviewed here by RQ. We feel we have a pretty good handle on that subject, but since we’re still waiters, we don’t really know crap till we have a screaming bundle of our own.
    But the sensory issues…hmmmm
    We’ve been lurkers & posters here for about 43 months, so we do pay attention to what is being discussed. But for some reason have not done a great deal of reading about sensory issues.
    So, thank you all for bringing this to light (again) for us thick skulled ones.
    I promptly ordered the 2 recommended books from Amazon, as well as a third book titled “Out of Sync Child Has Fun- Activities for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder”
    They should be arriving in a couple of days. The preview of it talked about various activities (obviously) that we may have not thought of regarding sensory issues.

    Has anyone else purchased this book, and if so, what are your thoughts?

    Thanks all for the constant support.

    LID 5/30/06

  44. ratgirl Says:

    Cungar – was your daughter smiling at you the very first day? Or did she grieve first? My daughter smiled at us, in fact was completely delightful, the first day in the hotel. I don’t think that was normal behavior at all for a 10.5 month old, and is in fact one of the reasons I believe she was completely unattached to anyone. In my daughter’s case, her relatives, her teachers at preschool, her pediatrician, even the social worker, all think she is fantastically adjusted. And she is, but she still has attachment issues that are subtle but nonetheless there.

  45. ratgirl Says:

    One other comment – I am not as huge on the sensory stuff as a lot of other people seem to be. I think that the sensory issues are a symptom, not a cause – but too many therapists just want to treat the sensory issues without understanding the underlying problem. We saw this with my son, who had many many sensory issues (and still does). In his case, the underlying cause was trauma associated with intensive medical treatment over a 3 year period (cancer patient -very intensive chemo) when he was too small to verbalize anything. The therapists all recognized the sensory problems, but stopped there and tried to treat him the same way they treat their autistic spectrum kids. So they had us rubbing him with a bristle brush and other useless things like that. He had his best results working with a therapist who worked with lots of cancer kids, and knew that the underlying trauma was the issue. There are so many “sensory therapists” out there who mainly work with autistic spectrum kids, and who don’t understand adoption issues, or trauma issues.

  46. cungar Says:

    ratgirl – She was solumn when she was first handed to us but when we got her up to the hotel room and gave her a rattle she lit up like a light and smiled and laughed. I have it on video. She never seemed like she had any fear of us and became attached immediately. I’m not saying she was never cranky or beligerant. But she seemed to just blend into our family like she was there from day one.

  47. Noendinsight Says:

    cungar – i think what ratgirl is saying in some cases, isn’t that worrisome? why didn’t she have any fear of you? you are strangers? why didn’t she ever grieve? even if she had very little, she had SOMETHING – her entire world was turned upside down.

    i’m NOT saying there is a problem – i’m just saying that these are things to think about.

  48. mmsmom Says:

    This is a good post! Thanks again, RQ! Before we got DD1, I read and read about attachment and was very concerned. I bought 0-12 month baby toys, bottles, etc so that our 11 month old could “fill in the holes.” I also bottle fed her, rocking and looking into her eyes, and we co-slept. I had a Mei Tei, a baby carrier that can be worn in front or back. This is the BEST! We got DD2 when she was 21/2 years old. She was unable to co sleep so I had to think of other ways of attaching. She kicked and bit her older sister, but that behavior stopped after 4 months. By the way, I just ordered some of the books that were recommended, just in case we have some problems in the future. I think that the kids figure it out quickly if you are ALWAYS handing them food, answering quickly when they have a need, change their diapers, etc. Rather than waiting for a schedule, you are there, fulfilling their needs. They can DEPEND on you and TRUST you. No matter what!

  49. MississippiMom Says:

    When we entered the NSN program for our first adoption (in 2004) our agency said “Non-Special Needs” means”None that we know about”.
    That one statement made all the difference in preparing for our child.

  50. nanbwill Says:

    It is interesting to read this series of posts and I realized that while I say we have had only very minor issues, I really mean that they are minor because we’ve been alert to the meaning of various experiences. They weren’t issues because we anticipated them and knew how to respond based on our readings. So when people say they didn’t have issues, they may mean they experienced what they expected.

    DD2 turned 4 a month after bringing her home. She was extremely independent, could tie shoes, button, snap, all the fastenings of getting dressed. We viewed it as a good sign when she asked us to do these things for her. She was on a bottle (plus solid food) when we got her and initially we took her straight to a sippy cup. Later, we regressed to a bottle for her “special” milk, including Pediasure. That lasted only 6 months, then she didn’t need it.

    She was also overly social and for the first month, I was just another random woman caregiver to her even though she was madly in love with her dad. Understanding that this was a survival skill for her, helped us deal with it. 2 years later, she is still the social butterfly, but without a doubt strongly attached to us. Interestingly, her bond to me came when I went back to work. It seems this was the trigger that clicked with her that I would leave, but always came back.

    DD1, at 9 months, was terrified and clung to us for reassurance. Looking back at her Gotcha Day video and knowing her like I know her now, I can see how terrified she was. Then I thought she was just cuddly.

  51. lovemygirls Says:

    My daughter seemed to adjust beautifully as a baby and we didn’t have any significant issues other than some night terrors for about six months after we brought her home. The attachment issues arose over two years later – so even if a child seems to be doing well, it’s important to review the attachment, sensory, etc. literature from time to time so if issues do arise you recognize them quickly. I didn’t recognize my daughter’s attachment issues for several months and made things worse by treating tantrums and controlling behaviors as “brattiness” rather than anxiety and insecurity. Once I realized what was at the root of the behaviors and changed my responses, things improved quickly. But I wish my daughter didn’t have to suffer through those few months while she escalated her behavior until I finally “got it.”

  52. wyofamily8 Says:

    Just a current experience with our daughter who has been home for 2 1/2 years (she’ll be 6 next month). While her transition was quite easy, and she came to us completely on target development wise, she did her share of healthy grieving, we did everything “by the book” as far as attachment activities, we NOW see more red flags than we ever have. Ever since she started Kindergarten in the Fall, she seems stressed, somewhat out-of-sync, and is displaying some attachment symptoms that concern me. Never would I have expected this to this degree, although it’s not visible to “outsiders” – it’s one of those subtle things I think I would totally miss had I not read about it. We’re going back to doing lots of “baby-things”, and we even had a “first birthday party” for her a couple of days ago. She has needs right now that baffle me, and we’re considering pulling her out of Kindergarten and homeschooling her for the remainder of the year.
    Just to say that because things are “easy” in the beginning, they won’t creep up at a later point. We’re right in the middle of this, and it is disheartening to watch and difficult to be in.

  53. Vikki Says:

    That’s the bottom line, MississippiMom!!! So true!!

  54. cangirl Says:

    Lovemygirls, would you mind giving an example of what you mean by “controlling behaviours”? Again, we’re not seeing any attachment issues but I am wondering if we are just missing them. Our dot has this great habit of refusing to take direction (like playing in the sink instead of brushing her teeth) and I am wondering if it is just normal 5/6 yr old behaviour or something else? Thx very much.

  55. cungar Says:

    Noendinsight – She was laughing because she liked the rattle we gave her and she seemed to enjoy being with us. Hard for me to say why she didn’t “fear” us. We saw plenty of adoptive children who didn’t seem to “fear” their new parents. I think you’re reading way too much into this. She bonded quickly and seemed to adapt to her new life with little outward grieving. Why does this have to be a negative thing?

  56. lillysmom07 Says:

    BRAVO RQ! BRAVO! Yes, I know that I am shouting but this is an issue that I am passionate about. Every child is going to have some issues to some degree. If I had not read as much as I had and been prepared, I believe that there are things that I would not have caught and that it would have been detrimental to my dd. Another thing that I want to encourage others about is, please, please, please listen to your children. There are often stories (some good and some not) that begin to come out in bits and pieces. If you don’t listen and take them seriously and put pieces together as they come I believe you are doing a great disservice to your child.
    I have always believed that the NSN name is indeed a misnomer. You can’t take a child who is already been abandoned, has lived in an institutional setting or perhaps a foster home (good or not so good) and upon adoption feels abandoned again (in their minds) by their caregivers/nanny’s and are now taken to another world where nothing sounds the same, looks the same, smells the same, feels the same, is done the same way and so on and so forth and expect for their to NOT be any emotional/psychosocial fallout.
    Ok, I am off my soapbox but again I say Bravo RQ!

  57. kyleigh Says:

    All three girls from our daughter’s orphanage went BERSERK when they were handed over. We have it on video–the look of horror on my baby’s face every time she looked at us was so intense! Our daughter screamed the loudest and the longest (hours). It’s a bit difficult to deal with as it happens, but boy were we glad it did.

    We had a tough few days, and as predicted, our daughter definitely attached to my husband first. This was the case for all in our group. We had heard this is a good thing, because the babies don’t want to replace their nannies with other females. Eventually, my daughter let me in after a few days. From there, it was pretty much smooth sailing, and by the time we got off the plane in the U.S., she was all over me. I remember my mother saying, “She knows who her mommy is!” I didn’t realize then how lucky we were. We had a welcome home party about two months after we came home and she did mingle with a few others, but made sure we were close by at all times. We’re close to our referral for baby #2, and I sure hope we get lucky again. If we don’t, it’s good to know there are lots of resources out there.

  58. RumorQueen Says:

    cungar – the other commenters are just trying to point out that it is not normal for a child to go to strangers and leave everything she (or he) has ever known behind and to be happy about that right off of the bat. That, in and of itself, is a huge red flag.

    A child who is handed over to strangers who look different and who speak a strange language… combine that with new surroundings and different food/formula/bottles… the child should have stress and trauma when it happens. If they do not, then there is something wrong.

    Kids learn survival instincts, and one of those instincts is to be “good”, so you’ll be liked by the people who are responsible for taking care of you. But that’s not attaching.. that’s surviving. We don’t want our kids growing up with that mentality. We want to help them form healthy attachments. Not “survivor” attachments.

  59. azawa Says:

    When we got home we had a good friend take all our phone calls and be the general go between for us. If anyone wanted to get to us they had to go through her first. It worked great. She coordinated food drop offs by putting a cooler outside our front door. If someone wanted to fill it they could and not ring the bell. We just slept and played in the house and went for short walks, just the three of us.

    It took about 6 months before we really started to notice our daughter come out of her shell little by little. When you look back on it later you realize how long it takes. And this was for a kid that did not have any significant issues. She was fairly healthy and had had good care. I did some reading before we went and still consider it a process. Constant reassurance of her place in this family and constant assurance of her security and safety.

  60. Katiebug Says:

    I just finished reading “Sensory Integration and Self Regulation in Infants and Toddlers: Helping Very Young Children Interact With Their Environment” byGordon G. Willimson. It explains the different areas of sensory intergration, assessment, and treatment along with parent questionnaires. I had read the out of sync child and found some of it difficult to relate to my dd because it is geared for somewhat older children. My OT has also recommended “Sensory Secrets-How to jumpstart learning in children” by Catherine Chemin Schneider. I have yet to order it but was able to glimsp at it and it seems to be a very easy to understand and covers areas such as feeding issues. The other book she recommended was “Building Bridges through Sensory integration” by Ellen Yack, P. Aqvilla, and S. Sutton, this book is pack with activies that you can incoperate into your childs day and includes simple to understand illustrations of these activities.

  61. erikawolf2004 Says:

    When we got home it didn’t seem to have any attachment issues, but as she gets older she has issues when we leave her at school or has a major change is her/our schedule. At school she actually gets sick after I leave her in the morning sometimes, especially when there has been a break, we are dealing with it again now that we are back after a two week Christmas break. Rather than not attaching, she seems to have too much of an attachment, not that I think there could be such a thing, I just hurt for her that it is so hard for her when these things happen. I read some of the attachment building stuff before we traveled and she attached to us beautifully, but as she gets older this stuff seems to be getting worse, she is almost 5. Any suggestions???

  62. Magnolia's friend Says:

    I have conducted pre-travel briefings for adoptive families and I tell them I roughly categorise the reactions of children on handover into three categories (nothing scientific, just my observations) – those that scream and cry, those that withdraw (shutdown, withdraw into themselves) and the immediately ‘happy’ babies. And I always tell them that it is the ‘happy’ babies that you need to have your wits about you the most. The screamers and the withdrawn are, as RQ points out, showing a grief or stress response (and there is a heap for them to grieve or stress about – while you have been planning for years for this moment, your child did not know that they were suddenly going to lose what they knew as ‘home’ and their carers and be taken away by these strange looking, strange smelling strangers); the ‘happy’ baby is more than likely implementing a ‘coping’ mechanism learnt through institutionalisaton – babies who ‘please’ their carers get the most attention, but deep down they are as stressed as the other children, and like putting a lid of a volcano sometime, somewhere that pressure is going to release, maybe more intensely. I am always concerned when I read that children have instantly attached – it takes months and years for attachment. As RQ points out before that it is ’survival’ mode.

    I find it painful to look back at the video of handover and the video of our trip. Knowing my daughter as I do now – even when she had calmed down after the initial massive stress reaction, even in the second week when she is smiling in the video, even when we had been home for weeks and months I now see how stressed she still was and it makes me ache.

    I said at the time and since that she clung to my husband and I like a shipwreck survivor clings to the only available liferaft – we were her new ‘constant’ in a sea of new places, and experiences. But that was survival mode. We had to work on attachment and that included going into ‘lock down’ – relatives found it the hardest to understand but as I explained to my parents, unless she learns what parents are for she can’t understand what grandparents are for (that they got).

    Magnolia’s Friend

  63. zhaonuer Says:

    After reading through all the responses I realize that while I do not think our son exhibits any issues, it definately took time to get to the point of secure attachment where we are now (15 months after coming home). Nothing is instant, but it does not have to be difficult or traumatic either. It was such a smooth process for us where all we had to do was limit outside experiences at first and always respond immediately to cries (still do), meet needs etc. The transition was so smooth that it seems like there were never any issues, but there is definately a distinction in how he interacts with us now and when we first came home.

    I should clarify that DS is not from China, and I think the 6 weeks visiting him in the orphanage before we gained custody were SO important for starting the attchment process on the right foot. I think it was good for him to see us interact with his favorite nanny over an extended period. He gradually came to trust us; the first week he always reached back for his nannies and was very serious with us. By the end of 3 weeks he was excited to see us. And at the end of 5 weeks he actually would cry and reach back for us when it was time to return him to his room. I wish the China process allowed for a slightly more gradual transition to ease a little of the initial trauma (not suggesting 6 weeks or anything :).

    I think kids’ personalities affect how they react and adjust to the same experiences, too.

  64. overjoyed Says:

    I have a question…. Many families these days are bringing home school age children. The other day I was on one of my groups and a dad was saying that they’ve been home a month with their child and now are planning to put her in school (and thinking about it and all said here, that month home for them was December~over stimulating month). Anyway, he was starting to have questions because family members were questioning putting her in school so soon. I teach and offered him my respectful 2 cents, but really thought it a horrible idea (wasn’t that blunt). So, my question is when do you put a child in school? School is a reality, they eventually have to go or you have to home school them, but what are the recommendations?

  65. mom222b Says:

    We did the same as Zhaonuer did with our dd who was 35 months when we met her…just taking these steps went a long way to minimize some of the possible issues that others may experience. I also think we have had a smooth transition thus far but it wasn’t what I had expected. Because we were adopting a toddler, I knew we might be faced with additional issues. I read the Weaver’s Craft and Deborah Gray’s book on attachment. I was in school on-line at the time so I took a course in attachment theory…I had the time. Your comment about answering his cries and being attentive is key to attachment. I also read that we should not let her do things for herself…in other words regress her back to a younger child – we even went as far as putting her in pullups even though she was supposedly potty trained. She was just about three when we met her and she was quite capable of doing things that most three year olds were just learning. Some people may see this as a good thing…it’s not.

    We are amazed every day by her but this doesn’t mean we get to ignore the possibility that issues may occur. Does this mean we are sitting and waiting for something bad to happen…of course not but being aware isn’t stealing any joy from parenting her.

    I don’t always expect it to remain this easy. It isn’t always easy with our 11 y/o bio son. However, I am surprised when people make negative comments when someone brings up a subject like this. I witnessed some things in China that made me cringe because people did not take the time to prepare for this process.

    My advice is to be prepared – read the hard stuff too – maybe it will never apply to you but read it anyway. Adopting a young child doesn’t guarantee an easier transition neither does adopting a child who was fostered as opposed to being raised in an orphanage…there is simply no way to predict.

    As for school – I think every child is different. I wasn’t considering pre-k for DD but after her developmental assessment – her doctor felt, as did her pediatrician, that she would benefit from the social interaction. They were absolutely right – two days a week for 2.5 hours – she loves it. I should add that at her assessment she was found to be at or above her target age. She never exhibited signs of stress when we dropped her off – if she had we would have had to rethink our decision. She had been home for 6 months before we enrolled her.

    As another poster said…it’s process~

  66. Noendinsight Says:

    i know this sounds horrible to say (and i wouldn’t say it to anyone who doesn’t understand all of this) but my biggest fear is that our future daughter will have no fear and appear to be happy and attached right away. as horrific as it will be to witness, i am very much hoping for a meltdown or a shut-down. my heart will break a million times over, but i know it will be a good sign.

  67. Noendinsight Says:

    erikawolf2004 – i have some friends who have gone through this. it’s not too much of an attachment – she’s having some attachment anxiety (which is NOT to say she’s not attached).

    she is worried you won’t pick her up. she’s worried to let you out of her sight. i would reinforce to her every day “mommy will pick you up after school in the same place, mommy always comes back, etc.” also make plans for that night “when we get home tonight we’re going to read this book.” constant reminders that she will see you again. there are a lot of good children’s books on this subject like “mommy always comes home” for working parents, etc.

  68. lovemygirls Says:

    Cangirl – I’ll try to describe the controlling behavior the best I can. I think I first realized that we had a major problem was when I noticed that DD’s older sisters and I were all tip-toeing around her and giving her whatever she wanted to prevent her from having a “fit.” At first I thought we’d just spoiled her, because she’s the youngest, but when we stopped giving in to her all the time she displayed major anxiety and what I called “head-spinning” temper tantrums. The tantrums were very different from those my older girls (bio) had when they were younger. They sometimes lasted for over an hour and DD would yell, “get away from me” and then, in the next breath, “pick me up mommy!” When I’d try to pick her up, she would hit me or pull my hair. I’d put her down and she’d scream for me again. The cycle would continue, over and over and over. She was very demanding and “bossy” and wanted to have her way all the time. Basically, she didn’t completely trust me and so felt she needed to be the “boss” as a way to lessen her anxiety. She also started having tantrums in the middle of the night. We saw an attachment therapist for a couple of months and learned how to do holding time during her tantrums. We also returned to co-sleeping and tried to simplify her daily routine. I blogged about our experiences while we were going through it (I’m a terrible blogger, but I was better when this was going on). My blog is if you want to read more about our experiences.

    Erickawolf2004 – Our difficulties started after the summer break when I had to return to work (I work for a school) and I, too, noticed that it was difficult for my daughter to return to daycare after the Christmas break. What has helped my DD is to have a photo book she takes to daycare that has pictures of her daily routine and of me coming to pick her up. For months, we reviewed all the pictures and talked about her routine every day before I left the daycare. Now, she seems to have internalized the routine and is okay with just hugs, kisses, and reassurance that I’ll pick her up at the end of the day.

  69. Noendinsight Says:

    erikawolf2004 – sorry, one other thing – you should do some research on “anxious attachment.” good luck ;-)

  70. JustWait Says:

    I uses “NSN” because it’s the least bad expression we hhvae. Someone suggested “Regular Program” or something like that, but no other expression works as well. Plus, the acronym helps to split the term we use from its literal meaning.

    All kids, adopted or not, have “special needs.” We know that. In the China program, kids in the WC program have specified and identified kinds of special needs, but I don’t think many in the NSN line really think our kids will not have “special needs.”

    All that said, the reminder is a good one, especially since so many of went through the social work interview process so many years ago. Our training on attachment disorder will be four or five years in our past by the time we actually travel to China. How many people really remember the details of stuff they read five years ago when they don’t have to use it in daily life?