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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Academic English and the Foreign Child

Adopting an older child from abroad, or bringing your own bio child from a foreign land, can prove to be challenging when it comes to schoolwork.  Put them in an ELL (English Language Learner) or ESL (English as a Second Language) class these days, and they’re liable to come out speaking Spanish, instead of English. …

A Modern International Family

Workaholics for many years, our Russian (me) Italian (him) American (us) union remained childfree by choice.  A heavy travel schedule made it difficult to imagine any other life.  But after 9/11, we started contemplating kids and dogs, and when we took the plunge, let’s just say we didn’t play around:  four older kids from Russia…

Taking Custody of Your New Child

We have cyber-friends who are soon heading home from Ukraine with their newly-adopted teen daughter.  Congrats, you guys!  Which brings us to an interesting topic:  what’s it like to take custody of your new child? Well, it all depends on their age and prior experiences.  Remember that they are going through massive, mostly unknown-to-them, changes…

Getting Kids to Care About Others

Empathy. It’s a subject that was not emblazoned into the psyche of my kids, so busy they were with merely surviving Russian winter, year after year, without food or adequate clothing. But now it’s time for them to reach out and think about others, if not for the simple reason that Mama may need her…

Talk Therapy for Trauma and Abuse

I’ve shared with you how some of our internationally-adopted kids are a never-ending verbal loop of loopy experiences. If you went through what they’ve been through, maybe you’d want to get it out of your system, too. So, we talk. Or rather, they talk. Constantly. It always comes out when they are feeling relaxed and…

Overcoming Chaos & Confusion

The post-institutionalized child often arrives home with a complex network of confusing cobwebs cluttering his mind. This chaos was born through months or years of neglect and takes some time to turn around. “What are you wearing-?!”  I gasp as Pasha glances at his outfit, unsure of the problem. The ensemble shouts “Early Emigre’” black…

Holiday Letters to Russia

The content varies between terse, prison-fare reports, and fantastical missives from Mars. “We get up and do school.  The food is good, write soon.” “I visited Great Wolf Lodge and went on the Double Barrel Drop, then the River Canyon Run.  I watch The Electric Company.  Bye.” There is rarely any mention of parents, brothers…

“Feelings” and the Internationally-Adopted Child

Many of our kids have never had an identified feeling in their lives beyond “happy” or “sad”. They’ve experienced plenty of negatives, for sure, but always stuffed them deep inside. Navigating the course of new life in a new land calls for them to be self-aware, whereas in the orphanage, most did not have any…

My Kids’ Capers in Open-Air Markets

It all started when our first son, Petya, came home at 7-1/2 years old. The shoes we had carried to Russia for him did not fit. At all. Leetle mahleenkee tooflee. Our coordinator gave us directions to a children’s shoe store, whose clerks were only too happy to help us. We didn’t know at the…

Ten Secrets of Our Success: Older Child Adoption

Many have commented that our adoption of four older Russian children is a slam-dunk success story. This comes from professionals–agency people, neuropsych, social worker, as well as family and friends who declare that ours is “the most ideal” of a family in anyone’s definition. Not every day would I agree, particularly last Saturday when Sashenka…