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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…!

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 that include their setting, their language, their home, their food, their schedule, their friends… and joining a new family.  It’s a lot.

So there’s excitement, and overstimulation, and happiness, which might also lead to fear, and apprehension, and upset tummies.  Some are told that their new parents are going to chop them up for body parts, or abuse them.  Others think that they will be slave labor for the new family, while many are beaten up before they leave the orphanage by jealous children who wish they could go.  I remember one girl who came home with all her teeth having been knocked out-!  How do the children express their mixed bag of emotions?

For little ones, you may encounter runners, screamers, or biters.  For older children, there could be sulkers, whiners, or those who don’t want to listen to anything you say, no matter how many times you say it.  The children are going into survival mode, and they are using whatever skills once worked in the orphanage.  Unfortunately, these responses can make the new family crazy.

Give it time.

What you experience in the first few days or weeks of taking custody will be totally different in a few months.  For most of the kids, adults have proved to be very unreliable, and even dangerous, at times.  They need time and patience to adjust to a new reality.  In the beginning, they may try to distance themselves from you, just when you think they should be getting closer.

It’s okay.  Good things are going to happen, but there’s no set time schedule as to when they may happen.

I remember waking up the first day home with our new son.  Benedetto had to fly out to another city as soon as we arrived to the US, so Petya and I enjoyed our first night home alone, getting settled.  He wanted to sleep with me, which was not strange, since he had been sleeping with us in Russia off and on that first week.  (We’ll talk about co-sleeping another day.)

I woke up the next morning with his two little hands cupping my face, holding my cheeks as though I would float away.  Kissing his hands, he asked me, “Mama, will I ever be sent back?”

“Never,” I assured him.

Our first day together at home, he fed me blueberries from his yogurt and picked flowers for me from the garden.  It was like a dream come true.

The subsequent children had a few more rough edges. The dream was more like a nightmare.  We told ourselves that things would get better.  Some days they did, some days they didn’t, lol.

But like the stock exchange, there was a long, steady upward trend if you could track it over time.  The daily ups and downs, while they had to be dealt with and addressed, were best ignored over the long haul.  Gains were being made.

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