Posted by: eacadoption | 06/14/2011

DEB’s Tips

*Now that summer is here and the weather is nice, just a few tips for those of you that just came home.  Remember, you should still be in the lockdown phase for the first two months.  I know that it sounds tempting to take your child(ren) to the local pool or park.  It’s okay if you do things in your backyard.  Remember that most of the children only know the confines of the 4 walls of the orphanage.  Give them the time that they need to assimilate.  Don’t assume that they’ll move into your home and adjust just like that, it doesn’t work that way.

*Some children may be very sensitive to sand, water, and sun.  Remember, this is all new to them.  If you notice that they become fussy, oftentimes, this may be why.

*Be mindful of your child(ren) even in a wading pool; it only takes 2 inches to drown.  We hear horror stories like this in the news, in cities across the country, every summer.  Be safe, not sorry.  Other health and safety reminders include:  Lather up with that sunscreen throughout the day &  spray for those pesky mosquitoes.

*For those of you that have been home for sometime, don’t overload your child(ren) with too many organized activities.  It’s very over-stimulating for most.  They need time to be children.

Have a Happy & Healthy Summer,

Deb Levindofske, LSW
HELP DESK Coordinator

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Posted by: eacadoption | 01/17/2011

Attachment to Caregivers

Consistency in care giving is also a vital part of children’s learning to trust their environment and their ability to attach. Children do not necessarily need a parent to attach to, though that is the ideal. Any caregiver who provides consistent care and gratification of the child’s needs can be an attachment to her. As children learn to predict their environment and gratification of their needs, even if those needs are not daily routines and know that a familiar caregiver will give them breakfast.

Children who are moved around from one institution to another cannot trust on any given day that a caregiver who is familiar to them will get them dressed or give them their breakfast. They learn to an even great degree not to trust or love and are unable to attach to anyone, causing them to be very resistant to attachment later if they are adopted.

Children who experience this interruption in the bonding cycle, who are unable to attach and who are moved around in their early life are repeatedly traumatized. For those children who are adopted, they come into a family that they do not know, who suddenly want to meet their every need, who hug them and rock them and feed them very predictably and love them unconditionally. These children have never experienced this and it scares them and they are very mistrustful of this kind of environment.

If they dare to love their own parents, or trust that their needs will be met, they are afraid their parents will leave them or send them somewhere else as this is all they have experienced in their lives. These children are angry with their parents, and test them regularly to see if they will leave them. Their behaviors may include:

  • Gratification of own needs (food hoarding, head banging)
  • Protecting himself (lying, being unpleasant to keep people at distance)
  • Expressing anger (destructiveness, cruelty to animals)
  • Keeping the fear away (not letting parents close, rejecting them before they reject him)

Parents adopting children who have experienced abuse, neglect or institutionalize have a long road ahead of them in order to love and be loved by their child. With help, love and much patience, this can be accomplished. Children who experience some degree of predictability and stability in their lives often have not learned as much distrust of their environment. If institutions can provide children with stability and predictability and the same caregivers to form and attachment with, the children will have a much greater chance of attaching to their adoptive parents and being healthy well adjusted boys and girls.

Authored by Kristen Buchannan, MSSA, LISW

Posted by: eacadoption | 01/14/2011

The Cycle of Attachment and Bonding

Effects of Institutionalization on Children
Children begin the cycle of attachment and bonding even in the womb, as they must receive sufficient nutrition and be free of harmful substances like alcohol and drugs, to develop properly and be ready to attach at birth. Children who are born to mother addicted to drugs or alcohol often have immature neurological system and can be hypersensitive to all stimulation, like touch, which is important in the early phases of attachment. As a result , their heightened sensitivity and irritability may set them up for further abuse and or neglect as caregivers attempt to nurture a baby who is fussy and upset.

The Bonding Cycle
In the first 18 months of life, infants learn whether to trust their environment or else to find that his/her needs will not be met. In what we call the bonding cycle, children have a need, i.e. hunger, pain, etc. They become angry and demand that their need be met. When it is met (gratification), many times over the course of 2 years, they learn to trust that their caregivers will care for and protect them. This gratification and trust becomes a foundation for development for life. When their needs are not consistently met, the bonding cycle is interrupted, having lifelong implications and causing problems in the following areas:

* Social/behavioral development
* Cognitive development
* Emotional development
* Cause and effect thinking
* Conscience development
* Reciprocal relationships
* Parenting
* Accepting responsibility

Children who have been institutionalized often experience interruptions in the bonding cycle. Their needs may be met sometimes, sometimes not; with no predictability, they do no know what will happen the next time they let out a cry. This causes them to learn to lose their expectations that their needs will be met and gratify themselves with self soothing methods. They trust no one besides themselves to gratify their needs and do not learn to identify with others or to develop compassion, empathy or love. These children may use methods to gratify themselves like head banging, rocking, sucking on their hands or pulling their hair. They may appear detached and vacant, desiring no interactions with others.

Posted by: eacadoption | 01/12/2011

Requirements and Restrictions in International Adoption

There isn’t much that’s easy about adopting… except perhaps knowing that we want to be parents. And when we look to international adoption as an option, things can become even more challenging. There are dossiers, apostilles, translations, and more on the documentation side, and on the “who can adopt” front, it’s more complicated as well.

Adopting internationally requires that we observe the laws of the country where we live and the country from which we hope to adopt. Every country has requirements that prospective adoptive parents must meet, usually regarding age, income, number of existing children in the home, some indicator of marital stability (number of divorces, years married) and, in the case of single applicants, gender. And some countries have a few more unusual requirements. For example:

  • If you want to adopt from Korea, you cannot weigh more than 30% over the normal weight for your height when you work with certain agencies.
  • If you are single, male or female, forget about adopting from Armenia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka (among others). No single adoptive parents allowed.
  • If you want to adopt from St. Lucia, you don’t have to be a resident but you do have to own property on the island.
  • If Slovakia is your country of choice, you must maintain long-term residency in-country, and stay there during the entire adoption process, which can take a year or two.
  • If you want to adopt from Indonesia, a two year in-country residency before an application will be considered, and a belief in God are required.

Age Limits

One of the reasons many choose international adoption is that some countries have liberal age limits. Older persons, who may find domestic adoption presents too many hurdles due to the age factor, often turn to countries like Mexico, Russia, or Greece where the upper age limit is 60. Other countries, like Ukraine and Venezuela, have no statutory age limit; however, prospective adoptive parents are interviewed and their abilities to parent evaluated.

Always Changing

Recent years have seen a drop in the lower age limit from 35 to 30 for those who hope to adopt from China, but the number of applications being accepted from single persons has been cut back. Many countries with stringent requirements for those applying to adopt healthy children have more flexible requirements for special needs adoptions.

While these details of limitations and restrictions are interesting and can sometimes bring a smile, they serve as a reminder that those seeking to adopt internationally should make themselves aware of the laws and regulations, and include them in the decision-making process.

Visit our website at http://eaci.com to look at requirements for countries such as Russia, China, Guatemala, Ukraine, India, Serbia, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and more.  We can help you adopt in months, instead of years.

Posted by: eacadoption | 01/11/2011

Justin and Tanika Adoption Story

Meet Lana and her family.  Lana has always been successful in life and everything in life came pretty easily for her, except starting a family.  It was not in her cards to bear children, however that would not stop her from living her dream- to be a loving mother.  This is Lana’s journey on how she and her husband brought home two beautiful children.

I was very excited when I was asked to write about my experiences with EAC. My only concern was — with two beautiful new children — would I have time? Being 40 years old, married, and an attorney, no one could have told me the changes these two children would bring into my life.

I had always assumed that I would be a mother, but time passed and it did not happen. I really did not think twice about turning to adoption as an option. Everything in my life had happened pretty easily. I had a great husband, a great family, and a successful business. So when I did not get pregnant easily, I knew God had another plan for me.

The plan at first did not go well because I picked an adoption agency–not on merits–but because a friend of a friend had recommended it. I immediately signed up and sent them $5000. After four months I got one excuse after another…no one would return my calls…no one would help me. I decided to cut my losses and start again. (The company has since declared bankruptcy.)

The next time I used my head and not my heart and researched over 18 accredited adoption agencies. I called and asked many questions. To my surprise, a lot of companies were very negative. Either my husband was too old (he’s 54), our prior marriages were a problem, or the fact that my husband is Jewish created a concern. After two months of hearing only bad news, I finally met my guardian angels–EAC.

Our experience with EAC was great. Everyone I dealt with was wonderful and answered all of my questions. They were available at all times, were very knowledgeable, and never got mad no matter how many times I called.

Our trips to Russia were experiences I will never forget. EAC was there for us every step of the way. (I even e-mailed them from my hotel with more questions.) The interpreters in Russia knew what they were doing. They helped us from the moment we landed on our first trip until we cleared customs on the third.

Words cannot express the feeling of meeting my kids for the first time. Justin was one and just beginning to walk. Tanika was almost three and a little shy. They liked the toys and cookies we brought. We were strangers, but in just a couple of hours they were hugging and kissing us. We were shocked at how much love these kids had. The head of the orphanage was an intelligent woman whom the children truly loved. When they embraced her, you could feel that she really cared about them.

Two months after our first meeting we returned to the orphanage to pick up the children. They were ready to go. We dressed them in beautiful new clothes; they said their “Goodbyes”, and never looked back. Justin was still too young to understand, but Tanika knew THAT SHE WAS GOING HOME. She started singing as soon as she got in the van, and has not stopped.

It has been four months since they joined our family in Miami and neither has missed a beat. Both are intelligent, healthy, and very happy children. Tanika is speaking both English and Spanish and they are so well adjusted that it is unbelievable they have only been here 120 days. These children have changed our lives forever. But the reality is that they are here only because of the great people at EAC who made our dreams come true. We are truly blessed.

by Lana and Troy

Please note that the names of the family members have been altered to protect their privacy and their identity.
Posted by: eacadoption | 01/04/2011

Recovering from the Holidays

Are you just winding down from the holidays and find that your child is all wound up?

Please note that this is common for children to have tantrums, eating and/or sleeping issues.

This is a common reaction due to a change in routine and to over stimulation, especially during the holidays.

You may want to try getting back into your child’s routine and laying low for awhile.  To help your child wind down from the holidays, consider  hanging out at home with your child for the week instead of going out and about.  Toning down the activities and stimulation will help settle down your child’s tantrums and get your child back into their old eating and sleeping routines.

Also, if your child is old enough, walk and talk them through their feelings and actions.  Help them make the connection and understand why they are having these tantrums, eating and sleeping problems.

For more adoption assistance and guidance, you can always visit our Help Desk that addresses the many medical, developmental, and emotional concerns that you may have.

Posted by: eacadoption | 01/02/2011

Pros & Cons of International Adoption

International adoption offers many advantages and a few disadvantages. While you are pondering whether or not international adoption is the right way to build your family, consider the following. (Keep in mind that perceived advantages and disadvantages are in the mind of the beholder!)

Pros

  • There are lots of children – both boys and girls, infants and older kids, healthy and special needs children – available for adoption from a wide array of countries.
  • Once you have an approved homestudy, you are practically guaranteed a child. In international adoptions, parents and children are matched by either your adoption agency, the country’s adoption committee, or during an in-country visit.
  • You know about how long it will be before you have your child in your arms. The average time frame is 12 –18 months. Of course, this is just an average. Much depends on the country you choose and any preference you may have expressed regarding the child’s age and gender.
  • The birthmother will not change her mind. The children available for international adoption must be orphans (as specified in an astoundingly complex legal definition). Once you accept the referral of a child, you will almost certainly become the parent of that child.
  • You know (more or less) what the costs will be before you ever begin the process. While the costs of international adoptions can vary markedly, your adoption agency should give you a printed schedule of all the fees before you begin the process.
  • You will (probably) have to travel to another country and learn about another culture. This can be viewed as either an advantage or a disadvantage (see below). If you are going to give your child a sense of his cultural identity, what better way than by experiencing his birth country firsthand?

Cons

  • You will (probably) have to travel to another country. This can be viewed as either an advantage or a disadvantage (see above). Busy people sometimes consider the travel requirement a disadvantage, especially if you are required to make more than one trip or stay for weeks at a time. But not all countries require travel, and many countries that do require travel ask you to stay only about one week.
  • You will not get a newborn infant. The infants available through international adoption are under a year old. Depending on the country you choose, some children may be as young as three or four months.
  • The child’s background and family medical history may be unknown. Although you will get your child’s medical history when you receive your referral, you may not know anything about the health of the birthmother or birthfather. If not knowing your child’s family medical history makes you uncomfortable, however, you can turn to modern genetic testing to fill in many of the blanks.
  • If the child was in an orphanage, he may experience developmental delays and other problems related to institutionalization. Not all children who spend time in an orphanage are developmentally delayed. Children who do experience delays as a result of institutionalization usually rebound to the norm very quickly once they have a supportive, loving family to attend to their individual needs.
  • The child’s birthmother may have received poor (or no) prenatal care. This depends on the health care system of the country – some nations provide medical care to all their citizens, while in other nations almost no one receives preventive health care.
  • It is unlikely that the child will be able to trace her birthparents. This may or may not be true – it all depends on the record keeping of the nation from which you adopt, attitudes in that country, and the record-keeping of the adoption agency you work with.
  • There is a lot of paperwork required. Yes, the paperwork can seem endless at times. However, international adoption agencies, along with the social worker who completes your homestudy, will assist you with filling out all those forms. And the paperwork isn’t difficult, just tedious.
Credits: Excerpted from “International Adoption Guidebook,” Mary M. Strickert, (c) 2004
Posted by: eacadoption | 12/30/2010

Lara and Ethan’s Adoption Story

We at EAC, honor and cherish every letter and story we receive from the families that we have helped made possible. And each time we receive each heartfelt letter, we feel obligated to share every one.  There is no greater gift then to have a family to call your own.  Meet Jimmy and Heather and this is their adoption story of Lara and Ethan.

Finally–it is with joy and excitement that I write our family story to share with those of you considering international adoption or who have completed your adoption. Jimmy and I had been married for 15 years, with the past 7 years dealing with infertility. During those years we both committed our lives to serving Jesus Christ. We thought God was not answering our prayers for a family, but now we realize that, during those 7 long infertile years, God was preparing us for the family He had chosen for us.

After trying everything medically, we started our research on adoption. In the fall of 2002, we attended 2 EAC seminars and felt that this was the agency that could make our dreams come true. We completed the EAC application and home study; on the INS paperwork we requested approval for two (in case of siblings or twins). Our plan was to adopt a baby girl and go back later for another child.

During November, Jimmy began referring to our little girl as “Princess.” One day my mom called and said that she had the name for our little girl — “Lara,” which means “Princess,” and “Isabella,” which means “God’s oath.” Because we knew in our hearts that this child had been chosen by God, we knew this would be her name.

Our dossier was competed in January, 2003. We adopted not just one 10 month old baby girl, but also a 2 year old little boy (not biological siblings). Lara’s Russian name was Elizaveta–so very similar to the middle name we had chosen. I had asked for assurance, and God had provided assurance in her name. We knew these were our children.

We traveled in April of 2003 in the midst of the war with Iraq. Our travel started with long traffic jams…2 hour wait for tickets…almost missing our flight. In Moscow we were the last getting through customs and were glad when we finally saw an EAC sign. Luckily, everything from this point on went extremely well.

In the morning a driver and facilitator picked us up, and they were the best. We arrived at the orphanage on a cold, snowy morning and met the children of our dreams. Ethan came in and walked over to me. As I was holding him, they brought in Lara and gave her to James. Lara immediately began to cry, so we switched. Ethan took to James immediately. Lara cried a lot, but she was so petite and cuddly. We learned that Ethan had been placed in the orphanage about the time I prayed for our child. Lara had been there since birth and was very attached to her caregivers; we were told that this could be good because she could also become attached to us quickly. We left Moscow knowing we would return in two weeks to get them.

It was a busy two weeks. My church family had a shower for us and our friends helped paint and decorate the children’s bedroom and bath. When we returned, court went well, although we were very nervous. We spent time touring the region with other couples before picking up the kids. We returned to an airport full of family and friends and a house filled with more family and friends. What a celebration, although we were exhausted.

Since we have been home, both Ethan and Lara are doing extremely well. Ethan was speaking Russian but immediately began speaking English. Lara soon learned to walk and was very good at letting us know what she wanted. At first Ethan bonded with Daddy and Lara with Mommy, but now they have bonded with us and love their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. They have no health problems.

When we look at the smiles on their faces and hear them laugh we think of the first time we met them — Ethan was so serious and sad and Lara was so shy and afraid. We know in our hearts that God made these children specifically for us thousands of miles away and He brought us together in His perfect time through this wonderful agency. The staff at EAC know what they are doing and know how to get it done. God bless each of you!!!!!

Jimmy, Heather, Ethan & Lara

Please note that the names of the family members have been altered to protect their identity and privacy.
Posted by: eacadoption | 12/29/2010

Deciding to Adopt

If you are approaching adoption for the first time, congratulations on taking the best first step possible: Learning as much as you can about adoption, both as a legal process and a lifelong family commitment.  Children who need families range from newborns to teens. For whatever reason, they are unable to be raised by their biological parents, and they both need and deserve loving, committed, permanent families.

Every year, millions of people choose to pursue adoption for a variety of reasons. There are thousands of reasons for choosing to adopt: Some people have simply always wanted to adopt for as long as they can remember; some come to adoption because they are unable to carry a pregnancy to term; some have family connections which bring them an adoption opportunity, e.g., stepparent or relative adoption, and others may choose to add to their families through adoption for other reasons.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Adopting parents have found that exploring the following questions has helped them to feel more prepared for the joys and challenges of raising their children.

General Adoption Themes

  • How do I feel about not being genetically related to my child?
  • How do I see myself talking about adoption with my child?
  • How will I help my child to understand his/her “pre-placement background,” when there is little information, abandonment, or a difficult history?
  • Am I prepared to maintain my child’s positive identification with his/her origins and culture?
  • Am I open to dealing with birthparent issues, which are just as relevant and important in international adoption, as they are in domestic adoption?

Transracial Adoption

  • Do I have family and/or close friends of other racial, cultural, or ethnic groups? If not how can I develop such relationships?
  • Am I willing to move to another community, change schools or join appropriate organizations to find adult mentors and peers of my child’s race and culture, if necessary?
  • How do I feel about meeting the specific needs my child will have in developing self-identity and esteem?
  • How do I imagine supporting my child when he/she experiences racial prejudice and discrimination?
  • Can I accept the reality that adopting a child of color will mean our family becomes a family of color?

Orphanage Issues

  • Am I willing to learn the details of daily life in the orphanage in order to provide a gradual transition for my child from that routine to a new one in my home?
  • How comfortable am I with the fact that children living in an orphanage are at risk for developmental delays and emotional issues?
  • Am I prepared to deal with the coping behaviors my child used to survive in the orphanage?
  • How will I deal with the adjustments my child will face when he/she enters a family, e.g. learning to accept affection and nurturing, and trusting that there will be enough food?
  • Am I willing to seek help for my family if adjustment is difficult? Do I attach any stigma to my child receiving specialized educational services?

Single Parent Adoption

  • Do I feel confident about being the sole decision-maker for my child?
  • Am I ready to ask for help? Emotional? Financial? Physical? Respite? Who among my family and friends would be there for me in a real emergency? To help with an ongoing challenge?
  • Have I come to terms with my decision to forego or postpone pregnancy and marriage as a way of becoming a parent?
  • Does work offer me the flexibility I will need to care for a sick child, to attend school events, and to spend as much time at home with my child as I would want to?
  • How will my current and future relationships be affected by the fact that I am a parent?
  • Am I able to provide strong role models of the opposite sex for my child?

Toddler Adoption

  • Have I resolved my loss of the experience of parenting an infant?
  • Am I committed to incorporating my child’s past while building a foundation of security and trust for the future?
  • How can I help my child overcome previous trauma, bond with his/her new family, and adapt to a new lifestyle?
  • Am I resilient enough to understand initial rejection, yet simultaneously focus on attaching with my child?
  • Do I have the necessary time and stamina to parent a toddler who has just arrived from an institution or foster care?
  • Am I realistic enough to deal with the fact that any physical, cognitive, and emotional delays of my child cannot simply be loved away?

To learn more about international adoption or to speak to our social worker to see if international adoption is right for you, you can always reach us at 866-586-5656 to speak to one of our consultants or visit us at http://eaci.com.

Posted by: eacadoption | 12/28/2010

International Adoption 101 – The Basics

From everyone here at European Adoption Consultants (EAC), we hope you had a wonderful Christmas this year and that you all received everything that you asked for.

During the holidays, we understand the emotional struggles that couples or singles endure when they want to start a family but do not have the means to.  To some, nothing can make the holidays extra special without those little feet running around the house waiting for Santa to arrive, and the look of amazement when they open up their presents on Christmas morning.

However, we do want to remind you that you do have options to start a family whatever your circumstance may be.  Having a Christmas filled with joy and laughter of little ones that you could call your own is possible, and international adoption can be the right solution for you.

If you are considering international adoption, you may be wondering “Where do I start”?  The thought of adopting alone can make anyone a little flustered.

To help you, we would like to share an article from our friends at Adoption.com on the basics of International Adoption.

International Adoption Basics

Typically, international adoption is more structured and predictable than domestic adoption. Though all pre-adoptive parents should learn about open adoption before rejecting domestic opportunities solely to avoid the birth parents, it’s certainly reassuring to know that available children overseas are legally free for adoption, with an extremely low risk of any birth parent contesting custody. International adopters can enjoy the rich benefits of incorporating your child’s cultural heritage into your family life. At the same time, adopting a child from a developing country brings certain risks.

Available Children

Children are available from more than fifty countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and some African countries. No children from Western Europe, Australia, or Canada are eligible to be adopted by Americans.

As the availability of newborns in the U.S. diminishes, more Americans (over 17,000 in 2008 turn abroad to build their families. In 2008, about 75% of foreign children adopted in the U.S. came from Guatelama, China, Russia, Ethiopia and South Korea.

No two intercountry adoptions are alike, and the current top five countries represent a broad range of conditions. In China, for example, infants (usually girls) are abandoned by birth parents who would otherwise suffer penalties for violating that country’s strict population control policies. Severe poverty in countries like Russia and Ethiopia makes it impossible for many families to feed, clothe and house their children. And in South Korea – a well established, longstanding source for American adoptions since the Korean War – unmarried mothers face severe social stigma, whereas women who choose adoption are entitled to substantial financial support.

By the time you’re matched with your child, his or her birth parents will likely be out of the picture for any number of reasons, including family issues (such as alcoholism or abuse), abandonment, poverty, illness or death. Because of the time-consuming, bureaucratic process that’s required, you won’t be able to adopt a child from birth. But nearly half the children adopted from foreign countries are infants under one year old, and almost all of them are under the age of four. If you want to adopt more than one child, sibling groups are available in many countries.

Political and economic changes can abruptly disrupt potential adoptions from any country at any time.

Where to Start?

Taking the first step in international adoption can be frightful, so it’s important to obtain all the information you can on international adoption to see if it’s right for you.  You can always get information on international adoption online, at the library, and of course through adoption agencies.  Many agencies provide materials that explains the process, procedure, and time frame when it comes to adoption.  No agencies are alike, so processes and procedures will be different.  The best way to gain insight on international adoption is to meet those who have already adopted.  EAC provides seminars across the country to allow pre-adoptive parents meet post adoptive parents and their children.

If you are interested in being a part of our seminars, call us at 866-586-5656 to find a seminar near you or click here.  You can also view our seminar listings by joining us on our Facebook page, and click on the Events tab.  Our Facebook page is a great resource to meet those who have already adopted.

We hope you found this information useful and we wish you the best of luck on your journey with adoption.

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