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Old 06-05-2012, 06:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizita View Post
Why is it awkward or stupid to ask someone if they remember the orphanage they were in as a small child?
The only thing I remember from the orphanage is the abuse I went through, which I get in the form of nightmares and flashbacks at night.

Yep, I'll be sure to answer that--just like that--next time at I'm Aunt Sandy's BBQ and some well-meaning friend of my parents unloads the question on me 5 minutes after meeting me. I'll be sure to drop in the fact that it started a cycle of abuse, where I was sexually and physically abused post-adoption over a period of 13 years by various adults in my life, which at some points got so severe that my life was endangered. Then I'll see if I can't fish out a story from the person who asked me the question about an uncle committing suicide or an abortion they had after being raped. Then maybe they'll realize why it's awkward.

I understand if they don't realize what they're asking, so I usually give them some answer like [body cringing, eyes wincing] "I remember some things. [in a clear, obvious way] So anyway..." But it's when they push the question, that I really don't get how they don't realize they're being insensitive.

I'm not trying to get any pity here. I am just trying to shed some light on what it's really like for a lot of children who have been adopted later--and I'm one of the success stories. The orphans I have worked with were much worse off than me--much worse--honestly, there's just no comparison. The goal of the organization I worked for was to get them adopted to the U.S., but most of them were not, and were just sent back to their countries, and went home to go to their orphanage "graduation", only to be thrown out on the streets, left to fall through the cracks.

I had to stop volunteering for them because it was too heart-wrenching, especially since the people running the organization started to care more about their pay checks than the children.

Last edited by nimchimpsky; 06-05-2012 at 06:32 AM..
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Old 06-05-2012, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,437 posts, read 41,809,051 times
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When we were considering adopting internationally we went to a few social gatherings to meet adoptive families. I remember seeing 5 y.o. girl who had only been in this country 6 months and she spoke perfect English. It was amazing and I remember very innocently asking her mother - not the child herself- if she remembered or spoke about her life before she came home. I never would have asked the child directly.

That was 29 years ago before the internet and before there was much adoption etiquette even being discussed. I think people who ask truly have no idea about the abuse in some orphanages. they tend to think of abstract views of orphanages and only in terms of domestic orphanages which basically don't even exist any more.

But once Eastern European orphanages were shown on TV and Yugoslavia atrocities came to light, there really isn't any excuse for being ignorant about true conditions.

I also have to add that today we live in an atmosphere of no personal privacy. Everybody seems so willing to go on TV and spill their guts about their past and family secrets. While getting some of these atrocities out in the open can be healing, we need to remember that not everyone wants to discuss such personal and private details openly and that is certainly their right.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:41 AM
 
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Nimchimpsky (love your user name!), you inquired about amblyopia being viewed as a special need. It's not on the "official" lists of special needs in the EE country with which I am most familiar, but in reality, it can add to the view of a child as being inferior, defective, etc.

This occurred with my young relative, who has mild CP which manifests as a slight limp and amblyopia, corrected with glasses (they did get glasses in the home country and had eye surgery at some point, but the prescription was wrong and the surgery did not produce ideal results). Otherwise, this bright child has no speech difficulties, no mental delays, good use of their hands, swims, rides a three-wheeled bike, climbs trees, runs, jumps, climbs stairs unassisted, learned English very quickly, is artistic, loves books and reading, writes creatively, loves history, is appropriately affectionate now, and is thriving, given a loving family and a chance. I shudder to think what would have happened had these siblings not been adopted.

Because of that CP-related amblyopia and limp, my relative was separated from their sibling and sent over 100 miles away to a poor, isolated internat which was supposedly "for mental defectives" (not my words!) . In reality, neither she nor any of her groupa-mates (classmates - kids are divided into "groupas", which do everything together) were developmentally delayed by anything other than orphanage delays, though one other child had an unrepaired cleft palate which led to severe speech issues. Otherwise - they were beautiful, typical seven and eight year olds, sent to this place because that's where there was room. But being sent there meant they would be scapegoated as "mental defectives" in the views of their fellow countrymen.

As far as I know, no other children from my young relative's groupa have been adopted, and that's tragic. Their faces are so yearning in the photos taken of them with my young relative during the adoption - while the face of my relative is just glowing with joy...
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:21 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
17,679 posts, read 21,872,933 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Nimchimpsky (love your user name!), you inquired about amblyopia being viewed as a special need. It's not on the "official" lists of special needs in the EE country with which I am most familiar, but in reality, it can add to the view of a child as being inferior, defective, etc.

This occurred with my young relative, who has mild CP which manifests as a slight limp and amblyopia, corrected with glasses (they did get glasses in the home country and had eye surgery at some point, but the prescription was wrong and the surgery did not produce ideal results). Otherwise, this bright child has no speech difficulties, no mental delays, good use of their hands, swims, rides a three-wheeled bike, climbs trees, runs, jumps, climbs stairs unassisted, learned English very quickly, is artistic, loves books and reading, writes creatively, loves history, is appropriately affectionate now, and is thriving, given a loving family and a chance. I shudder to think what would have happened had these siblings not been adopted.

Because of that CP-related amblyopia and limp, my relative was separated from their sibling and sent over 100 miles away to a poor, isolated internat which was supposedly "for mental defectives" (not my words!) . In reality, neither she nor any of her groupa-mates (classmates - kids are divided into "groupas", which do everything together) were developmentally delayed by anything other than orphanage delays, though one other child had an unrepaired cleft palate which led to severe speech issues. Otherwise - they were beautiful, typical seven and eight year olds, sent to this place because that's where there was room. But being sent there meant they would be scapegoated as "mental defectives" in the views of their fellow countrymen.

As far as I know, no other children from my young relative's groupa have been adopted, and that's tragic. Their faces are so yearning in the photos taken of them with my young relative during the adoption - while the face of my relative is just glowing with joy...

There are many beautiful and loving children living in "groupas" in ditsky doms in the European country with with with which I am the most familiar.

Amblyopia is not a disorder, but the minor and related disorder strabismus, is a disorder that is considered a disability.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:32 AM
 
10,452 posts, read 10,258,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Nimchimpsky (love your user name!), you inquired about amblyopia being viewed as a special need. It's not on the "official" lists of special needs in the EE country with which I am most familiar, but in reality, it can add to the view of a child as being inferior, defective, etc.

This occurred with my young relative, who has mild CP which manifests as a slight limp and amblyopia, corrected with glasses (they did get glasses in the home country and had eye surgery at some point, but the prescription was wrong and the surgery did not produce ideal results). Otherwise, this bright child has no speech difficulties, no mental delays, good use of their hands, swims, rides a three-wheeled bike, climbs trees, runs, jumps, climbs stairs unassisted, learned English very quickly, is artistic, loves books and reading, writes creatively, loves history, is appropriately affectionate now, and is thriving, given a loving family and a chance. I shudder to think what would have happened had these siblings not been adopted.

Because of that CP-related amblyopia and limp, my relative was separated from their sibling and sent over 100 miles away to a poor, isolated internat which was supposedly "for mental defectives" (not my words!) . In reality, neither she nor any of her groupa-mates (classmates - kids are divided into "groupas", which do everything together) were developmentally delayed by anything other than orphanage delays, though one other child had an unrepaired cleft palate which led to severe speech issues. Otherwise - they were beautiful, typical seven and eight year olds, sent to this place because that's where there was room. But being sent there meant they would be scapegoated as "mental defectives" in the views of their fellow countrymen.

As far as I know, no other children from my young relative's groupa have been adopted, and that's tragic. Their faces are so yearning in the photos taken of them with my young relative during the adoption - while the face of my relative is just glowing with joy...
Thanks. Your relative sounds like a beautiful child. I couldn't possibly imagine any reason anyone would not want to adopt her. A lot of the children I worked with also had cleft palates. Honestly I don't think it's that big of a deal. I guess I am just used to being around people with much more severe disabilities than a cleft palate...who are getting their Ph.D.'s. I still hold firmly by the belief that disability and limitation is a mental state...not a physical one.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:36 AM
 
10,452 posts, read 10,258,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
There are many beautiful and loving children living in "groupas" in ditsky doms in the European country with with with which I am the most familiar.

Amblyopia is not a disorder, but the minor and related disorder strabismus, is a disorder that is considered a disability.
Seriously? That to me is shocking. I know so many people with strabismus...I guess they're all disabled, lol. For what it's worth, most childhood strabismus does involve some amount of amblyopia, because the alternative is diplopia (double vision). Many children's brains will create suppression scotomas in order to avoid double vision (since one image is easier to deal with than two).
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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For those less familiar with typical Eastern European orphanage practices, infants and babies are sent to "baby houses" until they are four. They are then sent to "detsky doms", or children's homes, where they remain until around age seven. After that, they go to "internats", or boarding school orphanages, where they remain until age sixteen or seventeen, at which point they age out and must leave. They are given a small amount of money, a few clothes, and are usually allowed to take whatever small possessions they've acquired with them. There are some non-profits and charities which are trying to provide things like basic cooking utensils, blankets, Bibles, etc. for these "graduates", and a few other similar groups have hostel-like housing and shelters in a few places, but there are not enough such groups and their funding is not sufficient to meet the great need.

That's for "typical" children, with no special needs. Kids with both physical and developmental special needs are at very high risk of being sent to adult-level mental institutions at any time, but usually sometime between ages four and seven or eight, when children are moved to different levels.

There are a few progressive orphanages for older children with typical intellect but physical disabilities, but it's still very common for mentally typical kids with physical issues to languish in bed in mental institutions 24/7 and never receive the education, therapies and/or surgeries which would be a given in the western world. Children with developmental delays like Down syndrome fare even more poorly, as they are viewed as not only "defective" but without any ability to learn, to feel, to think, to perceive...and are treated accordingly.

If by chance a child with physical special needs does manage to "graduate" from an orphanage, they are faced with a physical environment which lacks simple accommodations such as cut curbs, elevators which are large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, lack of elevators in general, and so on.

Adoption of children with special needs not only saves lives, but also gives life...
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:14 PM
 
9,827 posts, read 7,719,688 times
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Sadly, I've just learned this evening that a little girl with Down syndrome who had been sent to a very poor mental institution in an eastern European country with many, many orphanages has passed away there very recently.

Tsveti spent most of her life lying in a crib. No one ever helped her learn to speak or to walk, but she laughed and smiled when visitors gave her a little attention, and she loved to play with the few toys she occasionally was offered. Tsveti was a tiny little thing, about the size of an American three year old. Her big brown eyes were crossed, and she never received the surgery she needed. Her head was shaved when she entered the mental institution. She was listed for adoption both domestically and internationally, but never found her family.

Tsveti died alone, age eleven, lying in a crib in a mental institution in eastern Europe...

Please, those who read this, search online for special needs/international adoption, read, learn and look at those sweet faces. If you can't adopt personally, see if you can help by assisting families who are adopting, by spreading the word, or by volunteering to help the various charities who are working hard to make a difference.

Do it for Tsveti, and all the other innocents like her who are still waiting...

Last edited by CraigCreek; 06-06-2012 at 09:30 PM..
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:01 AM
 
Location: Chicago area
1,105 posts, read 2,752,532 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nimchimpsky View Post
The only thing I remember from the orphanage is the abuse I went through, which I get in the form of nightmares and flashbacks at night.

Yep, I'll be sure to answer that--just like that--next time at I'm Aunt Sandy's BBQ and some well-meaning friend of my parents unloads the question on me 5 minutes after meeting me. I'll be sure to drop in the fact that it started a cycle of abuse, where I was sexually and physically abused post-adoption over a period of 13 years by various adults in my life, which at some points got so severe that my life was endangered. Then I'll see if I can't fish out a story from the person who asked me the question about an uncle committing suicide or an abortion they had after being raped. Then maybe they'll realize why it's awkward.

I understand if they don't realize what they're asking, so I usually give them some answer like [body cringing, eyes wincing] "I remember some things. [in a clear, obvious way] So anyway..." But it's when they push the question, that I really don't get how they don't realize they're being insensitive.

I'm not trying to get any pity here. I am just trying to shed some light on what it's really like for a lot of children who have been adopted later--and I'm one of the success stories. The orphans I have worked with were much worse off than me--much worse--honestly, there's just no comparison. The goal of the organization I worked for was to get them adopted to the U.S., but most of them were not, and were just sent back to their countries, and went home to go to their orphanage "graduation", only to be thrown out on the streets, left to fall through the cracks.

I had to stop volunteering for them because it was too heart-wrenching, especially since the people running the organization started to care more about their pay checks than the children.
I still don't think it's stupid to ask someone if they remember something from their childhood. It's just curiosity and I don't think you can expect everyone else to instinctively know what you are comfortable talking about or not. Sure, if someone is clearly not wanting to talk about something and you keep pushing or asking intrusive questions, that's rude. But most people don't know "adoption etiquette" or that there even is such a thing.
I had a friend growing up who was adopted from Guatemala at age 4 and had plenty of memories from Guatemala and talked about it a lot, good and bad. A current friend of mine has kids who were adopted from an orphanage in Bulgaria and the eldest had a little show and tell thing in her school about where she was from and the orphanage she had been in, complete with pictures and stuff she had brought with her from Bulgaria. She's showed me all that stuff too and is definitely not shy or reluctant to talk about it. It's just a part of who she is. Clearly people are different and not everyone would think it was stupid if they were asked if they remembered the time before they were adopted. Although orphanages are often horrible places to be not all the children are abused and there is no way for others to know that someone was abused in their orphanage and that it's a touchy subject. So I don't believe it's fair to judge someone as stupid or insensitive for asking a question they have no way of knowing is considered by you to be stupid or is against adoption etiquette.
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Old 06-10-2012, 06:53 PM
 
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I'm afraid the general public is pretty ill-informed about international adoption and what it's like for children to adjust to a new country, etc. I still get questions about whether or not my young relatives can speak English - and they've been home over six years! Most of those inquiring are more thoughtless than ill-intentioned, of course. It's just not something very high on most folks' radar, unfortunately...
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