Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Question for Adoptive Parents

Are all orphanage babies very passive and reserved - by which I mean; is it common for these kiddos to have a very "flat affect" face on most of the time, at least at first?

I'm asking because after two weeks our little girl is still very much abstracted. I think I've mentioned that we know she CAN smile, laugh and interact. It's just that she doesn't, most of the time. We spent a lovely late morning and early afternoon with our friends Millicent, Floyd and little Nola, and the contrast is even more marked than our last encounter. Nola is a typical toddler - happy, angry, selfish, greedy, loving, fretting - and each and every emotion shows up in her face. It's wonderful to watch her with her parents, who are clearly goofy about her.

In contrast, our little girl is so stone-faced. She will gesture or point, will babble a bit, moves, eats, does all the expected things...but no animation. No vividness. No spark. There's so much going on right now: the shock, grief and loss of her past; accomodating her new home and family; fighting off the giardia and general physical discomfort (poor tad pitched a header on the playground Friday and her little nose is all banged up) it's hard to tell if this is an orphanage thing, a transition-thing, or a Shaomei personality thing.

Hence my question. I admit that I'm hoping that this is a typical "we saw this in our daughter, too, it seems to be an orphanage issue that goes away with time" sort of thing. It's not that I couldn't be OK with a daughter with a sort of Calvin Coolidge personality...but a bubbly little diva would be much more work...and much more fun.


Blue Gal said...

If you send me an email I will send you and your wife a phone number and we can talk. I have lots of experience with early childhood developmental issues and can connect you with two people who know more. bluegalsblog AT gmail DOT com.

SBird said...

No. The Bee was an effusive, fun, outgoing little person from Day One. She never saw a foster parent in her life. She was only an orphanage baby, and she was YARDS ahead of any other kiddo in our travel group, including the fostered kids. I think this debate about fostering vs SWI is an easy one to engage in, without very many easy answers.

Having said that, I will also say that she is far ahead now of where she was've only been home a few days. You need months under your belt before you'll know if it's a personality thing or a post-institutional behavior. Right now, everything sounds well within normal range for Shaomei.

SBird said...

Hey, this was my favorite book about adopting a toddler, and the attendant behaviors one might encounter:

SBird said...

Sorry, didn't come's Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best.

chris said...

both of my girls were very reserved for a couple of months when they got home. when i look at photos of them from that time, i think "shell shocked". one is still reserved, and the other- well you know- she loves people and will sit on your lap and eat beans dipped in soy sauce.

Debra Sue said...

Still waiting for our girl, but in case you haven't done this already, have you and Mojo considered an Early Intervention Evaluation? It might ease your mind (or help out your sweetie) to see where she is developmentally and go from there.

EI addresses developmental needs for children from birth to 3. EI services include developmental evaluation, parent at-home training and support, as well as Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapy. All EI services are federally funded and free regardless of the parent's income!

If you contact your local Department of Human Services, they can hook you up with an EI Specialist in your area.

Hope I didn't step out of bounds with this one. Keep us posted.


Carolyn said...

I think it is likely to be part personality- part shock/adjustment still. SBird is probably right in that you won't know for several months yet.

I think there is something magic about the 6 week mark, myself- we seem to start settling in to most new situations by that time. And, for us, that was the time when everything started to hit a nice groove with our little guy.

You're still in such early days, I would wait a bit if you are going to consider EI assessment- certainly until you've been home 6 months. Most kids in orphanages are experiencing developmental lags because of their institutionalization- and they "catch up" very quickly by just being in a family and getting the one-on-one attention that they've mostly been lacking,

Don't get me wrong- if you suspect anything other than the normal institutional delays, get on it sooner than later. But I think you need to give her some time to let her show you her true colours before you bring in the big guns.