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​​​9.3 Raising an Intercountry Adopted Child


Adoptive parents need to keep in mind that in a relatively short period of time, the child needs to integrate into a new family,
learn the family routines, deal with siblings, parents, discipline, trust and attachment, proper hygiene, new culture, school etc. 

Some issues that can be specific to intercountry adopted children that need consideration are:

Schooling:

Children from Chile will be school age. There is much debate on whether to place the child into school immediately and what age group class to place them in.  It very much depends on the child.

Most children though make friends very easily and this can be a big factor in assisting with social integration and language development. 

Some children respond well to the school type environment.  Some children pick up English very quickly. Others may have difficulty due to developmental delays and may require assistance.

It will be very important to have a supportive school and particularly the child's teacher.  The school may have had experience with children from immigrant families where English is the secondary language.  Tutoring should be considered where necessary.

Expectations of academic performance of the child may need to be appraised in view of the child's background.

Consideration needs to be given to what strategies may be needed if the child is "behind" or demonstrates learning difficulties. Schools usually have access to additional recourses from the Ministry of Education for such matters.

Depending on the child's progress the adoptive parents may need to take an active role assisting the child to become integrated into the social environment of their school, ensuring that they are happy emotionally. There should be regular consultation with the teacher and school.

Some school projects may be sensitive to the adoptive child such as being requested to prepare a family tree.  The child may be confused as to which family (biological or adoptive) and for the biological family there may be limited information.  Open communication will be required between the child, the teacher and the parents so that the child does not feel unduly pressured. Several issues may arise such as should the child decide to include the biological family, should the child present the assignment to the class? For the child this may result in the child being asked many questions, some they may not be ready or able to answer.

Name:
It is generally accepted that for older children it is not advisable to change the child's given name. 

Culture:

How and to what extent will the culture of the child's birth country be included in their upbringing? 

Adjusting to new family:

It will be a major transition from an institution to a family environment.  What plans will be in place to facilitate this transition?  If there are existing children how will the adopted child fit in, particularly if he or she looks different?

Attachment:

What strategies do the adoptive parents have to foster attachment between them and the child?

Discipline:

What attitudes to discipline will adoptive parents have towards a child who may have already suffered a traumatic upbringing?

Life Skills:

A child from an institution will have very little (if any) life skills.  What plans will there be to assist the child to learn life skills and appropriate behaviour?

Self Esteem:

Intercountry adopted children often lack self esteem.  Sometimes due to the effects of racism.  How do the adoptive parents plan to affirm the child's self worth and place in the family and society?

Support of Family and Friends:

​​It is important that adoptive parents have the full support of extended family and friends to assist and to provide the opportunity to have time to themselves regularly and when required.  If one of these people is willing to be a mentor to the child this can be valuable.

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