Tuesday, January 27, 2015
There I said it. I feel comfortable saying it now that sammmomtoliv said it first in her comment in a previous post.
It's been well-documented that children raised in institutions have brains that are different. The higher levels of stress cortisol they live with does change the brain, just as some drugs do. Neural pathways don't form, and some have a finite window to develop or they never. Others can be formed later, some a little later, others a lot later.
We all know that nutrition plays a HUGE role in healthy brain development, yet most kids in institutions don't get enough and the food is low quality.
We also all know that babies must be stimulated, held, moved, and loved. Our babies were left laying in cribs THEIR ENTIRE INFANCIES! Bottles were propped, toys non-existent, only a plain ceiling to look at.
All their lives, as babies and as they grew, their emotional needs were never acknowledged. My two oldest children knew only three four emotion words in their native language when I got them: happy, sad, angry, bored. Jie Jie knew even less. None of my girls knew how to hug and even now, it does not come naturally to them. They grab in the wrong place with the wrong amount of pressure, with their bodies in the wrong position which usually causes them to be off balance or pull the one they are trying to hug off balance. Only my baby had ever been held and I can only attribute that to the fact that there was a British-based medical charity organization set up on the orphanage premises. I was so grateful when I received her that she knew how to snuggle right into me. Of course, that didn't translate to being able to co-sleep or any number of other normal, close baby-mother behaviors. I had to teach her a LOT and even to this day, she doesn't understand the point of a gentle, soothing tummy rub.
Infant monkeys die when they are taken from the mothers and nurtured by a mannequin. Children left in the most despicable conditions in the Pleven, Bulgaria orphanage stayed alive, barely, but failed to grow. Imagine being 9 yrs. old and having Down Syndrome and weighing only 11 pounds, or 14 years old with cerebral palsy and weighing only 14 pounds! Yes, our children are petite, they are, after all, Chinese, but how much smaller are they from their home-raised Chinese counterparts? Neglected humans fail to make human growth hormone under certain conditions, and being neglected is one of them.
Add trauma and abuse. Many children where exposed to death, inappropriate sexual behavior, were physically abused, emotionally abused, were asked to do despicable things, like carry dead babies in trash bags out to the dumpster, had medical procedures and surgeries performed without adequate pain relief and/or were forcibly held down to endure it without preparation, compassion, or anything else we'd consider humane, punished by being placed in "dying rooms" where the "hopeless" children were left to die of starvation instead of receiving palliative care, and the list goes on and on.
In America, we consider it traumatic if a child goes through the divorce of their parents or if a loved one dies. We expect their grades to slip, for them to regress a bit, feel insecure. Many parents take their child to a therapist to help them through it. Therapists are brought in if there is a shooting at school. Just moving to a new home or starting a new school can throw off even the most well-adjusted child.
So, with lack of motor neuron stimulation, lack of visual stimulation, lack of auditory stimulation, lack of nutrition, lack of care and attention, and exposure to traumatic circumstances and abuse, it is easy to understand why our children do have actual physical brain damage, compounded by mental and emotional issues.
My adoption agency often said, "All adopted children have special needs." They were right, and all the books were right. But, and it's a HUGE but, all failed to convey the SEVERITY of the needs and the fact that brain "differences" is really a term disguising brain damage. In all fairness, when many of these books were written, the kids being seen weren't as old as the ones adopted in recent years, and, like the Romania situation of the late 1990s that brought to modern psychology the term RAD, I think in a few years we are going to see a new field of medicine that addresses the brain damage our children suffer. As I read the comments left here and read other blogs and articles by parents who have adopted children from China and other places, I'm reading the same things over and over. If I read between the lines and use my own children as an example, I can truly say that, with some exceptions, of course, that the brain damage and emotional damage and mental damage our children have is often greater than the challenge of dealing with their physical special need. I do not say this lightly. You can go back and see the horrendous surgeries my baby has endured. Jie Jie endured horrendous surgeries in China, too. Though it's not apparent, her special need is SIGNIFICANT, is treated medically and surgically and is life-long and will be harder to live with and treat the older she gets.