Priority #1 – Attachment

4 10 2010

Little Dude is coming up on his 18-month medical check up and I am compiling a list of tests I want performed and issues I want to discuss.  The list is long because basically since he came home five months ago, we have treated him for emerging conditions, but have done nothing extra.  I am glad our doctor and I agreed on this approach and I wish more adoptive parents would consider it.

Recently on an adoption board I frequent there was a discussion about making an appointment with a pediatrician as soon as you arrive back in the U.S. with your child.  I was obviously in the minority when I suggested you WAIT until you meet your kid, and then decide if you need an appointment immediately or if you can hold off for a few weeks.

If you are concerned with bringing home all the yick that is prevalent in care centers, which I can truly appreciate after three scabies treatments, get the necessary medicines before you go to Ethiopia and apply them there.

As for more complicated health issues, let me be clear, I am not saying ignore potential medical problems.  First, if your child is experiencing illness your agency should alert you to this before you travel.  However, if you do get to Ethiopia and you think your child needs to be seen immediately upon returning to the U.S. … CALL HOME and ask someone to make an appointment for you.

What I don’t think adoptive parents should do (there, I just shoulded most of the adoptive community) is come home (24 hour plane ride, anyone) and immediately rush their new, more-or-less-healthy, child off to a doctor, especially if the doctor is going to insist on vaccinations and blood tests.  Yet this is what most adoptive parents do.

I know that APs proceed this way because they feel it is in the best interest of their children.  But I also think there is a control issue at work here.  During the entire adoption process the adoptive parents have almost no control.  Even after the long awaited referral, APs still have no ability to “help” their child prior to getting him or her home.  In western society we are taught that providing medical care is the most important thing we can do for our children.  So of course it is the first thing we do when we are finally, finally, finally in control.

But here is a different idea, you might actually be hurting your child.  Because you may inadvertently impede the attachment process.  And I am betting that it is much easier to parent a child with lice and an upper respiratory infection than it is to parent a child with attachment problems.

When I said on the web board that I thought it was better to wait (which I tried to say in a non-judgmental way, without detailing every aspect of why) a woman countered with something like this, “Keep in mind that your kids have already had vaccines and blood draws in Ethiopia so this is nothing new for them.”  I wanted to jump through my monitor, find this woman and throttle her.  Yes, your kids have been poked and prodded before… but they had people they knew and trusted with them who could offer them words of comfort in a language they understood.  Wake up lady, the child you love with all your heart sees you as a virtual stranger speaking a foreign language.  And now you are going to deliver that tired and confused child over to more strangers who are going to hurt her on purpose… “Welcome to America, Kid.”

Tried to take pic of Little Dude's vax scars, but with a telephoto it just did not work. This illustrates my point better, anyhow.

This is the kind of adoptive parent that scares me.  She is seeing nothing through the eyes of her child.  And even when someone presents an alternative view to her, she doesn’t consider it.

We all make mistakes as parents.  I usually make about a million on a good day.  I fear that I am too casual about the long-term effects of adoption, and way too much of a Pollyanna about race issues.  But I remind myself daily to try to see things through the eyes of my children and make my decisions based on their needs, not mine.  Right now what Little Dude needs is a trust fund so we can pay for all the medical tests he is about to undergo.

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8 responses

4 10 2010
Megan

Thanks for writing this. We were one of the families that took our child to the doc pretty much ASAP, and did all the blood work and vaccinations. It was SSSOOO awful (for everyone). I knew it would be hard, but since Sam was our first I had no idea how hard. Everything was negative, and he was pretty healthy. I wish I would have waited.
That being said, if they had found something serious, I would have been so upset if we have waited.
I’m not sure what the answer is?

4 10 2010
Semi-Feral Mama

I am not sure what the answer is either, Megan. And I struggled over this post. But I do think it is interesting in the adoption community where EVERYTHING is discussed ad nauseam, I have almost never seen this discussed.

4 10 2010
claudia

Huh, interesting point. I haven’t really thought about this one. For us, it was a moot point because in the UK you don’t get to book your own paed appointments, you need to get a referral from a general doctor and then wait…. which is what we did, and so we ended up taking the babies after they had been home about 2 1/2 months. I’m really glad we did it, mostly because the doc was not invasive at all, and really kind, and also very reassuring. But we did have a separate appointment for blood tests (about 2 months after that) and that WAS horrible.

I think your point about control is absolutely spot on. You’re right, it’s interesting this is not discussed more.

4 10 2010
Shannon

You are correct- to a point. Taking them to a doc it still a good idea – but blood draws and vaccs “just because” isn’t necessary. His ped was great and insisted on NOT doing anything until his system was stable, and ‘crud free’. Give him time. But it was a great bonding experience, and yes he was very familiar with the equipment- so he was a little nervous but it was perfect

4 10 2010
Melanie

How timely, TK just had his first appointment today. Mostly it was for something specific that I won’t get into but we did need to get a fairly non-traumatic test done. I am not a fan of unnecessary poking and prodding and our pediatrician isn’t either. He got his TB test and that was the only stick he got. If he hadn’t fought his nap, the visit would have been really smooth.

I completely agree with you about the control issue. And the person on the board is a moron, we’ve already established that. It boggles my mind how little regard for these children’s feelings adoptive parents have.

5 10 2010
Sherryl

I really like your thought process on this. We took T fairly soon after we got home, and we did actually need to for reasons that I won’t get in to here. But the doctor made us stop giving him any food or liquids an hour before his appointment time, and then made us wait almost an hour after our appointment time while they updated their notes for the previous patient. So it cut into T’s nap, he was hungry and thirsty, and then the Dr took a bunch of blood and had to stick him 3 times before they got the vein. It was awful! In retrospect, I wish we had done things differently.

11 10 2010
Courtney

CRAP!! That picture makes me feel like freaking out. Poor little dude. Poor, poor little dude.

Hey- can you reply to this post so I can see if an email comes my way via post responses or whatever? Do you know what I mean? I’m tired and not thinking straight and then I saw this picture and wanted to cry. So, now, no making sense. Yep. That’s exactly what I just said.

11 10 2010
Semi-Feral Mama

Replying to your post. Actually had interesting doctor’s appt. today. I am no longer AS in love with our doctor as before.

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