visit to an orphanage

Decent Essays
Preparing Your Family for an Orphanage Visit: Is Your Child Ready? C h e c klis t A d vic e f r o m T h e r a pis t s a n d E x p e rie n c e d P a r e n t s
By Jean MacLeod
An orphanage visit can be a beneficial event for an adoptee, providing a link to personal history and a grounded understanding of her life circumstances. It can also be an unpleasant, or even traumatizing experience, filled with anxiety and shock over what abandonment and institutionalization really mean.
As Jane Liedtke stressed in P r e p a rin g f o r a H o m ela n d Visit , an orphanage visit should be planned, based on a child’s individual emotional and cognitive readiness. A child who is ready for enjoying the culture of her birth country may not be ready
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• Read Kid s Lik e M e in C hin a , A t H o m e in T his W o rld , W e S e e t h e M o o n and W h e n Y o u W e r e B o r n in C hin a aloud together, and use the photographs and illustrations in these books for jumping-off points for discussion. Ask open- ended questions that allow your child to interpret what she’s hearing and seeing, and to express her own thoughts.
• Prepare your child for encounters with special needs children. Talk about disabilities that keep a child in an orphanage, or medical conditions that might require an infant to have an IV, be on oxygen or recovering from surgery. Some babies might be in incubators.
• Orphanage smells or sounds can be powerful triggers to pre-verbal memories. Chinese music may be a positive trigger, while hearing crying babies could cause some children to shut down. De-sensitize by talking about what you may see, hear and smell at the orphanage in advance of your trip.
• Discuss the obvious fact with your daughter that in China she will be surrounded daily by other Chinese people; for a change she will be in the majority! Your child may enjoy this, or find this unnerving and fear getting lost in the crowd.
• After you, your adoption agency or your adoption travel agency has made an appointment for you with the Director of your child’s orphanage, be sure to follow up by mailing the Director a letter of introduction (in Chinese) and current photos of your family. If
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