A chance to thrive
Anne Newsome, adoptive mother, remembers the updates they would receive regularly about their son as they waited to adopt. The final update was concerning. "The pictures had changed from a smiling happy baby boy to a depressed countenance, and his development was falling behind. Our agency worked with us to get him to a doctor we requested in his country. The diagnosis: failure to thrive. Seriously the scariest three words of my life."
She remembers meeting him for the first time. "When we picked up our son for the day we first met him, he was feather-light. He was 14-1/2 months but more like a 6-month-old. He had a fever and was so weak he could not even sit without support. He was just beginning to try to crawl. It was heartbreaking," Anne recalls. "We felt in our hearts that once we got him home and could begin giving him the care and love of a family, his health would improve. Yet, we also knew there are never any guarantees," she adds. "Just a few weeks later, we began seeing a tremendous difference and within 6 months he took his first steps. We have had some minor emotional challenges, but the physical, for us, were much greater in the immediate time following the adoption."
Anne has some words of advice for other parents experiencing difficulties in adoption. "The number one piece of advice I would give is to seek out support so that you don't feel alone in your struggles. I would also encourage adoptive parents to understand and be sensitive to the emotional needs that can surface at any time in an adoptee's life," Anne shares. "As an adult adoptee, I learned this firsthand. Some may not ever have thought about it like this before, but an adoptee has experienced trauma in being separated from his or her birth parents. Whatever events took place before that separation or the separation itself can be traumatic. Those memories can be recalled subconsciously through sights, sounds and even smells that are familiar even though the adoptee may not realize it on a conscious level."