International Adoption Program Spotlight: Bulgaria

 

Bulgaria is located in Eastern Europe and is one of our popular programs. We have successfully assisted with bringing home many children from Bulgaria for over 10 years. The children that are available for adoption from Bulgaria are of Roma descent meaning they have dark hair and olive skin tone. The age ranges of children available are from 1 to 16 years. There are sibling groups available in Bulgaria as well that range from 2-4 siblings. There are children within Bulgaria that have special needs that can be mild, moderate or severe. The most common special needs that we see from children in Bulgaria are prematurity, low birth weight, congenital heart conditions and strabismus (lazy eye).

Recently, Bulgaria has worked to help strengthen the intercountry adoption protocols and decreasing the delay in registering children for international adoption. There have been countless children that have missed their chance to be adopted due to the delay in registration. Fortunately, some older children were adopted at the last minute and now are living happily in the United States. However, some children were not as lucky and will live out their days in a group home until they turn 18 and are forced to face the adult world on their own.

At Nightlight, we advocate for the children of Bulgaria by posting waiting children profiles on our website, Adoption Bridge. This allows families to inquire about waiting children that are harder to place due to their age, special needs, or sibling group size. There are many children from Bulgaria that need their forever families to find them and pursue them for adoption. The Bulgaria program is very simple and does not have many requirements. You can adopt as a single or married couple, there are no restrictions with mental health, requires both parents to travel on just the second trip, and has two avenues of pursuance for adoptions (waiting children or traditional route).

Contact our Bulgaria Program Coordinator, Karson Loscar at karson@nightlight.org, to learn more about the children, the program, and how to get started.

How the Beauty of Easter Reflects Adoption

 

During this Spring season, we see flowers blooming and everything that was dead during the winter months sprouting to new life. For Christians, it is also the time of surrender and sacrifice through the reminder of Easter and the weeks and traditions leading up to it, such as Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Palm Sunday. But what does this time have to do with adoption, and how can we think of adoption in the terms of the cross?

What does scripture say?

In John 3:3, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Because of the cross, and Jesus sacrificing His life for our sins, we are able to be born again and are given a new life. In adoption, children are also able to begin a new life as a child in your family. Adoption is a picture of how brokenness on earth, and our humble beginnings, can be made beautiful and used for good.

We are reminded again in Psalm 37:18 of God’s provision and care; “Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.” Through adoption, children receive an inheritance on earth. Through a relationship with Christ, we have all received an eternal inheritance and life with Jesus.

What does this mean to me?

With this in mind, Easter can be a time of celebration; a celebration of warmer weather, of Christ’s resurrection and of your child becoming a new part of your family, whether their adoption occurred weeks, months, or many years ago. One way to honor your child during this time is through pointing out the consistencies in their own stories with the story God wrote for us as believers in Jesus and his death on the cross.

For those of you who are still waiting for your adopted child, who are currently fostering, or maybe you are just about to begin the process, Easter is a beautiful reminder to all of us of our worth and the freedom we have in Jesus because of his resurrection. Because of Him, we are all accepted into a forever family in heaven. That alone is a reason to celebrate with a heart full of gratitude.

 

I want to end this with a section of a poem by Deborah Ann called Abba – My Father;

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I could be . . .

 

An heir to salvation,

a daughter of light

a child that brings

to Him great delight.

 

I’m no longer an orphan,

I’m no longer a stray

I’ve inherited a room

in His mansion I’ll stay.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I can be free . . .

 

Free from the guilt,

of my wandering ways

free from the darkness

that once filled my days.

 

The adoption became final,

that day on the Cross

when Jesus died for me

and all those who are lost.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I might see . . .

 

See His glory,

in the middle of my pain

see His grace fall

like sweet drops of rain.

 

The inheritance is mine,

I’m claiming my right

and now I have privilege

to His power and might.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family,

I willingly flee . . .

 

Reference

Ann, Deborah. “ABBA My Father.” CHRISTian Poetry, 31 May 2013, https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/abba-my-father/.

 

By: Paige Burch

The Journey of Adoption: An Adoptee’s Perspective

 

When talking about adoption I often hear it referred to as a journey. When I think about a journey I think about something that is ongoing with no definitive end. One of the definitions for the word journey is “passage or progress from one stage to another.” I think it is that definition of the word journey that best describes the journey of adoption. You see, adoption is not a one-time thing. It is not just the event that happens on the day that your child is placed with you. It is an ongoing journey that morphs and changes with time.

I was brought home from the hospital at just a few days old. Having been adopted in the 80’s there was little information provided regarding my birth family. I know their ages and that is about it. My parents have always been open and honest about the fact that I was adopted and have always been supportive of me searching for my birth family or not. To be quite honest, I was never the kid who asked a lot of questions about my adoption; it never bothered me. I have always been secure in who I am and who my parents are and never really struggled with the fact that I was adopted.

In graduate school I decided it might be interesting to search for my birth family so I made some initial inquiries and found out in Pennsylvania it was not an easy process, for my type of adoption, to initiate a search. I let it go at the time and moved on. Then in 2016, I was ready and I wanted to know where I came from. Where did I get my green eyes, my nose, what was my ethnic heritage, did I have any similar traits to my birth mother? So I began with the attorney who facilitated my adoption. He claimed to have no recollection of the adoption. Next I went to the courts (still called orphan court in Pennsylvania) and was told they had no records based on the little information I had. As a final recourse I decided to try Ancestry DNA and, besides now knowing my ethnic heritage, I struck out again.

Now let’s talk about August 2020; 11:37 p.m. on Friday, August 7, 2020 to be exact. The night that a Facebook message popped up on my phone. In that moment I read that a woman had an Ancestry DNA match that listed me as a “close relative” and she had been searching for her sister for years who had been adopted and could I possibly be that person. The answer, YES.

As I began talking with my sister, birth mother, two other sisters, and brother (yes there are 4 siblings) life got real. You learn things that are both exciting and hard. You learn that your birth father wanted you to be aborted. You learn that your birth mother stood up to her own family in order to carry you to term. You learn that your birth mother, on the day you turned 18, contacted the aforementioned attorney to give them her information in case I ever contacted him, which clearly he did not pass on to me when I did indeed contact him. It is realizing that my siblings grew up drastically different from me and experiencing feelings of guilt and relief that my life was different. Adoption is a journey. I am slowly getting to know the family that shares my blood. I love seeing what we have in common while also learning about our uniqueness.

This relationship continues to be a journey, something that is growing and changing over time. I remember when I first posted my story, when I was ready, on Facebook. A friend asked what would make me want to share this story publicly. An easy answer was that it was a quick way to let friends (beyond those I had told in person) what was going on in my life. The more in depth answer is that I feel that often the adoptee voice is forgotten and I wanted to share my journey, the good and bad; the joyous and the heartbreaking. I cannot speak for every adoptee out there. We each have our own unique story and journey. And while it is oftentimes beautiful no one can forget that each adoptee’s story began with loss and eventually that loss is going to emerge. I am not sure how the journey will continue but I can say that I am beyond blessed to be on it.

By: Rebekah Hall

Introducing: Adoptions from Anchored in Hope

Becoming a parent and raising children is a shared dream of many individuals and couples. Throughout history, adoption has been one way to realize that dream. Nightlight Christian Adoptions has provided many paths to reach that goal. Domestic infant, embryo and international adoption services have seen thousands of children find permanency in loving homes. Our foster care program offers a way to help children who have been removed from their biological families find temporary care, love and stability until a long-term plan can be established. Many of those placements end in adoption.

 

A new program has been created to help children in foster care find an adoptive family when the way home has been closed. These are children who do not have the option of returning to their biological family, but must find another couple to call Mom and Dad. This is no small task for the workers of child welfare agencies who are given the job of finding adoptive homes for these children, most of whom are the age of 8 years and up and sibling groups who want and should be together. We felt it was time to help.

 

Anchored In Hope is the program designed to bring adoptive families to a child or children whose most basic needs of love and the security of family remain unmet.  We are looking for families who desire to be that Anchor to a child whose heart and future needs Hope. The children are available now, and their biggest hope is for someone to be their family.

 

There is honestly some apprehension felt by many about adopting an older child—what kind of history have they been through?  What kinds of behaviors will I have to deal with?  What if the child does not attach?  What if…what if…These are questions that can at the least give us pause, and at most paralyze our willingness to make a decision to step out and open ourselves and our homes to a child.  Here are some facts to consider:

  • The need is great. There are about 400,000 children in foster care across the United States.
  • Approximately 117,000 children are legally eligible to be adopted and are waiting for permanent homes.
  • Children who need adoptive homes are on national websites such as AdoptUSKids and state websites. You can determine what your preferences are and look for potential matches.
  • There has been tremendous growth in research regarding the impact of abuse, neglect and trauma on children, and as a result, many new successful ways of addressing behaviors are evolving. Adoption competent therapy has been developed to help counselors recognize the important issues related specifically to adoption.
  • Nightlight will do your home study and become the liaison between you and the child welfare system who has responsibility for the child.
  • Nightlight provides pre-adoption education to families preparing to adopt an older child. We also have a Post Adoption Connection Center to assist families who need education, support, referrals or resources beyond the adoption finalization.
  • Monthly subsidies are available from the placing states for the continued care for children
  • Medicaid or the state equivalent is also available to help with the financial costs of caring for children. This can include counseling services.

 

The rewards? For families who are committed to helping a child find a new life, the possibilities are endless. Children of all ages, even teens-especially teens, need to be loved unconditionally, given steadfast security, helped through the healing and Anchored in Hope. Learn more at https://nightlight.org/afcc/.

 

Are you willing to be that family?  No one ever outgrows the need.

Ambiguous Loss and Adopted Children

Ambiguous loss is a term that defines the heartache and grief that comes with losing a person or relationship that is surrounded by confusion or uncertainty about that person or relationship.  Finding closure is difficult with normal losses, such as death, but it is impossible with ambiguous loss when the loss is not officially recognized or final.

Think about children who are unable to grow up in their biological family.  In addition to being separated from their family of origin, they lose all that is familiar to them. They experience the absence of their birth family, but know they are still present in the world. The foster or adopted child, as well as the birth family, may think about and be curious about the other. They may dream about what it would be like to be together. Adoptive parents may also experience ambiguous loss because of pregnancies that ended in miscarriage or from the loss of their dream of having biological children.  This article will focus on children, specifically as they reach school age, and begin to realize their losses. This time may bring about feelings of hurt and grief the child may have never acknowledged in the past. These losses are not commonly addressed in society and few rituals exist to allow an adoptee to express their loss.

Recently, I was talking to my teenage son, who was adopted from a Central American country as a toddler.  I talked to him about how ecstatic I was to return to the U.S. to introduce him to our family and friends, who were very happy about his arrival into our family.  At the same time, I shed tears as we flew away from his country of birth, knowing he was leaving behind his foster family, his birth family, his siblings (both foster and biological), his country of birth, first language, culture, traditions, religion, racial connections, medical history, genealogy, favorite foods, smells, etc.  I said, “We showered you with gifts and joyfulness, no one has ever talked to you about all that you lost. When someone dies, we go to their funeral and take a casserole to their family, but we’ve never really done anything to help give closure to all that you have lost.”  Even if no one dies, there is still loss in these situations.

There are two types of ambiguous loss. Type 1 is when a person is physically absent but psychologically present, meaning that the birth parent continues to influence the child’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, identity and family unity. Type 2 is when there is a psychological absence with a physical presence.  This can be due to a mental or physical illness or a substance abuse problem.  This sometimes leads to Type 1 when the child is removed from the parent due to neglect.

Ambiguous loss has some warning signs that can look different from the normal response to grief throughout life stages:

  • When an infant or toddler is grieving, it is normal to show some separation anxiety.  However, if your foster or adopted child in this age range shows behavioral regression, confusion, or night terrors, it could be attributed to ambiguous loss.
  • School age children typically have difficulty identifying and expressing their emotions related to grief so they experience physical complaints such as stomachaches or headaches and show increased irritability.  Warning signs include acting-out behaviors, a loss of interest in school, teachers seeing poor concentration, regression, night terrors or an obsession with retelling.
  • Normal reactions to loss in adolescents is very similar to adults. They frequently experience feelings of guilt and often look to peers for support.  If you see a change in their energy level, poor concentration, loss of interest in school or if they seem emotionally numb or start to withdraw, these are warning signs of grieving ambiguous losses.  Signs of depression and anxiety, an inability to cope, difficulty with change and transitions, difficulty making decisions, decreased ability to cope with routine childhood or teenage losses, and PTSD symptoms are common responses.  The child may display learned helplessness or hopelessness or have feelings of guilt.

Ambiguous loss is overwhelming and confusing because the outcomes are not clear and cannot be determined.  The foster child or adoptee has trouble pressing forward because the loss lacks resolution – it’s unknown if it is temporary or final.  They want transparency about their past but at the same time refrain from receiving new information.  Ambiguity can wear away a child’s sense of mastery causing them to feel hopeless and creating feelings that the world is biased, dangerous, unpredictable and unruly. The stress of ambiguity, or vagueness, can be eased by helping the child acquire information.

The effect of unresolved loss on children can be great.  The bigger the ambiguity surrounding the child’s life, the more challenge they will have in mastering it.  In other words, increased uncertainties make it difficult to deal with the loss and has potential to cause increased depression, anxiety and internal conflict.  They can feel a lack of control over their situation or feel that people outside their family have more power than their parents.  Anxiety and fear can have a great influence if they were “taken away” or removed from their home, family, or country of origin. The child sometimes feels that they are the reason for the separation from their parents and have lost their ability to trust adults.  We can help influence a child’s reactions by validating their grief, inviting them to express their feelings, sharing similar experiences of other children and accepting the child’s spectrum of feelings.

Here are some ways to help your child deal with ambiguous loss:

  • Give voice!  Explain the feelings of ambiguous loss and acknowledge the difficulty of living with not having the answers.
  • Help the child understand as much as possible – Knowing what happened to the birth parent who left and why, or knowing what situations caused the loss and why it happened are key in helping the child understand.  This will allow the child to grieve which involves experiencing the painful feelings associated with the loss.
  • Help the child identify what has been lost – parent, extended family, loss of home or town where they were born, family that looks like them, last name, birth country, language, etc.
  • Find a way to commemorate the loss – Honor, recognize and acknowledge the memory of the people, places and things that are no longer part of the child’s daily life.  This leads to moving forward and permits the child to learn that the pain of grief lessens and the legacy of their past lies within themselves.
  • Create a “loss box” – find a box that can be decorated, if desired, and allow you child to place things inside the box that represent things that they have lost.  This can serve as a ritual and a way to revisit the losses in the future.
  • Events through the lifetime (holidays, birthdays, adoption anniversary, etc) can trigger feelings of loss.  Acknowledge the child’s feelings and add a family ritual to recognize important people or relationships that have been lost.  Example: Adding an extra candle on the birthday cake to represent the child’s birth family; or say “I bet your mom and dad are thinking about you today”.
  • Do not allow new relationships to be a replacement for past relationships.  Acknowledge your child’s birth parents and their previous foster families.  Look for ways to recognize members of their birth family.  Share their story and talk about it from the time they arrive home and continue this over time.  We can free our children from the past by giving opportunities to process and grieve their past losses.
  • Give your child permission to grieve without guilt!
  • Model ways for them to communicate their thoughts and the questions they may have.
  • Support your child’s emotions as he copes with his grief – It is impossible for us to fix the loss but we can validate and affirm their feelings.
  • Don’t expect that grief associated with ambiguous loss can be resolved within a specific time frame.  Understand and explain that these feelings will come and go at different times in life.  Always provide a safe place for your child to express those feelings.
  • Get in touch with your own grief!
  • Seek support from a therapist who is an adoption-competent professional.

While I have heard the term “ambiguous loss” for several years working in adoption, I’ve become passionate about the topic after sharing the term and the theory with my son.  I honestly feel like it was a turning point in his life and our relationship.  He understands that I know he has questions to which we have no answers and that I am familiar with some of what he has lost.  He knows that not having answers makes figuring out who he is, as well as the grief process, more difficult.  I’m pretty sure he identifies me as his safe place when he needs to express his feelings.  I’ve told him if he wants to search for his birth family to try to get more answers, I’ll be his biggest supporter.  I have more work to do to help him through his grief and loss and I understand there will be triggers as he grows and matures.  Having an understanding of ambiguous loss and the ability to explain it to him was a big step in the right direction.  I encourage you to start talking to your kids as soon as they are placed in your home and keep talking, especially as they reach adolescence, when it becomes increasingly more difficult.

By: Dana Poynter

When Love Isn’t Enough for Children Who Experienced Trauma

Love is in the air as we celebrate Valentine’s Day! We often associate Valentine’s Day as a ‘Hallmark holiday’ with the cards, chocolates, and red roses. We celebrate with lavish gifts and expressing our love to our loved ones. Yet how do we express love in a way that matters to our children from hard places? More than simply saying, “I love you” or giving a tangible gift, children who have experienced trauma require something different. They require connection.

We know that the brain that has experienced trauma needs more than just love to grow, develop, and heal. TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) offers us three foundational principles for raising children who have experienced trauma: connection, empowerment, and correction. I often find that it is difficult to follow these principles in the moment and it does not always feel intuitive to parent in this way. Sometimes expressing love to our children feels easier when we can just buy them a new toy or tell them how we love them instead of showing them how we love them. As humans, we are hard-wired for connection and children who have experienced trauma crave connection in a variety of ways. What works for one child to feel connected does not always work for another. Love does not “fix” a history of trauma, but connection can help establish trust and create nurturing bonds.

Below are some great ways to connect and show love to your child:

  • Connect by playing a game by making intentional eye contact and copying each other’s facial expressions. This is also a great way to discuss feelings and emotions and how to define them.
  • Connect by mirroring each other’s body movements as if looking in a mirror. This is a great way to connect through body awareness.
  • Part of being able to connect is ensuring that the child feels safe in their environment. Connect by using “I wonder” questions. It takes the pressure of the child needing to have a direct response and gives a safe space to answer with multiple options for responses. For example, reword the sentence of “What were you thinking?” with “I wonder what you were thinking about?”
  • Connect by preparing and cooking a meal together and discussing the importance of nutrition. Talk about how you feel when you eat a balanced meal and how you feel when you do not.
  • Connect by doing a mindfulness activity together. Take a nature walk and point out what you notice about the sounds you hear, the colors you see, the smells you smell, or how being outside makes you feel.

Showing our children how we love them instead of just simply telling them that we love them helps establish deeper bonds of trust. What are your favorite ways to connect with your child? How do you show them that you love them?

By: Amanda Arata

Adopting a Child Internationally with Special Needs

The landscape of international adoption has changed throughout the years, with most countries focusing efforts to place children who are considered hard to place. A special needs adoption is defined as adopting a child with an additional need, a sibling group, or an older child. How it is defined can vary from country to country. Definitions and references to special needs can be vastly encompassing and wide ranging.  Hard to place children can include older children sometimes starting as young as five or six years’ old who are considered “healthy” or children in sibling groups of varying ages.  Sibling groups can be siblings of two, three or even four children that the country’s adoption authority does not want to separate, but who cannot be easily placed with a family. Finally, special needs can also include children with medical needs ranging from slight and correctable medical needs to more severe and lifelong medical needs to children exhibiting behavioral, emotional issues or developmental delays.

Sadly, a child with special needs can be categorized and statistically have a much smaller chance of finding a forever family. They are just as deserving as other children, but for many reasons, prospective adoptive families seek to adopt younger and healthier children. All countries have children who have been orphaned, and are considered hard to place. I have personally seen these children in each country I have visited and in every orphanage and am sadden when I realize some of these children will never realize a family and will age out of the orphanage to a life with little hope.

While your family may not initially think that an older child or a child with medical needs is something that you are open to, it is worth researching.  You may be surprised the medical needs of some of the children that results in them being placed on a special needs waitlist or on Nightlight’s waiting child site, Adoption Bridge.  Children with a medical need may be younger children and considered special needs due to correctable medical conditions such as cleft lip or palate, being born to a mentally ill birth mother, hepatitis, positive for the Sickle Cell trait as well as more serious illnesses such as HIV, Sickle Cell disease, epilepsy or limb deformities. Medical needs are wide ranging and should be researched fully before a family commits to being open to a child with a specific or medical need.

In most countries, the adoption authority does not want to split sibling groups. This can mean that one older sibling, or the size of the sibling group prevents multiple children from ever experiencing the love and commitment of a family. While it does take a special family to adopt siblings of two children or more, it meets a critical need in international adoption, and allows the sisters and brothers to remain together. In several of our international adoption programs, families who have been open to adopting a sibling group of two, three or even four children have been matched quickly, and the children have been considered healthy.

For families considering adopting older children, children with known medical needs or a large sibling group should not only have done research about the needs that the children potentially have, but should also have a strong support system and fully understand how the needs of the adopted children will impact their family.

Nightlight believes that every child deserves a loving and permanent family, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, number of siblings or health status. We are specifically seeking families to adopt a child with special or medical needs in many of our programs, including adoption from Bulgaria, Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso.  Nightlight’s Ukraine and Colombia programs are focused on older children and sibling groups and both countries offer hosting programs.

Where to begin? Adoption Bridge connects harder to place children with loving adoptive families willing and able to meet their needs.

To make a donation to help a family overcome the financial barriers of adopting a child with special needs, please visit our donation page or Adoption Bridge.

 

By: Sonja Brown

Let’s Talk About Transracial Adoption

For some, adopting a child of another race can be intimidating. Fears like lack of identity between your child and their racial heritage, getting intrusive questions when you are out as a family, or not bonding well because you look different than your child may come up. While these are valid fears, they should not inhibit you from considering transracial adoption.

Let’s talk about 4 word that can help ease your worries about transracial adoption:

Let’s talk about LOVE

Think about the people in your life you love and who love you. Are they all genetically connected to you? Probably not. Easy examples of this include spousal relationships, deep friendships, and of course—adoption! Love knows no bounds. Adopting parents who have both adopted and biological children repeatedly say that their love for their adopted children is no different than the love they have for their biologically-related children. In the same way, adults who were adopted as children (or embryos!) love their parents deeply! Race does not impact the powerful bond of love.

Let’s talk about CONNECTION

Both connection between an adopted child and her parents and connection between an adopted child and her racial heritage are both important. Connection can be built by having shared experiences, asking questions, being open-minded, and having a listening ear. If you are adopting a child of a race different than yours, we encourage you to be intentional about having shared experiences with your child related to her racial heritage. Ask questions and be open to learning about a culture that may be different than yours. Be willing to listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings as you both learn and grow together.

Let’s talk about REPRESENTATION

Representation matters. If you are pursuing a transracial adoption, be intentional about having community around you of the race of your future child. Find mentors who can encourage and support your child as he explores his racial identity. By creating a safe space for exploration, you are communicating to your child that you value and appreciate his differences.

Let’s talk about PURPOSE 

When you began your journey of adoption, what was your purpose? Was it to give a child a loving home? Was it to fulfill your dreams of having a family of your own? Whatever it may be, hold on to the purpose behind your adoption. Remembering your “why” will help overcome fears as you step into the unknown of adopting, especially adopting a child of another race.

 

Fear can be deceiving. When it creeps in, remember these four words: love, connection, representation, and purpose.  And always remember: transracial adoption is a beautiful gift to both you and your child.

By: Sage Vincent

The Best Therapies for Your Adopted Child (And You)

Adoptive families know that therapy will benefit their child, but it can be difficult to know where to turn. Maybe you thought it was called “counseling” but then you started to see words like “trauma-focused” or “eye movement desensitization” or question the effectiveness of art/animal/music/sand in therapy. We’ve created this guide below to find the right fit for your child or yourself.

 

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

PCIT is a combination of play therapy and behavioral therapy for young children that will involve you as the parents. Parents learn techniques for relating to their child struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, language issues, developmental disabilities, or mental health disorders.

Who this best serves: Children ages 2-7 and their parents with experiences of trauma or have diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

 

Play Therapy

Children are able to examine and express their thoughts and emotions in an age and developmentally appropriate way through play. The goal is to help children learn to express themselves in a healthy way, learn respect and empathy, and discover positive problem solving techniques. This will work for children still learning English as well. General play therapists will be appropriate or you can consider Theraplay®, which is a specific type of play therapy, and you can look for a practitioner in your area.

Who this best serves: Children ages 3-12 who may have social or emotional deficits, trauma, anxiety, depression, grief, anger, ADD, autism, learning disabilities, and/or language delays.

 

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Often used to enhance other therapy the participant is engaged in, this therapy gives a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and diverts attention from stressful situations. They may keep an animal at home or by their side during the day or engage equine therapy at a ranch or equestrian school. Bonding with an animal can increase self-worth and trust, stabilize emotions, and improve communication, self-regulation, and socialization skills. Equine therapies have been very successful with adopted children.

Who this best serves: Children with behavioral issues, trauma histories, depression, autism, medical conditions, schizophrenia, or addiction.

 

Art/Music Therapy

Artistic therapies are typically nonverbal and allow the participant to process difficult feelings and express them when they cannot with words. This may be due to difficulties with expressing themselves or still learning English when other talk focused therapies may not be helpful. Music focuses on listening to, reflecting, or creating music to improve health and well-being. Art uses drawing, painting, collage, coloring, or sculpting to help express themselves and “decode” the nonverbal messages behind the art. Sandplay uses sand/toys/water to create scenes of miniature worlds that reflect their inner thoughts, struggles, and concerns.

Who this best serves: Children, adolescents, or adults who have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. They are useful for anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, or on the autism spectrum.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This therapy is short-term and focused on intervention in the way an individual thinks and feels and how that affects the way they behave and problem solve. It works on changing thought patterns as a way to change behavior. Trauma-focused is for focusing specifically on effects of early childhood trauma.

Who this best serves: Adolescents and adults but school age children can benefit from this therapy if they are developmentally able to do so. It takes participants who are engaged in therapy and works well with depression, anxiety, PTSD, anger, panic disorders, phobias, or eating disorders.

Trauma-focused is best with adoptees or adoptive parents with abuse histories, PTSD, depression, or anxiety as a result of incidents in childhood.

 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

This is a specialized therapy that diminishes negative feelings associated with particular memories of traumatic events. It focuses on emotions and symptoms from the event and uses a hand motion technique causing eyes to move back and forth which engages both sides of the brain. This physical and emotional connection can bring deeper healing, particularly with individuals with significant trauma.

Who this best serves: Adolescents and adults with PTSD, anxiety, phobias, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and stress. It can also be used with younger children with therapists who have this experience and training.

 

Special notes for adoptive parents: The adoption process can bring up difficult emotions, thoughts, or experiences from your own past. While this is painful, it is also good that this is surfacing so you are able to seek healing. You may find your adopted child is pushing buttons you did not know were there and counseling will benefit you and your parenting. We encourage you to also consider the therapies listed above for yourself while you seek services for your child.

 

This information is sources from Psychology Today. You can learn more about these types of therapies and search for counselors on their website.

 

By: Heather Sloan, LBSW

Introducing: International Adoption from the Dominican Republic

Nightlight Christian Adoptions is happy to announce we were licensed to work in the Dominican Republic on May 6th, 2021 and are currently accepting applications for families looking to adopt internationally. Children available for adoption range from young toddlers to children in their teens and are of mostly Hispanic or bi-racial decent, some children may be of Haitian decent. About every 2 months, Nightlight receives a list of about 80-90 special needs children in need of a forever home and family. We have identified the most adoptable children and limited information on these children are available at: https://adoptionbridge.org/waiting-children/.

Typical special needs of children in the Dominican Republic include children with medical needs which range from mild or correctable to severe.  The special needs list also includes older children ages 6 or older, some with and some without mild or severe special needs. HIV, eye diseases, and asthma are some of the common medical needs of children our agency is referred from the Dominican Republic. Sibling groups are also available for adoption.

As we continue to receive new files of children, Adoption Bridge will continue to be updated. Those who have a completed dossier are eligible to receive the full list of the children. Additionally, the program accepts applicants for those seeking relative adoptions as well as families who want to pursue a traditional match of a child from CONANI, Dominican Republic’s central authority. For more information, about this program and eligibility, please visit our web page for the Dominican Republic. Since the opening of the program, Nightlight has focused on the needs of children placed in orphanages. The institutionalization of Dominican children is due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to; poverty, abandonment, the inability for a parent or guardian to provide proper care, and/or the death of a parent or guardian. These reasons and others are the primary reasons why a child is left without a family.

Socio-economic inequality is high for those who live in the Dominican Republic, and the employment rate for woman of the country is only 33%. Additionally, children and women of the Dominican Republic do not have equal access to education. Improper sanitation to produce goods, natural disasters, and crime are also leading causes of poverty in the country. According to World Food Programme, quality of health services are inadequate and poverty affects 40% of the Dominican Republic, with 10.4% living in extreme poverty. There are roughly 200,000 children in the Dominican Republic are considered orphans and the number continues to grow alongside the COVID-19 global pandemic. Children living in poverty are vulnerable to child labor, trafficking, exposure to crime, malnutrition and disease. Additionally, urban orphanages traditionally don’t have access to adequate schooling and it is often not a priority of caretakers to provide schooling for these children.

It is a goal of Nightlight to change the life of these children and provide children with forever families while advocating for adequate welfare for Dominican Republic’s vulnerable children. If you are interested in adopting from the Dominican Republic or would like to inquire about the program, please contact Samantha Brown at samantha@nightlight.org or call 317-875-0058.