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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

From Hopeless to Hopeful

Today is a very exciting day for me. More than than three years ago, I was encouraged by my daughter's therapist to write a book about my experiences raising a child adopted from Russia when she was 11 years old. Today, my book has been published. Well, it has been self-published through www.lulu.com. 

I had several reasons for writing this book. First, I have loved to write since I was in middle school, way back when. Writing provides an emotional outlet for me. Many people have told me how much they enjoy my writing. But the primary reason I wrote this book was to encourage other adoptive parents who may be struggling with their adopted children's behaviors and emotional issues, to let them know that no matter how dark things appear, there is hope for their family, and to help educate prospective adoptive parents about the challenges they will likely face should they choose to adopt.

I suspect that those in the adoption industry won't be happy with being 'called out' in this book for their failure to educate people before they adopt and for failing to provide support after the child is home. Adoptive parents are largely left to find qualified attachment therapists, physicians and caregivers on their own, through trial and error or by word of mouth.

Adopted children, particularly older children, often present parents with issues such as attachment problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. Children adopted from Russia and Eastern Europe also are more likely to have fetal alcohol syndrome to one degree or another. And spending even a brief time in an orphanage can have profound effects on the developing brain of a child. Unfortunately, the adoption industry has done little or nothing to educate prospective adopters about these issues. The result has been families completely unprepared to deal with, these issues. Love is not enough to treat these serious emotional issues, the result of broken attachments with the birth family, institutionalization, and often, exposure to alcohol in utero.

Raising an adopted child is far different from raising a biological child, particularly if the child is older at the time of adoption. My daughter, who is now 19, and I faced a myriad of attachment- and childhood trauma-related issues. I was totally unprepared to even put a name to her afflictions, much less know how to deal with them. Many of the traditional parenting techniques for dealing with 'difficult' children not only don't work, but may actually make things worse. And many therapists, lacking knowledge of attachment issues, are unable to help. Fortunately, we were able to find, after several false starts, an excellent therapist who understands the special issues of adopted children.

With a great deal of therapy, residential treatment and her own determination and hard work, combined with my love and support, my daughter has made tremendous strides in self-esteem, confidence and self-understanding. She is a wonderful, charming, beautiful and caring young lady.

I hope readers will find support, encouragement and useful information in this book, which is, as a friend told me, truly a labor of love.

From Hopeless to Hopeful: Raising an Adopted Older Child is available at http://www.lulu.com/shop/ann-sullivan/from-hopeless-to-hopeful-raising-an-older-adopted-child/paperback/product-20619017.html or by clicking the button at the top right of this page.