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How to Help Adopted Children Face Their Unique Challenges

Adoption is a wonderful way for a child to find a permanent, loving home and a solution for parents who cannot have kids. However, it is also fraught with complicated emotions and issues that might not be obvious on the surface. This guide should take the guesswork out of what those challenges are and how to face them with dignity and success.

Self-Esteem and Identity Issues

Most adopted children at some point in their lives feel a sense of grief and loss over the separation from their birth family. Even children who were adopted as babies may go through these emotions when they get older and better understand the situation. Older kids may grieve for the loss of siblings or other family members they remember.

Adoptive parents sometimes struggle in handling these emotions. Their adopted child may start to show signs of anger, anxiety or fear and feel like they don’t belong or don’t know where they fit in. Their self-esteem may dip as they consider the question of why their birth parents did not keep them. As they struggle with identity issues, they may lash out at their loving adoptive parents or siblings to figure it all out. They may feel rejected by certain members of the family, and this can impact their self-esteem also.

These complicated emotions can lead to guilt over hurting the feelings of their adoptive family. Now is the time for support and relying on resources outside the family to help counsel each member, so relationships within the family do not suffer.

School Challenges and Other Mental Health Challenges

Often kids are adopted from foster care after being removed from dysfunctional homes where they experienced trauma, abuse or neglect. All these factors can contribute to developmental delays and sometimes, mental health issues as well. Some other things to watch out for are anxiety, depression, ADHD, attachment disorder, substance abuse and even behavioral problems. Here are some additional resources to help adoptive parents of children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. 

If you adopted an older child who experienced some form of trauma or abuse, they should be in counseling until all of the issues are resolved. Family counseling is also strongly recommended.

Managing Post-Adoption Issues

The adoption process is a wonderful thing, but it can also cause the entire family discomfort during the adjustment period. There are plenty of post-adoption resources, clinics, counseling and even reading material that can help you process things until your child is fully integrated into your family.

  • Talk openly with your child and make yourself available to them. Be honest about their adoptions and answer any questions they may have.
  • Find out as much as you can about their history, so you know what to expect and how to help them.
  • Reach out to therapists and other resources when needed.
  • Do your best to love them and provide a stable, consistent home with boundaries and expectations.

How to Bond With Your Adoptive Child

Sometimes it takes a little while to form a parent-child bond with your adopted child. A few ways you can help the bonding process are:

Build Attachment

Connect with your child on commonalities that you share. If a baby, cuddle, hug and talk to your child a lot. Let them learn to love the sound of your voice.

Play Together

Playing together is an important way to bond with your adopted child. It also helps build social and development skills as well.

Provide Consistency

Kids crave consistency and routine. As they get used to coming home from school and seeing you, it starts to develop into a dependent and reliant relationship.

Show Them Love

Often kids who are adopted at older ages act out to see if you will “send them back.” Make sure they know you love them no matter what and you are a family for good.

Child Health & Safety News 7/16: US Opposes Breastfeeding

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: The Safest and Most Dangerous States for Kids Online

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 20 events & stories.

  • Child Health Protection Act just the the start of healthier food environments for kids 2018-7-15
  • US Says Breast Isn’t Best, Angers Moms & Docs Alike 2018-7-15
  • Developmentally Appropriate Toys and Things to Avoid – Toddler Health  2018-7-14
  • The billion-dollar industry of detaining immigrant kids from $74.5M in 2007 to $958M in 2017 and rising 2018-7-14
  • The 10 golden rules of air travel for families 2018-7-13
  • The World of Child Immigration and What We Can Do to Help 2018-7-13

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
U.S. Attempts to Block Resolution Endorsing Breast-Feeding – Stuns World Health Officials

  • Does Your Student Need A Campus Health Insurance Plan? 2018-7-13
  • Speech Milestones for Toddlers 2018-7-12
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta opens first out-patient, non-emergency medical center  2018-7-12
  • Man gives out gun locks to residents after child’s accidental shooting 2018-7-12
  • Einstein Your Thinking and Keep Your Child Safe Around Water Thurs Time Capsule – 07/11 2018-7-11
  • Primary Children’s Hospital to give out free Baby Safety Snaps – a visual reminder that baby is in car seat 2018-7-11
  • Tips For Choosing The Best Preschool TV Shows From A Children’s Show Creator 2018-7-11
  • How to Plan Activities That Keep Babies & Toddlers On The Move 2018-7-11
  • How to Prepare for Your Child’s First Sleepover 2018-7-11
  • Constable Care Child Safety Foundation launches world-first road safety app for kids featuring real-life situations for W. Australia students 2018-7-10
  • Smart technology to remind parents a child is in the back seat – 4 different options tested and compared 2018-7-09
  • Summer and Beyond: How to Get Your Special Needs Child To Read 2018-7-09
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp are Sensory Friendly Tomorrow Night at AMC 2018-7-09

The World of Child Immigration and What We Can Do to Help

A Brief Introduction

About 10 weeks ago the Trump administration implemented a new immigration policy. All immigrants crossing the border illegally, even if they were seeking political asylum would now be prosecuted as criminals and their children would be taken from them.  There were even a number of immigrant asylum seekers who followed US law and presented themselves properly at legal border crossings and still found themselves being treated as criminals and subjected to the same new immigration policy which separated them from their children. Roughly 3,000 children have since been separated from their families.

After a massive public outcry, Trump signed an executive order that stopped the separation. However, it did nothing to reunite the families already split and ensures the continued detention and prosecution of all people attempting to cross the border, children included.

A judge has ordered that all of the children be reunited with their families by the end of July, a deadline which the White House has already requested be extended. As the struggle continues to try and undo some of the horrors of the last few months, information and calls to action continue to flow through communities.

The Facts:

What We Can Do

Illustration by Justin Teodoro

It is natural in times like these to be so horrified by a series of events that we become paralyzed.  The weight of the world can be so great that it feels like our souls are being crushed. It is at times like these that we must choose not to hide or be overcome by despair. Every one of us can make a difference.

For the children and their families:

  • Volunteer agencies* are seeking social workers, lawyers, and individuals with language skills to act as translators to help reunify these families and represent them in court.
  • Become a Child Advocate
  • Foster an immigrant child while they wait to be reunited with their families and work through immigration procedures
  • Donate to any of the numerous organizations that have mobilized to support Asylum Seekers and Immigrants

For our future:

  • Educate ourselves- evils like this happen because of ignorance, it is up to us to educate ourselves about our history and our country’s policies so that we know what kind of future we are trying to create
  • Talk to each other- we can feel so alone at times like these, but acting as a community will give us the support we need and make us more effective
  • Be brave

For ourselves:

  • Breathe- take a minute to breathe and touch base with yourself mentally and physically. There is a lot going on and we need rest. Even if it’s just a moment’s.
  • Take breaks– from the news, from social media, from conversations about politics and the state of society. If we don’t take breaks we can become overwhelmed and may struggle with depression or anxiety.
  • Be willing to grow- this goes with “educate ourselves.” As we learn new things our past assumptions about the world are challenged. It can be frightening, we may feel threatened, both are perfectly natural responses. Try to accept the new information anyway.
  • Talk to people about what you feel

The United States can be better than this, but we have to choose to be.

*Individuals are not allowed to volunteer at the detention facilities themselves, so it is best to find an agency to help.

How to Plan Activities That Keep Babies & Toddlers On The Move

Ways to get your baby moving

  • Lay your baby down on their back so they can kick their legs.
  • Pulling, pushing, grasping and playing with other people are great ways to practise different kinds of movements.
  • Once your baby has started crawling, let them crawl around the floor, but make sure it’s safe first – see our crawling safety checklist.
  • Playing outdoors helps your baby learn about their surroundings.
  • You can take your baby swimming from a very young age – there’s no need to wait until they’ve been vaccinated.

See Start4Life for more activity tips for babies.

Why tummy time is important

Tummy time helps to build the muscles your baby needs for sitting and crawling. You can start doing tummy time from birth by lying your baby on your chest – but only do this when you’re wide awake and unlikely to fall asleep.

Little and often is best to begin with. Gradually increase the amount of time you do this day by day. Then, when your baby is ready, try doing tummy time on the floor. If your baby has difficulty lifting their head, you can roll up a towel and put it under their armpits. Put some toys nearby for them to reach out to.

Only do tummy time when your baby is awake and alert, and you’re there to keep an eye on them.

Baby bouncers, walkers and seats

It’s important that your baby doesn’t spend too much time in:

  • baby walkers or bouncers – these encourage babies to stand on their tiptoes and can delay walking if your baby uses them a lot
  • baby carriers and seats – long periods in reclining carriers or seats, or seats that prop your baby in a sitting position, can delay your baby’s ability to sit up on their own

If you do use a baby walker, bouncer or seat, it’s best to use them for no more than 20 minutes at a time.

Physical activity for toddlers

Once your child is walking, they should be physically active for at least 180 minutes (three hours) a day, spread throughout the day.

  • Let your toddler walk with you rather than always using the buggy.
  • Toddlers and young children love going to the park, where they can climb and swing or just run around.
  • Toys your child can pick up and move around will help improve their co-ordination and develop the muscles in their arms and hands.
  • Involve your toddler in household tasks like unpacking shopping, tidying or sorting washing.
  • Teach your child songs with actions and encourage them to dance to music.

Watching TV or using a tablet for long periods – or being strapped into a buggy, car seat or highchair – isn’t good for young children.

If you need to make a long car journey, consider taking a break and getting your child out of their seat for a bit.

See physical activity guidelines for children under five.

Enjoy being active together

It’s good to join in with your child’s active play when you can. Have fun showing them how to do new things like running and hopping. Being active together shows your child that activity is enjoyable.

You’re a role model for your child so stay active yourself and try to meet the physical activity guidelines for adults.

There may be activities for parents and children at your local leisure centre or Sure Start Children’s Centre.

Activity for young children with a disability

All babies and young children need to be active, including children with a long-term condition or disability, unless their health professionals give you different advice.

Just like other children, they will enjoy being active and it will help their development. You may need to adapt some activities to suit your child.

Scope has ideas for games all children can play, and the Contact a Family advice service** offers information on caring for a disabled child (in the UK).

Coping with a very active toddler

It can be exhausting keeping up with a toddler who is always on the go. It may help if you:

  • keep to a daily routine – routine can help if your child is restless or difficult; it can also help you stay calm and cope with the strain
  • dedicate time to your child – make sure there are times each day when you give them your full attention
  • avoid difficult situations – for example, keep shopping trips short
  • try to go out every day – go to a park, playground or other safe, open space where your child can run around and use up energy
  • set small goals – help your child to sit still and concentrate for a very short time, perhaps on a book or new toy, then gradually build it up

Does my child have attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

At times you may wonder if your non-stop toddler has ADHD. But only about 2% of children in the UK have ADHD**. It’s more likely that your child is just a healthy, energetic toddler.

If you’re worried about how active your child is, talk to your health visitor (*nurse specialist/midwife) or GP (*physician).

Learn more about ADHD or visit ADDISS: National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service.

Editor’s Note:  

* Clarification Provided for our U.S. Readers

** US Reference Information:

  • The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that 5 percent of American children have ADHD. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the number at more than double that. The CDC says that 11 percent of American children, ages 4 to 17, had the attention disorder as of 2011.
  • UNICEF-USA is a charity that helps to protect US children and support children with disabilities

NHS Choices logo



Child Health & Safety News 7/9: Pediatric Cancer Highest in NE USA

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Facebook warns 800,000 users that it accidentally unblocked people they had already blocked

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 20 events & stories.

  • Judge insists timeline be met to reunite children at border 2018-7-08
  • 10 Reasons Why Kids Are Bullied 2018-7-08
  • Mothers who follow five healthy habits may reduce risk of obesity in children 2018-7-07
  • The cost of child care in the US is making parenthood unaffordable 2018-7-07
  • How to Recognize Anxiety and Help Your Anxious Child 2018-7-06

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Top Headline of the Week
Pediatric cancer most prevalent in the Northeast US, younger children

  • How old is old enough for a child to stay home alone? Although it differs from child to child and state to state, here are some criteria…  2018-7-06
  • A pediatrician’s healing spirit: treating depressed, anxious, and suicidal teens 2018-7-06
  • Sick child couldn’t walk after US took him from his mother. The case raises concerns about the medical care available to children held in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. 2018-7-05
  • The biggest health challenges facing children in Wales, by one of the country’s leading doctors  2018-7-05
  • My New Buddy Brian – Questions for Every Parent – Thurs Time Capsule – 07/10
  • Honduras’ first lady urges migrants to stay home …for the safety of their children 2018-7-04
  • 1 simple thing parents can do at pool parties to help keep kids safe Designate a water watcher! 2018-7-04
  • Child Care in Hawaii : Unaffordable and Unavailable 2018-7-04
  • House Democrats seek answers on child care, educational services for detained immigrant children 2018-7-03
  • Sponsors of Migrant Children Face Steep Transport Fees and Red Tape 2018-7-03
  • Court of Appeals Holds Flu Vaccine Mandate in NYC Child Care Programs Lawful 2018-7-02
  • FAQ You Need to Know About Dental Sealants For Your Child 2018-7-02
  • How Fast Food Affects Children’s Health 2018-7-02


Summer and Beyond: How to Get Your Special Needs Child To Read

Many schools have started assigning Summer Reading to keep kids in good habits and also to avoid the dreaded summer brain drain, where they lose some of the skills learned during the academic year due to lack of practice. Sometimes the reading assignment can be fun, like a competition to see who reads the most pages or books or minutes. Sometimes it can be a straight assignment like a project or a report. But even if your school doesn’t specifically assign any reading, it’s a good idea to encourage your kids to keep reading all summer long.

I know many kids with special needs or learning challenges absolutely hate reading. It is truly unpleasant for them, so who can blame them? For now there are other ways to make books appealing. When my kids were little we used them to play games like The Floor is Lava and Dominoes. Then I read the books to them after play time. Reading to your child is important even if you think they are “too old” for it – they are not. Something as simple as “Hey, this is interesting, listen…” may get them motivated to explore (or listen) further.

Ideas to keep kids reading – or get them reading

  • Let them read whatever they want – manga, movie novelizations, comic books all count. I even let my daughter read a toy catalogue once because it was the only thing that motivated her.
  • Let your child be your tour guide. This works on vacation or locally. Let them do research on a location that interests them and pick out some place to visit. This also works with restaurants and reading menus.
  • Take them to the library. Check your local locations for puppet shows, clubs or events…and hey, look, there are lots of books, too! Maybe one will catch their eye. Again, let them choose. You may not want to read a novel with a gory zombie on the cover but if it gets them interested, so be it.
  • Bring books to places where you will be waiting, like doctors and dentists appointments. Put baskets of them in the bathroom.
  • Audio books can also help kids with visual processing and other challenges. Many are free online through your local library or other sites – just do a quick search.
  • Who are your child’s heroes? There are biographies on every historical figure, sports star and celebrity.
  • Yes, it’s okay to let them reread Harry Potter again – as long as you get them thinking about what they noticed this time that they never did before.

Another way to get kids with special needs or challenges interested in a book is if the story is about a kid with challenges. Students will recognize their own struggles and situations and pick up some new strategies. Feel free to read the books yourself – grownups may learn some of the clever ways these kids avoid work and play their teachers.

Here are some reading suggestions about children with special needs for teens. Ask a bookstore employee, teacher or librarian for other suggestions.

  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper features a girl with cerebral palsy
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt follows a girl and her older brother as they discover they have dyslexia
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell, a graphic novel about a girl with a clunky hearing aid

Have you or your child read a great book lately? Let us know about it!


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