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Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Evaluating a Referral
I know I was going to write about selecting a social worker next, but this particular topic has been on my mind lately. I will get to the social worker bit later. I am also working on being objective about selecting a social worker as opposed to completely bashing mine. I have a few choice words to say to that a-hole.

Some feel that evaluating your referral can be the most difficult part of the adoption process. Whether it be a blind referral or one you receive in advance evaluating a referral is difficult. But if you ask me, leaving your child for an unknown amount of time is more difficult. Of course this is just me. The process is different for everyone.

I have a unique perspective on referral evaluations. I have done it twice. Depending on your agency you may or may not have the opportunity to have your child evaluated in country by an international adoption (IA) doc. You should also have the opportunity to have information received evaluated by an IA doc here in the states. There are so many people out there that believe Russian doctors are poorly trained and don't know what they are talking about. This is not true. Russia is not the US. Doctors are trained differently and no, they are not American docs. This does not mean they don't know what they are talking about. For the most part Russian doctors are very well trained. It is their lack of diagnostic equipment that makes doing their job difficult. Of course Russian doctors are a post unto themselves. This post is about evaluating your referral.

When you submit your paperwork for a referral you put forth certain criteria for a child. The typical request is "as young and healthy as possible." This was on our paperwork. Parents agonize over what medical conditions they are or are not prepared for. For us, we were not equipped to parent a severely special needs child. Plain and simple. This does not make us less of a parent. It makes us honest.

When you receive medical information from the orphanage doctor the list of "diagnosis" may sound scary and intimidating. Perinatal Encephalopathy, syndrome of neural and motor dystonia of hypotonic type, valgus deformity of both feet, hydrocele on right, recovery after toxic infection cardiopathy, 1st degree hypermetropia. What the hell is all of this? These are Pickle's "diagnosis" from the final medical report we received when we adopted him. What does he actually have? Funky feet and he had surgery for a hernia. That is it.

I will tell you our experiences.

When we met Little A there was this instant feeling of "this is our son." He was perfect. Beautiful, healthy, energetic and happy. We were in love. I mean in loooove. The IA doc gave him a huge thumbs up and all we needed was a court date.

Meeting Pickle was a totally different story. We met this sad little boy. He was scared, shy, and would not smile at all. He would sit in my lap and rock. I was not sure at first. Maybe I was still getting over the loss of Little A. I was guarding my heart, but I did not have that "this is our son" feeling. Even after we got home from meeting him I still was guarded. He was not unhealthy. He was just sad. He looked as if he desperately needed a mama and daddy to love him. Given the fact that it took lots of work on our parts to get him to interact with us we accepted the referral. There was no reason to turn him down.

What I am trying to say is that not all families have this instant connection to their children on the first trip. I will honestly tell you it took about 3 weeks of being Pickle's mom before I truly felt like his Mother. Don't get me wrong. I love my son. I can't imagine my life without my son. It just wasn't instant.

There is no doctor in the world that can make the decision for you. There is no one else that can tell you what to do. You have to make the decision yourself, but what I do want to say is don't rule out a child because you didn't feel that instant bond. Look at the child and look deep into yourself. Am I the right parent for this child? There are no guarantees with being a parent. Whether you are a parent to a biological child or an adopted child. Ultimately, you take a huge leap of faith.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
On trip 1 I didn't connect with my referral much either. She was adorable, but I was terrified to connect with her after the experience of losing the first referral. It took about 2 days in country before I knew I'd walk through fire for her. I'm so glad others warned me that I might not connect right away. It helped me relax and wait it out. My experience with the Russian doc was veeerrrry interesting. She told me I had to hold my child under the armpits until we got home. that she could either lay flat or be held that way the entire trip! She said (without hardly glancing at my daughter) that she had rickets so her legs must not be bent, even to sit on my lap. So no wonder some of us have the impression we do of Russian medicine........ Someone told me their system is you are 'guilty until proven innocent'. Everyone has a diagnosis until proven otherwise.

Blogger Carla said...
Having never adopted (still waiting for a China referral), I will say that I did not instantly fall in love with my first biological child. I looked at him and thought "now what?" It took a good time to feel "bonded" with him, to feel that love for him that I always thought I should, and it kind of surprised me. I am a little worried about Katie and my love for her, but know that regardless of how I feel when she is placed in my arms I will love her.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Nobody is perfect but we all need to be loved. Imperfection is a part of life... so with that in mind hold them close and love them for what they are! Precious!!!!!!!!!

Blogger Debbie said...
I'm so glad you posted about referrals. Dave and I were talking it last night.
I'm so glad that you are honest in your feelings. It's good to be warned in advance that it may not be an instant love. I feel I have so much love to give and if I don't have that instant feeling I know I would think something was wrong. But I have now been told by 2 people that it wasn't instant for them and that really helps.

Thanks again for sharing Elle.

Anonymous Soper said...

Anonymous annmarie said...
Thanks for this! I have much to learn...

Blogger Ahauna said...
I just found your blog and wanted to let you know how wonderful and informative it is. You write so beautifully. We're going domestic through state and are still waiting to be matched.

off to


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