When on the adoption journey (or raising an adopted child) an iceberg provides a perfect picture of there being more than what you initially see.
- Adoption Adjustments and Meltdowns: When adopting a child two and older (especially in the initial stage of adjustment), meltdowns and tantrums are likely to happen. Realize that there may be many things going on inside the mind of your child than what appears at the surface. Your child may seem to be getting upset about a particular item or meal, when really the issue/struggle/grief is something much larger than what seems to have set off the meltdown. When your child has calmed down (and the meltdown has passed) spend some time seeking to discover and understand the deeper issues. (See Tantrums and Meltdowns).
- Adoption and Language Learning: If you are adopting (or have adopted) a child who speaks a different language, know that learning language and culture takes a significant amount of time. Though a child may quickly pick up on basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS), it can take an additional 5 or more years for the child to develop cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). Words and concepts will begin to be placed in the iceberg even while what is usable in daily vocabulary is relatively small. It is also extremely easy for us as parents to think our child understood us (and for them to think they understood) and for them to totally miss what we were trying to say. Sometimes what may seem like disobedience or rebellion, may actually be rooted in not fully understanding. (Click here for more on BICS and CALP).
- Adoption Behaviors and Baggage: You picked up your child from foster care or the orphanage and perhaps he/she had a single bag of belongings. Yet, your child came with many more bags that you didn’t see. According to author Kathy Lancaster, it can take a year for every year a child is old at the time of adoption for the child to become unadjusted to past behaviors and adjust to new. See Year for Year. Your child may be dealing with experiences, issues, and behaviors, such as: survival instincts, manipulation, stealing, lying, abuse, neglect, hunger, fear, grief, threats, shame, inappropriate sexual behaviors, bed wetting, abnormal eating, and impulsiveness. Click here to learn about Attachment Disorder.