Its Hard To Believe But…. PNPIC is (unfortunately) celebrating its 10th Anniversary!
In July 1991, Thais Tepper and Lois Hannon both adopted children from Romania through Cradle of Hope. Ironically, we were both in Romania at the exact same time, but we did not connect until 1993 when a mutual friend put us in touch with each other. We had had no help from our agency once the checks cleared, and we did not know then that the behaviors we were seeing in our children were actually well documented. Our first conversation lasted a good while - and we realized that our children had very similar problems, but we had no idea what to do, where to go, the types of doctors or therapists we needed to find or even what to call the problems. Remember, that was way back in 1993, the internet was not the norm, and talking about "problems" of adopted children was not what other adoptive parents wanted us to do (unless, of course, you happened to have a child with problems). We were often highly criticized for our efforts to help those kids who weren't "perfect". Our only goal was, and still is, to help the children who have been adopted.
We began to do some research, and we talked to everyone and anyone who would listen. We ended up accumulated vast amounts of information, and word quickly spread. We were spending vast amounts of time talking to families, photocopying and mailing huge packages of information to everyone who wanted it. About that time, we were briefly joined by two other mothers, and decided that the best way to gather and disseminate information was to form an actual network - thus the beginning (tho with a different name at first) of The Parent Network For The Post-Institutionalized Child (PNPIC).
We were very fortunate to meet some wonderful parents, doctors and therapists who worked closely with us to understand the problems of the deprivation, neglect and abuse of the internationally adopted child, and to give what we learned to families unprepared, as we were, and desperate for help with their children.
We are really proud of all we have done. We published a newsletter for 6 years; we published a book; we have connected many of the medical doctors who now specialize in this field; we have been involved (on-screen and off-screen) in many television and radio shows as well as newspaper and magazine articles; and we have developed and presented over 25 conferences throughout the country and overseas. We have talked with thousands of families, and now that email is the norm, have connected with countless families via our website and email.
We have done all this out of the kindness of our hearts, and concern for the children. We have never received any payment for what we do. Of course, we encounter some expense in keeping the network alive, and those expenses are covered by the sale of our newsletters and book, and by donations.
As we are part of the sandwich generation, we have had to deal not only with our children, but with our aging parents as well. The needs of our families had to come first. With the advent of the vast information on the internet, we decided to suspend publishing the newsletter although we remain active with the issues of internationally adopted children, our website, emails and phone calls. We have worked with other groups just now beginning to deal with the issues of this population. We are in the development stage of some conferences, and have also begun to work on our next book.
The phone calls and emails we have received over the last year or two are rather disturbing. We find that families who have recently adopted continue to be ill prepared for international adoption; we find that families who contacted us back in our infancy, who thought they had children without problems, are now asking us about disruption and residential facilities, and there are families who call to tell us how wonderful everything is, but…(and its usually a BIG but). Adoptive families often don't realize that many problems will not be recognized until the children are older, and are shocked when the kids "hit the wall".
We recognize that many adoptive and preadoptive parents seem to come down with an illness called "denial". Too bad. The kids suffer.
THE FUTURE: While we wish there would not be a continued need for what we do, history has shown that there will be. We will continue to try to find new avenues to explore, to promote long term studies and to find help anywhere we can. As our children get older, we know we will be facing a new set of problems, just as other parents are. We will do what we can to put what we learn into the public forum so others won't have to struggle as we have had to.
AS WE LOOK BACK:
we are saddened to say that little has changed. The adoption industry thrives, and many in it are making huge sums of money on this product we call internationally adopted children. The children and adoptive families suffer, because they are often not fully informed about the potential problems that are inherent with this population (or they refuse to believe it could happen to them); families are not prepared to deal with the behavior, medical and emotional problems that their children exhibit, and they are not prepared - emotionally and financially - for children with lifelong problems.
We are still waiting for the adoption industry to take some responsibility. They are quick to tout the positives of adoption, but few really openly disclose the potential problems prior to adoption or offer support, help and resources after the adoption. We can't understand why this huge group, with tremendous resources, can't pull together some programs to help struggling families. Respite alone would probably eliminate many disruptions and divorces. We are two moms just trying to help the kids - and look what we've accomplished! Imagine if there were honesty and accountability from the adoption industry - it would benefit everyone, especially the children.
We would like to acknowledge the tremendous support from the many doctors and therapists who have been available for us over the years. We are sincerely appreciative and grateful for their generosity in donating their time and talents to write articles, speak at conferences and talk to families at no cost. We hope that their interest in our population will provide some solid research and resources for the future.