Each one of my children has required that my husband and I advocate for them. From English as a second language to developmental delays to high-ability/gifted education. Though the circumstances, reasons and even the child differ greatly, one thing remains the same: my husband and I are their most invested advocates.
No matter how dedicated, caring and insightful the staff and therapists may be, the only people our children can count on to have their backs are their parents. In the end, even the most caring and concerned schools, teachers and therapists must answer to policy, politics and funding. In addition, they are rarely experienced or knowledge about the affects of severe and prolong malnutrition and years spent living in an orphanage.
This isn’t to say you won’t have allies along the way. We have been fortunate to have a therapists and teachers who truly care and do all they can to help us to help our children. Hopefully this is true in most situations. Appreciate your allies and learn to work with them to help you and your children. At the same time, always remember that you are the only person who is there 100% for your child’s best interests and needs.
“As strange as it seems, we need to become educators ourselves, in much the same way many of us become Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists for our children when they were younger. We need to be a strong force insisting on services that truly match our children’s needs.” Susan G. Forbes, LICSW in Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections.Here are a few tips to help you effectively advocate for your adopted child:
- Be an active participant in your child’s school or classroom. Become familiar with your child’s classroom teacher and school staff as well as his surrounding. Know the classroom routine.
- Identify your allies.
- Educate the adults in your child’s life, but do so in small, digestible morsels.
- Be a consumer. If you are not comfortable with your child’s therapist, seek out another.
- Connect with other adoptive parents. Knowing you are not alone can improve your sense of confidence. They can also be an excellent resource for questions, feedback and referrals for the best professionals available in your area.
- When appropriate, talk to your child and truly listen to what he is saying about his needs.