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Questions to Ask Your Child’s Caregivers
I have been putting together a list of questions gathered from various sources to ask the orphanage caregivers and foster family. (I am sorry I didn't keep track of all the books, authors, websites, blogs, etc. I found these questions on! Wish now I would have!) I thought I would share with other adoptive parents who might be traveling soon! This is a comprehensive list and it is WAY too long. We will trim it down to what we don't alreayd have answers for and to what we feel is most important. We would over whealm with this long list! All these questions won't apply to every situation, depending on your particular child. If you are like us, then you got a lot answers to these questions when you received your referral, so you can cut those questions out of the list! (Tip: Take either a video camera or audio recorder to tape the interview. Use the audio capabilities of the video recorder so you do not miss any of the conversation. Then you can go over later. This will be much faster than trying to write everything down!)
Questions About Birth Family?
- Of what ethnic heritage is the child?
- How did they receive their name? If unusual, ask what meaning it has or what ethnicity it is.
- What can you tell me about the birth mother? (Age, health, name, photo? etc.)
- What can you tell me about the birth father? (Age, health, name, photo? etc.)
- Does my child have any siblings? What are their gender, ages, names, etc. Are they also in an orphanage/foster family?
- Any photos of birth family available? (I know of 1 family who adopted Ukrainian children whose parents had died and they were given photos from when the children lived with their parents before they died!. Yes, this question is a long shot, but you never know!)
- Do birth family members have any medical, physical, or emotional problems?
- Is there any information on the birthmother’s pregnancy and/or delivery?
Questions About Child's Placement History
- How did my child come into an orphanage/fostercare? (Parents death, abandonment, removed from family due to neglect/abuse, etc.)
- When did my child come into orphanage care/fostercare?
- Is this the only foster family/orphanage my child has lived in or have their been other placements? Where? With Whom? For How Long?
- How long has the child been in the orphanage? Where was he/she before that?
- Has my child ever lived with his/her birth family? For what period of time? What was the child's age?
- What is the staff to child ratio during the day? Night?
- Any signs of abuse (before the orphanage)?
- Can we get pictures of him with his caregivers?
Questions About My Child
- Is there anything we should tell him as he grows up?
- Have she had any prior illnesses, injuries or accidents?
- How does he interact with other children?
- Who are his friends? Can we take photos of him with his friends for a keepsake?
- Does he have a favorite caregiver?
- Does she like to be hugged, held and kissed?
- Favorite toys?
- Favorite activities?
- What makes him happy?
- What makes her upset?
- What makes him angry?
- Special fears?
- How do you soothe her?
- Behavioral problems?
- Does he wake up in the night?
- Does the child have any scars? If so, how did s/he get them?
- Are there any old photos?
- May I see where they slept and played and may you take photos of those places?
- Ask them how well the child speaks in their native language? Ask them what words and/or sentences the child can say and ask them how well the child pronounces those words.
- At what age did the child start sitting, walking and talking? (Ask the orphanage directer for a written history of the child's developmental milestones.)
- Does the child have any medical, physical, or emotional problems or disabilities?
- What are the dates of any blood transfusions, trauma, hospitalizations or surgeries?
- Ask the staff for descriptions of the child’s personality & physical, mental, & emotional status.
- How does the child's speech compare with her/his peers in the orphanage?
- How does the child's ability to crawl, walk, or run compare with peers in the orphanage?
- Does the child use utensils to eat, drink from a cup?
- Can the child dress & undress without help?
- Is the child toilet trained during the day and/or night?
- Does s/he wet the bed? How often? Has any intervention taken place?
- Does he/she initiate using the toilet?
Questions About Daily Routines
- Ask the orphanage director to write out the child’s daily routine.
- What do you feed them? How much and when?
- What are my child's favorite foods?
- How long and when do they sleep? (Bed time, Nap time?)
- What is the bathing routine? Does s/he like to be bathed?
- How do you discipline children here?
Other things to document, photograph, video (depending on the child's age). This can be helpful to share with your international adoption doctor and may help in thinking about future therapies the child may need, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.
Gross motor skills:
- The child’s arm, leg, trunk and head movement. How the child uses his/her limbs and body.
- walking, running, stairs, standing on one foot, hopping, & jumping
- building, coloring, stringing beads, & cutting, etc. (bring Legos, paper, scissors, crayons, beads & string).
- Vocalization by the child.
- Others talking to the child and how he/she responds
- Through translator ask child his/her name
- Through translator ask him/her some questions and have her/him identify objects
- Through a translator give the child simple one, two or three step directions
- The child interacting with visitors, staff, other children during meals or play time
- The child using interactive toys such dolls, puppets, toy vehicles & people
Don't forget to ask, "Do you have any questions for us?"
Hope you find this helpful! Feel free to copy, edit, and share!