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  Romanian adoption research continues
Family Helper editor
(Oct. 25, 2002) Research on Romanian adoptees continues on the west coast. Simon Fraser University in British Columbia has been tracking the development of B.C. children adopted from Romanian orphanages in the early 90s.

In 1997 Dr. Elinor Ames retired and Dr. Lucy Le Mare, also from SFU, took over as head of the Romanian Adoption Project. Dr. Le Mare plans to start the next phase two years from now. She seeks to widen the research to include families from across Canada, as well as B.C. families not involved in earlier phases. If you've adopted a Romanian child and would like to take part, contact Lynda Fernyhough at the research office, 604-291-5687, Reach Dr. Le Mare at 604-291-3272,

How the Romanian orphans fared

Nearly 150 Romanian children were adopted by B.C. families in 1990 and 1991. The Romanian Adoption Project began in 1991 after Dr. Elinor Ames of Simon Fraser University went to Romania with a group of prospective parents and saw the living conditions of "orphanage" children first hand. Many had started life in severely deprived conditions. Dr. Ames wanted to find out if subsequent good rearing could overcome the effects of early deprivation.

In ten years of following the Romanian orphans researchers have seen them three times. Dr. Ames and her team assessed the children twice. When Dr. Ames retired in 1997 Dr. Lucy Le Mare, also from SFU, took over and with her team saw the children a third time when they were 10 and half years old. Compared to a group of Canadian-born non-adopted children and to a second group of Romanian children adopted early in infancy from either birth homes or maternity hospitals, the children from orphanages showed significantly more difficulties and delays in development.

There were variations within the group of orphans--about a third performed at average or above average levels, another third displayed difficulties in a few areas, and a final third demonstrated significant problems in multiple areas. Their difficulties may continue well into middle childhood.

Despite the challenges facing the children, almost all families in the study found the experience of adopting post-institutionalized children to be deeply rewarding. They said they would do it again if they knew then what they know now, and all the children report feeling supported by their families.

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