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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Nov 4, 2010

November 4, 2010

Tweet Chat Interview with Danette Schott ~ Adopting Two Children in Russia

Danette M. Schott:
Danette is the proud mother of two beautiful children adopted from Russia. After facing challenges of ADHD, social skill deficits, anxiety, autism, and more with her daughter she was led to research these topics. Danette founded S-O-S Research  to provide parents with guides with three stages containing easy-to-follow steps to walk them through the problem-solving process on various topics such as ADHD/ADD, Anxiety and Stress, Aspergers, Autism, Play Skills, Social Skills and more. She also maintains Help! S-O-S for Parents, a blog dedicated to providing tips, resources, book reviews and giveaways, and guest posts on special needs issues.

As November is National Adoption Awareness Month, Lorna invited Danette for The Coffee Klatch Nov. 4th Tweet Chat session. The following interview is made up of the best questions and answers brought out during the session…please keep in mind all Tweets can only have 140 characters so the words used in this interview reflect those restrictions. Our goal is to pass along information and tweets fit the bill!

When did you go to Russia to get your two children?
We got our son in 1999 at 21 months (he is now 15) and our daughter in 2001 at 16 months (she is now 13).

Do any of you speak Russian?
No. My son had a toddler’s level of Russian and we were focused on him learning English. My daughter was not speaking at all.

How long did it take for the kids to communicate/speak with you?
It is so strange, but I do not remember a time when we could not communicate with our son. Our daughter had language delays.

Did your daughter require speech therapy?
Yes. We used sign language with her and she had a lot of speech therapy. She said Mama for the first time at 2 ½.

Does your son have any special needs?
No. He came home surprisingly unscathed by his early months of deprivation.

Other than a language delay, did/does your daughter have other special needs?
We have heard autism, ADHD, RAD, PTSD, OCD, tics, dyslexia, other learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, sensory issues, and  now mental illness.
RAD=reactive attachment disorder
PTSD=post-traumatic stress disorder
OCD=obsessive compulsive disorder

Other than speech therapy, did your daughter require any other kind of therapy?
I feel like she has been in some kind of therapy her entire life.
She has received ABA until she was 7. She has had Occupational Therapy, Slingerland tutoring, attended Lindamood-Bell, and a lot of one-on-one help.
ABA: Applied Behavior Analysis

One hears of many parents who adopt, especially from other countries, who end up having kids diagnosed with RAD. Could you speak to that?
Thanks to Barb Dietrich for her quick answer: Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), is usually caused by failure to be cuddled and not having one permanent caregiver in the early years of life. RAD can also be caused by neglect or severe trauma. It is often seen in adopted or abused kids. It is very hard to root out.

I did my form of desensitization. I held her every night. Fed her a bottle. Made her look at me. She SCREAMED for months! I couldn’t comb her hair without her crying. It literally took years for my daughter to bond with me. RAD is horrible. My daughter liked strangers so much more than me. She would run from me to be held by strangers.

Did you find a good resource for dealing with RAD? Many under-served parents NEED a good go-to resource!
I have found the best supports to be online with email groups. Other than that, we go the same route as everyone else for support.

Before adopting, were you aware of the risks?
We adopted 14 yrs ago. Information wasn’t as prevalent. We knew there might be developmental delays and learning issues but what did it really mean?

Do you see other adoptive families?
Over the years we have made long term friendships with many families with adoptive children.

Do you attend Russian cultural events or camps?
We did when the kids were younger. My son has no desire and my daughter’s mental stability makes it difficult. Russia in general tends to be a ‘trigger’ for her, so we try to stay away from the topic.

How did you deal with all your daughter’s various special needs?
I am a researcher by occupation (social science and marketing) so I did what I knew…I researched each of these issues.

What led to you wanting to work with other parents dealing with special needs?
I met many parents who did not know where to start or what to do. I knew I could help.

Why did you start S-O-S Research?
I accumulated so many resources and I am good at finding meaningful information and knowing how to organize it. I wanted to help other parents.

What does S-O-S Research do for parents?
Our mission is to help your child reach his potential. S-O-S Research provides special needs guides with easy-to-follow steps to walk parents through where to start and what to do. They also guide you to appropriate information, support, and comprehensive references.

You also maintain Help! S-O-S for Parents blog. What to you write about?
I provide tips, resources, book reviews & giveaways, and guest posts on these “invisible” special needs.

The S-O-S Support Center  provides the option of talking directly with Parent Coach, Stephanie A. Scott. Tell us about this.
Coaching takes place on the telephone at an agreed upon convenient time and allows you to remain in the comfort of your own home. If you reside in the Seattle, WA area, you have the option to meet one-on-one.

Can you please tell our tweeters where to find these sites?
The website is at and the blog is at

How is your daughter doing today?
She is under the care of a psychiatrist and attends a therapeutic day school. She has been stable. She is doing the best in two years!
What advice do you have for other people who might be considering international adoption?
Be prepared for the adoption to be a special needs child. Read, research, and line up possible resources. First you need to find an adoption agency that will walk you through the US requirements. During the initial paperwork, you have to have a home study completed by a social worker. The speed of that is out of your hands. Then find an adoption agency in the country of your choice.

I know of some people who visited their soon-to-be adopted child, came back home and finished more paperwork to finally returned to get the child. Is that common?
Each country has their own requirements. We did not have to do that, but now I believe Russia requires it. For our son we were in Russia for about 10 days. For our daughter we were there for 21 days!

Eh! 21 days is a long time. I can see international adoption is out of many families’ reach because of the expenses.
It is very expensive. I was consulting at the time and had to keep working in order to pay for both adoptions. Mary Beth Chapman has an organization called Show Hope that helps people with the cost. I have it listed in my review of her book co-authored by Ellen Vaughn: Choosing to SEE, A Journey of Struggle and Hope

How did you decided that adoption was a good choice for you?
My husband and I always wanted to adopt one child and have one biological child. After our first adoption, we changed our minds. We felt in our hearts that our daughter was in Russia waiting for us.

Thank you Danette for sharing your touching story and thank you to those who joined us.

How is your community/province/state  promoting National Adoption Awareness Month?

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