What does "low cognitive development" mean? — The Bump
Adoption

What does "low cognitive development" mean?

What does "low cognitive development" mean when it's on an adoption checklist? 

I don't know if I need to give the background info, but here it is. We just finished foster care adoption classes, and our age range is approximately 5-15.  We had marked "will consider" for low cognitive development but didn't feel comfortable with certain specific conditions like intellectually disabled (what's formerly been termed mental retardation), etc.

At a meeting a few weeks ago in which we were presented information on a child, we were told that "low cognitive development" basically means intellectually disabled, so we should change our checklist to "no" because it wasn't clear.

Is this the case? I guess I messed up.

Now a bigger problem. I really didn't know the terminology and felt that our worker was VERY disapproving of the change. :-(   It's sad.  We had to say no to someone who would need lifelong care due to various factors including very low iq (below 50), possible blindness/deafness, and so forth.  It hurt a lot because the worker has a child with similar conditions, and I feel like she felt like we were rejecting her, even bringing up her own daughter and saying that this other girl would be an easy child for her to parent.

I fear that this whole situation has "poisoned the well" a little bit.  Sorry if this doesn't make sense.

Thanks for your thoughts.

ETA:  I guess I just felt like we were being "guilted" a bit.  The way the situation went down was kinda offputting to me.  She wouldn't give us any information for the two weeks before the meeting except that she had diagnoses that were on our "will not consider" list.  I kinda wish she would've been upfront about the girl's condition and saved us the two weeks of wondering and excitement.  I honest to goodness researched all the conditions that we had listed on our "will not consider" list, just so we'd be fully versed. It was sad when it ended up being something that we absolutely could not do...

 

Romney-Portman 2012 ORGAN DONOR: DEAL WITH IT. :-) :-)

Re: What does "low cognitive development" mean?

  • ((((HUGS)))) to you.  Special needs checklists are the worst!  That said, both of my kids were special needs adoptions but it's more medically related than cognition.  (My heart is with kids with physical disabilities/deformities and intensive medical needs.) I think it's tricky with new PC terminology, where terms are softened a bit to sound less harsh, as a result it's hard to know what they're talking about.  But honestly, you can't beat yourself up over this.  I believe part of our responsibility as adoptive parents is to know our limits.  I see photolistings of kids who need homes and my heart will go out to a child and DH will have to tell me point blank that we can't afford the medical technology that this kid is going to need.  Hard truth.  I know some phenomenal families whose calling is to care for kids who have severe cognitive delays.  They do it and they do it well and they love it.  I am not one of those people.  And I would be doing a child a disservice by knowingly taking a child with these needs and trying to pretend that this is my calling.  This case worker may have taken your response personally but she shouldn't have.  Her job is to make sure that the best match possible is made - particularly for the child.  I always remind myself when I see a child that is not a good fit for our family that SOMEWHERE there is a family where that child would be a perfect fit and say a little prayer that somehow the two will find each other and have the wonderful life that they both deserve.  I'm sorry that this all went down the way it did and I pray that your future child - for whom you are a perfect fit - will find each other soon. 
  • image4LittleDucks:
    ((((HUGS)))) to you.  I think it's tricky with new PC terminology, where terms are softened a bit to sound less harsh, as a result it's hard to know what they're talking about.

      But honestly, you can't beat yourself up over this. 

     I believe part of our responsibility as adoptive parents is to know our limits. .  This case worker may have taken your response personally but she shouldn't have.  Her job is to make sure that the best match possible is made - particularly for the child.   

    I agree with all these statements from 4 little ducks. When we went through thr training for FC, our CW told us to think long and hard and to discuss and research the items on the check list.  The ultimate reason for the list is to help them find the bestt match.  Whether the child is foster or foster-to-adopt, there is nothing worse than having to "return" them because you can't deal with their problems. I'm sorry your are going through this.

    dd(Brianna) 11/01/94, ds(Bram)10/17/95, ds(Jesse)9/26/97, dd (Annie Ruth) 7/27/05 5mc Jan '08, May '08, Feb '09, Sept '09, Apr '11 "And can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one weak creature makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of vast eternity can fill it up." - Charles Dickens

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  • The problem with the term "low cognitive development" is that it is subjective and means different things to different people.  My guess is that in this case it does indeed mean someone who is mentally disabled/retarded, but to what extent is uncertain.

    Julie, I really feel for you.  To be honest, I think you should request a different case worker, if that is at all possible.  I know you've mentioned the guideline for your openness is that you would like to adopt a child that will be able to one day function as an independent adult.  I in no way think that's unreasonable or even difficult to find in the foster system.  I also think that this isn't the first time you've been presented with a case that clearly was beyond your stated openness (the previous boy with RAD).  In both these cases, you were given next to no information up front, had to wait for details, and then were presented with a situation that was beyond what you stated you were comfortable with upfront.  It seems to me that this caseworker is trying to get you to accept a situation with which you are not comfortable, and as uncomfortable as it feels, I urge you to stand firm.

    If you cannot work with someone else, I'd make it very clear that you are open to a lot, but will not budge from the types of situations you have stated you feel comfortable with, so she's wasting everyone's time pushing you to take on more than you feel able.  I would also tell her that you feel as if she's pushing you away and that you feel she's not operating with best practices in mind, and that if she continues to pressure you towards getting in over your head, you will report her to the county.  It sounds to me that she's excited she has a family willing to take on older kids in rough situations, and she'd like you to take the most difficult case she can get you to agree to, whether or not you feel prepared to parent the child.  And that, in my opinion, is a huge miscarriage of justice and power.


  • I don't know.  I realize that she is trying to find a family for the children in our county, not find a child for us.  But yes, I do believe that your sentence It sounds to me that she's excited she has a family willing to take on older kids in rough situations, and she'd like you to take the most difficult case she can get you to agree to, whether or not you feel prepared to parent the child is unfortunately true.  I do feel that way----with the issues AND with the age.

    Thank you to all the posters.  I have a lot of reflection to do.  I think that I am used to children who have been provided decent/adequate care, not the neglect and abuse that lead to attachment disorders, long-term cognitive effects, and the like.  I haven't really been in the world of RAD/ODD/conduct disorder and wonder if the life I have with my husband is worth risking for such uncertainty. I'm not sure I will ever feel the necessary comfort level.

    I think that our worker is used to people haphazardly filling out the checklist and not really knowing what they were saying yes or no to.  We gave the checklist much reflection, research, and due diligence, and she could present 100 children with issues beyond our means, and the answer would still be no.

    It seems like we had been matched with a child with psychological issues beyond our ability, so now she knows we're serious about THAT. Secondly, we were presented info about a child with intellectual/cognitive issues beyond our ability, so now she knows we're serious about THAT.  I am hoping that at this point she realizes that we are serious about each and every "will not consider" on our checklist. When I was looking up info on every "will not consider" on our checklist, I wanted to be flexible, but in my heart I knew I couldn't...

    I know that she's supposed to try to find a home for her children, not a child for us, but I also don't like feeling like these meetings and matches are going to crop up so that they can say "oh, we tried to match a child," like she's checking a box or filling a quota.

    This probably isn't going to happen for us (the adoption), and we're not interested in domestic infant adoption or fertility treatments, so perhaps we're not meant to be parents.  DH sees this less clearly than I because I have been the one who has been researching, reading about RAD and the like.

     

    Romney-Portman 2012 ORGAN DONOR: DEAL WITH IT. :-) :-)
  • I think the key to this is that when I was immersed in the adoption process, I was anxious, sad, and ill at ease.  When I started to back away and disengage, I felt so much better.  This makes me wonder why I am even going forward.

    There's obviously not a match for us right now in the county or we'd have been presented info, and I'm not sure if I would ever trust the information we get.  The "well was poisoned" so to speak when we were told that the first child was diagnosed with RAD, but that they disagreed with the diagnosis.  Um, yeah.

    I need to educate DH on attachment and some of the more serious cognition and behavioral issues.  I feel like he wants to go forward because he feels guilty about being the reason why we can't conceive.  (that's the way he sees it, not the way I feel)

    Romney-Portman 2012 ORGAN DONOR: DEAL WITH IT. :-) :-)
  • imageJulieFe:

    I think the key to this is that when I was immersed in the adoption process, I was anxious, sad, and ill at ease.  When I started to back away and disengage, I felt so much better.  This makes me wonder why I am even going forward.

    I think you are ill at ease when you are in the process because you are well aware of all the pit falls and are trying to find the best fit for your family, and desperately trying not to get into a situation that's over your head and will leave a child to undergo even more trauma, and you feel wholly unsupported by the caseworkers who are the only people able to make this a successful process for everyone involved.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't have a child, it means you would rather not start something with a child you can't see to the end, because you don't want to cause them any more hurt.  If that's not the sign of a loving mother, I don't know what is.

    imageJulieFe:
    There's obviously not a match for us right now in the county or we'd have been presented info, and I'm not sure if I would ever trust the information we get.  The "well was poisoned" so to speak when we were told that the first child was diagnosed with RAD, but that they disagreed with the diagnosis.  Um, yeah.

    I disagree that there's obviously not a match for you right now.  I have all too often heard of case workers who try everything to get there "hardest cases" matched, because they know that there will be plenty of families for the "easier cases."  I think your case worker is holding out hope that you'll buckle and take a child for whom she can't otherwise find a home, precisely because you are showing more openness than most foster families, and she'll place any children that you would be a match for with other, less-open families. 

    I can't express my disgust enough for a case worker who hides or tries to diminish a child's condition.  Putting that child into a family that can't adequately cope with his behaviors will do nothing to help the child when the whole arrangement comes crashing down on all of them.  I'm so angered by what you are encountering, I don't really know where to start.


  • You need to feel comfortable doing what is best for your family. Low cognitive development is synonymous with cognitively impaired. If the child is very young, this can be a developmental delay. They are progressing behind their same-age peers. However, it should have been more clearly stated. There is such a range of cognitive disabilities....they need to tell you more, and let you make the call.

     Sorry you are dealing with this :( 

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  • Thank you so much for the feedback. 

    CaptainSerious,

    I am thinking about sticking with our county until next summer, there's really no rush, then contracting with a local agency to try to find a child in surrounding counties. (don't really want to go out of state)  I think what I really want is to have someone be our advocate and be a voice for us

    I have heard this rationale: "workers don't really care about your needs and interests.  They look at the children they have, and try to place them based on the parent's abilities."  Is it common for workers to try to foist children on  families even when it's obvious that they're beyond what the family desires to handle?

    I believe that many workers feel like families are so desperate and eager for a match that their emotions will run away with them.  I also think that our worker probably will not be the one who will find a match for us.  I believe that I will read a photolisting profile, view a picture, feel a connection, then go with it unless there's a very serious diagnosis.

    I hate feeling guilty because I wouldn't adopt a child with an under-50 IQ.  I haven't been able to research much, but I don't know if she had any sort of ability to do tasks, and I made clear that I couldn't do lifelong, specialized care.

    *sigh*  I did talk to DH, and we are definitely on the same page.  I have talked to him about how the misbehaviors and issues of these children are not the same as typical "bratty" behavior we may have experienced.  He totally gets it!

    Romney-Portman 2012 ORGAN DONOR: DEAL WITH IT. :-) :-)
  • imageJulieFe:

    Is it common for workers to try to foist children on  families even when it's obvious that they're beyond what the family desires to handle?

    I don't know if it's common, but I have heard of it happening, and it seems to me that's what's happening here.  That's why I think it's so important you stand your ground.


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