The Eastern European Adoption Coalition -- A LISTSERV Success Story
The Eastern European Adoption Coalition is a United States 501(c)(3) charity that supports families touched by adoption from Russia and Eastern Europe. This organization’s purpose is to help develop and improve families' abilities to successfully adopt and parent their children. We do this by providing access to educational and training materials that include books, articles, scientific research, public discussion groups, and, most importantly, our self-help networks.
More than a decade ago, EEAC’s founders realized that a charitable support organization could not only completely exist within the Internet, but that it could leverage the advantages of the Internet to extend support and education in ways that no local-based support group could.
The hallmark of EEAC’s online support is its LISTSERV-powered mailing lists. Offering our mailing lists as a point of contact, we reach out to thousands of adopting and adoptive individuals and families, regardless of where they live and the circumstances of their needs. There is no distance required to travel. There is no wait for support. We are always there.
We proudly display our “Powered by LISTSERV” banner on our web site’s homepage to show that, through its technology,we are able to make a positive difference to many, many families and children.
- Purpose: please include the challenge facing subscribers and the solution/support offered by your list
In the early 1990's, a very small number of children from orphanages in Eastern Europe became available for adoption by Americans. Over the ensuing years, that initial trickle of adoptions became a flood as more and more hopeful parents brought their children home to join their "forever" families.
Sometimes, the transitions did not go as smoothly as expected. The past traumatic experiences of these young adopted children were often terrifying and disruptive. To best help these children, their new parents had to acquire comprehensive knowledge of child development and an understanding of childhood trauma, not usually needed by parents of more typical children. Because there was really no conventional way for new, inexperienced parents to obtain this information fast enough to keep up with their children’s needs, many of us went looking to the Internet to find the information we so critically sought.
As the first members of the EEAC lists started to better understand this group of children, we, in turn, shared this understanding with others. Through shared experience, many of us became parent-experts who are ready and willing to help other struggling parents. As the years have gone by, we all have become creators and participants of an enormous support network specializing in issues unique to children adopted from Russian and Eastern European orphanages. As it turns out, the Internet has been the perfect medium for reaching the largest number of parents and families. We believe that a knowledgeable and supported parent makes the best parent. By helping each other, we know we help children find happy and positive futures with their new families; futures that would have been denied to them had they stayed in the orphanage.
Please provide one or two examples (without names/identifying information) of how your list has helped its subscribers.
Most all children in institutional care suffer from neglect. There are simply not enough caretakers to effectively minister to each child's needs. All children need opportunities to explore their world, so that the neurological connections in their brains can develop normally. Children who lack these opportunities by being confined to cribs for long periods of time suffer greatly. It is estimated that for every three to four months spent in institutional care, a child will lose one month of physical and neurological development. Young children, and especially older children, are traumatized from their time in an orphanage.
The result is that these neglected and traumatized children frequently create their own unique forms of self-stimulation in a desperate effort to keep their development alive. Some children present with what looks like Autistic behaviors that persist for months after they join their new families. Their adoptive parents are understandably frightened and desperate for good information as to a correct diagnosis and appropriate therapies. We now know that, for most children, these odd behaviors can lessen over time. We also know that while some developmental delays may take years to address or may remain into adulthood, new and exciting approaches are constantly being discovered. Parents who come searching for information from our lists now have access to the comfort, resources, knowledge and understanding they'll need to appreciate the uniqueness of their children and to address any on-going delays.
Very few people who adopt from Eastern European orphanages expect to bring home a child with substantial challenges, yet this is often just what happens. Some parents are totally unprepared emotionally for the tremendous strain of dealing with multiple, unexpected diagnoses. Frequently, these overly-stressed parents become depressed and isolated. The list members of our EEAC community recognized this syndrome early-on and, eleven years ago, one of our members did some research into the causes and frequency of this problem. The end result is that hundreds of people have been helped simply by knowing how pervasive this syndrome is and, more importantly, the steps to take to help themselves weather the storm.
When given the chance, children can be remarkably resilient. Considering the desperate trauma endured by these children, it is testament to their loving and committed families to know that many are doing extremely well. This is cause for celebration and gives us all hope for the future.
When asked what an EEAC list means, list subscribers have replied:
“This list gives me hope. As much as I feel for those parents and children going through some of the problems we are, it gives me hope when they share their adoption stories and what is working for them. We are a tough, determined bunch!”
“This list serve helped to keep me grounded in positive parenting approaches. This list serve bolstered me up when it felt like the world was judging me as a bad mom. And oh, is it easy to join the mother critical world and drown in self blame. But with support just a few key strokes away, I always get the morale boost I need, just when I need it most.”
“This listserv is amazing. Not only has it helped me with challenges I've faced with my son, but I have also sought advice for my sister regarding her ADHD (homegrown) son, and the feedback I've gotten for
her has been waaaaay more on target and useful than anything she'd gotten elsewhere.”
"Lifesaver" is the word that first comes to mind when I think of [EEAC]. Its "community" for post-adoptive parents brings invaluable advice and desperately needed camaraderie to parents who have- usually blindly- adopted troubled children. They often feel bleak isolation, and to know that other parents are struggling- and succeeding-keeps the light of hope alive.”
Please describe how your list provides a unique service and benefits to its subscribers.
Our lists are handled a bit differently than most of the support groups on the Internet. Because of the sensitive nature of the topics discussed on our lists coupled with our members' great need for support, it's critical to provide a safe and nurturing environment. EEAC has always had volunteer monitors who make sure that our members stay on-topic and that there are no unkind remarks made toward other list members. New members are screened for a period of time to make sure they understand our ground rules. We do not archive posts. Instead, we work on a much more immediate format of question and answer. Because of this format, we can cover a vast array of issues and our lists are always dynamic.
What is the one thing you would most like people to understand about your email list?
We'd like them to understand that we are here to help, educate, and support - not to judge.
What are some of the key issues and challenges facing your subscribers and stakeholders? How does email list technology enable you to assist them with these issues?
Children who have suffered from neglect, abuse, or trauma often present with challenging behavioral, medical, and educational issues. Parents of these children are sometimes pushed to the limit emotionally and in need of tremendous support and understanding. Our focus is geared toward helping struggling parents find the resources they need to parent these challenging children. Although our lists started with members from the United States, they have become international and include parents from Italy, Germany, France, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Ireland. This kind of coverage would be impossible without the Internet. Our effort is to reach as many people as possible and we feel we succeed with this format.
Please provide a quote summarizing the way your list helps change and improve people's lives.
Adopting a child about whom you know almost nothing is bound to be a challenge. We offer a body of parent experts who are here to help with that challenge. Together, with the proper tools, we can raise these children to achieve the best possible lives. The EEAC lists provide these tools and have helped many thousands of families through the child-raising process.
Please provide a brief description of your list:
The Eastern European Adoption Coalition maintains the following lists on ICORS:
A-PARENT-RUSS -- adoption from Russia
AEEA-L -- adoptive placement into Australia
AZERBAIJAN-L -- adoption from Azerbaijan
BELARUS-L -- adoption from Belarus
BULGARIA-L -- adoption from Bulgaria
CEEA-L -- adoptive placement into
GEORGIA-L L -- adoption from the Republic of Georgia
HSEEA-L -- home schooling of adopted children
KAZAKHSTAN-L L -- adoption from Kazakhstan
LIFELINE-L -- critical support for families at particular risk
MOLDOVA-L L -- adoption from Moldova
NZEEA-L -- adoptive placement into New Zealand
PABT-L -- post adoption of babies and toddlers
PEP-L -- post adoption of school age children
ROMANIA-L L -- adoption from Romania
SEEA-L -- adoption by single parents
SPECIALNEEDS-L -- post adoption of children with medical special needs
UKEEA-L -- adoptive placement into the United Kingdom
UKRAINE-L L -- adoption from Ukraine
WEECARE-L -- post adoption of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- URL/link to archives
Our website is located at https://eeadopt.org
To protect the privacy of the communications among our subscribers, none of our list messages are archived.
- Purpose: please include the challenge facing subscribers and the solution/support offered by your list
Our lists support those who have adopted or are interesting in adopting from Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe. The challenges for the pre-adoptive community include selecting an agency to assist in the adoption process; preparation of paperwork, both in their resident country and for the adoptive country; arranging finances for the adoption; evaluating medical and other information on potential referrals; and arranging travel to and in-country housing during the trips to finalize the adoption.
The support offered by our post-adoption lists comes from other subscribers who have already faced the same challenges and have gained practical experience in dealing with them, as well as others who are currently dealing with similar situations. We discuss topics such as the joys of parenting; cultural differences; adapting a child to a new family and to a new culture; dealing with medical, physical and mental health issues; effective and compassionate ways to discipline; attachment and bonding; and parenting issues in general.
- content overview
Message traffic on EEAC lists involves exchanges running the full spectrum of pre- and post-adoptive issues.
- Subscribership: please include both the number of subscribers and a general description
There are currently a combined 10,175 e-mail addresses subscribed to our 20 lists. This is not an unduplicated count. It includes several addresses which are subscribed to more than one list.