Children living in institutions spend very little time being stimulated both by caregivers and with objects, such as toys. They have little opportunity as infants to be held, rocked and moved around so they don't learn how to move well. They have little opportunity to play with toys, so they don't learn what toys do or how to play with them. If they have toys, they generally have to share them. They are not given loving structure to learn how to share and engage with other children when playing. They are generally not spoken to often, and do not get early social and verbal play opportunities with adults, which help children develop communication skills.
This lack of experiences can cause mild to significant delays in motor skills. Many times, with therapy services supporting the families and children, these skills can develop. Typically upon adoption, children at first advance more quickly in gross motor skills. Next are visual motor skills, followed by feeding and then communication skills.
Children living in foster care may have more experiences and experience less developmental delays. However, these children also deal with transition from caregivers they may have become attached to. In this instance, separation and transition challenges can impact the skills a child will show you or will learn early in adoption. In addition, cultural differences in child-raising strategies may be reflected in the developmental skills of the child. For instance, a child from Guatemala may have very good head control from being held in a papoose all day; however, they may have delayed gross motor skills because they have little opportunity to be on the floor, learning to sit and move.