Disclaimer: We are not adoption professionals.
We are adoptive parents hoping to help other adoptive parents.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Before I adopted, I wish I knew...."

None of us have a crystal ball to see the future. As we are waiting to bring our child home, our minds are flooded with thoughts. What will the child be like? How will I be as a parent? Does it really matter that this child isn't biologically mine? When is the child coming home? What issues will we face as a family once the child is placed in our arms?

No two answers will be the same, of course. But there are many who have been-there-done-that who are willing to share some thoughts here on this blog.

This is not one person's thoughts, but many from people who have already adopted.
  • Biology is never a factor once the child is in your arms. Forever.
  • I never knew parenting was such hard work.
  • I never knew parenting was such a blessing.
  • I knew more about being a parent before I was one.
  • Even though I am a mom now, the thoughts of infertility never really go away.
  • Having this child in my life made the infertile years worth it.
  • You can't spoil an adopted child, meaning - don't let the child cry it out. Meet his or her needs as quickly as you can so that he or she can begin to learn to trust and to count on you to be the person who will meet his or her needs.
  • Having the child bond with the adoptive mother is of upmost importance, even before bonding with the dad. He or she had a biological bond with the birthmom and it is natural for him or her to have that as a primary bond. However, that is who "abandoned" the child so in order to build trust and learn to bond naturally to others, he or she needs to form that bond with his or her adoptive mother first.
  • Skin to skin contact is very important.
  • Join a support group (like yahoo or other forums) of others who can advise you and support you during this time.
  • Don't waste the wait. Wait wisely. Prepare for the child's homecoming. Spend time with your spouse. Read alot of adoption books that will help prepare you. Enjoy the wait instead of wasting it away.
  • Attachment issues are real. Love isn't enough to overcome them. Get the help your child needs. Get yourself the help you need. Find an attachment therapist "just in case".
  • Your social worker is a great resource once the adoption is finalized.
  • You are your child's advocate in school.
  • While you are waiting to adopt, read, read, and read some more. Be familiar with issues your child may face once home and know how to seek help if necessary.
  • Regress your child when they come home. Even if they are older and can dress, feed and bathe themselves, do it for them. You need to teach your child that he or she can depend on you.
  • Have patience with your child. It will take awhile for the child to trust you and to love you. It will be alot of hard work on your part to gain that trust.
  • Do not give time-outs to newly adopted children. Use "time-ins" instead. Place the child on your lap and bear hug the child. Say "I love you" over and over until the child calms down.
  • When you first bring your child home, clear out the bedroom except for the bed. A new home is very overstimulating to begin with - let alone new toys, books, etc. The bedroom should be a quiet place. You can slowly bring toys and things into the room after about 6 months post-placement.
  • Rock your child to sleep even if he or she is "too old" for that. This is a great bonding exercise.
  • Have daily holding time where you are doing nothing but holding your child. You can read books, do a puzzle, etc. but the key is - you are holding the child without distracting that hold.
  • Make eye contact with the child. Sounds simple but sometimes it isn't.
  • Make up catchy "family phrases" to teach the child what a family is. You can use things like "We are together forever!" or "I love you forever!" The words together and forever are very important for the child to hear over and over.
  • Don't forget about your marriage. Yes, alot of energy will go into raising your child. But your marriage should be your first priority.
  • If you adopt an older child, that child may scream at you, try to hit you, and try to push you away during holding time. It's okay. That child is scared. Show unconditional love and teach that child how to love.
  • Go "into hiding" after you adopt your child. Keep visitors to a minimum. This is your initial bonding time, you will never get this time back. This is an important trust-building time.
  • Your child really will be your child.

If you have any more insight, please leave a comment!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Adopting internationally is not a vacation. Be prepared for culture shock. There is a reason these children are available for adoption; these countries are very poor. You will almost want to kiss the ground when you get back to the US.

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