Great Adoption Questions – Answers from You!

Little Man washing the windows.

As always, I am amazed by the wealth of information and good advice you all bring to the questions posted on my blog. Thank you!

The questions were:

What would you advise as the best preparation for international adoption?

Are there any suggestions for keeping expectations realistic and for attachment/bonding?

Blogger small world said…

Ray’s comments for best prep for international adoption:

1.Get your ENTIRE family on board before you begin. There will be bumps in the road.
2.Consider your birth order and do not change it easily.
3.Consider an older child as well
4.Realize that you are not in control and that God has a plan. He just needs obedient followers.
5.This adoption is not about you getting children, but rather children getting parents.

Theresa’s comments on realistic expectations for bonding.

1.Know that changing a child’s survival skills into a dependency on you is NOT an easy or quick process.
2.Be prepared to spend many hours dealing with the trauma adoptive children come with.
3.Skin to skin contact is essential to the bonding process.
4.”Rejection” from the adopted child is not about you, it is their way of rejecting the pain they have already experienced in their lives. It may take a long time to work through the pain and have trust develop.
5.Celebrate any little break through.
6.Let your heart break with and for your child.

These are a few thoughts we had tonight.They are neither complete, nor thorough. Just things to think about. We do not consider ourselves experts. We only speak from our experiences with our own adoptions.

Ray and Theresa
9 children from age 22-1year
5 bio, 4 adopted

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Blogger Signe said…

Since I am still in the adoption process I won’t pretend to have too much wisdom, but I did read a book called The Complete Guide to Foreign Adoption that was very helpful. It prepared me for the ups and downs of the process. I also think it is important to expect delays, and be prepared to wait. Waiting graciously is not easy, but it is a big part of the process.

DeleteCaroline said…

I think my advice would be let it take time to adjust to each other. Attaching in Adoption is one of many books I read before our adoptions.

Deleteoneblessedlife said…

1) My best advice would be for someone contemplating adoption is to go through the Bible and find every verse about God’s power, God’s timing, endurance, perseverance, surrender, His control, and His plans. Every adoption I’ve witnessed, and definitely including my own, is full of bouts that can be weeks, months or years, where you’re not sure it’s going to work out. You’ll need those verses, and a trust that God started you on the journey for a reason.

2) RE: bonding, I would say the best thing you can do is talk openly with those who’ve adopted. They’re the best help. I’m not sure those outside the adoption world really understand, but those within do, or can point you in the right direction. We had some very specific issues that we never saw until we brought our boys home. I had trouble bonding with one son, and I would say — please forgive yourself for feeling the way you do, and don’t fake love. If love doesn’t come naturally, then start with kindness. Then give it time and prayer. God brought you together; it will come. 🙂

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OpenID lorismusings said…

I recently read a great article about adoption. It spoke of the Biblical definition of our adoption by God into His family. I think understanding that is a great first step. I have a link for that article on my blog in a post called “Adoption – Physical and Spiri
tual”.

Pray and let God lead would be my number one piece of advice. I have seen so many times in my life that what I thought was not necessarily what God wanted for us and His ways are best!

Talk to people who have adopted internationally – especially from the same country. That was key for us being prepared for India.

When adjusting is taking place at home, remember why you adopted. Be open to how God will refine and challenge you through it and be thankful for that! Be watchful and make note of the blessings – there will be MANY!

Remember that your children already in your home may not react to the adoption in the way you expect. Be patient with them and let them adjust at their pace.

Those are the few things I thought of. Adoption is an amazing, wonderful journey and it teaches us so much about God and ourselves.

Lori

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Blogger Family of Six: Going To Ethiopia said…

I’ve been reading your blog (and others) for months in preparation of bringing our daughter home. That, and literature about IA, has helped with preparation and keeping our expectations real. Some days are just stinky and exhausting; coming to peace with that is important. (I blogged about that today…) As far as attachment/bonding, our goal is to meet her basic needs before they become critical (eating, sleeping, fresh diapers, affection). More than anything, crossing our fingers while doing our best, knowing we will mess up and forgiving ourselves when we do, leaning on each other for support, and having faith sees my husband and I through. Crystal Tower

1/02/2009 1:32 PM

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Blogger Staci said…

I am a faithful reader as a future international adoptive mother.(Turning in application in 1 month!) We have spent the last year reading about families who’ve gone though it, their honest and thoughtful sharing helps us to forge an idea of what it’s like. We’ve also spent hours talking to program directors at different adoption and homestudy agencies trying to decide what the best fit is for us. I had an experience talking to a social worker at one agency who kept saying “maybe you should just wait.” She seemed to judge that because we were a certain age, who already had children, that adoption should be something for older couples who struggled with fertility. I was turned off and knew this wasn’t the right fit. She wasn’t open to the idea that we are on God’s timing, just her own idea of what was reasonable. The next call I made to a different agency the woman I spoke to had a kind, non-judgemental answer for each question. So spend timing calling these folks, send them countless emails. The ones that get back to you fast to me indicate a certain level of attentiveness one wants during the adoption process. I am no expert, just sharing what we’ve been up to at the beginning of an international adoption. Oh yes, I echo the concept of telling people about it. Almost every friend and family member we have knows about our future international adoption. We think about it so much the idea is ingrained and seems so normal. It is easy to forget that some people do not think it is normal and want to understand or have time to digest it. I think giving our future childrens’ community a chance to understand, accept, get excited with us is a good idea. The more we explain why we are adopting and how, the more we love it and grow sure, and the more those around us can too. The greatest experience I had was telling my 80 year old Grandmother about it. I must have sounded tentative because she reassured me “I don’t care what flavor baby you bring home. I already love him.” This from a generation of intense racism! It will surprise you who accepts and who needs time so give everyone a chance. We are giving copies of “There is No Me Without you” to our family to read as well. Ok, enough from me.

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Blogger Ann said…

Deborah Grey has some of the best attachment advice–here are her top ten tips for the first year of placement: http://www.emkpress.com/pdffiles/10tipsgray.pdf

This ties into Grey’s last tip but I would just add to remember your child usually needs love and not discipline when acting out their grief in those first weeks/months. I would hold my son when he would start acting out and tell him over and over, in VNese that I loved him and he would always be my son–that I knew he was sad, I knew he was scared, and it was going to be okay. Every word you learn in your child’s language is a treasure when adopting an older child.

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Blogger Ann said…

As far as the first question 1.)Just remember there are many things PAPs cannot control during the adoption process–time frames change, country requirements change, paperwork changes etc. You will learn a whole new meaning to “Let go and let God” yet at the same time, you will also learn when to advocate. 2.) You will fall in love with your child once you see their picture in a way you never thought possible. You will ache for your child to come home and time will go very slowly.
3.) Just as a sidenote since someone else mentioned it–in our case, not everyone was on board every single adoption. In our last one, our 17 yo son was until he found out we were going to adopt an older child, then he totally was not! He thought the language difference would be way too hard. It was very hard to finally tell him that we were going to proceed even tho he was opposed. Once he saw our son’s picture he softened and once our son came home he has become his greatest fan–they share a very special bond. I guess what I’m trying to say is, follow your heart and the path God lays out for you and God will take care of the rest. 4.) Consider an older child 🙂 Consider a boy 🙂 5.)Last thought for now–make sure you go with a reputable agency. If it seems too good to be true, if time frames are much faster, if babies are much younger, beware. There are some great agencies and many bad agencies–do your homework.

I’ll add a few of my thoughts to these great answers.

What is the best preparation for international adoption? Prepare yourself to let go of everything you think you know about how it is all going to happen. You may have to change agencies, you may even have to change countries! You may adopt an older child rather than the baby (or toddler or girl) you want. You may decide to adopt a child with special needs that you never would have dreamed considering in your life before adoption.

We began the process with a Christian agency that we were sure we would love. We carefully prayed and planned and decided not to disrupt the birth order of our children by adopting two little boys younger than Boo. We felt that with all that we had going on, we weren’t going to choose to adopt a child with special needs; if they ended up having special needs, that was fine, but we didn’t think we were up for choosing it. We knew that one child was not enough, but two would be just fine. We also firmly stated in our application that we would only adopt a truly orphaned child with no living parents – that is a long story which I won’t go into now, but it was a conviction we held.

We ended up not loving our agency at all, in fact, we were very unhappy with them and chose a different agency for our girls’ adoptions. We adopted our little boys but also added two daughters who disrupted the existing birth order. We adopted two children with special needs. Over the course of sixteen months, we adopted four, not two children. One of our children has a living mother, with whom we have developed a special relationship and we see the Lord’s hand in bringing both our son and his mother into our family.

The adoption of our children has forced me to trust God more than ever and has deepened my belief in His absolute sovereignty. I also realize just how small I am and how little I know. My faith is simple, Trust and Obey.

In terms of attachment, we have not experienced huge problems, but in spite of that, there have been very difficult times of grappling with behavior we never imagined experiencing in our home. It is hard and there are days when I think, “What on earth have we done?” The Lord reminds me that He did not give me these children to make my life cozy and sweet and lovely; He gave them to me because they needed me and I needed them. It is not necessarily easy, but it is good. He is doing something that I believe will be (and already is) beautiful for His glory, not for my personal satisfaction. This is not about me, it is about Him.

I know I’ve said this before, but my children all seem to benefit from being held and rocked. I sing to them, read to them, and try to keep a comforting routine. I try to look beyond their behavior to see their hearts. I am quite sure that I am not doing everything right. A lot of times I have to go with my gut feeling about what might work to help a child. Sometimes I’m wrong, but the longer I know my children, the better I get at anticipating both their needs and their reactions. It is also important to recognize that it takes time to really know your new children. The love you have from the beginning will grow deeper and more substantial, bearing you up under the weight of challenging behavior and disappointments.

Not long ago I was struck by how passionately I love Dimples. It caught me by surprise because I had loved her all along, but something had shifted and that love had grown into something deeper. I’m still processing it and can’t quite put it into words, but something changed in me. There is a depth of empathy and intensity of knowing, deeply knowing, that she is my daughter. Attachment, bonding, and love are a mystery. We have to be willing to let them develop with each child and not feel anxious when it happens more easily or quickly with one child than another.

Thank you once again for great questions and answers. I have more to come. Have a great Sunday!

~Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. blessedfamily
    January 4, 2009

    Great post!
    I have a question (or two). How do you keep the romance going in your relationship? How do you fit it (romance, time together but time apart from the kids) in? What can new adoptive parents do to ensure that their relationship doesn't suffer with the addition of each new child?

    This particular post brought yup a question that I've been thinking about. How do you handle those within your own family that don't "agree" with 1) adoption 2). the number of children you decide to adopt?

    LOVE these Q&A sessions. Very helpful and insightful.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Amy Jo
    January 4, 2009

    What a great post. I especially enjoyed your personal comments. Your paragraph about loving Dimples in a deeper way struck a chord with me. We have 2 children by birth and a daughter from China (and hopefully a son from Africa in the future!) We have had significant attachment struggles with our youngest, but so many blessed have come through the struggles. Every day I am in awe of how my love grows a little bit deeper and changes me yet a bit more. Definitely hard to put into words, but I do understand what you were saying. What a beautiful family you have! Sweet blessings, Amy in OR

    Reply
  3. Tisha
    January 5, 2009

    Wow! What an amazing wealth of information shared by everyone! I am SO glad I asked! Thank you for taking the time to share your stories and answer these questions. I, for one, am taking every word of it to heart as we pray, prepare, and proceed to follow where we feel God strongly and lovingly leading our family, into the world of international adoption. I hope to one day be as helpful to another as you have been to me. Thank you doesn’t seem to be enough, but thank you, again and again.

    Reply
  4. the ewings
    January 5, 2009

    What a great source of info you are to sooo many people. Love your New Year’s Eve post. Looks like lots of fun! – Chris

    Reply
  5. Shonni
    January 5, 2009

    When you (Lisa), said, “The adoption of our children has forced me to trust God more than ever and has deepened my belief in His absolute sovereignty. I also realize just how small I am and how little I know. My faith is simple, Trust and Obey.”…that is certainly what we have learned in our 7 adoptions! It has grown in my husband and I (really our whole family) a deeper amazement as we “wait on the LORD” and see what he will do, and remember what HE had done. My 19 year old son went on his first mission trip to an orphanage in S. Africa. One of the little boys fell in love with Jace and the little boy cried when Jace left. This was very hard for Jace as he “felt” the little boys pain and wanted to help him. He later told his grandparents, “I think I understand more why my parents do what they do now.”, meaning adoption and bringing home more little ones.
    As for attatchement, follow mother insticts to hold, rock and mother the child…they have probably never known nurturing and safety. Our first adopted child had never known a mother…my husband and I realized our first priority was to keep her with me constantly (almost as if back to the newborn stage), and teach her what mothering was. When she became more trustful her little world grew slowly bigger so that she could “relearn” trust in a healthy relationship. We have found that even with our older adopted children…this is still the best foundation to start with…and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for wisdom from above!

    Reply

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