If you are considering adopting a child from another country, you may feel overwhelmed with the information on the one hand and feel like there is so much you donâ€™t know on the other. It is an exciting time in your life, but one that can cause more stress than you can imagine.
I recently spoke with a friend who has adopted a child from overseas and is far enough beyond the experience to help you with some very solid advice.
Jennifer K. and her husband adopted their child from China early in 2008. They understand about the paperwork, waiting, the frustration, and all of the details that make overseas adoptions unique. She has shared her struggles and successes, both during the adoption and afterward, on her blog, Another Journey.
Here’s what Jennifer has to say -
You should expect the paperwork to take forever. No matter what time frame you think you are looking at, be prepared for it to stretch out much longer.
Getting involved with a support group is imperative. It doesnâ€™t matter whether it is online or in your area, you will need these people to talk to, to vent with, and to support you. Raising adopted kids, especially those from other countries, comes with different problems than raising biological children and it will help to have other people to talk to.
Keep in mind all adoptions are â€œspecial needsâ€ adoptions. Every child who has been abandoned has special needs. Abandonment fears and attachment issues are real and complex. They are long lasting and can be extremely difficult to deal with.
Your child, once adopted, is not going to be immediately grateful to you for rescuing them. You are the bad guy- you have taken them away from everything they know and are comfortable with â€“ their normal. It doesnâ€™t matter how horrible their living situation was. Be prepared for them to have a cycle of grief and loss.
Post adoption depression is very real. Learn the signs and symptoms and watch for them in yourself and your spouse. Make sure that your close family members are aware of the symptoms as well. Get help if you need it.
Adding an internationally adopted child to the family comes with a fairly steep learning curve. Be prepared for it to take six months or even more to find a new sense of normal in your family.
You will not be the only adoptive parents that have days when you wonder what possessed you to do this. That is part of parenting and definitely part of the adjustment of international adoption.
Finally, be prepared for stupid comments from strangers. Learn to determine what the questioner really wants to know and decide in advance how you will handle the questions. Keep in mind that your childâ€™s story is a private part of your childâ€™s life. Be sensitive to how much you share.
Jenniferâ€™s son is now a happy part of their family. They still have struggles, as all families do, but they have overcome much on the journey and will continue to overcome in the future. Building a successful family after international adoption takes the same things building a biological family takes: commitment, patience, and unconditional love.
image credit: senc01a