April 12th, 2010
01:39 PM ET

What to know and do when adopting a child

Program Note: To learn more about problems and issues associated with international adoption and to hear from adoption medicine specialist, Dr. Jane Aronson, watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET.

A 7-year-old Russian boy adopted by an American family last year was put on a return flight to Moscow this week because of violent and psychotic behavior, according to a Tennessee grandmother.

A 7-year-old Russian boy adopted by an American family last year was put on a return flight to Moscow this week because of violent and psychotic behavior, according to a Tennessee grandmother.

FRUA, Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption, has put together a list of 10 common-sense steps to help you get the information and support you need when planning to adopt a child.

1. Prepare yourselves to parent.
There’s no such thing as too much information. Most families use an adoption agency, and you can expect your adoption agency to require you to take training Welcome the opportunity to learn all you can. There are also online courses available to prospective adoptive parents.

2. Support is critical.
Start lining it up now to help you navigate the adoption process and to help your family through the post-adoption adjustments and beyond. Let extended family and friends know you’ll need some extra support during this pre-adoption time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in very concrete ways – someone to drive with you to your state capital to get an apostille on a document, for example, or to advise on the necessary equipment to care for a baby. When family and friends offer help, take it.

3. Maintain realistic expectations so you won’t be disappointed frequently.
There are many unknowns in this process and plenty of opportunities for disappointment or feeling like a bad parent. Take Dr. Aronson’s advice: Do your research; and set appropriate expectations. Don’t plan, for instance, to throw a huge party to introduce family and friends to your child as soon as you arrive home. You need to give your child time to adjust to the new environment and to bond with you first.

4. Know who you are, whom you want, and what you can handle.
This may seem self-evident, but giving thought to these questions early in the process will save you time and disappointment. For instance, you may think you know the characteristics of the child you want, but are you sure you know how your partner feels? If you disagree, how will you work this out? Would you both be OK with a trans-racial adoption? Do you know what racial identity issues can arise as your child grows up, and how you would handle them? Do you prefer an infant or an older child? Boy or girl? Sibling group? Could you handle a special needs child? What inner resources and strength do you have to love and nurture a child who turns out to have special needs years after the adoption? Do you have a faith, family, and friends to sustain you? Do you have the financial resources to handle any post-adoption medical, developmental, behavioral, or learning issues? Do you have other children whose needs must be considered? Can you appreciate the culture of your child’s birth country and seek out ways to help your child learn and value the culture?

5. Choose the right adoption agency.

6. Create a budget.

7. Have the medical information in your referral reviewed to determine as best you can how healthy the child is and is likely to be.

8. Start identifying the resources you will need after your child comes to live with you.

9. Record, record, record.

10. Take care of yourselves.

Read more about steps 5-10...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Adoption • Parenting
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Robert Ray

    I was a lucky adoptee. I was born in a maternity home for unwed mothers. At about two weeks old a couple came to the home to look for a foster child to care for. There were three of us available. The couple looked at the first baby, then the second baby, and when they looked at me I cried out. The woman picked me up and from that day on she was "Mom", Who says you can't pick your parents?

    April 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  2. Jim

    Being adopted my self- GET THE BIRTH FAMILIES COMPLETE MEDICAL HISTORY!!! I don't have mine & as a result I'm having to undergo several medical tests
    Also, Let the Adoptee have the names of Deceased Great Grand Parents so if they want to trace their true ancestry they can.

    April 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  3. Ed Garren

    All of this is good advice.

    Parenting a child takes a lot of love, and parenting a child that has been damaged by it's past takes sainthood. When you get right down to it, few of us are "saints" and that is part of the problem with child rearing, particularly with adopted kids.

    We know little of the past that most of these children have experienced, which is why caution and research are a good idea.

    So is sainthood for that matter because when any child hits adolescence, all bets are off.

    Ed Garren, MA, LMFT
    Family Therapist

    April 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  4. Sara

    I am the mom of one child by birth and one child by adoption. Parenting an adopted child is not the same as parenting a biological child. Your adopted child will have different needs, and unique feelings that must be properly addressed. The support of other adoptive parents and adoption professionals is critical. Plenty of support is out there, in your community and online. Connect with others. Educate youself! Learn about adoptive parenting.

    Two excellent books are Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogan and Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge.

    April 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  5. Dhamaris

    Good information... is vey inportan... for the prosses to adopting a child... . You haves. 100/ 100 .P. 😉

    April 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm |