The Ten Tips You Should Know Before Adoption...
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
What you should know before the adoption is a post that I wish I had years ago, of course. I adopted my first children in 2009. It has been a roller coaster of a ride. If I'd known some of these elements, then I may have not made some critical mistakes.
What you should know before adoption:
Behavior issues will be a thing. Even if you had these children since birth, one or two years old, the trauma exists. The Primal Wound, a book I read many years ago, explains the process for a newborn, a baby, that has experienced loss. There are also behavior issues from drug use, in utero. Even smoking cigarettes can affect the infant with issues. Not to mention marijuana, fentanyl, or heroin.
The effects of prenatal exposure to drugs on brain development are complex and are modulated by the timing, dose, and route of drug exposure. It is difficult to assess these effects in clinical cohorts, which are beset with multiple exposures and difficulties in documenting use patterns. This can lead to misinterpretation of research findings by the general public, the media and policy makers, who may mistakenly assume that the legal or illegal status of a drug correlates with its biological impact on fetal brain development and long-term clinical outcomes. It is important to close the gap between what science tells us about the impact of prenatal drug exposure on the fetus and the mother, and what we do programmatically with regard to at-risk populations. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2777887/
What you should know before adoption: Rejection affects deeply.
When you take on children who have been rejected, they almost expect you to reject them. This is a life-long consequence that you can work to eradicate. Therapy should be incorporated into the child's life from very soon after placement into foster care. It should continue after adoption. I wish I had continued with it so that in adolescence, we would have had a great base with which to work with feelings of rejection.
Bio parents may not be reliable in the long-run.
Sometimes you desire to have the bio parents involved. In an open adoption, this can be mandatory. However, know that the bio parents can drop off the face of the earth because bios don't have the responsibility that you do. They do not have to show up. They may relapse. This can cause additional trauma and feelings of rejection to occur again.
We need to know how to cope with birth families after the adoption. Be very clear with expectations and visitation agreements in the adoption decree. You may not wish to have as much contact with them in the future as you are willing to now to appease the system, lawyers, court, and workers.
Do you want visits on holidays, monthly visitation, supervised, unsupervised, limited to a location of your choosing, length of stay, etc? These are all questions you have to answer before setting up a visitation plan. Once you make the plan it is a part of the adoption agreement. It is set in stone. Make sure you are in control of the decisions as to the parent responsible for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of your vulnerable, traumatized child.
What you should know before adoption: Don't believe in fairy tales.
Adoption is not the fairytale you see on Instagram. It is hard, long, and tough. When the times get tough the tough get going. You will need to have thick skin because the rejection that the child felt may be dished on you. This may occur before adoption or afterward. Be prepared and seek ways to bond.
Psychiatric treatment may be necessary.
When you feel you are in a crisis situation, seek additional help besides counseling or therapy. Consider a psychiatric hospital when needed. They are trained individuals. You are a parent. Study your child and when things seem off, find answers and help with professionals.
Medications are not bad.
You may think that after adoption, you want to eliminate medications. Don't be so sure this is the goal. Do not change anything right after adoption. You should bask in the post-adoption bliss and seek to maintain consistency with your child and their medications.
Children may think their bio parent will come to get them.
Realize that your adopted child may secretly think their parent will come to rescue them from your care and secretly long for the relationship with the bio parent. Talk about these feelings as they arrive. Don't overlook the child missing their family. Regression may occur when dealing with feelings that bring up their past. Regression is something that you can play along with. If they want a bottle, give them a bottle and hold them like a baby. Rock them. Let them be a baby with you as their parent.
Your family may not support you in adoption.
Unfortunately, extended family may not be supportive and reassuring about adoption especially if you deal with trauma and behaviors associated with it. They may think that you should discipline more, spank them, or not give them sugar. The family may not be educated about trauma and we can assist them with learning the techniques associated with trauma in children.
What you should know before adoption: It may not last.
There are multiple adoptions that do not last. Just like marriages dissolve, adoptions can dissolve as well. When the child is traumatized, the brain is rewired. Love is not enough to rewire it back to normal. Even if you are determined beyond all belief, it can become impossible. If the adopted child traumatizes other children in the home. What will you do? When the child gets bigger and stronger than you, what will you do? I will never judge anyone who says they can not parent a child. Some children, after adolescence, need to be reevaluated psychologically, medicinally, and emotionally. It may be necessary to move your child in order to make it safe for others in the home.
Professionals may blame you for the child's issues.
As if it weren't bad enough that you have to deal with behaviors of children whom you have adopted, sometimes teachers, principals, doctors, therapists, etc. may blame you for the misbehaviors or inability to progress successfully. It is important to be upfront with the professionals and say you are doing your very best with the child and need assistance, ideas, grace, and time. Your spouse may even blame you. Especially in Reactive Attachment Disorder, the child will manipulate, be angelic in the presence of certain people, and lie about you. I suggest cameras, audio recordings, and more to protect yourself if you are in the boat with false accusations from teachers, physicians, or therapists. (for more info on RAD, read this post: https://impressingminds.com/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-a-rad-child/
These are all precautionary topics. There are so many wonderful stories of adoption, but you can not put your faith in yourself. You have to pray, do your best, and focus on connecting with the child at every turn. I also do not recommend adopting and then doing foster care with many sibling groups. Adding one child at a time can be doable, but in retrospect, I would not have had so many children at one time. I would have focused on the children I had.