Updated: Apr 21, 2021
As I mentioned previously, the number of children adopted into the U.S. has gradually decreased over the past 15-20 years (largely due to politics in the U.S. and a combination of politics and corruption in foreign countries). However, there still is a great need for loving, stable families for vulnerable and orphaned children from numerous countries. For those of you who might be considering intercountry adoption, I recently asked some veteran intercountry adoptive parents what advice they would give to prospective adoptive parents. Here are their responses:
*Michael (Dad to 7-year-old *McKenzie from China): “Plan ahead for when your child is in your home. Build a support network of friends and family who are able to offer respite when the time is right. We’ve found that our most honest conversations have been with other adoptive families because they’ve walked in our shoes. Also, if you’re married, plan ahead for times that you and your spouse can sit and talk about your honest feelings, struggles and victories. Support your spouse even if what they’re saying is hard to hear. Adopting an older, international child can very easily put stress on a marriage and family relationship—so honesty and communication is key.”
*Tristan and *Kristina (Dad and Mom to *Samantha, age 15 and *Emerson, age 12 from Kazakhstan): “Be prepared to answer some tough, soul-searching questions in a manner of being truthful with yourself. You may be asked (by the adoption agency) if you would adopt special needs children in very specific ways, such as those with cleft-pallet, club-foot, or even higher special needs. Also, learn the customs and culture of the country you might be interested in adopting form. This was a huge miss for us the first time adopting, but a much better and smoother process the second time around.”
*Addie (Mom to Elijah, age 8 from Ethiopia and Samuel, age 7 from China): “My advice would be to go for it! I would also make sure that they (prospective parents) were equipped with a community and mentors who were familiar with adoption and all of the grief/loss/trauma that comes along with it. I feel like adoption culture has shifted and we are now talking about the adoption triad (which is) the adopted person, birth parents and adoptive parents—but the adoptive parents have the loudest voice. I would make sure that the child knows how important the other two voices are.”
*Stephanie (Mom to *Macie, age 11 and *Lyndsey, age 14, from Guatemala): “Do a LOT more research that you think you need—especially research hidden/invisible special needs and disabilities. Research attachment issues and how you can best prepare for them. Connect with an adoption counselor before you think you need one. Plan for the huge financial cost of adoption and the needs that may come afterwards—but if God is in it—don’t let the finances deter you. If your adoption agency is not providing lots of pre-and POST adoption support and education—find another agency and trust God for the increase. You get what you pay for with adoption services.”
I am thankful to these veteran adoptive parents for their words of wisdom! Readers—especially those of you considering intercountry adoption—I hope this series of posts has been helpful and informative. As always feel free to contact me with your feedback or questions—I’d love to hear from you!
The names of parents and children indicated above have been changed to protect confidentiality
If you are an intercountry adoptive parent please consider sharing your experience which may help prospective adoptive parents and counselors work through the process. To do so click the globe to the left of this text.
*Title image of child courtesy of Unsplash