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Realistic Expectations: Post-Adoption Struggles

We hope you have enjoyed our series on “Realistic Expectations” and wanted to end today by discussing the realities of post-adoption emotions. If you have found yourself standing in China becoming a parent, chances are it has been the culmination of a many year process of deciding that adoption is right for your family, paperchasing, and then waiting endlessly for the moment you meet your child. And then everyone is supposed to go off into the sunshine to live happily ever after, right? With so many adoption blogs talking about love at first sight and how wonderful those first few months together are, new parents can feel blindsided when they find themselves with an angry child who seems to hate them, or when they return home and have very intense feelings of “what have we done?” Read more.

Realistic Expectations: Parasites

Okay, so if you are reading this right now and getting ready to sit down to breakfast, maybe you should finish eating before reading this blog.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I recently talked to a new adoptive mom who said that everything was going great for their family.  She then laughed and said, “Except for when my daughter has to use the bathroom……WOW!” I immediately asked her if her daughter had been tested for parasites, which she had not. Read more.

Realistic Expectations: Attachment

Probably the most common post-adoption question I get from new parents is, “Do you know anyone who specializes in attachment?”  Attachment is one of our biggest worries as adoptive parents, isn’t it?  We all want our children to be able to form deep and lasting bonds with us.  I will admit that I didn’t know a lot about attachment when I adopted my first child from China until I came home and realized I was now the mother to a “Velcro baby.”  My daughter Anna would scream bloody murder if I was ever out of her sight for even a second, and so I learned how to cook, clean, and even shower with a baby cemented permanently on my hip.

Now, of course, our LWB team talks continually about attachment, as we often move babies from orphanages to hospitals, into foster care, and then back to the orphanage if a province requires the child to return pre-adoption.  We agonize over every move and new caregiver, as we have all become so much more knowledgeable on the all-important bonding cycle. Read more.

Realistic Expectations: Food Issues

If you asked any child to name a basic human need, chances are the word “food” would be one of the first answers. It is essential to our well-being, isn’t it? And so naturally it is an issue that often comes front and center for children who have lived in an institution and who have possibly never known what it means to feel “full.” Parents frequently comment on adoption travel blogs with astonishment at how much their new children will eat, refilling their plates again and again at every meal. Just as many new parents, however, worry when their child won’t put any solids in her mouth or when they return to their new home and then find food hidden under their child’s bed. Today I’d like to discuss some of the reasons why food issues are often a very common part of international adoption.
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Realistic Expectations: Child Preparation

Most parents adopting internationally have at least a year or more to prepare themselves for the arrival of a child into their lives. They go through home studies and read parenting books. Hopefully by the time they step off the plane in a foreign country, they have had lots of opportunities to process their feelings about building a family through adoption.

For the child, however, there is often little preparation for what will happen to them when they walk through the doors of the Civil Affairs office, and so adoptive parents must anticipate every possible scenario. Read more.

Realistic Expectations: Clothing

When I was waiting to adopt my first child from China in 1999, I read story after story in online forums about the infamous “clothing police” I was sure to encounter on my adoption trip. I was warned about grannies who would come up and yell at me or wag their fingers if my child-to-be wasn’t covered from head to toe even if I thought the outside air temperature seemed fine.

Well, now I can say that many of the clothing police are women I greatly admire. They are devoted foster moms and grandmas and orphanage nannies who have watched far too many children over the years struggle with issues like pneumonia and fevers when they fall sick. As I’ve already covered in my last two posts, many orphanages and foster homes don’t have central heating, and even in the southern provinces of China, the orphanages are quite cold at times. To protect children from the cold and becoming more vulnerable to infection, they are bundled, almost from the very moment that they come into the world. Read more.

Realistic Expectations: Potty Training

Last week we began a series on having realistic expectations during the adoption trip by covering the topic of cleanliness. Today we would like to continue with the “bathroom” subject, as one of the most common questions asked by parents is whether or not their child-to-be is potty trained.

Well…… define potty trained. And if the definition is “Western style toilet trained,” then the answer is probably not. Read more.

Realistic Expectations: Cleanliness

Recently I read a blog where the parents of a child adopted from one of our programs made some derogatory comments about the child’s appearance and behavior in their first days together. As I read through the blog, it made me quite sad. I don’t think they wrote such critical things purposely, but it was clear that they weren’t taking the time to see life through the child’s eyes instead of their own.

It made me think that perhaps I should write up a few articles over the next month about setting realistic expectations during adoption. I hope these can be practical blogs that address some very common daily issues such as standards of cleanliness. Read more.

Wisdom Wednesdays: Home for the Holidays

Here we are again at the start of another wonderful holiday season.  Whenever I reflect on the holidays, my first thought is always to my favorite Christmas of all.  The year was 2004, and my husband and I were headed to China for our adoption journey. We returned home on Christmas Eve with our amazing daughter, Grace, just six days shy of her second birthday. 

Christmastime at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, China

The holidays are certainly a wonderfully exciting time of year, but they can be downright overwhelming for an adopted child spending his or her first holiday with their forever family.  Read more.

Wisdom Wednesdays: Adopting Two at Once

It used to be impossible to bring home two unrelated children from China in one trip. Today it IS possible and seems to be more and more common. When we decided in 2009 to once again grow our family through adoption, we had no intention to add more than one. But we fell in love with two children, and so I made the call to our agency: “I know this may sound a little crazy, but do you think it would be possible to bring them both home?” I have to say I was a bit surprised when we were granted a waiver.

Our children were 11 and 12 years old at the time of adoption. One was a boy and the other a girl. They had lived the previous two-and-a-half years in the same orphanage. We had some preconceived notions of what adopting two at once would look like. Here are three things that we’ve learned in the process. Read more.

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