There are roughly 428,000 foster children eligible and waiting to be adopted in the United States. Approximately 135,000 children are adopted each year and one-third of all of these adoptions happen in single-family homes.
Adopting a child can truly be a magical moment in any family’s life — but there are a lot of important things to consider in order to ensure a stress-free process and a happy and healthy family in the future.
Whether you recently adopted a child for the first time or are planning on doing so in the near future, here are some excellent adoption tips that will help you during this major life transition:
- Learn as much as you can — Read all the baby books and online adoption articles you can get your eyes on. Join online forums, talk to other adoptive parents, join support groups, and do everything you can to give yourself and your new child the best opportunity to succeed and be happy.
- Beware of common attachment-related behaviors and characteristics — Often times, adopted children can struggle early on and will feel confused, afraid, and emotionally distant. It’s important to be aware of these issues and do everything you can do address them. Additionally, here are some behaviors and characteristics to look out for: control issues, defiance, tantrums, difficulty with affection, ignoring others, and seeking attention and comfort from anyone around.
- Research their medical history — If your child isn’t a newborn, you need to find out as much as possible about his or her medical history early on in order to avoid serious health concerns. One of the most common issues to look out for is rickets, which is a condition that only develops in children. The most common cause of rickets, which impacts the development of bones in children, is an extreme lack of vitamin D. Similarly, a lack of vitamin D can cause weight problems, as well, leading to an average weight gain of two to four pounds each year.
- Get help from professionals — Reaching out to your family and friends is extremely helpful for new parents. But that’s often not enough. Friends and family members are great, but they can’t help with serious childhood problems like hearing loss. In that case, it’s a much better idea to consult with a professional speech pathologist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are roughly 145,000 speech-language pathologists working in the United States.
- Keep the nursery simple — It’s tempting to fill your new baby or child’s room with bright colors, hundreds of cool toys, and fancy clothing. Scale back a little bit so you don’t overwhelm the newest member of your family.
“Babies and children who have been in an orphanage are used to sleeping in a room with multiple children,” said Samanta Walker, associate director for international adoptions at New York’s Spence-Chapin adoption agency. “They then arrive in this beautifully decorated room, so lovingly prepared for them, and are expected to sleep alone. They may not be able to settle in by themselves.”
Additionally, here are some common mistakes that should be avoided when it comes to the adoption process:
- Taking shortcuts with counseling.
- Not keeping the baby’s birthparents in the loop during the adoption process.
- Opening your adoption letter with “Dear Birthmother.”
- Making yourself sound perfect in your adoption letter and profile.
- Forgetting that adoption is a lifelong process.
With a new addition to the family, you’ll certainly have a lot on your plate no matter what. But if you get the right help and avoid some of those mistakes, you and your new child will be very happy and healthy.