Adopting an Older Child

Bringing home a school-aged child may take a little extra preparation. Use these strategies for a smooth transition.

Adopting an older child can be rewarding

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Four-year-old Hana arrived from Ethiopia “ready to bond with her new family and full of affection, enthusiasm, and positive energy for life,” recalls mom Susan Poisson-Dollar. “I was relieved to see that she was a normal kid who’d been nurtured when she needed it.”

Poisson-Dollar credits Hana’s easy transition to two factors: “First, and most important, she clearly knew what a ‘mom’ was, and she wanted one again, badly. For that, I’m grateful to the aunt who raised her from six months of age. Second was the preparation I had made for the transition. I had scared myself silly with worst-case-scenario thinking, and so I was confident that I knew what to do when I saw that she was primed to attach.”

Despite the challenges of adjusting to a new language, new caregivers, and a new home, most children adopted internationally at toddler age and beyond do very well. As Poisson-Dollar and many others have found, bringing home an older child can be deeply rewarding for families if they have realistic expectations, flexible parenting strategies — and lots of patience.

Waiting Children, Waiting Parents

Although waiting-child adoptions are often expedited, the time between being approved to adopt and authorized to travel can be agonizing, because parents have a picture and profile in hand and know that the child is waiting for them. Parents can use this time to prepare for the child’s arrival — taking parenting and language classes, getting a room ready, reading books (see “For Your Bookshelf," below), and educating family members about the child’s needs.

And, despite the distance between you and your child, there are ways to begin forging a bond during the waiting period. Sarah* and her husband adopted two sisters from India, ages three and six. She sent photo albums to the girls while they were in the orphanage to acquaint them with their new family, and these helped ease their transitions. “Our daughters knew exactly who we were, and recognized the house and the pets when they arrived home. They brought their albums with them and spent the first few days ‘matching’ things up.” Many online adoption groups offer ready-to-print files, so that parents can easily label photos in a child’s native language; a translation service can help you compose a reassuring letter.

After the Honeymoon

At the first meeting, an older child may be shy and reserved, happy and excited, or nervous and boisterous. For the next weeks or months, it’s common for families to have a “honeymoon” phase, during which the child stays on his best behavior. Then, as family members become more comfortable with each other, a child may begin to test his new parents’ limits, to see how much he can get away with.

Sometimes there are bouts of grief, confusion, or even rage over the child’s new circumstances.

After Ellen Margolese, a psychiatrist in Toronto, had been home several months with her four-year-old son, Kang Kang, he fell asleep in the car one afternoon. “Napping was unusual for him,” she says. “And when he woke, he whimpered and cried inconsolably. When I asked him what was wrong, he just shook his head. Later, when we sat down with a DVD of a cartoon he had watched in China with his foster family, he returned to his usual self. But halfway through, he turned to me and asked, ‘I stay here why?’

“Now, how do you answer that? He was too young, and knew too little English, to understand explanations about orphanages, foster homes, and adoption. I guess he felt I had kidnapped him and was keeping him from his beloved foster family.” After several months, during which he appeared to be adjusting well, confusion over all that he had lost seemed to emerge.

Parents may be surprised to see how deeply a child can grieve his losses. An institution, whether it was good or bad, may have been the only home a child has known. He may miss familiar routines and people, especially foster parents and friends. Though rough patches are usually brief, adjustment problems are sometimes severe enough to warrant professional help. Sarah says, “Our older daughter had a classic honeymoon. Then the rages started. They didn’t happen every day, but they were intense when they did. Eventually, we started counseling with a professional, and it was amazing to see the progress she made in less than a year.”

Generally, however, grief is a positive sign. It means that a child formed strong attachments in her home country — and is emotionally equipped to form attachments again.

Daily Adjustments

Children arriving from other cultures need time to adapt to your family’s habits and rhythms. Preserving some element of a child’s previous life can help smooth the transition. “Routine was very important to my kids. To this day, we eat lunch at noon and dinner at 6 p.m. That kept their schedule the same as it was at the children’s home, and it worked for us,” says Robyn Goldman, who adopted five-, seven-, and 13-year-old girls from Russia. (Find more real-life advice, in "Five Tips from the Trenches," below.)

Don’t underestimate the significance of dietary changes. Smell and taste are evocative senses, and a child who is stressed can take comfort in familiar foods. Though some children eat new foods willingly, don’t expect a child to enthusiastically sit down to a meal of hot dogs and apple pie right off the bat. Cooking a child’s favorite foods, or making weekly visits to a restaurant that serves his home cuisine, can ease his transition.

Language differences may be the greatest challenge for everyone at first. “It was especially hard for our older daughter, who was six when we brought her home,” says Sarah. “She and her sister are both quite chatty, and were just dying to communicate. The older one was reading and writing a little in Hindi, and talked constantly. I learned some spoken Hindi, which got basic points across, but I wish I had known more. They both learned English at an amazing pace, though, so language wasn’t a problem for long.”

Although children learn to communicate basic needs fairly quickly, understanding and gaining academic mastery take much longer. Margolese says, “It’s important to realize that our kids do not understand everything in English in their first months, or even years, at home.”

Boris Gindis, a developmental psychologist who works with internationally adopted children, explains that communicative language, the skill needed for social interaction and practical applications, is readily acquired, while cognitive language, the use of language as a tool for reasoning and education, takes much longer to acquire. It may take five to seven years to achieve cognitive mastery of a new language. A child who is behind academically or is struggling with English will often benefit by being placed in a lower grade than she would attend based on her age.

Parents often plan on giving children some time to settle in at home before enrolling them in school, but most school-age children are eager to start classes with their peers. “Our girls came home in March, and we thought we’d start in the fall,” says Sarah. “But our six-year-old immediately began a relentless campaign to go to school. We placed her in kindergarten, and it was the best thing we could have done. It did not hurt her attachment in the slightest.”

Poisson-Dollar made the decision on her own, and she agrees about its benefits. “We’d been home for two months, and I felt that Hana needed routine and exposure to other kids, and I needed a bit of a break to get other things done,” she says. “Hana loved preschool and she thrived. I concentrated on just having fun with her and exposing her to new, vocabulary-rich situations casually.”

Growing Attachments

Contrary to popular belief, older children are not necessarily at greater risk of developing reactive attachment disorder (RAD) than children adopted as infants. In Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child, author Trish Maskew notes, “If an older child formed a strong attachment to a primary caregiver in infancy and remained in his birth family, or with one foster family, for several years before being adopted, he may have less chance of RAD than a baby or toddler who has spent the first nine months to two years in an orphanage or a series of foster homes.”

But she cautions, “What is true is that most older children have likely been abused and/or neglected either before or after their relinquishment. Their risk of attachment difficulties depends on the strength of their initial attachments and their individual circumstances and personalities.”

Disciplining children while you’re working to build attachment requires understanding, especially if there is the chance that a child has been abused in the past. “I think children are especially sensitive to discipline that seems at all rejecting,” says Poisson-Dollar. Using “time-ins” — sitting with and comforting the child as he rages — rather than solitary time-outs is one way to discipline without reinforcing a child’s feeling of rejection.

Keep in mind that behaviors such as hoarding, stealing, and lying may be a child’s expressions of anxiety over situations he cannot control. If disruptive behaviors persist, if a child is struggling with grief, or if she has extreme difficulty bonding with family members, working with a qualified therapist is critical. Some veteran parents regret not seeking professional help when their children first showed signs of distress.

Building attachment is not all serious business, however. Poisson-Dollar says, “I think it’s important to have fun with your new child. Play, swim, and eat together, so you establish some happy family memories as quickly as possible.”

Becoming a Family

It may take months or years for an older child and his family to fully adjust to one another. Many parents report that they acted as if they loved their child long before they felt that love. Margolese says, “You have to get to know each other and adjust to personalities, tastes, and routines. It is a huge adjustment for both sides, and you should expect some bumps. I think some transitions are difficult because parents are not realistic about what to expect. No transition will be free of problems.”

Perhaps the most important gift parents can give a newly adopted older child is time. “Children need time and room to take it all in and figure out where they stand in their new world,” advises Margolese. “Sometimes they seem to adapt well, so we tend to forget how new everything is for them and how much there is still to learn.”

Flexibility is essential. Sarah says, “The best advice I got was not to parent according to some fixed idea, but to let them show me who they were before I imposed expectations on them. We knew our girls had never been apart, so we figured they would want to share a room. But we were imagining the typical American kid, who wants his own space, even in a shared room. Not so ours, who wanted their beds right next to each other. They could not handle any separation. We also learned that we needed to sit with them and leave a light and a radio on for them to fall asleep.

“Most of that defies conventional parenting wisdom, but if we had rigidly followed how we thought things should go, we would only have ended up hurting them — and our family.”

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.


Copyright © 1999-2015 Adoptive Families Magazine®. All rights reserved. For personal use only. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

More articles like this


  1. said:

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  2. said:

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  3. said:

    As a fellow adoptee, thank you for posting this! It’s a battle us adoptees have to face continually .. The justifying of our right to knowledge about ourselves that others have and take for granted!

  4. said:

    Excellent post. The concept of being selfish for wanting to know your own mother or sister is ABSURD!Q Especially with the popularity of genealogy. Any adoptive parent who thinks as the one you quoted does is pathetically insecure. Wanting gratitude from her adopted child! is awful. Why should any adoptee be grateful they had to loose their family of origins?Why would anyone be grateful they were born to parents who were unable to raise them or grateful to live in a family they are not related to?

    The “selfish” finger does not just get pointed toward adoptees. For many decades it was the prime tool used against expectant mothers to get them to relinquish. We were told we were “selfish” for wanting to keep our own flesh-and-blood children we had carried for nine months and labored to birth. That others were more deserving.

    So very odd that adoptees and original mothers are attacked with the word selfish by the most selfish party in adoption: the takers, the winners. Projection?

  5. said:

    Most Adoptees would find your Question Offensive. We owe our adoptors nothing.When the Court proceedings went on where was our representation?it certainly wasn’t the Agency they received profits ,where was our lawyer looking out for our best interest? there was no representation as our Identity and our family get locked away in a file.
    The same File the adoptor have access to but don’t give us and make us search because they aren’t looking after our best interest. We are captives we are disrespected with terms like you were chosen. guess what Kidnappers choose their victims too.
    We owe no body anything , until the day we are treated as first class citizens that are represented in a court with full access to our Identities and adoption paperwork . Until that day I consider adoptors insecure kidnappers that dont respect their property the Adoptee. They paid for them they are property.

  6. said:

    I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this post! I feel as though it was written for/about us, except that our “Spaz Out” lasted over a year. Our son was almost 7 when he came to live with us. He had 75 foster placements before us (most were abusive), and has been diagnosed with PTSD. Now, he’s a happy, healthy, and still healing 11 year old. Later this week, his 13 year old brother will be joining our family after a decade of moving through the foster system. He has been diagnosed with FASD. We know we have some challenging times ahead of us while both boys adjust to this new life and family dynamic, but we also know the love and joy that awaits us all. I think I will bookmark this post, so that I can read it when we are exhausted and emotional as our new son goes through this process.

  7. said:

    Looking for a parent support group for teens with attachment disorder and substance abuse in South Orange County CA. We adopted 2 unrelated boys from Belarus. Both have above issues.

  8. said:

    25 years ago I became a birth mother. I chose open adoption. Over all it’s been a great experience all the way around. My daughter and I are very close. However, recently we’ve had a falling out. Anytime, life doesn’t go her way she throws out the abandonment statements. And I’m tired of it. I love my daughter very much but I can’t spend the rest of my life feeling bad about the “best” and hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. No matter what I’ll always be that person who abandoned her. I can’t change it. Any advise would be helpful!!

    • said:

      Thank you so much for your comments. I love hearing that you and your daughter are close. Perhaps it’s this very closeness that makes her feel safe and secure to express herself in this way. When a child tells their parent “I hate you” or some equivalent it is hurtful and we do our best not to take it personally as hard as that can be. I also think that when things don’t go her way, it probably does trigger feelings of abandonment in her. Maybe now that things have cooled, you might be able to approach your daughter to talk about the situation — the thing that didn’t go her way and the abandonment statements that hurt you. Maybe counseling would help you both sort through your feelings and gain more understanding for the other’s perspective and experience.

  9. said:

    I have an adopted daughter from the Congo, and we live in a very progressive, major city with great diversity. I don’t know how (or when) to approach the issue of race and racism with her (she’s 5yo). I feel like this is such a complex issue, I can’t even begin to document all of my thoughts about this. In brief, I feel that race is everything, and race is nothing. How and when do I start the discussion with her?

    • said:

      I have this same question with my just-turned-3 year old (domestic adoption-he is African-Am/Peurto Rican and we are Caucasian). We live in a rural setting though so the opportunities to interact with a variety of people are limited. Is there a way that I can introduce the topic gradually so it becomes less of an issue or should I wait until he has questions?

  10. said:

    We adopted our son 4 years ago; he is now 17. He seems to romanticize life in the ghetto: not just friendly neighbors on front porches, but gang loyalty, etc. He wants to listen to explicit rap and claims blacks using the n-word to one another is fine. “You just don’t understand,” he says. I tell him that I DO understand the history of that word and just canNOT understand why ANYone would want to rechain themselves to it! How do I speak the truth about that & the lousy elements of a culture w/o coming across racist?

  11. said:

    I am the adoptive Mom of 2 daughters born in China, now 15 & 13. I have never had the experience of driving while black or shopping while black. I have had the experience of my minority daughters experiencing covert racism…and not so covert…my 15 yr old’s friends: Asians (or any ethnic minority for that matter) are OK to be friends with, but not dated by, Caucasians. (I like this blog post:

  12. said:

    “Sarah: That day came this month! Until now, my relationship has always been with the adoptive parents. For the last several years, they haven’t wanted me to have contact with my birth son and I have accepted their choice. After a lot of thinking, I decided it was important that he knew I was out there and I cared about him; anything he wanted to do from there was fine. I sent him a message on Facebook and, within five minutes, I got a message back. Little by little we’re sharing more intimate things, although we’re still very much at the 15-year-old-boy level. Last time I messaged him, I suggested he could come visit me if his parents said it was OK. We’ll see what happens. It’s definitely a new phase of our relationship and I’m glad I did it.”
    I find this VERY disrespectful and would be livid if my child’s birth mother directly contacted my son why I had asked her not to. And to suggest he could come visit, without putting that to the parents first is inappropriate. He is a minor. I find this a serious breach of trust. Sneaking behind the parents back. Not cool.

    • said:

      By the time the kid is 15 he has the right to know his birth mother. So if there was some sort of issue why the adoptive parent weren’t allowing the connection – by the time the kid is 15 he has the right to make his own decision. This is why the comment earlier about having a “contract” with expectations would be good. If there was no contract then they need to listen to the birth mother and allow her to have a voice. And not just shut her out if she is seeking a relationship. If we are going to put blame, should we not blame the adoptive parents for not giving the birth mother a voice in building a relationship with her son. That’s almost disrespectful if it’s an open adoption.

      • said:

        I don’t think give a birthmother a “say” in having contact with the birth child should be up to her. The aparents are the parents and if they don’t want direct contact between the child and its bmom, then its their choice to make the parents. Open adoption is not co-parenting or joint custody.

    • said:

      I think the fact that Sarah received an email back from her 15-year-old son “within five minutes” speaks volumes that he wanted contact very much, even if his parent’s did not.

      • said:

        Maybe, but the boy is still a minor and if the birth mother had good intentions, why didn’t she work it out with the adoptive mother? That would have been the right thing to do, don’t you think?

        • said:

          I think it takes a lot to keep communication open. The first point of contact, out of respect, should have been the adoptive parents. I am a mom. We adopted our son 7 years ago. I would love more contact with his birth parents. As his mom though, I am responsible for knowing who he is in contact with birth family, friends, classmates, etc. If the birth mother had pure intentions, she would have expressed her feelings to the adoptive parents first and let them know she wanted to contact him. Suggesting he come visit her if it was “OK” with his parents can open the door to strife in his relationship with his parents by her not asking them first(especially if they say no). There is no information as to why they did not want her to have one on one contact with him. I think all of the parents should work to have a relationship with one another. If when their son grows up and makes decisions on his own it would be much better if there was no strife between his parents. He won’t feel like he has to hide his relationship or his true feelings about his birth parents or his parents. Think of future events in his life: college graduation, marriage, the birth of his children, etc. The parents are connected for life. Having an open relationship as parents can ex out the potential awkwardness ( like what will his children call his birth mom vs. his mom). It is better for the parents to lay their feelings out on the table first and work through them.

    • said:

      Oh you are so very right. This is the exact reason why adoptive mothers like me are afraid of the birth mother. That boy is a minor. I would guess that the adoptive family has good reason to not have you in direct contact with their son. Your backdoor actions just proved them right. It is THEIR son, not yours. Whatever your reason was, you gave him up.

  13. Epearson said:

    I am the adoptive mom of an 11 month old African American. While my and my husband’s families are very attached to our child, we have one family member who makes occasional racist remarks. When we explain why the remarks are racist and why it is not okay to say these things in front of our child, she argues that she doesn’t see our child as “black” and therefore is not offending our daughter or her race. I know there are SO many things wrong with this mindset and we have tried several times to teach and correct with no success. Any advice is welcome!

  14. said:

    We have two adopted black african childern and we are Caucasian. We have put much thought into their school and have chosen one with much diversity. However in south africa the races are still very much divided and we find it difficult to find black african families to befriend…… add to that a lot of negative attitudes about adoption and especially white families adopting black children… its mostly not well received by black africans. My son is 7 and my daughter 5 and we are finding the race issues coming to the for and i must be honest that although we are very open and straight talking about our family i am often taken off guard when approached in either a positive or negative way by black africans asking us why we have a black child and most importantly it seems what we think about their hair!!??

  15. said:

    My wife and I (both Black) are the parents of an amazing baby boy, who is biracial (Black and White) , and fair skinned. Do you know of any resources addressing these types of families? Most info I’ve seen seems to assume that parents are White, children are of color, and parents don’t have experiencecwith racism, which is not our situation. We just want to be as informed as possible, and to give him a strong foundation.


  16. said:

    As the white father of a black adoptee, I am working to educate myself and my six-year old daughter about African-American history. One challenge I have involves all the negativity of racism, including extreme violence, throughout this history. Though I talk with my daughter age-appropriately and include positive and inspiring aspects of black history, this negativity seems both inevitable and scary. A few times, my daughter has blurted out that she doesn’t want to be black and that she’s scared of white people. I understand this long learning process will be difficult; for now, could you offer me some suggestions on how to best handle its most painful aspects with a child?

  17. said:

    As the parent of a 16-year-old, I have mixed feelings about the idea of contacting a teen over his parents’ express wishes. As an adopted person, I also have some negative feelings about adoptive parents who maintain a relationship with the birth mother but don’t want her to have a relationship with the son. That does not seem realistic or healthy. But we don’t know enough about the situation to pass judgment. I don’t personally call a situation an “open” adoption unless it is truly open, including contact between the birth mother and the adoptee. This article has a lot of good “takeaways.”

  18. said:

    Did Karen say one child is like a hobby? More then one child means less time for your? Umm, when you have children you have no time to yourself. If you want time, you hire a babysitter for a few hours.

    Why in the heck did she adopt if she was looking for a hobby? For gosh sakes. Go learn how to throw a boomerang if you want a hobby.

  19. said:

    How do you feel about adoptive parents searching for their children’s first family?

  20. brandyrivera said:

    WOW, what a great article (didn’t start off so good, but great article). All of these comments were so beautiful, but this one made me cry…

    “I was walking out of the grocery store with my children, who are Asian, Black, and White, when a gentleman told me my family is like a beautiful garden because each flower is different and the best gardens have a variety of pretty flowers.” —HOLLIE

  21. said:

    My situation is a bit different and yet the same. I have a daughter who is 23 that was raised as an only child until I adopted my son when she was 16.5. So my son knows that she is his sister but he sees her as just another adult in his life. He is now 6 and it took him some time to understand that “sissy” is his sister. Having shared that, my kids have gotten pretty much whatever they have wanted. With my son I am a single parent by choice. I have never had a problem with either of my kids getting along with their peers or with being willing to share. The first thing my son does and did even when he was much littler, is when another child comes over he immediately goes and gets a toy for them to play with. He has no problem sharing. His only problem is he doesn’t want them to help put the toys away. He says they don’t know where they belong and he wants to do it by himself. I had thought about adopting again but at 50, I really don’t want to start over again. My son enjoys having playdates with my nieces 3 boys. He is in between the ages of her two oldest and they get along great but he does complain after a while that they are to loud, which they are. Having an only twice now to me is the greatest way to raise more than one kid. One at a time.

  22. said:

    As an adoptive mother, I have never let on that my adoptive children came from my body. I am blessed that they chose me to be their mother. I love my children more than I have ever loved anyone else in my life. More so than my own parents. I have kept in close physical contact with the biological families of my children and these people are welcome in my house. A family tree with more branches and roots is stronger than one that stands alone. A day will come when the littles ask that question and it will be answered truthfully and without reservation. I did not adopt children to satisfy my ego, I did it to rescue them from the unspeakable horrors that they faced.

    • said:

      Same question here:
      California child, that’s going to be adopted at 13

      (I do know that in California, any child that was in foster care system for at least 1 day after their 16th birthday, receives free college tuition.)

  23. said:

    I’m also a Realtor and it just dawned on me I could look into seeing if I could give some kind of incentive to foster adoptive parents I’m going to check into that!

  24. said:

    Very insightful article. My daughter is 3 and I have been wondering how to approach the adoption topic as well as how to respond. This article was very helpful.

  25. said:

    What is the difference in termination of right from reunification to TPR/adopt and just the simple change of the plan to TPR/adopt with a 6 month court date? How does it work when court terminates rights verses parents surrendering rights?

  26. said:

    We adopted a little girl privately and we are adopting a little boy thru foster care. What help is there for either child after adoption , especially the private adoption?

  27. said:

    Is it best to contract with a child placing agency, family law attorney, or other adoption professional as the foster/adoptive parent advocate?

  28. said:

    As a current foster parent wanting to adopt, can I adopt from a foster agency in another state? What steps do I need to take if this is possible?

  29. said:

    I’m a disabled vet with kidney issues (due to injury.) I am stable and waiting for a kidney transplant. Will this cause an issue if trying to adopt from the Foster Care system?

  30. said:

    Hi! My husband and I both just recently turned 50 years young and have been blessed with our 7 year old biological son and are longing to add to our family. I have struggled with infertility and we recently changed our minds about continuing with ART and are hoping for domestic infant adoption to fulfill our dream of another child. Is this possible with Foster Adoption? Thanks!

  31. said:

    we have adopted 3 children and are looking to adopt one more ,a boy ,between the age of 5-10 …. How can we go about getting to find him?

  32. said:

    My husband & I have been blessed to adopt 3 Native American children (privately) at birth.
    We desire to adopt more Native children. We are white & well aware of ICWA. What tribes or States are willing to allow non-native couples to adopt N. A. Children from foster care?

    • said:

      Same desire for us…. How to find this info, for California? (We reside in southern CA, Riverside County and would prefer to stay close to the tribe, to keep the children involved..)

  33. said:

    Along with caring to your kid ,It is also necessary to spend more time with them.I have a 2 year old baby and I usually prefer to use a Baby carrier which helps to keep my baby with me all the time and also allows me to do other work easily.It is available for all type of sizes and age .

  34. said:

    if you adopt from foster care and receive subsidies (including additional subsidies in recognition of special medical or behavorial needs for a child), what happens when you move with the child to a new state?

  35. said:

    What supports are available to biological parents to help them deal with the loss?

  36. Tapper said:

    We adopted our 5 year old daughter at birth and feel that having one child allows balance for all of us. Our time, energy, emotional capacities, and financial resources are healthier and stronger than if we had more kids. Many kids with siblings fight and argue often as many exasperated parents have shared with me. The cost of private education continues to skyrocket especially in California. We can more easily afford to travel often and sometimes further away.

    Although the wife and I planned to have 2 kids when we married, it took us 7 years of massive fertility bills and then finally adoption costs to get our lovely daughter. After she was born we were spent in more ways than one so we are content with our family size for numerous reasons.

    Our daughter is socially fit and doesn’t seem lonely. Instead she is more reflective, empathetic, and independent. I think there is a lack of those qualities in many kids today especially when there is always a sibling or electronic device to distract a kid from the benefits of solitude. At her age that means she is very creative and imaginative with her play. And hopefully as an adult she will be more grounded due to being comfortable in her own skin unlike many who fear any time alone with their own thoughts.

  37. said:

    How do subsidies work when you adopt a child from another state? Which state pays the subsidy? Does each state have a different daily rate or all states the same? If they are different, where can I find out the rate for a particular state?

  38. said:

    How can you make sure you have all the info? We were 3 days away from signing and found out there was a line in the TPR papers concerning something post adoption. DFCS had not even looked at TPR papers and did not know it was in there. We ended up not being able to sign and proceed with adoption.

  39. said:

    I have been told by county workers that adoption from foster care has changed with the focus on kinship mandates. My understanding is that it is not a viable option for infertile couples to look to foster to adopt as a means to adopt an infant or toddler anymore. Is this true?

  40. said:

    I’m sorry to read that this happened to you! But to be honest, we aren’t responsible for how people react to race. I think the best thing you can do is teach your kids how to respond to thongs like that. And to let them know that just because people respond that way, it doesn’t actually mean its true that they are bad or are considered less because of their race.

    I mean, what would you have done if the parents believedbyou and were proudbod their kids’ reactions to your son?

    I don’t know, I know your heart’s in the right place, but you’re solely responsible for your kids. This is a great twacheable moment to reinforce to your kids how amazing and great they are, despite what people may say.

    I’m sure my comment doesn’t seem helpful on the surface, but it is. As a black woman, if I confronted every person that was prejudice or racist in my day to day life, I’d ve a very bitter, tired and hateful person. Because most people would be angry at me for trying to change them, and they probably would be defensive, and after seeing that happen all the time, I’d start having a negative outlook about the world and people of other races (or even my own tace–given that people can be racist against their own culture) who didn’t like me just because I’m brown.

    But what I can do is educate my own children about how they are valued, no matter what anyone says and sometimes people are nervous around people or things that are different. And that this is a great opportunity to show all these people how trulyvhreat and wonderful and normal they are. I’m my experience, my family and I have turned and opened more hearts that way than just telling someone that they or their child might be a little prejudice.

    Sorry thus is long, and I hope I didn’t offend.

    • said:

      Thank you for your comment. I read the article and yes I understood her frustration and wanting to protect her child but I wasn’t sure how I would have handled it. I really like your approach and although I’m white I don’t have the same experiences I really appreciate your perspective. My daughter who is Filipino/Puerto Rican has not started talking to me yet about our differences in skin color but we’ve been reading books about not looking the same and I’m trying to prepare myself the best way I can for when I am in a similar situation.

  41. said:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sorry your kiddos had to go through that, but so glad to hear they had a great time. I’m so proud of parents like yourself who are not afraid to have those tough conversations with parents. We need to be more uncomfortable if things are gonna change in our society about color and race. I have not yet had an experience like this, but know it is coming – I’m ready, but not sure how my son will handle it.

  42. said:

    Agree completely — thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking/feeling — ‘adoption day’ is great — ‘gotcha’ feels wrong.

  43. said:

    I agree. We actually celebrate the day we met our son instead of the adoption court date. The first day I ever saw him is engrained in my mind much more than the day at court. We share the story and our son loves to hear about that day, what He did, what He said, even what He wore. He wanted to meet us and we wanted to meet him. So, we celebrate the day we met (which happens to be Valentine’s Day) with “Found you Fondue.” He found us and we found him. We found each other & we love to reminisce about that day as we dip anything and everything into chocolate fondue for desert.

  44. said:

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience. I have an adopted African American daughter and we live in a 95% white community. While we do not experience direct racism here, sometimes we will be walking down the street and a young child will say, “Why is she brown?” or “Is she dirty?” The parents will apologize, but I will just say,”It’s okay. Isn’t my brown daughter beautiful? I just love her skin color!”

  45. said:

    I started out calling it “Adoption Day” and have since changed it to “Family Day”. Gotcha day always sounded insensitive to me.

  46. said:

    I’m so glad this article was written. From the beginning of adopting our son from China a year and a half ago I never used that word–it just sounded strange to me however, I almost felt guilty for feeling that way since it seemed everyone else was using it. Hooray for your insight…hopefully the “powers that be” will start adopting a better word for such a wonderful and life altering day. Thank you!!!!

  47. said:

    Thank you so very much for this article. As a mother of a twelve year old daughter who we adopted eleven years ago from an orphanage in rural China, we’ve commemorated our Family Day each year, with dinner, story-telling and question-answering. I hope the term “Gotcha Day” can be put to rest eventually, along with the term “adopted” as a noun rather than a verb. I’d like to see adoption as just another fully equal way of bringing family members together.

  48. said:

    My children feel the opposite – they love their Gotcha Day. My 21 year old called me yesterday between classes to because she hadn’t heard from me yet on her “Gotcha Day”. My kids are adopted from China, and their adoptions were not finalized on the day we got them, so “Adoption Day” doesn’t ring true. They like the informal and fun way it sounds and that it confuses their friends. I don’t feel “Family Day” works because my husband and I considered ourselves a family without children, and we have a biological child as well so how would we explain to her that her siblings get a Family Day but she doesn’t because she was “only” born to us? She actually grew up being upset she wasn’t adopted. I understand that on the day they joined our family our kids also lost something, but they lost their first families years before we “found” them and they recognize that while their birth country has much to admire, they personally had little chance at a stable future there.
    Each family can celebrate how they feel is best, but after 19 years of Happy Gotcha Day, we are not changing.

    • said:

      I agree. . If our children choose a different term in years to come then we will change the terminology but for the moment they love their “gotcha day”

  49. said:

    I hear all the good points here. I have 2 adopted kids and have chosen to celebrate their birthdays only over time, and it seems to have worked well for us. I just want to say I think it becomes a very personal decision what you celebrate, and what you call it. I have friends who are very well meaning in celebrating “Gotcha Day” and they put little emphasis on the term and a nice focus on the special way they created their family. I think it is good for folks to re-evaluate that term and how it might be interpreted – but in the end, I think the interpretation placed on it comes from the feeling the family gives it versus how it sounds to the rest of the world.

  50. said:

    We celebrate ‘Gotcha Day’ in our family. I am not quite sure why this particular event or any other that we celebrate as a family means that we are not aware of losses our children may/have experience. If you call it Family Day or Adoption Day does that mean you are recognising their losses? I feel the most important job I have as a parent is to keep an open dialogue and opportunity for my kids to talk about the circumstances of how our family was formed the good and the bad.! I hope the author isn’t suggesting (or judging?) families that celebrate the day they became a family, whatever they call it, as not being sensitive to their children’s birth families and culture.

  51. said:

    In my humble opinion, I believe the author did the right thing by speaking up to the parents of one of the white children. If she didn’t say anything, those parents wouldn’t have even realized that there was a problem. The disappointment can come in when you think you’re having a teachable moment and expecting the “student” to have a “Aha” moment. I’m not at all surprised by these parents’ reaction. Most well-intentioned white people don’t like to believe that racism exists much less that they themselves could feel superiority because of their race. I believe it must be quite an eye-opener when white parents adopt black children because they didn’t need to see the ugliness that exists before. I don’t fault children for being ignorant because they are in the learning stage, but what’s sad is if they grow up with no direction from adults to lead them out of the abyss. I completely agree in discarding the concept of having a “colorblind” society. We all see differences, and they should be celebrated as to what makes the human race richer. What a boring world if we all thought and looked the same. Please keep speaking out because there could be a paradigm shift if we all spoke up when we see wrong happening in the world regardless of what it is. I don’t know if matters but my perspective is that of a black woman who has no children, but works in the adoption field.

  52. said:

    I agree with the article’s premise that the term feels objectifying, impersonal and centered on the parent’s experience of “acquiring” a child. My children who were adopted as newborns and are now in the twenties did enjoy celebrating their adoption as their “Homecoming Day” which is the anniversary of their adoption finalization. (They still like to observe this day which is distinct from both their birthdays and their arrival days. Part of being an Adoption-attuned family means recognizing the many layers of emotion that color life events for our children, and acknowledging that their benefits and losses are all real and coexist. Language DOES matter and our children depend on us to help them acquire the robust vocabulary that accurately and respectfully captures their experience.

  53. said:

    Just to toss in a perspective I read from an adult black adoptee who grew up in an all white family, all white community-rather a question she posed to white adoptive parents: “Why are you adopting a black kid if you have no interest in getting to know black culture?” These kids will feel different -because they ARE in the minority – even if they seem to be having a good time – they will remember that comment. You can’t protect them from racism, but you can try to find a more diverse place for them to play basketball. That will help a lot. And that is on you the parent. I face that – and I embrace it. It is uncomfortable – but if I just bring my son to all white gatherings, and never look into diverse schools, diverse communities – I am doing him a disservice. White privilege is the privilege of ignorance. It is really really scary how prevalent it is. Here in NY City – I have the option to make sure he not be around little white kids who have never seen or played with a black kid – thank God. I don’t want to live in a place like that.

  54. said:

    Striving for “color blindness” is the Emperor’s New Clothes of social interaction. It serves no one and denies reality. Our senses do, in fact see color. Acknowledging color is appropriate. Judging on the basis of color is not. Instead of “color blindness”, engage in color appreciation.

    Silence implies agreement.Hold those educating conversations. Change occurs in the context of a willingness to raise issues.

  55. said:

    If you embrace diversity, understand that the same words can mean different things to different people. Don’t you insult thousands of families who use the term “Gotcha Day” to celebrate the best day in their lives. Of course, they don’t think of their children as objects. They are not demeaning their children, who most likely associate positive interpretations with this phrase, since that is how it has always been used in their homes. Don’t try to impose YOUR OPINION (this is a subjective issue remember) on other families, or suggest that are insensitive because they have made a different parenting choice than you. Stay in your lane. You are not the official language police. Manage your home as you think is best for your children and respect others’ right to do the same.

  56. said:

    I’m mother (thru adoption) to three now young adults. We always used the phrase Arrival Anniversary or, simply ‘Anniversary’ to name the day we came together. Less Parent-Centric than ‘Gotcha.’ And easier entree into “Adoption Education’ – both for our kids and others. We’d compare it to our own Wedding Anniversary, the day before which we weren’t family and after which we were.

  57. said:

    When I was little, I used to climb the stairs of our split-level home, and jump from the top down into my father’s waiting arms. “Gotcha!” he would say, each time we repeated this familiar ritual. It remains one of my happiest memories of childhood – “Gotcha” meant safe, protected, and loved forever and unconditionally. Why would I hesitate to use this word to express the depth of my love for our adopted child? To me it means, no matter how far you fall, I will be there to catch you.
    I understand, however, that other people are offended by it – since they do not have this association with the word. I don’t like “Forever Family Day” since I believe our daughter’s biological family is also with her, forever, every time she looks in the mirror, so why should I dismiss them this way? That feels disrespectful to her family of origin to me. I defer to “Adoption Day” in public company, and it’s “Gotcha Day” with our family – with a big, giant squeeze of a hug when we say it. Lucky Mom & Dad.

  58. said:

    I want to adopt from another state. I have to go through a private agency, because the state that I’m in (Illinois) the state agencies do not work with you to adopt out of state. They work with the children in my state only. Will this process take longer going through a private agency?

    • said:

      I was wondering the same thing. We currently live in one state, but we’d actually like to adopt from PA if this state foster system isn’t working the way it should be. I hold residency in PA, so I’m hoping these ladies can help!

  59. said:

    “Oh, by the way — those brown boys who got rejected in the basketball circle? They had a great time.”

    It sounds like your boys taught you a valuable lesson. The best revenge is to live a happy life.

    “Training our kids to move from being self-centered infants into respectful and empathic children and then adults?”

    I missed your empathy for Timmy and Jimmy’s parents? What’s their side of the story? Real life isn’t as simple-good, inclusive parent v. racist parents. If Timmy’s mom had run up to you and accused your boys of refusing to hold hands with Timmy because he’s white, would you have defended your boys? would you have wanted their side of the story before going ballistic? For me, if a complete stranger came up to me and starting rattling off accusations against my child, I can say I wouldn’t be very cooperative. As any parent will tell you, when one child tattles on another, it’s best to get both sides of the story before passing judgment.

  60. said:

    The term ” Gotcha Day” should be banned…it’s horrendous. To all adoptive or potential adoptive parents…USE A DIFFERENT TERM to recognize the children who have joined your family through adoption.
    Vice Chair- Adoption Council of Canada

  61. said:

    Just this past week my four year old daughter, who is VERY social noticed a black man at the grocery store and would not stop staring at him. I asked her why she was looking at him and she said because of his dark brown skin. My response to her was, “isn’t it beautiful?”. She quickly agreed that his skin was beautiful. Then we had the conversation again that always follows when we talk about people different looking than we are (racially, physical disabilities, age etc…) “God makes us all look different but we all want the same thing: to be loved, cared for and appreciated. We all want people to listen to us and treat us with respect.” And that always leads into the next conversation “beauty is not just about what you look like, it comes from being kind and gentle, it comes from your heart”. Your children are never too young to begin to grasp these things.

  62. said:

    Thank you. I was appalled when I first heard of gotcha day. You have eloquently explained why it is inappropriate at best, harmful at worst. We celebrate the day we arrived home, calling it our Family Anniversary. That leaves the door open to any feelings and life memories that come up.

  63. said:

    I can see the points made in this article, but I also think that you can read too much into a phrase that has always had good intentions, and is “catchy,” which is why so many adoptive families refer to their child’s homecoming as “gotcha day.” We celebrate our twin daughters’ homecoming day as “Gotcha Day” and they love it. They look forward to it, they are not offended by it in any way, and the whole point of it is that we celebrate the day we brought them home into their loving forever family. We do not prefer “Family Day,” because as someone else said, we were a “family” before we adopted our daughters. I think people should be able to call their special day whatever they like…whether it’s Adoption Day, Homecoming Day, Family Day, or Gotcha Day, without being scrutinized for it.

  64. said:

    My personal opinion is that Gotcha day is far more warm and loving than the very sterile Adoption Day. Adoption Day, differentiates birth vs adoption in a not such familial term. I much prefer the Gotcha, which is applied to both my adopted and birth children.

  65. said:

    Use of baby carrier is one of the best option for spending more time with your bubs .I have many baby carriers which which I have purchased from gives comfort to my baby as well as also balances my hormones .

  66. said:

    I never liked the sound of “Gotcha.” Instead we celebrate each child’s arrival in the family by their name, for example: “Jessie Day”. This gives a different name for each child’s special day.

  67. said:

    I have been talking about this with my older children (Ages 12 and 11) for a while. I have a son that is 4. How do you prepare biological children for this?

  68. manuelcazares said:

    I have been reading a few article on infertility grief. Each one I read is similar in some way to my story. I can’t say I have overcome the grief because there are days I feel low. I’m thankful these moments pass quickly but after 10 years of treatments and miscarriages I don’t see the grief ever going away completely. This story gives me hope as my husband and I are currently on a waiting list. We no longer have tasks to do, rather we wait and pray for patience and strength. These stories, help ease the pain, by reminding me there are so many of us out there. I can’t wait to share my own story someday.
    Thank you!

  69. said:

    I loved this whole article and hope to see more along similar lines. Open adoption isn’t always easy but if there is a breakdown in communication or a difficult situation to overcome in the relationship I don’t think the go to response should be to close the adoption. Along similar lines, maybe the reason the divorce rate is so high is because humans give up to easy? When Lisa said, “being a parent means allowing your heart to walk around outside of your body. This is scary enough, but imagine how much more terrifying it is to then place your heart in someone else’s hands? I’m fairly certain all parents feel powerless to some degree, but this feeling is greatly increased if you’re a birth parent. One wrong move, or simply due to the whims of another person, you could lose your heart entirely.” Wow! Powerful words and one of the reason I hurt to see other adoptive parents dismiss their child’s birth parents as not worth it.

  70. said:

    Thank you, Barbara, for being so committed to having a real relationship with your child’s birthmom and helping others do the same. As a birthmom myself, I open articles regarding adoption with a mix of hope and dread — hoping that nothing in the article will re-break my heart or deepen any hurtful public prejudices. Your article was thoughtful and honest; a step in the direction of positive evolution in this complex experience of raising healthy adopted children. Thank you.

    • said:

      Hey there, Barbara, here. Thank you so much for your kinds words… means so much to me. As you’ve said “having a real relationship with your child’s birth mother…” right there, that’s the key. And I’ll do my best to continue this, and other open-adoption, dialogues in my personal life and my writing life.

  71. said:

    Also, not all birth mothers are good people. In my case, all 3 parents are incarcerated. And in fact, they are very bad people. That’s not my opinion, I’ve read the rap sheets. I have gone through great lengths to hide my children for our safety.
    What do others have to say about this type of situation?

    • said:

      If you or your children have been threatened or stalked then yes, that’s a safety issue. Is that the case?

  72. said:

    In my efforts to have an open adoption with my daughter’s birth family, I have learned that each adoption is unique and complicated. None of the adults involved were prepared to consider creating an open adoption agreement when my daughter was born so we’ve been making decisions over the years to be in contact and to sometimes not be in contact. After several visits to them and them to us and my daughter’s getting to meet several members of the birth family including her 4 younger siblings who are being raised by her birth parents, we’re currently in a phase of my only sending an annual letter. It’s a long story and, I care about my daughter’s birth family but have joined my daughter in pulling back due to some hurtful behaviors on their parts. They’re not bad people but they can be quite insensitive. Of course, this is also true of people who have nothing to do with adoption. It is important to remember this. And their lives haven’t been easy. But ours haven’t been either, though I feel fortunate. And, as an adoptive mother, I see it as my responsibility to help my daughter, who is now 22, decide to protect herself when she feels hurt due to hurtful or insensitive actions from people in her life. I continue to send annual letters as promised and we all know how to reach each other. But, at this time, we’ve pulled back. I don’t know what the future has in store.

  73. said:

    I am a birth mother to a one and a half year old. Her birth father and I are still together, but we weren’t (and still aren’t) in an appropriate place to raise a child. I knew going into it, that I would no longer have a say in my daughters raising. We chose the best parents we could, and we are an open adoption but I feel that the adoptive parents are slowly pulling back and trying for less and less contact, which breaks my heart. They ignore my question of “what will you have her call me? I want to be called mom”–especially since we chose a gay couple, she doesn’t have a “mom.” They briefly ignore my question of when can we see her, until about the 4th or 5th time asking. We have seen her 4 times since we placed her, and I know that’s still a lot but I feel like I should be allowed to see her more. I know the adoptive parents took a class to learn how birth parents feel after adoption, but I don’t feel they truly grasp the pain in my soul of not having my child in my arms. I overcompensate with taking care of my nephews. I am really scared that one day, their communication will stop, and I won’t see her again until she’s 18 and questioning about her birth parents, and she’ll think we didn’t want to see her anymore. We keep a journal for those purposes but I’m not sure what the future holds for our relationship with her.

    • said:

      I really admire that you keep on asking to see your child. I know it must be hard to do considering you don’t have a legal standing. Do you feel you can be honest with the adoptive dads about your concerns, how you’re feeling, what your fear is? Maybe ask them how they’re feeling about your open relationship so far and the amount of contact you presently have. Do they feel it’s too much? Are they overwhelmed with parenting a toddler, pulled in too many directions? Once you know perhaps you could come to a happy compromise about contact. Maybe let them know that you’ve come to think of them as your family since they are now parents to your daughter? That you value them as her parents. That, yes, for personal reasons obviously you’d like to see more of your child, yet your real concern is that you feel it’s best for her to know and have contact with her birth family. That’s why you chose to have an open adoption. So that’s my thinking so far. Does anybody else have ideas or thoughts about this?

  74. said:

    Do foster to adopt families usually retain the same amount in subsidies before and after adoption?

    • said:

      After you adopt if the child is classified as special needs you get a subsidy if they do not qualify as special needs you do not receive anything after adoption. Prior to adoption the money you recieve is called reimbursement because up front you are supporting the child until you are reimbursed each month by a set amount of money for each child in Texas it’s like 23 dollars a day. Special needs could mean a child at a certain age, a sibling group or minority, it depends on your states guidelines.

  75. said:

    What a remarkable story! Even more remarkable that the two families are so committed to each other. Wonderful stuff.

  76. said:

    Can you provide information on if/how Canadians can adopt through the U.S. foster care system?

  77. said:

    Where is the first place to go in Illinois to get accurate information on adopting a toddler through the foster care system? I have been told it is not possible in IL to adopt a toddler from foster care by the agency who licensed us for our son’s agency assisted private adoption 5 years ago.

  78. said:

    I posted the comment about where to go for information for adopting a toddler in IL from the foster care system. I should clarify that we adopted our son 5 years ago in an agency assisted private adoption when he was a newborn. This time we are interested in adopting from foster care from age infant to age 3. Our home study agency from our son’s adoption told us that was not an option.

  79. said:

    I’m wondering how difficult it is for people in other countries to adopt from the US foster care system. Does this vary by state or is there a federal mandate that allows this to take place in certain circumstances? So many of our older children can’t find families here in the US but maybe families in other countries would be interested?

  80. said:

    What protection do adoptive parents receive when it comes to parental rights (TPR), kinship rights, etc.? Thanks

  81. said:

    Once you are licensed to foster, can you seek placements through multiple agencies or do you have to work exclusively with one agency?

    • said:

      And a follow-up question: is there an agency that does country-wide foster matching, where foster parents can send their homestudies to?
      (Similar to what DPSS County offices do for kids in each county.)

      Background: we are foster/adoptive parents with DPSS directly, in California, not with an agency. Our county “locked us in” with them for 3 years after the homestudy was completed. We had the choice to either stay with them and wait for “an adoption match” or pay $500 for the homestudy then go “search for our own child” as they called it (outside of the county). They made it pretty clear they would NOT be helping in any way, however I had later found out there is a team (forget the name now, but if I remember, I’ll comment again) that is responsible for facilitating out-of-state kids’ placements.
      For our next child, we are NOT going to wait for the DPSS to control the process, but will instead work with the kids directly.

  82. said:

    How do you suggest building the parent/child bond during the process? As foster parents, what do you recommend in terms of strengthening the family relationship with each other and extended family before the child is legally adopted?

  83. said:

    My husband and I are new to this process, but we want to start our family through foster adoption. How do you go about finding the children that are the best fit for your family? Will the caseworker help with this process, or is there a different way?

  84. said:

    Can expectant couples foster to adopt during their pregnancy or within the year following the pregnancy?

  85. said:

    Can you adopt a younger child from foster care (2 or younger)? Can you adopt out of birth order through foster care?

  86. said:

    Had this happen with my son who is the same race as me when we took him in for an out patient procedure as a newborn. While talking to the Dr. the fact that he was adopted came up naturally. After they took him back they called us and asked if we had any documentation that he was ours. I calmly explained that yes I did but that unless they required that info for all of their young patients they would not be getting a copy from me. The caller put me on hold for a moment then came back on to say there would be no need and that is the last I heard about it. My position is that if they don’t check for all kids they can’t just because they a child is adopted. My son is my son no different than any other son is to his father.

  87. said:

    I have a small 1 bedroom apt. in NYC. Is that going to effect a child getting placed with me?

  88. said:

    We are a military family. We just completed our home study in a second state and now we may have to move again this summer. Is there any way to transfer our home studies with us? Or at least part of them. This is exhausting and time consuming

  89. said:

    I’m 45 healthy female , I have a boyfriend I was married for 17 years but as unable to have my own child . I know in my heart I’m supposed to be a mom and adopting a child would be a dream come true . My question is : 1)can a single woman adopt a foster child ? 2) are there income qualifications and what are they thank you

    • said:

      You only have to be able to be financially stable to support yourself if you are adopting through the state.

  90. said:

    I wish docs would recommend a hysterectomy for me. Then I feel i could officially grieve. It’s hard to when there IS that chance no matter how remote.

  91. said:

    I am inquiring about the options available for me to advertise/promote the benefits of AuPair childcare to families that have adopted/will adopt. I am a childcare consultant who matches families with international AuPairs and always looking for ways to educate this cultural exchange program in return for live-in childcare. Many adoptions are international and the families which to share the child’s nationality in their home so I thought this could be a good venue. We also have a deep discount for adoptive parents. If not, I completely understand. However, if you have any social media events, posting sites or even live events in the South Jersey area, I would love the opportunity to spread the word. Thank you, in advance,
    Tracey Emerson

  92. said:

    What are some things to consider and look for when choosing an agency/organization if you’re fostering to adopt?

  93. said:

    Hello Adoptive Families Magazine,
    We’d like to list our China cultural event listed below. Thank you! Lisa
    Please join us June 5-7, 2015 at CAMP FCC in Medford, NJ for our 14th year of exploring Chinese culture and positive adoption awareness. Our program is for parents and children camping together. Children’s classes are grouped according to age, 5 years and up. Activities and workshops are available for parents as well. To learn more and register please visit us at

  94. violetpilot said:

    I loved this. I am soaking up every article I can find about being an older adoptive mom. Preparing for the “are you her grandma?” questions….

    • said:

      Hah, so funny violetpilot! Considering I’m only two years younger than my daughter’s birth grandma, I’m expecting the same response.

  95. said:

    This is a good topic! I adopted two children who had some difficult things in their background. I decided to answer any questions they asked me, like with my other kids, but to take care not to say more than I needed to, and keep it appropriate to their age. Fortunately, neither one asked much until they were older. With my daughter, I managed to keep it as positive as I could. When she was about 19, she decided she wanted to find her birth parents. When she was 21, we worked together and found them. That one has worked out very well! She has become very close with her birth father, and we now understand a lot more about what went on, when she was a baby.

    My son hasn’t asked, which I am very thankful for. He was conceived through date-rape. I don’t want to tell him that. However, if he asks, I will tell him what I know. I think he will be able to handle it, now, but I don’t see any reason to volunteer it. I haven’t told anyone else about it, which I’m very thankful for, and I think that’s a pretty good idea for other parents whose kids have some tough things in their history. That way, you don’t have to worry about having them hear it elsewhere, which would most likely not be a good thing.

  96. said:

    I am a current foster care parent and I want to adopt an infant. I don’t want to go through another loss. How can I adopt without the fear of losing a baby again?

  97. said:

    I had a newborn for 2 months. The love of my life.After maternal mother released from jail, placed child with another agency/parent caring for 2 of her other children. Mother is now being charged with abandonment. Is it possible for me to get this baby back to adopt now? If not now, will I be able to adopt him later if current home does not wish to adopt him?

  98. said:

    How does fost-adopt vary from city-to-city or county-to-county? What are some common characteristics of fost-adopt in a major city like New York or Chicago?

  99. said:

    We had an opportunity to adopt a little girl in our state, but decided that we weren’t the best fit for her after all. The local DCS workers are holding that against us and told us that we can’t be considered for other children. It is hard enough to adopt thru foster care without people putting a big X by your name. We are a very loving, financially stable family and want to provide a home to a child thru foster care/adoption. Why would DCS workers blacklist us when there are so many children out there that need a good home?

  100. said:

    Why is it so hard to adopt across state lines? We have inquired on many children in foster care and were told they try to place children within the state. It seems crazy that people can go to China and other countries and pay an astronomical amount to adopt a child, yet we can’t adopt a child across state lines in the U.S.

  101. said:

    My husband has a rare muscle disorder that makes him weak. How much of a problem is fostering or adopting a child when one parent has a disability?

  102. said:

    On Long Island, NY social services told me that there are no children available for adoption through foster adopt. I am new to the process. Where should I contact for foster adopt of a 3-5 year old? I have sent out emails & left messages at some agencies I found online but no one responds or the info is no longer current. Thanks for any suggestions.

  103. said:

    My husband and I have three biological children of our own and want to adopt a toddler domestically. We have been told that this can only be done through the foster care system and that we must first foster before adopting. Is this true? We want to make this as simple as process as possible considering we still have to protect our other three, young, biological children.

  104. said:

    If my boyfriend and I would like to adopt a child out of foster care together, is this possible without being married?

  105. said:

    My husband and I currently have my nine year old niece placed with us and the primary goal is reunification. we have only had her almost two months but fear she may go back to her maternal grandmothers. Help?

  106. said:

    Question regarding RESTRAINING ORDERS and ADOPTION.

    When you adopt a child, their name will change. So, any restraining orders in place to protect the child, would become invalid, as the name no longer matches.
    We’re being told by the Sheriff’s Department that they will not enforce a restraining order with mismatched name.
    At the same time, getting a new restraining order means giving the address of the child to the person whom the child is best staying apart from. Catch 22.

    What’s your suggestion to handling cases like that?

  107. said:

    What if any rights do foster to adopt families have? If the decision is made by the department to have another family adopt children who were in your care for a year as a pre-adopt placement, do you have any rights to ongoing contact with the children? (Counselors have recommended that is what is best for the children)

  108. said:

    Three siblings, separated by foster care. Been in the system for 4+ years, all with 8-13 years of age (so not talking about babies, but kids who had had history living with and without each other).
    Younger two returned to the biological parents with their DPSS case closing within 1 year of reunification, if no issues are present.
    Parents’ parental rights terminated for the oldest child; now free for adoption.
    Court order for monthly sibling visits in place – biological parents frequently cancelling the visits, but the children love the time they do get. But, there is no (legal) consequence to the biological parents for controlling the visits and messing with the 3rd child’s emotions, by cancelling late minute or not showing up……

    If the adoption for oldest child by a new family is finalized and the DPSS case for the siblings is closed, what happens to the now-court-ordered sibling visits?
    Are there any legal routes that can be taken, to require the biological parents to deliver the kids to monthly visits?
    What are the legal consequences to the biological parents, for breaking any “legal orders”?
    How easy are the consequences to enforce?

  109. said:

    I reside in New Mexico and would like to adopt a Caucasian female infant or toddler. The majority of children in this state are not Caucasian. I am willing to travel to other states to foster-to-adopt. I have a completed homestudy and will be a licensed foster parent (for New Mexico) in approximately 1 month. Can you provide suggestions as to how to find children that meet our preferences? Thank you.

  110. said:

    Is ist possible to adopt out of foster care as a non US resident?
    We have already adopted a newborn in the US 6 year ago.

  111. said:

    Are there babies available for Fostering to adopt? If so what agencies do you go through? So far every foster organization I have talked to only adopts 10 years old or older.

    • said:

      I live in Texas and for some reason there are a lot of 18 month olds right now. I am currently about to adopt four little ones that came to me at ages 2 days old, 1,2 &3. Foster to adopt makes it easier to get babies for adoption. Also when you foster and do a great job caseworkers send your name around so you may get that wonderful child you want.

  112. said:

    Is there a benefit of going through an agency to adopt from the state or is it better to work directly with the state?

  113. said:

    How does Act 101 impact adoptions in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh PA. I am a foster to adopt parent. My first adoption was closed. I’d like to do foster to adopt again, but I am concerned about what act 101 means, as well as the possibility that my child would get attached to a “sibling” who may be placed for a long time, only to be taken away after an extended period.

  114. said:

    When you foster adopt (because the parents have relinquished their rights to the children), do the adoptive parents need to maintain a relationship with the child’s birth family? If the parents had to relinquish their rights because of child abuse or neglect, are they still afforded rights to see the child?

  115. said:

    Would you please offer advice on dealing with state DCFS employees? They seem to not care about their work or their responsibilities to the public who pays them. Getting signed up for PRIDE training, which is required to adopt from the Foster System, is a Herculean effort. They act like you are asking for a limb or an internal organ if you request a confirmation of a course registration. If it is this difficult to get the state to register one for a required training course, I assume prospective parents will face similar disrespect and apathetic treatment throughout the entire adoption process. Is this the general modus operandi? Is there any way around it?

  116. said:

    What is the realistic average timeline and number of submissions before adoptive parents have their child placed with them?

    • said:

      Could take years if you are not willing to foster first or if you want a newborn child through the state. If you do private adoption and pay for it I’m sure it’s alot faster. Also just depends on circumstances most infants go to foster homes first and if parental rights are terminated foster parents get a choice to adopt first.

  117. said:

    Does the 40 year age difference rule apply to prospective foster adopt parent & child?

  118. said:

    Is there an attorney or agency that can be used to locate & expedite placement of children available for foster adoption? If so, where would I find a list of these professional services for LI, NY? Also, what is the average fee using either of these services? In NYS do you have to apply to foster adopt by county or is it statewide? Thank you.

  119. said:

    “Faith made the decision for me. She said, “Hi, Mama.”” Love.

    Beautiful story, it brought tears to my eyes. Funny how life works. We don’t always get what we expect, and sometimes we get something better. Thanks for sharing!

  120. said:

    Is it ok to request from a private agency, a child to be from a specific county that there going to place with me. Reason being, in my state, there is a specific county that the judges are serious about terminating parents rights if it’s in the best interest in the child.
    Also, to answer some of the questions above. I do know of an agency in Georgia that has infants, GCAC, give a child a chance.

  121. lindahufano said:

    I tried anniversary, then family day, but my kids started referring to it as “gotcha day”. Don’t know where they heard it. But since that’s what they like, I am not going to correct them.

  122. said:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I think this issue will undoubtedly come up as my son grows older. I was also intrigued about the summer camp you referenced – can you point me in the right direction so I can look into that?

  123. said:

    I am presently working on writing a review of Maggie’s article for the LAPA newsletter. I thought she was fair-minded and incredibly thoughtful on her treatment of this very provocative topic. I agree with her in this interview that adoption touches on some of the most sensitive areas of public policy and discourse on racism and that we owe it to our children to hear their pain.
    I am the mother of two white children adopted in the United States. While they have the benefit of white privilege, they also have lost the very different cultures that they would have grown up in as well as their birth families. Finding their birth families has answered some of their questions and allowed them to claim parts of themselves and their histories, some good and some bad. Joining them to help them do this was not an easy process of soul searching and opening my heart to their needs. (See my recent article in Adoption Today )
    I commend Maggie for bringing the conversation into the mainstream discourse. It is hard to talk about this issues. People have strong reactions and inevitably you upset somebody, but that is usually a sign that you have said something important.

  124. said:

    This is all very interesting. I wonder, though, if the opposite also is possible, wherein a child does not eat enough b/c of food insecurity/anxiety? Our daughter ate A LOT when we first got her but now eats very little and is still very underweight. (Of course, she’ll never be on the typical American chart, but she’s still far too light). We basically have to force her to eat, and meals are often very unpleasant for that reason. How to get a child to eat *more* rather than less? I suspect perhaps the techniques are the same. Would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this issue.

    • said:

      Absolutely this is a very common scenario as well. It sounds like you need more support. A few thoughts. I also discuss food aversion in detail in the book Love Me, Feed Me for adoptive and foster parents. (The two issues I see most are food preoccupation AND food aversion.) When meals are unpleasant, and food is forced, it tends to decrease appetite and make picky eating worse! It’s a vicious cycle, and it is no fun for anyone! I recommend the facebook support group Mealtime Hostage for parents of food-averse children, and my book particularly is helpful for adoptive parents as it keeps in mind the attachment and trust issues as well. On another note, my next book out is called Helping Your Child With Extreme Picky Eating coauthored with Jenny McGlothlin, who heads up a feeding clinic. You can turn this around! There is hope! Please consider looking into some of these resources. You might need some professional help, but be very careful as some therapies can make matters worse as well, and some in particular are detrimental to building trust. Trust your feelings, if what you are doing feels miserable and it’s not working, there is a different way! I wish you all the best on this journey. And yes, your intuition is right on, the basic philosphy is the same. Allowing your child to tune in to hunger and fullness by decreasing anxiety and supporting her needs will help her appetite improve and decrease the battles! Good luck!

  125. said:

    We feel the same about our transracial family. We prayed for the right baby for our family. God blessed beyond our wildest hopes and dreams. We figure if people stare at our unique family it’s because they can see the tremendous love that surpasses any of our individual physical characteristics.

  126. said:

    I can feel the love with Anaïs and Sam! I am so happy to have found their stories of reunion. Being a Spence-Chapin (adoptive) mom, I received an invitation to the Family Ball and discovered their good news. The more love, the better. A vital part of them discovered eases some of which had been lost. I’m wishing them and their families love and many more years of together. A Mother from New Jersey

  127. said:

    Both of our boys have been home with us for many years. Our older son (13) can go to sleep at the drop of a hat, but he wakes up throughout the night and is hard to wake up in the morning. Our younger son takes a long time to go to sleep and then wakes up very early, sometimes getting only 6 or 7 hours of sleep (he is 10); he does not seem tired during the day, but I know this cannot be good for him. Both boys are getting Melatonin before bed, but it doesn’t seem to do the trick. The sleep specialist we took our older son to pretty much gave up, telling us to come back if it got much worse.

  128. said:

    Will the guest speaker be sharing the age recommendations for co-sleeping? I hear mixed and often conflicting answers from agencies in my state and would like to know what the experts are suggesting.

    Thank you,

  129. said:

    my 28 month old daughter co-sleeps with us but she wets the bed all night long because she insists on her bottle (of water) all night long. the bottle is comfort to her. she has huge tantrums if she can’t have her bottle.

  130. said:

    I’m a foster/adopt parent. You mention co-sleeping in your description of tactics, but that is not allowed with foster children. DCFS has very strict rules that children are never to sleep in the parents’ bed. My foster daughter consistently wakes up between 2-3am and it’s very hard to get her back to sleep. She’s not having nightmares. She just wakes up and wants company. She’s been home with me for 5 months. I’d appreciate other tactics for getting her to sleep through the night. I have found that denying her TV at night when she hasn’t slept through the night does motivate her to sleep through the night the following night to get that privilege back, but it’s not a consistent fix.

  131. said:

    4000 – 10000?? What world are you living in? Both our adoptions were 45000. Both from different agencies.

  132. said:

    I have three questions – some are similar to other people’s questions:
    What qualifies a child for Title IV-E adoption assistance vs. state assistance?
    What should parents know when negotiating an adoption subsidy and adoption benefits?
    I know if varies, but how much ballpark should be set aside from legal expenses to finalize an adoption?

  133. said:

    I’m actually in the process of collecting research articles about open adoption and writing brief summaries of them to try to help get information out to those who are going through the adoption process (we are in the process of adopting, ourselves). In case any readers are interested, here is the link to the blog where I am writing these posts:

  134. said:

    I would love to see an article involving older children. There is just no info out there. We adopted thru foster care. Our bio daughter was 10 at time of placement of 3 siblings. The girl in the group was 8 and she has had significant struggles adapting to her and with anxiety and jealousy. The boys were 6 & 9. She did ok with them. A year and a half after their arrival we are still looking for help and there seems to be nothing on the subject. Our workers couldn’t find any either…any suggestions?

  135. said:

    Our 18-month-old, home for four months from China has no problem going to sleep, and has finally started to sleep through the night. He continues to be very upset when he wakes up from naps or in the morning. He cries, kicks, crawls away from us, and throws his head back when we reach in to his crib to pick him up. After we get him up, we give him a bottle and he calms down right away. How can we help him to wake up more gently? Standing in the room and talking quietly to him doesn’t seem to help and he usually has his precious Blankie in his grasp.

  136. said:

    What advice do you have about nightmares? What can I do to help reduce/manage them, and ease the transition back to sleep again?

  137. said:

    Chicago (northern IL) is not an ideal place for foster adoptions. The systems, here, keeps children with their birth parents too long. We would prefer to do a foster adoption from another state. Is that possible?

  138. said:

    * what are the biggest mistakes prospective adoptive parents make when trying to adopt a foster child?
    * what are the things that make a prospective adoptive parent successful when trying to adopt a foster child?
    * what are the success stories of being an adoptive parent of a foster child – i.e. attaching well, healthy child.. – what can we to prepare to be an excellent parent?
    thanks so much!

  139. said:

    can we adopt a child in foster care without being foster parents? what is the fastest or best way to tap into resources to find a child in foster to adopt? Can we adopt a child in foster care anywhere in the US ?

  140. said:

    My daughter was adopted at 9 months and has been a good sleeper for most of that time. She is 10. Since last July she has been waking in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. Since I got very tired putting her back over and over, I finally gave up and climbed into her bottom bunk (she sleeps on top). She goes back to sleep if I’m in the room. We have tried melatonin, reward charts, scheduling one night per week for me to sleep in her room as a reward, but nothing works. Our pediatrician says she has no health issues. I’ve hesitated being too strict because I don’t know if it’s an adoption issue or just behavior. Any suggestions?

  141. said:

    This is such a great article! I’ve tried to describe to friends some of the emotions that I’ve experienced after adopting each of my boys. It was wonderful to read this and have it so perfectly put my feelings into words. I don’t think many people realize that life isn’t all sunshine and roses once you bring your baby home. Thank you!

  142. said:

    Our son (3.5 years old, adopted from foster care) goes through cycles of keeping himself awake for hours after we put him to bed. He will have weeks where he falls asleep quickly (or at least we believe he does), and then weeks where he stays up until 10:00 or even 11:00 pm. He’s usually happily awake, but talking, singing, playing in his bed. No matter how often we go in to try to soothe him, or if we stay out of the room completely, he will just be awake. He is exhausted the next day and I struggle with whether to give him a nap to help, or if that’s exacerbating the nighttime problem. Just today he was falling asleep at preschool this morning so I put him down for a nap and he fell asleep almost instantly. I’m at a loss! He and his 6-year-old sister (our biological daughter) sleep in the same room and have a bedtime between 7:00 and 7:30 each night. How can we help him settle down and fall asleep consistently and get a healthy amount of sleep?

  143. said:

    What is the best way to pick an agency to work with for foster care adoption? Are there agencies that work across multiple states?

  144. said:

    We are finalizing our license in Illinois. We would like to adopt a child already available for adoption through foster care. How does interstate foster adoption work? Is is possible? What is the process? What are the costs associated with adopting a foster child from a different state? Thanks.

  145. said:

    We are a non military family based in Okinawa. We will be here for at least 10 yrs. We are CA residents looking to adopt a 2-3 sibling group. We need advise or a direction in which we can turn to.We 39 and 40 and married 5 yrs.

  146. said:

    Where do I begin the process? Can Suffolk County,NY residents foster adopt Nassau & NYC residents? Read that one needs certification classes to begin but where can I call for information regarding available children & ages? Google searches lead to nothing specific. Where can I locate a list of places to contact on LI, NY? Which counties/states are easier to foster adopt from? How do I contact them? Thank you.

  147. said:

    Our recently adopted 7- year-old son has an issue with banging his head on his pillow while he is sleeping on his stomach. When we roll him over, it stops, but we hear this many times during the night, starting about 2 hours after he falls asleep. This behavior does not seem to be self-soothing – it actually appears to be quite agitating. He takes 10 mg of melatonin before bed, but this does not seem to help. He was doing this before he came home with us.

  148. said:

    As an adoptive parent, my experience with the hospital was completely different. Our birth mom invited me to be a part of our son’s birth. The nurse who delivered him made it clear she didn’t want me to be there at all. She tried to kick me out of the delivery room a few times and our sweet birth mom spoke up and told her that I was to stay to the very end. The nurse wasn’t happy but complied with our birth mom’s wishes. I was even asked to cut his umbilical coed as well. I’m eternally grateful to her for giving me that very special experience with her and her mom.

  149. said:

    I love finding movies that “address” adoption! My favorite is “Despicable Me”, “Chipmunks Movie”. My favorite on tv is “Dinosaur Train” (PBS) and “Jesse” (DisneyXD). My son and I have talked about his adoption and his feelings about it using cues from these movies and tv shows.

    • said:

      What did you talk to your kids about after Despicable Me? I was shocked when the kids were returned when they became inconvenient.

  150. said:

    We just got back from 1st trip travel to Bulgaria. When we met that sweet boy, we realized his needs were way more serious than we’d realized and we had to turn down the referral. Much prayer, many tears, and serious heartbreak surrounded the decision. You are right – it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do, but we (and only we) know what’s best for us and our other son. Prayers for you – you are not alone!

  151. said:

    Thank you so much for your honesty! Reading your article took me back to our decision-making process, having to define what was okay and not okay for our family dynamics. I know those feelings, and have felt the guilt so many times as one after another opportunity came and went. But now, after getting our two girls, I know it was right! We had no hesitation with them – we just KNEW! For those playing the waiting game, trust your gut, trust God to make the way clear, and your forever child will be made known to you!

  152. said:

    It is so great to find these movie reviews…. we were totally blindsided by Mr. Peabody & Sherman and found that movie to be very offensive. Next time I will check here first.

  153. said:

    I agree with the commenter above….This has happened to my family as well. It is called discrimination if anyone has a policy that is enforced only for children of color with white parents. The times this has occurred I ask, “Do you require all parents to show proof that their child is theirs?” I am usually given some lame excuse that they look alike. I explain that the does not mean they are legally related so if you do not require this of all families than it is called discrimination that you are requiring it for my child because she is black. I have ever had to show proof after explaining this to them. It is critical we stand up for our children and not allow rules to be placed on our families because our children look differently than we do.

  154. said:

    Our son, adopted from China at age two (exactly), has been home with us for nine months and is very controlling, especially at bed time. He wants to turn the pages in his bedtime book and will immediately say, “No, no, no” when I turn the first page (but he will turn them way too fast, so we always say that we will turn them, and then he lets us do so). He wants to turn the lullaby music on from our tablet and tries to do so. Again, we don’t want him to have access to the tablet, so we do this. We have begun rocking him in the only rocking chairs we have or can afford– our office swivel chairs, but he struggles to get comfortable in those. Then, he’ll always say, “Pee” and start whimpering so that we have to get up to change his diaper (which often has nothing to very little in it). Sometimes he wiggles out of our laps in the rocking chair, so we put him in his crib (which is in our bedroom, beside our bed). Then he cries and says that he wants to be in the chair. Again, we put him in the chair (or he will have a complete meltdown– more than just a temper tantrum). Just when I think he’s calming down, he starts to “bear down/ push” like he’s trying to have a bowel movement. He does have a GI special need, but we think this is more than just that. It’s another method of controlling, because sometimes he will then say, “Poop,” and we say, “No, you’re going to stay in the bedroom this time” because he often doesn’t have poop, and we have to change him around midnight again for urine anyway. Then, he will eventually agree to go into his crib, and we will sit outside of it and hold his hand or lay our hand on his back or stomach until he falls asleep. Altogether, from the time we end our bedtime story until the time he falls asleep, it usually takes a full hour for him to actually fall asleep. How can we stop all of his controlling behaviors at bedtime? We have tried co-sleeping, which initially worked for a couple of months, but then he decided he wasn’t tired and just crawled all over me to keep himself awake. Any other ideas?

  155. said:

    Our 3.5 year old foster son regularly wakes up between 2-4am (about 3-4 times a week), and will be awake for two or more hours at a time. He eventually falls back asleep, but when this happens I have to wake him in the morning otherwise he may sleep until lunch. He doesn’t nap anymore, and falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow around 7 or 7:30pm. I’m not sure what to do with this, and how to help him sleep through the night. When he does sleep through the night he’ll get a solid 11-12 hours and wakes up super happy on his own. Is his bedtime too early and possibly causing the night wakings? We eat a very clean diet, hardly any sugar and basically nothing processed, and our bedtime routine has been the same since he came to us 8 months ago.

  156. said:

    Our 3.5 year old foster son regularly wakes up between 2-4am (about 3-4 times a week), and will be awake for two or more hours at a time. He generally lays quietly in his bed during that time, and occasionally asks to use the potty. He eventually falls back asleep, but when this happens I have to wake him in the morning otherwise he may sleep until lunch. He doesn’t nap anymore, and falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow around 7 or 7:30pm. I’m not sure what to do with this, and how to help him sleep through the night. When he does sleep through the night he’ll get a solid 11-12 hours and wakes up super happy on his own around 7:30am. Is his bedtime too early and possibly causing the night wakings? We eat a very clean diet, basically no refined sugar and flour, and essentially nothing processed. Our bedtime routine has been the same since he came to us 8 months ago, although he has no trouble initially falling asleep. Just staying asleep.

  157. said:

    Regarding the sleep issue webinar tomorrow. My son has been doing better the past two weeks I have him on a very restrictive diet (no wheat, corn, soy, dairy, added sugar, etc.) and it has seemed to help. My son turns 6 next month and has been home almost 2 years. He falls asleep between 8p-9p every night and we have a set routine but the time does fluctuate by about 30 minutes. Prior to the diet change, 5 nights a week (which days vary) he would wake up between 1:30a and 3:30a usually very happy and full of energy. Half the time he would fall back to sleep from 6:30a-7:30a and the other half of the time he stayed up until 8-9pm that night, no afternoon naps. About once a week when he would wake up early in the morning he would not have energy and he would be trying to rock himself to sleep but he couldn’t and he would just look at me with the saddest face. So some nights he was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep. My son has been diagnosed with autism which may play a part in this. He also was treated for giardia and h-pylori the first year he was here and has had bowel issues which was another reason for the diet experiment. My son is considered non-verbal (although making lots of speech progress) so he can’t tell me what is waking him up. I am optimistic that the diet is helping but afraid that at any moment he will go back to his waking up at 2am routine.

  158. said:

    Our almost 8 yr old son (adopted from Russia) has been home with us for 2 yrs. He will not go to sleep on his own. One of us has to be in the room with him until he falls asleep (soundly asleep). He will then usually sleep through the night. If he does wake up to go to the bathroom, he will come and get my husband (even though his bathroom is closer than our bedroom) and then the routine about not being able to fall asleep by himself is repeated. We have tried weaning him off this routine, but so far our tactics haven’t worked. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  159. said:

    What advice do you have for balancing music as a soothing bedtime tool and one that becomes a crutch? My son goes to sleep with music playing and I go in and turn it off when I tuck him in before I go to bed. However, he wakes in the night and wants music played again and it often ends up playing all night. This will become an issue when we take trips and are all in one room. How can we peacefully help him to use it while falling asleep only and how can we handle these nighttime wakings without music?

  160. said:

    We adopted our son domestically at 2 days old. He will be 4 years old in May. In his early years, he would not go to sleep without being rocked – either for naps or bedtime. For the last two years or so, he will lay in his bed as long as my wife or I lay with him. He has to rub his hand on our arm or he will cry. We’ve tried letting him cry himself to sleep and he doesn’t go to sleep (and we get worried he will wake his sister in the next room). He has a noise maker in his room and once he goes to sleep, we are able to sneak out. He will sleep for about 2 hours and then he will wake up, sometimes screaming for us, and then he comes out of his room to find us. He has a weighted blanket that he simply tosses off when he wakes up. We try to put him back in his bed, sometimes it goes easily sometimes not. He will usually be back asleep after about an hour of the original routine. Then he’s up again after another 2-3 hours. Sometimes we put him back again and other times we are so worn out that we just let him get in bed with us. When he sleeps with us, he has to touch one of us with his hand rubbing either our arm or our back. And he will continuously rub his hand all night without falling asleep.

    The kicker is when he goes to visit the grandparents, they say he sleeps in his bed all night without getting up. That’s more than just a little frustrating to here. My wife has been diagnosed with chronic sleep deprivation and I sleep with ear plugs to try to avoid the noise of his waking. Both of us are becoming unhealthy due to the lack of sleep and are very concerned about this. He has so much energy during the day that no one would guess that he has sleep issues. Any ideas for what to do?

  161. said:

    My daughter has been home almost 3 years.. initially she slept through the night but once she was able to escape the crib, she preferred sleeping on the floor ( even after the toddler bed was in place). This went on for months. Her new thing is to wake up after a couple hours of sleep. So I can get her into the bed by 8:30 but she gets up numerous times to prolong the sleep process (bathroom, something she forgot to tell me, etc.). So she probably goes to sleep by 10 and then wakes up at 12 and goes to the floor outside my room. My question is how do I get her to sleep through the night and stay in her bed and not on the floor? Occasionally, she may grind her teeth but I don’t think this is the cause and I can’t imagine she is getting enough sleep.

  162. said:

    Sleep seminar questions:
    My 4-y-o daughter has had a couple episodes of what seemed to be full-blown confused aurousal when awoken from spontaneous naps. She’s naturally a night-owl and I’ve noticed more sleep disturbances when I try to inforce a more traditional sleep schedule. My hope is that she’ll grow out of this behavior and we can try for a more normal sleep schedule when she starts school full time. Is this strategy likely to work?
    Also, usually when she awakens in the night, she is belligerant and pretty hysterical, but she seems pretty aware. I haven’t been trating that as confused arousal, but should I be? Is this still confused arousal? Can there be a “mild” version?

  163. said:

    My 14 yr. old son was a foster to adopt child, recently adopted. He has been in our house since Dec of 2013. He takes Melantonin before he goes to bed and seems to sleep okay. Although, while he is sleeping he does a lot of moaning and sleep talking. Is there an underlying issue causing this that we should get looked at?

  164. said:

    We adopted our 10 year old son from foster care last year. He moved in with us at age 8. He came to us with a melatonin prescription.He takes it every night. I don’t think it is harmful. But, our concern is that he is not used to going to sleep without it. There have been a couple of days where we forgot it and he was fine but most times if he doesn’t have it before we read his story, he prompts us to go get it. We are just concerned he may have a psychological if not physical addiction to it. Do you recommend a way to wean him off of them? He sometimes does have nightmares as he has PTSD but they are not terrible. We do have a pretty strict bedtime ritual which includes a story.

  165. said:

    You said that sleep problems are very common in kids who joined their families through adoption. Does this apply to children who were brought to their adoptive homes straight from the hospital as infants?

  166. said:

    My son (now age 4), headbangs to fall asleep, whether it is at home or before his nap at the daycare. He also does this whenever he does not get his way throughout the day. How can we get him to stop this behavior?

  167. said:

    I brought my 7 month old home about 2 months ago (overseas adoption). He is still power-eating through the night. When he wakes, it’s hard to console him. He sometimes will take a bottle but not always. His 3 year old brother could always be rocked back to sleep. I adopted both boys at around 5 months. I want to start sleep-training him in the crib. He’s in a bouncing seat or napper right now because he prefers the contained space. He wakes up in the crib after a short time. But he’s getting too big for both. I’ve tried co-sleeping but again he prefers to be in a contained space. I can’t let him cry-it-out because he wakes his brother and then I have two up in the middle of the night. I’m getting no sleep. I hope you can offer a recommendation.

  168. said:

    Our son came home at 22 months. He has always slept with foster mother – never in a crib. He is now 10. We still struggle with keeping him in his bed. When he wakes up in the middle of the night he immediately jumps up to come find us. This can happen every 2 hours. We have tried rewards and punishments – neither work for long. The pediatrician says there are no medical issues so just keep putting him back to bed. He has seen several counselors who have tried to work with him on it but they all give up. He has no desire to spend the night at grandparents, go to camp or sleepover birthday parties he is invited to. He wants to be brave and says the right thing during the day but when the lights go off – it’s another game.

  169. stefanibrancato said:

    I adopted a newborn at 50! I have only gotten the “grandma” question twice in eight years. I never miss any routine exams (annual, mammy, etc.) as I too want to be there for as much of it as my body will allow.

    Three cheers for silver moms! :-)

    • said:

      Finally I can share my frustration with somebody in the same boat! I do not care to look like my 12 year old’s Granma, but every time that question is asked, I feel for him! He is already “different” being adopted, now he’s reminded to be “different” because his parents are not so young anymore. Why can’t people mind their own business.

  170. said:

    Great article. I’m the white parent of an awesome Korean girl who has experienced many of the same feelings. What’s interesting to me is how the prospective parents ask, “Should we adopt?” which seems to be a question about themselves, rather than, “How was it for you?” which could have drawn Nicole out on the nuances of her own experience. The eyes-wide-open part of it should definitely include some knowledge of the race element, which is real and pungent, and has to be handled sensitively many times over the years.

  171. said:

    How flexible is the Home Study, schedule wise? What if I’m in the process of moving to a new house? Would the Home Study be conducted before I move?

  172. said:

    I agree with this information as a social worker and adoptive mom myself…however, it does not address the important concept of an open adoption in which the child may know his birthparents and have visits with them (as little as once a year or more depending on the openness of the adoption).

  173. said:

    Out of all of the books in the world to ask my family to read, Ashley Marie Rhodes-Courter’s book was the one I chose. Every adult member of my family read the book cover-to-cover, and we were all humbled by her story. Ashley’s journey is incredibly powerful. Since then I have fostered and adopted my own children and although they are younger than Ashley was and did not have anywhere near as many previous foster homes, her perspective is constant in my mind when I interact. I constantly have to remind myself not to assume I understand their seemingly bizarre behavior. THANK YOU ASHLEY.

  174. jillodell said:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Like our son’s “Mama”, you show your love to your daughter through your focus on her in your decision. I admire you both tremendously.

  175. said:

    The Adoption Process From A to Z – Wednesday, April 22, 2015 from 7 – 9:15 p.m. at Lyons Twp. High School, 100 S. Brainard Ave., La Grange, IL 60525. To register call 708-579-6573 or view
    Sally Wildman, a Chicago and Northbrook attorney with over fifteen years of experience in adoption practice, helps you explore the world of adoption. She presents fundamentals of an adoption and legal steps of this process with focus on preparing you to adopt. Ms. Wildman introduces you to the many types of adoption currently available, including agency, private, foreign, and foster parent adoptions. She identifies home study, foster parent licensing, and immigration steps required in the process. Identify your best options as Ms. Wildman shares tips for selecting key resources. Discussion concludes by considering common needs of adopted children and openness in adoption.
    Pre-registration is required.

  176. said:

    I believe the information in this article is dated.

    According the Child Warfare site, less than 12,000 infants are available for non-relative adoptions in 2014. Where did you get 19,000 international adoption number from? According to the US State Department, only 6,441 children were adopted internationally 2014. (

    I know I feel like adoption is becoming further and further out of our reach. Costs are increasing. ($40,000+) Our agency said that things in 2015 has significantly slowed and we should expect a five year or longer wait.

    Might think about having the author update this article to reflect realities in 2015 and beyond.

    • susan said:

      Thanks for this note…We are in the process of updating this article. Declines unfortunately are real.

  177. said:

    Great post! I never really stopped to think about this, but you nailed it. I’m going to share on my FB page. :)

  178. said:

    I am an adult who grew up an adoptee with no contact with my birth family. I appreciate the honesty and experiences shared in this article and truly wish for help and healing for birth mothers!

  179. said:

    Thank you for this article. As a birth mom who placed her daughter for adoption in 2000 in a semi-open adoption, I can tell you more and more education is needed for the general public. I get to see my birth daughter 2-3 times a year and she knows who I am. I have written extensively about my journey online. The number one myth out there is that birth mom do not love their birth children. I got so much grief for my decision.

  180. said:

    We were told there is a chance the social worker will want to speak to my 10yr old child during the home study interview process, what kinds of questions do they ask children in this process?

  181. said:

    Can you examples of some homes study questions that we should be prepared to answer?

  182. said:

    With respect to our two young (biological) children, we have opted for an alternative vaccination schedule and we share beds with them – both of which would not be options based on our state’s regulations with an adopted child. We understand that we may have to make different choices with an adopted child and we are open to that, but could our parenting choices made with the children who already reside in our home impact our eligibility to adopt?

  183. said:

    The letter of reference form that our home study provider uses asks for our references to describe our home environment. What if the people we are using for references have not been in our home, can they leave this blank or how should they answer? We don’t have anyone that we could use as a reference for the home study that has been in our home.

  184. Pingback:

  185. [email protected] said:

    Thanks for this article. We have just reached the one year mark of expanding our family with a sibling group placement – our daughter WAS expecting a baby or at least someone much younger than her when we were prepping her for the possibility of a placement and we were too but this placement felt right anyway. She has adjusted beautifully but is having a period right now of extreme jealousy and feeling like she wishes it was just her and us again. It was helpful to read this today and get grounded in the “normalcy” of what she is feeling.

  186. said:

    You’re spot on. But when you finally announce that a baby has joined your family, I bet the reaction will be even more glowing and joyful than if you had birthed the child. It was for us!

  187. said:

    I have a question about adopting, 4 siblings, same mom, im a single parent, widow, wanted to adopt one, got all 4. Does the court ever seperate siblings? I’ve seen it and heard it done. How does that happen?

  188. said:

    I am interested in the types of questions that will be asked, the information gathered, and what the social worker looks for during the home study. How many visits are there?

  189. said:

    Please address what questions will come up in a home study about mental illness and the best way to address them if someone has recovered from severe mental illness and has not been depressed for several years, no longer takes medication, and no longer goes to therapy due to being recovered.

  190. said:

    For some reason whoever built our house built it so the living room ceilings are very high and the bedrooms above ceilings are low. They are about 5’8″. I asked the foster care people for a detailed checklist of what they were going to inspect and I got one… however there was no mention of ceiling height. Is this going to be a problem? We even joked around and said we’d just adopt short kids if we had to. I’m just worried it may keep us from fostering and adopting? It used to be a bedroom before …

  191. traceystar16 said:

    I am also curious in general about the questions that will be asked (we have our first visit next week!), and am also curious how to handle conversations about medical and mental health related situations – including therapy.

  192. said:

    What, if any differences should I expect during my home study / investigation does ICWA require?

  193. Pingback:


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