Back in December I was asked to do a short video for a conference about advice I would give newly adopting parents. With the focus on those adopting internationally or older kids.
Turns out, I was interviewed for the video instead. Which worked out just fine. But a couple of days ago I found the notes I jotted down in preparation.
So, here I am, sharing my thoughts with you!
- Why should we take care of the orphan?
Pretty simply, cuz God commands us to.
- Is adoption easy?
Nope. It’s tough. But it’s worth it.
- What should I expect?
Not to start off harshly, but please, expect NO gratitude from kids that are adopted. None. Well, maybe when they’re thirty! Adoption is even harder for them than it is for parents. And…they’re kids so they can’t rationalize or think through things like adults can.
Know that some things internationally adopted kids do that seem offensive are just normal in their culture. My kids would shake their finger at me or nod “yes” with this superior arrogant nod. But it turns out that’s just how they nodded in Ethiopia! And finger shaking was just part of saying “no.” They weren’t trying to be disrespectful.
Expect anger. It means they are scared out of their minds just like you are. That’s just how they’re expressing it.
Expect them to want to have control. That’s what they know and it gives them comfort. I know in my life when things seem out of control I am definitely more stressed!
Expect to lose your patience once in a while. Know how to tell them you’re sorry if you mess up, and try again.
- Any other advice?
Don’t take your adopted kids anywhere for weeks after you get home. Seriously. Don’t put them in school right away and then wonder why they aren’t attaching to you. Attachment takes time. Months. Years.
You will need a break! Maybe lots of breaks. If your spouse can’t do that for you, make sure anyone you pull in is the same consistent person so new people aren't coming and going in your kids' lives. Arrange this ahead of time, even before your kids come home. Just an hour here and there helps you remember who you are and to find yourself again during the transition period.
Ask for help with laundry. Let other people get groceries for you, or mow the lawn, or bring you meals or whatever you need done. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! As Christians, we need to be able to help one another. Those that help you may be just as blessed from helping as you are from receiving.
It’s a process. But it’s worth it. So very worth it. For the kids and for you.
Anything worth doing is hard. And this is one of them.