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Adopting Non-Newborns


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Would any of the Abrazo alumni like to share their stories of adopting a child that is not a newborn? I’d love to hear how your experiences differ from the more common newborn adoption, from the standpoint of the matching and adoption processes, attachment, behavorial considerations, adjustment, etc. For our next adoption we will be open to children up to age three (our daughter is three and we don’t want to disrupt her place in the birth order).

Was there any type of transition period with the birth parent(s) to help the child adjust from his/her birth family to yours? Did you involve any child counselors to help with the transition? What were your child’s (and your) greatest challenges?

Thanks in advance!

Erin

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I do want to share this - Our daughter was eight months old when I moved to Guatemala to become her legal foster mother, and thankfully we had absolutely no transition problems. My husband and I had visited her twice before that, for five days when she was three months old and for nine days when she was six months old. She’d stayed with us at our hotel for each visit, so she’d had lots of exposure to us and our voices, smells, touch, etc. After the first visit we also gave her foster family a CD player and a CD of us reading stories, talking, and singing for them to play to her. I think the transition was so easy because she was already used to us.

So I wondered if, at placement time in domestic adoptions, transitions are ever done “gradually” (even if it’s just over the course of a few days) to make it easier for the child.

Edited by erin
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Erin, we adopted Zackary when he was 20 months old and Clara was 2 1/2(we adopted her as a newborn). I have a wealth of experience within the last 9 months I could share but no time to type it all here, lol!

I can tell you there was no transition time from his birthmother to us. We had lunch one day, dinner and an activity the next, placement the day after that. I think a longer transition would have been optimal but not available in our case. We did stay in San Antonio and attempted to visit with her as much as she was comfortable with while we were there.

*Find a therapist who specializes in infant/toddler mental health. Ours also specalizes in adoption related therapy. This resource will be invaluable to every member of the family. Probably not a bad idea to see someone like this even prior to accepting a placement.

Wish I could share more but I have to go again, and now, lol.....my leg slide doesn't work as well with one hand and the natives are restless! Feel free to email me @ andreaanddon@hotmail.com :)

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Indeed, Erin, we do try to use a "graduated contact schedule" whenever the parties are willing, when we are working with toddlers, sibling groups and older children who are being moved from one home to another, to ensure that there is some formal "transition time" allowing all parties some opportunity to get acquainted before the day that placement paperwork is completed.

Therefore, it's important that adoptive families considering such placements be prepared to spend anywhere from a couple of days to a week, prior to placement, getting acquainted with the birthfamily and spending slowly-increasing blocks of time with the child being placed-- both with the birthfamily and without-- to ensure that the child has some level of awareness and comfort with the plans being made on his/her behalf. A pre-placement visit is also scheduled in every such case to give the child-placing staff an opportunity to observe the prospective parents and children together, and to give the prospective parents every chance to express concerns, ask questions, etc.

Birthparents who are overcome by their own sense of urgency to "get it over with" don't always tolerate this process well; nor do adopting parents who are eager to get home with their new addition. But when it can be done, it's a valuable means of helping everyone to adapt to this huge life change in a more child-sensitive manner.

Texas standards, interestingly enough, do state that any child being placed who is six or older should sign a consent to the placement, as well. (The state officials don't give any guidance as to what should happen if a birthparent determined to relinquish/place has a child determined not to consent, however?!) Agencies are also required to ensure that children who are not pre-verbal have access to preplacement counseling, and that they are assessed by a child psychologist, a pediatrician and a dentist within 30 days prior to placement.

One thing I think is important is that the adoptive families who are taking placement of school-age children find a way to create rituals to aid their children in the adjustment process. Whether it's as formal as participating in an entrustment ceremony wherein the families recite vows to each other and involve the children, or whether it's as casual as going to get a family portrait that includes all the members of both families, I think it's essential for kids to have a concrete sense of the placement being the launch of an official 'new beginning' that has everybody's blessing-- theirs included.

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Thanks for the information, Elizabeth!

Andrea, I will email you - Maybe we could set up a time to talk on the phone so you don't have to type everything :) Every time one of us gets on the laptop, this is what happens!

Erin

Erin,

My two-and-half year old daughter does the same thing!!

Susan

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Just wanted to add this link, as it includes a number of good reads that are also on Abrazo's recommended reading list:

PREPARATORY RESOURCES FOR ADOPTING TODDLERS. SIBLING GROUPS AND "OLDER" CHILDREN

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Thanks for the information, Elizabeth!

Andrea, I will email you - Maybe we could set up a time to talk on the phone so you don't have to type everything :) Every time one of us gets on the laptop, this is what happens!

Erin

Ex-actly! :lol:

I look forward to hearing from you!

I've been thinking about this topic and about a thousand things come to mind that could be discussed.

I would love to hear from others who have adopted older children in open relationships (Linda, you come to mind ;) )and visiting with the birth parents and how that has gone for others; how long was it after placement that you saw the birthparents for the first time? how long was your visit? any change in the child's behavior or demeanor after visiting?

Maybe there is a topic specific to that issue already?

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Hi Erin,

Every experience is unique and there does seem to be less information on open, domestic, toddler adoptions. As Andrea mentions, it is a lot to try to cover in an email or thread.

We adopted our son at age 13 months through Abrazo in July of 2008. This has been our only adoption so far so I can't give you much in the way of comparison as this is all we know. :) I am however happy to share our experience with you and be be a support to you should you find this to be your path.

I have just updated my profile with my contact information. Feel free to email me directly and I will email or call you back.

-Colleen

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Thanks for the information, Elizabeth!

Andrea, I will email you - Maybe we could set up a time to talk on the phone so you don't have to type everything :) Every time one of us gets on the laptop, this is what happens!

Erin

That is hilarious!!!! Thanks for sharing. Well okay it's not all that funny because all I can think about is my time is coming all too soon!

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Thanks, Colleen - I'll email you! Andrea was gracious enough to give her perspective over the weekend by phone (Thanks again, Andrea!)

Suzi, oh yes, your time is coming soon :)

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  • 5 months later...

A thoughtful blog post by a mom who adopted internationally, on helping toddlers who have been adopted to work through their own losses:

Recognizing My Child's Adoption Losses

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A thoughtful blog post by a mom who adopted internationally, on helping toddlers who have been adopted to work through their own losses:

Recognizing My Child's Adoption Losses

She is a forum friend of mine on another site. She was actually on the VIEW Friday. Here's what she wanted to say about her Hatti experience and adoption.

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2010/06/what-i-wanted-to-say.html

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