What We Didn’t Know
About Adopting an
By Kevin and Stacey
Lessons Hard Learned: What we didn’t expect
- The memories of bad times may add to anxiety, poor behavior, and
nightmares around birthdays, Christmas or after visits with
- How literal adoptive kids are with dates and promises. Adults
have not been reliable for them so they will be watching to see if you
will follow through or disappoint them like so many before you.
Don’t say it if it isn’t going to happen exactly as described.
- The lack of communication between the old school and the new
school. If your child has special needs - don’t assume that
services will transfer. You will have to be persistent about them
to get them in the new school.
- The newness of school distracting the child so the grades and
performance will be random for the first term of the year at least.
- Battling the fairy tale. These kids have years to fantasize
about their new family and home and parents. You will be compared
to this ideal and you may need the help of others on your team
(counselors, etc) to battle this myth they have created.
Best Things We’ve Found
- Get a good counselor who works with adoptive kids a lot.
Recommendations can come from DHS or your agency or other adoptive
- Be prepared to review with your pediatrician the medication the
child is on. It may need to be adjusted and that is a trial and error
process. Don’t expect instant success
- Get the counselor talking with your pediatrician. This is invaluable
in getting diagnosis and medications correct. Don’t assume that what you
get coming in is what is really going on with the child.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate with the support network this
child has already. Foster parents, old counselors, old medical
personnel, case workers can all be support for you and helpful in
figuring out how to treat situations as they come up.
- Know what already works for disciplining this child and capitalize
on it. Using what was being used in the foster home will be reassuring
for the kids and easier for you than starting from new.
- Schedule your respite ‘dates’ ahead of time. If you wait you will be
stressed out before you do it! Find people willing to watch the child
for an afternoon or overnight (if the child is ready for that). The
availability of respite providers is very limited - so working within
your family, church, or friends will be more successful.
- If you are not finding respite, check into child programs at your
library or community center. These are a great way to get an hour or two
- Don’t feel guilty about taking the little moments or rituals for
yourself. Even a cup of coffee or a time with another parent can relax
and recharge you.
- Don’t feel bad about feeling pushed, stretched, overwhelmed. That is
part of parenting and not reflective of just you. Talk it out with your
spouse, a trusted friend or pastor.
- Boundaries are hard to establish but a day does come when you will
not feel like you are correcting your child all of the time.
- Give yourself time for your heart to be knit to your child’s. It can
take time especially as boundaries are being set. That is
Not so little surprises
- Post adoption support payments will be less than foster
- DHS will start the post adoption payments before finalization and
- Vision is not well covered by the Oregon Health Plan. Anything
beyond basic exams will be out of pocket expense for you.
- Get a good tax preparation person. The federal tax credit is complex
and will likely be spread over multiple tax years.
- Using an attorney in the same county as the child’s court of origin
can speed up finalization.
- Go into mediation with your game plan on contact already decided. It
will go quicker.
- For mediation you may meet the birth parent(s). We took some
snapshots of their child as a good faith item. The birth mom immediately
warmed up to us and it was a good meeting. We also found out a lot about
family members, their health and whereabouts - good information to have.