Advice from Adoptive Parents: What They Wish They Knew Before Adopting

You can read every book on adoption out there, but when it comes to your actual adoption, you may be blindsided by some things that no book or Internet article could have prepared you for. We asked some adoptive parents what they wish they had known before adopting and asked them to mention any advice they would give to families looking to adopt.

Betty and Melinda Potts-Cerio adopted two sisters they had fostered through Community Based Care of Central Florida. They said,”Our best advice is to learn everything you can! Most importantly, educate yourself about the effects of trauma on kids.  Seek out and know your resources then use them!  Self-care is so important as well. Take care of yourselves so you can take care of your kids.  These kids are counting on you, go make a difference!”

Annette Marie Griffin, whose debut children’s book What Is A Family will be released next year, talked about the unexpected changes that come with adopting children:”While we understood that adopting our two foster children would give them a chance at a better future, we had no idea how much their lives would change us. Every day for the last thirteen years, through the milestones, challenges, and victories of raising Josiah and Faith, my husband and I have morphed. No longer can we be categorized as a comfortable, middle-class, traditional family–coveted by solicitors and politicians alike. We, with our amazing children, are now a diverse clan of overcomers. And better off for it.”

Rosalind W. Sutch had some financial advice regarding paying for her son’s college: “I wish I knew that if my son stayed in foster care until age 13 he would have received more financial aid. We adopted him at age 12 3/4 only to find out a few years later while applying to college that if he was in foster care at age 13 our income would not have been considered for his FASFA. So by delaying his adoption by a few months, he would have qualified for a lot more financial aid.” For more information on this rule, visit

Barbara Majors, a clinical social worker who entered the field to help other former foster children and their families, said:

“The one thing I wish I knew about adoption before adopting was that just loving my child enough would not be enough. I needed to know more about early developmental trauma and ways to work with that diagnosis/condition with my family and children.”

Jarmila V. Del Boccio, a freelance writer for Women & Children, encourages parents to ask as many questions as possible:

“Looking back, I wish I would have asked more about our son and daughter’s medical and family history. I came with questions when we sat with the lawyer and others facilitating the Russian adoption, which they answered. But there was so much more vital information I could have gleaned from them. For instance: nationality of parents (not always evident), birth and illness details, how many siblings and their status, and any evident familial learning or mental issues.”

While doing your research is an important part of the adoption process, sometimes you learn the most from those who have first-hand experience. Read blogs by adoptive parents. Listen to podcasts. Talk to people you know who have adopted. Find out what people have really been through so you are as prepared as possible. Nothing ever truly prepares you for being a parent, no matter how parenthood finds you, but the best thing you can do is try to be aware of what to expect.