Once you have determined to grow your family through adoption, preparing to welcome home a child or children is the next step. How to prepare for adoption may sound quite simplistic in nature, but in reality, it involves continued prayer, study, and counsel.
First, it is crucial to anticipate and prepare for any attachment challenges your child may have. Children impacted by adoption and/or foster care have oftentimes experienced a number of challenges that stem from his or her early history. Malnutrition, prenatal stress, abuse, neglect, and loss of a child’s family and culture of origin are all influences in early development. Early trauma, in any form, can impact a child physically and emotionally. As a parent, it is important to remain compassionate and ready to help your child navigate things that may trigger his or her early trauma.
Successful attachment is hard work and most keenly gained when a parent can commit the time and intentionality necessary to connect to his or her child’s heart and early experience. This connection enables a child to gain an understanding of safety, acceptance, love, and stability and serves as a way to establish a foundation of hope and healing.
Think about the potential ways in which your child’s early history can impact his or her reactions and ability to navigate emotions. This includes being attentive and sensitive to environments that might be overwhelming to your child. Be prepared and willing as a parent to consider what you may be contributing to that environment.
And finally, remember that you are not alone in this. There are others who understand and appreciate the unique challenges and joys that adoption can bring and can offer meaningful support and guidance.
Understanding the complex needs of children who have been orphaned will better prepare you in growing your family through adoption. Learning more and equipping yourself about creating strong connections with your child and among your family are crucial as you begin the process of adoption. Thankfully, research related to early childhood trauma and its impact on attachment continues to grow, and from that, a number of helpful, practical resources and organizations are available to come alongside you on the adoption journey.
The following are three resources we recommend to get you started in preparing for adoption. All three focus on the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma and how to better care and serve those children.
The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis, Dr. David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine
The Connected Parent by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Lisa Qualls With Emmelie Pickett
Created to Connect by Dr. Karyn Purvis With Michael and Amy Monroe
For a more personal, first-person perspective, we also recommend our Co-founder Mary Beth Chapman’s book, Choosing to SEE.
Beyond reading and/or study resources, there are some great conferences and organizations that are aimed at equipping parents and caregivers meeting the everyday needs of children impacted by adoption and/or foster care.
At Show Hope, we often say, “The adoption journey does not end on the day a child is welcomed home; in many ways, it is just beginning.” Children impacted by adoption and/or foster care have often experienced early attachment injuries related to loss, abuse, trauma, and/or neglect.
Preparing for adoption and welcoming a child(ren) into your family and home requires prayerful, contemplative wisdom. It can be an overwhelming part of the process, but there is hope and help. For more information on how to prepare for adoption, we encourage you to visit HowToAdopt.org.