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The Importance of Post-Adoption Support

Adoptive families and professionals have long agreed that post-adoption services support a successful transition into long-term stability. These services range from comprehensive medical evaluations to age-appropriate psychiatric care. Engaging with these types of professionals can help address feelings of loss, separation, and anxiety, and help build a stronger and healthier family unit. 

Post-adoption support is not just limited to the adopted child—they are meant to support the entire family. Here are some of the services available to you: 

  • Parenting education: Building a community is so important, and there are several ways for parents to gain support and guidance throughout and after their adoption journey. Find a local workshop or informational group that you can attend. If you don’t have time to make it to a group meeting, try an online seminar or workshop. For more information on where to find post-adoption parenting education, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway
  • Therapeutic interventions: Some adopted children may come from homes where they experienced trauma. If that’s the case, it’s important to intervene as soon as possible. Therapeutic interventions include more than just counseling with a therapist—there are several community-based services that engage children and families in positive and healthy behavior and activities while learning coping strategies to deal with trauma. 
  • Child’s background: When it comes to giving out information regarding a child’s medical history or otherwise, guidelines vary state by state. Some states have limited information they are required to give. Go here to learn more about your state’s laws.
  • Search and reunion: If your family is ready to begin the search for your child’s birth family, start with the agency or professional service you adopted from. If you don’t have an agency or professional to consult, contact your Department of Human Services. The National Foster Care & Adoption Directory is a free online service where you search for relatives by state. 

Seeking professional guidance helps ensure your family is happy, safe, and healthy. The more support you have at each step in your adoption process, the better it is for you and your children. 

Have A Lovely Weekend

We hope you had a safe and relaxing week! Enjoy the weekend, stay cool, and soak up some summer sun. And when you’re not doing those things, check out our favorite reads of the week…

Recently on the blog, we talked about how best to positively discipline a child who may be dealing with past trauma. 

Cup of Jo introduced their “low-key summer checklist” to help the season go by quickly, and we’re so into it. No-stress and high-fun, it talks about everything from hosting family game night to letting your kids run wild with disposable cameras.

Planning a summer vacation, but never traveled with young ones? Parents.com has 14 strategies for enjoying a stress-free travel experience.

Reina Torneo was one of seven siblings separated during infancy by adoption. Now she’s launched a campaign to find them.

Ministries in North Carolina are banding together to advance foster and adoption efforts. Take a look at what they’re up to.

We have heard it time and time again: the adoption journey is not an easy one. Tyler and Jessica Darnell know all too well the struggles people can endure when building their family. 

Commandant General David Berger is the new top commander for the US Marines and he’s here to change the face of parental leave.

While this may seem like something out of a movie, it is real life. Katie Page got the surprise of her life when she learned her adopted son and foster daughter were biological siblings

Alabama continues to set records for adoption from foster care.

Grab the tissues – check out the story of Jeramy and Rene. They adopted five siblings to grow their family. 

Breastfeeding and Adoption

For biological and adoptive parents alike, breastfeeding isn’t right for every mother. Above all it is always a personal choice. There are innumerable reasons why an adoptive mother would want to breastfeed her child, but the only reasons that matter are the reasons that are important to her. Breastfeeding your adopted child is challenging, and may not be right for everyone. But it can still be done, and there are several ways to go about it.

Providing nutrition to your newborn can happen with store-bought formula, your breast milk, donated breast milk, or a combination of all three. This process is not cut and dry, but if you want to try producing your own breast milk, you will need the same hormonal push that all women need. Breastfeeding an adopted infant can takes weeks, or even months, of preparation. 

  • First, consult a physician. This is a non-negotiable — consulting a professional is vital. Your doctor can help you figure out, based on your medical history, if breastfeeding is the right option for you. In addition to providing supplements or strategies to promote lactation, a physician can connect you with a lactation specialist who can further help you on your lactation journey.
  • One of the options may involve birth control pills. Birth control produces hormones that trick the body into thinking it is pregnant, thus it does not produce an egg. This trick can help promote the beginning stages of lactation. Consult with your doctor before, during, and after taking birth control to create a timeline for when you will transition from birth control to supplements or prescriptions that will continue to promote lactation without harming the breast milk itself. 
  • If you are able to begin producing milk, pumping is a great way to kickstart the lactation process and promote milk production. This is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to produce milk, you must be consistent in your pumping leading up to your child’s birth. Do not be discouraged if your breast milk supply is low — that is completely normal. A fed child is a healthy child. Supplement your breast milk supply with donated breast milk or formula from the store. 

Regardless of whether or not you breastfeed, this is not a process to feel shameful about. If the process or prospect of feeding your child is causing stress, reach out to a therapist in your area, perhaps one that specializes in parenting. You deserve support through this journey as well.

For additional resources on breastfeeding your adopted child visit La Leche League

 

Positive Discipline Strategies

When you have adopted a child, it’s important to understand any past injuries or traumas they may have dealt with — this will help you develop a positive discipline strategy. When seeking out healthy methods of discipline, consider your child’s age and personality. No matter what, it is vital that you create a safe and open environment, even when disciplining your child.

Sometimes a child’s emotional age is significantly lower than their biological age, which is why it is important to tailor your discipline strategies, language, communication, and expectations to their emotional age — this will help them better process the discipline and allow for a more connected experience with your child. Some examples of positive disciplinary action are below:

  1. Have predictable routines. Creating structure and routine will help a child understand expectations of them throughout the day. By keeping meals, bath time, and bedtime the same each day, you create a predictable routine and help alleviate stress caused by unplanned activities. Help your child understand that while we try to create routines, sometimes change can arise throughout the day. By communicating a change in your schedule and reminding them that their schedule will return to normal, you help them set expectations and learn how to handle change in a more productive way.
  2. Provide choices: By giving your child a choice you avoid a power struggle and create a sense of autonomy. You don’t give too many choices for this to work! A deluge of choices can often backfire, and lead to your child becoming overwhelmed and frustrated. Should your child try to introduce a third, or subsequent choice that was not originally given, remain firm and repeat the original choices. Remember: only give choices that you are actually comfortable with.
  3. Communicate: As adults, we may not realize that sometimes our child is not understanding what we are communicating. What makes sense in your head, doesn’t necessarily make sense in theirs. Keep in mind that you’ve had a lot of time to consider what you’re saying, or how you want to discipline your child. For your child, this information could be coming out of the blue and with very little time to process or comprehend. If you find that your child is consistently misunderstanding what you’re saying, do the work. Talk them, understand how you can communicate more clearly and in a way that suits their comprehension. It’s only proper communication if the other person is able to understand, interpret, and then act upon what you’re saying. To avoid control battles, try turning negative statements into positive ones. 

Employing consistent and structured discipline routines will encourage children to make positive behavioral choices, supporting a happier, healthier child, and a happier, healthier family. 

Have A Sunny Weekend

Happy weekend! Enjoy your free time and relax with family and friends. Here are some of our favorite links from around the web this week…

This week on the blog we talked about how children who are adopted may have a more difficult time feeling comfortable during bedtime. We have some tips for you!

Adoption anniversaries are a big deal—they’re the day your family changed forever. Here are some fun ways to celebrate this special day!

Vanessa McGrady discusses her open adoption and some of the hardships it brought along the way.

The Center for American Progress discusses how discrimination in the adoption system hurts children in the long run.

Life is overwhelming. For the Love of Birthmothers is a blog that creates a sense of community and support for birthmothers. In this post, the author discusses how mindfulness can help navigate life’s most trying situations.

Emotional connections are imperative to a child’s growth and development. A Family For Every Child shares with us the importance of emotional bonds.

Suddenly Mummy doubles down on the importance of you asking your doctor questions—not the other way around. 

Are you looking for adoption-themed movies to share with your children? AdoptHelp published a list of the seven best children’s movies with adoption themes.

Parents Magazine touches on some ultra-important pediatric mental health topics. 

Parents.com put together an amazing list of articles related to maintaining a healthy marriage or relationship after having kids.

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Adoption and Bedtime

Adoption adds a layer of complexity around an already notoriously frustrating routine: bedtime. Adopted children are more likely to have experienced abandonment or neglect and often, these feelings will be more pronounced at bedtime when a child is feeling especially lonely. It is difficult to determine how long it will take a child to become comfortable in their own home. If you adopted an older child, it’s possible that this may be their first time sleeping in their own room or bed and the environment could be totally different. 

Linda Duval is an adoption education specialist, and she compiled a list of sleeping tips for newly adopted children and their families. These tips will help build a path to independence on behalf of the child.

  • Arrange a consistent routine: It’s important to establish a structured routine that eases your child into a new sleep pattern. Introduce relaxing activities to the bedtime hour, like listening to music, reading a book, or breathing exercises. Additionally, let your child give some ideas on what helps them relax before bedtime. 
  • Reassure safety: Remind your child that you are there if they need anything during the night. Leaving a night light on or some soft music playing while they fall asleep may help them feel more comforted and safe. While your child may not feel secure enough to sleep totally alone at first, reassuring their safety will help this process. 
  • Comfort items: Have your child pick a few items that bring them comfort while they sleep. This may be a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or maybe a family photo. Letting your child choose these items could provide a level of control and security for them, easing them into bedtime with more peace and comfort. 
  • Address issues: During the day, and when your child is feeling more at ease, discuss whether or not they had issues sleeping the night before. Sometimes it may be difficult for a child to express their grief or feelings; adoption books and stories are always a good place to start. During this conversation, invite your child to help you create a plan of action for when they are having sleepless or anxious nights. 

With a little patience and a structured routine, your child will eventually work their way into a successful bedtime routine. Should sleep disruption continue, it’s never a bad idea to reach out to a trained professional. Sleep is imperative to function; don’t be afraid to address this.

Image via new-beginnings.org

Have A Great Weekend.

We hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July spent with family and friends! Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend with some of our favorite reads from around the web. 

 

 

This week on the blog we talked about love languages and how using one can build a deeper relationship with your child. 

An interesting question: Is it possible to adopt a grandchild who lives abroad?

Lori Holden of Lavender Luz examines adoptive parent rights and how legislation pending in some states may affect families. 

A compelling story: after Amber Loubiere’s family was split up as a young child, she used 23andMe to find them. 

The Philly Voice asks: When should kids be told that they’re adopted?

We’ve explored the difficulties of open adoption before. Now, US News dives into how these complexities can evolve over time. 

Years ago, The Washington Post wrote an article titled “Dating, Identity, and the Adolescent Adopted Child.” We reconnected with it this week, and found the information to be incredibly relevant. 

Adoption counseling is incredibly helpful, and can have a lasting positive effect on any adoption process. Here’s why it’s needed and where you can find it.

We are almost to the middle of summer! Take a look at this list of fun things to do with your kids, and start checking off items!

The Institute for Family Studies explores connections between adoption and school performance.  

See you next week!

Love Languages and Children

Children express and receive love in different ways. Some through words or touch, and others through acts of service. The way a child chooses to express and receive love is representative of their “love language.” By understanding the five love languages, you can open yourself up to a deeper connection with your child. 

 

 

Words of Affirmation. Compliments and praise can go a long way for a child. Even simply observing: “that was a very kind thing you did,” can help a child thrive throughout their day. Use words of affirmation to compliment their personality, achievements, or as positive reinforcement. Affirming positive aspects of your child’s life and behavior will help drive confidence and independence. 

Acts of Service. When children are young, we do everything for them! We do this because they cannot do these things themselves. As your child grows older, express your love by showing them how to do things themselves (positive affirmation works great with this). If your child responds to this love language, find out what’s important to them. Do they feel fulfilled if you help them with their homework? Once you uncover what makes them feel the most loved, perform that act of service for them. 

Gifts. Children that use this love language have a tangible need for affection. Sometimes they may perceive a lack of gifts as a lack of love. While this is not true, try to engage your child with small gifts to show love. They don’t need to be expensive — even a small treat or a trip to the ice cream shop would suffice.

Quality Time. This love language centers around undivided attention. When children are young, we play with them. As they grow older, the time spent is less about the actual activity and more about the time spent together. For families with multiple children, try to carve out one-on-one time with each of them individually.

Physical Touch. Physical touch is powerful. From birth, children are held and touched constantly. As children grow up, there is still a longing for physical touch, just in a different capacity. It can be something simple like a pat on the back or a quick hug that will show your child you’re there, you see them, and that you want to give them your love and affection.  

Understanding your child’s love language is a crucial and special way of connecting with them in a meaningful and lasting way. Everyone is different; understanding how your child perceives and receives love is key to a powerful, loving, and authentic relationship. 

Image via businessinsider.com

Have A Great Weekend.

Happy Weekend! We hope it’s a sunny and bright one. Spend this time taking care of yourself and the ones you love. You deserve it. 

Check out our blog this week! We talk about what to do when adoption expectations do not meet reality.

Huffington Post gets personal with this story of adoptive parents creating racial identities for their adopted children.

How long does it take to do something once you have kids? Cup of Jo presents a hilarious before and after.

Get involved in Molly’s Mission! Molly is a former foster child making the foster world a better place for everyone.

Chances are, there will never be a “perfect” time to adopt. Take the leap!

The state of Hawaii maintains that it attempts to reunify children in foster care with relatives, but do they? Deborah Goodwin’s shares her experience. 

Are you ready to grow your biological family through adoption and are concerned about blending your family? Don’t worry, it’s more common than you think.

Open adoption is a brave and difficult decision. Here are some tips on creating a durable and long-lasting relationship. 

Looking for fun and free activities for your kids this summer? Very Well Family has you covered!

Summer has just started, but school will be back before we know it! Here are some guidelines for easing your newly adopted child into school. 

 

The Fantasy of Post-Adoption Bliss

After all you endure on the adoption journey, you’d expect a little bliss to be at the end. Not always. You definitely deserve to feel happy, but the reality may be that you’re left feeling sad, under-prepared, and exhausted. While every person is unique, there are some general themes in the emotional ups and downs of adoption. This is common. How do you overcome post-adoption depression?

We hear a lot about Postpartum Depression, but we don’t often hear about depression following a lengthy adoption journey. Like a pregnancy, adoption is stressful, it’s just stressful in different ways. Entering an adoption journey can create unrealistic expectations, and when those expectations don’t meet reality, the feeling of failure can set in. 

If you start to feel down in the days after your adoption is finalized, don’t feel shame. Here are a few steps you can take to help yourself and regain emotional balance:

  • Find a therapist. Perhaps look for one with experience in adoption, parenting, or depression. A therapist can help you understand what you’re feeling, and give you the tools you need to feel better, more grounded, and confident in your parenting journey. 
  • Join an adoption support group. Often when someone feels depressed, they feel they are totally alone. In joining a group who has experience with this situation, it’s more likely you will find someone going through the same thing. Community is key, and a powerful tool for navigating the highs and lows of being a new parent.
  • Be open and honest with family and friends. Don’t be afraid to lean on your support system. Communicate how you’re feeling and let them help. 
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure that you are eating, sleeping, and exercising. Take time out to do something you enjoy. Remember that taking care of yourself is taking care of your child — it has to start with you. And the better your mental, emotional, and physical health, the stronger you can be as a supportive, loving parent. 

For a deeper look into the struggle with post-adoption depression, check out Amy Rogers Nazarov’s story of her journey after adoption