In preparation for adoption, there is a lot that needs to be done before you bring the child home. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed God told him to prepare the way for the Messiah. He did this by removing every obstacle. “And it shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way. Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.” (Isaiah 57:14)
Among others, the prophets Malachi and Zechariah proclaimed that a messenger (John the Baptist) would be sent to prepare for the coming of Christ. And, Jesus tells us He has been preparing a place for us in Heaven (John 14:2) for almost 2000 years. According to God’s Word, important arrivals require a time of preparation!
Preparation for Adoption
It is no exception that an adoption will required a type of preparation. Long before my husband and I began to consider adoption as an alternative to biological children, God was preparing us for this future event. He was moving on our hearts and clearing away obstacles. That is so we would be equipped to effectively parent our child.
Whether biological or adopted, children add a new dimension to the regular routine in our lives and their needs will immediately become the primary concern of the entire family. And, if our home life and marriage is not working well before the child arrives, the added stressors of adoption will affect their ultimate success.
Ask God to show you the areas in your personal life you will need to address before you are best prepared to bring a new baby or child into your home. Solomon, son of King David, instructs us in Proverbs that before we set our plans in action, we are to consult with wise counsel. (Proverbs 20:18) Our marriages are always a good place to start in getting our house in order. You might be surprised at where God’s preparation will lead you.
Strength of the Lord
The Lord was my strength during our adoption process. But my partners in prayer became my system of support. Knowing I had such special friends praying with me at every new step in the process gave me reassurance and encouragement. However, most importantly, my husband and I began praying for the well-being of our prospective child.
Whether this child had been conceived or not, or was currently living in a difficult environment, he needed our prayer support. And, a special spiritual link developed between me, my spouse and my child as we began to pray. The prayers you offer your future child, even before you physically know him, will begin to provide eternal value for his salvation and future relationship with Christ.
Pray for protection and provision within his current situation. Ask God to guard his heart and mind against evil in his current surroundings. God can place a “hedge of protection” around and about him while he is in this delicate stage of developing and growing. Most importantly, ask the Lord to begin preparing him for the transition and adjustment into his new family.
Becoming Prepared to Be Parents
Without previous experience with children, we needed to prepare ourselves to become effective parents. By reading books about child development, discipline and talking to friends about their experiences with parenting, we gathered ideas and concepts with which to build upon later. I knew a pediatrician would be critical in assisting with the good health of my child. So I began a search that led me to one I believed would work well with our family. Through his private practice, he had some experience with international children. I saw this as an advantage.
As our Home Study was completed and approved, we were constantly educating ourselves about the unique issues associated with adopted children. My husband and I talked to parents of both domestic and internationally adopted children. We discussed the variety of experiences resulting in their daily challenges. One of our friends with multiple adopted children was a vast resource of information. Also, our agency provided names and phone numbers of recent adoptive parents for us to talk with.
Many helpful couples shared with us where they congregated for age appropriate parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums and other toddler friendly environments to facilitate learning and friendships. Being older parents, we did not have many friends with young children at home.
Therefore, during our time of preparation, I began making efforts to develop friendships with older parents of young children in our church. I began seeking out those parents with adopted children as well because I wanted my son to develop some friendships with children having a similar background. Later, these friendships were invaluable for sharing stories, parenting techniques and prayer requests.
One of the most significant problems that can arise with an adopted child is with their ability to successfully bond and attach with their new parents. Dr. Gregory Keck, author of the very insightful book, Adopting The Hurt Child, states that most professionals agree the first eighteen to thirty-six months of a child’s life are the most critical to developing healthy bonding and attachment to others.
He says that in a healthy bonding cycle a child will learn that if he has a need, someone will gratify that need. This gratification leads to the development of his trust in others. Failure for a bonding cycle to complete successfully will give way to lifelong implications. However, Dr. Keck provides hope for the adoptive parent believing these problems can be overcome.
“It is our firm belief that children hurt by abuse and neglect can learn to love and trust adults in a family setting. Growth and development continue throughout the life span, and it is rarely too late for a child to change.”
Orphaned and abandoned children certainly have had a disadvantaged start in life. However, in this day and age, there is much information and help to be obtained in dealing with each new challenge. Issues may manifest, disappear, and then manifest again several times during the lifetime of an adopted child. But we need to remain hopeful and confident of their future because in most cases, we are their only source of hope.
Adoptions are rarely performed on our timetable. Even though God was definitely directing each step of the way in our adoption process, at each turn in the road there were unexpected delays and problems. In August, through photographs and video we were introduced to our Romanian child. But we did not go to Romania to bring him home until the next April. From the time we submitted our application until the time we brought Valentin home, about 14 months had passed.
Filing for Adoption
In the beginning stage of filing for adoption, we were asked to complete a Child Medical Profile Questionnaire. For the first time in the process, we were faced with the possibility of raising a less than perfect child. Even though biological children are most always not physically perfect, I had not considered all the implications minor and major deformities might have on a child’s life. We were asked questions as to the severity of different medical needs we were willing to accept in a child. Some of the medical needs were correctable and some were not.
Together, my husband and I discussed the severe disorders and we agreed that we were not able to accept an untreatable disorder in a child. The process also forced us to consider whether we were willing to accept the known as well as the unknown disorders. I believe the unknown is more difficult to accept, because an unknown disorder can manifest itself at any time during the child’s life. Most internationally adopted children have little to no medical history available about their parents, giving way to all sorts of possibilities.
However, it is important to keep this in the right perspective. Even biological children can have unusual medical conditions surface without a trace of history in the family. This was the case for my husband. At the age of fifteen he was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. This disease is untreatable and degenerative. No one in his family history had ever been known to have this disease. It was a biological abnormality.
Trusting God’s Grace
However, despite his diagnosis, God greatly blessed his life of forty-four years. He went on mission trips, owned Christian bookstores, earned his doctorate, married, became a popular Christian marriage and family therapist, authored a best-selling book, traveled and spoke at seminars, and for a few short years, was a father to a son. And, because of my long-term and intimate relationship with him, I learned many invaluable lessons about trusting in God from one day to the next for His great grace and mercy. Disease in the life a child changes the families’ focus to re-establish what is most important in our lives.
By the time we submitted our application to our agency I felt fairly confident that our baby was either already born, or conceived and developing inside an expectant mother’s womb. As we waited, I desired to grow close to our baby and missed being able to share experiencing life together. I believe the Life-book began to build a connection to our future child taking on several purposes.
A Life-Book or Journal
First, it provided a way for me to document our child’s developing life story. Second, it provided a tool with which to link our child’s past, present and future life. Additionally, the time I spent putting the scrapbook together kept me focused on thinking about how a baby would change our lives and how the baby would affect our existing lifestyle.
Another suggestion to help the child connect to you and your family is to start a journal. Do this as soon as you have made a decision to adopt. Later, this will give the child a depth of greater understanding into what was going on in your lives during the time of their adoption. Include your thoughts and feelings when significant benchmark dates occur. These can include the INS approval, Home Study approval, matching, issues regarding delays, court dates, and most importantly, the first meeting. Sharing the Life-book becomes a way to connect your child to his birth-culture. It reinforces his own unique identity. And most importantly, it reinforces just how much he is loved by you.
After our decision to adopt was firmly planted in our hearts and minds, we began preparing our immediate family members. We tenderly approached each one asking for their thoughts and concerns about our decision to adopt. We greatly desired their support knowing their influence would be important to the success of our decision. As each new development occurred within the Home Study, the matching process, and the preparation to travel, we kept our family members informed. It was just as if we were taking them through the development of a nine-month pregnancy.
Put Relatives at Ease
Adoption may at first seem alien to some family members. So invite them to be a part of the Home Study and introduce them to the caseworkers. They can put relatives at ease by helping them understand how they can be supportive to their children and grandchildren. I suggest that prospective adoptive parents make available to their family members articles, books, and magazines about adoption. It is also important that you keep them up-to-date on what the child’s life is like during the waiting process. If adoptive parents can reach out to their family members, they can help create warm and loving connections. These are ones that can be meaningful in their children’s lives forever.
Adoption preparation and education can extend beyond the family to the community. This is where all involved need to become sensitive to become more educated. Ministers, teachers, and school administrators are all affected by an adoption. And, as adoptive parents, we can help educate, and model our child’s acceptance to our community.
Preparing our hearts and minds to accept the worst scenario in an adoption situation helped us to not place false expectations on our adoption. Therefore, when the trials came, we were not as shocked. We were more able to cope with our situation. Conversely, when the blessings came, we were more able to appreciate them as well.
Everyone in our community of support worked together to help facilitate a successful adoption. An adoption that is celebrated for the wonderful gift from God that it is, makes way for a successful adoption.
This article is written by Kimberley Raunikar Taylor. She edited it from a book she has written titled, The Intentional Family: Celebrating Adoption. Kimberley Raunikar Taylor has blended her faith, education, and personal life experiences into a ministry that encourages and supports women experiencing infertility and adoption issues. In 2001, after experiencing several years of infertility, she adopted internationally from a Romanian orphanage. Kimberley’s book prepares and guides women through the emotional and spiritual journey of the adoption experience. It also brings awareness to the many sensitive issues and critical decisions that need to be addressed.
In addition, she provides insight into helping the newly adopted child and adoptive family transition through the post placement phases. Over the past 15 years, she has served as a group leader, mentor, speaker, and disciple within various women’s ministries. She speaks at adoption workshops and infertility group meetings. She lives in North Texas with her husband and adopted son. This book is primarily directed toward women who want to become mothers who are experiencing a season of infertility.
— ALSO —
Below is another article on the subject of adoption. But it’s also on the subject of fostering a child. It is written by Kevin East and is posted on the Crosswalk.com web site, which you can read at:
• FOSTERING AND ADOPTION: How to Decide If You Should Do It
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Filed under: Childrens Effect on Marriage