What I Wish I Had Known Before Our International Adoption


If I could have written a letter to myself before we started the international adoption process, here are some things I wish I would have known. Some I already knew, but after adopting (or going through the process) others became much clearer to me.

Adoption and parenting in general are selfless.

Keep in mind that you are not just adopting a family member, but there is a mutual merger of birth and adopted families, culture, and country.

Research thoroughly.

Melissa Fay Greene recommends The Complete Guide to Foreign Adoption by Dr. Barbara Bascom. Don’t discredit the positive stories of adoption, but try to get a well-balanced, realistic view.

Use forums boards on the internet when researching agencies. This is how we ended up with the agency we chose. You probably won’t find an agency without issues, but there will be agencies that stand out as being ethical and some that are known for being extremely unethical.

Socialize to a minimum on forums.

Forums are awesome for getting basic adoption agency questions answered. The larger the group, the greater the variation of thoughts and the more drama, which seems unnecessary. If you want to connect with local adoptive families, ask your homestudy or placing agency or find a local small board for arranging meet-ups.

Find a doctor who specializes in international adoptions.

There is probably one in your area, but if there is not, most will review referrals and request blood work once the child has come home. Remember, regardless of age at adoption, trauma has occurred. There is the possibility even with an infant to have an attachment disorder. Be prepared.

Start asking yourself how you are going to answer commonly asked questions about adoption.

This thought process is a bit of an evolution, but it is okay to start thinking about it. It is also okay to decide to give certain helpful information about your family and adoption to others and keep other information private. Do not think because you have offered up some information that it entitles people to be given answers to questions you feel violate your family or your child.

Adoption is different than gestating a child.

The love of a biological and adopted child is equal, but the truth is that adoption is different than gestating a child in the sense that there are some obvious differences in adoption that do not apply to a biological child, and vice versa. For instance, pointing out how much your biological child has his father’s eyes may seem benign, but pointing out genetics when that is not what connects your other child to the family is extremely important to note and treat delicately.

Adopted children and families are considered special needs.

I like to think of adoption as something rare and fragile. There is special attention needed. An attuned and observant family will be thriving, each in its own way.

Open adoptions in international adoptions are possible.

Lovely, beautiful, and very possible. However, understand that there are many cultural differences that may make you feel uncomfortable. There should be boundaries in place in regards to aiding the family financially or anything else that may cross the line for human trafficking laws. However, with a good translator (if needed) and clear direction, a slow, steady relationship can benefit the entire family.


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  1. Christen 6 May, 2013, 10:32

    My husband and I are starting to discuss as an option to grow our family after quite a difficult and traumatic labor and delivery with my son…I am open to both domestic and international adoption where my husband is really only interested in domestic. Did you know from the beginning you wanted an international adoption? If so, what played into your decision to go down this path vs. a domestic adoption? Thanks! Christen

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    • Tina 13 May, 2013, 11:39

      For us, it was a calling from God. We already had 3 bio’s and we clearly felt the Lord lead us to adopt. Internationally. We felt that it was His purpose for us to adopt a child who may otherwise not live. We adopted from a very poor nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. We felt that God opened the right doors and led us to the child that He intended for our family. We are so blessed to have our son in our family. He fit perfectly. We believe that is because God was in control of it all. He chose our son and He placed him with us. He knew. He worked. We are in love with our son, who has been with us for one year now. We know that he would not have made it if we had not adopted him. He was terribly sick and malnourished. He is thriving now. Only God…

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      • Britt 13 May, 2013, 12:48

        We also had biological children. Adopted four from South America we did it for Him, for the kids. He was in it made it all happen, every part of it. After 6 years we disrupted with one daughter and the three are a challenge almost every day! A challenge to love, to connect with a challenge to parent. They all have fetal alcohol syndrome and may never be independent. Your adoption was not successful because God was in it but because he was merciful to you. He had other plans for our family and that has to be ok. Please understand that your words made it sound as if a family struggles that “god was not in it” there are many suffering because they did something for God, something he planned.

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  2. Emily Hendricks 16 March, 2014, 20:24

    My husband and I want to start the adoption process in a couple of years and I am doing a ton of research so I can be prepared when we get started. This has given me some things to think about, thank you so much!

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