Whether completing an international Haiti adoption or another kind of adoption, an adoptive family will have many adjustments to make when they bring home their adopted child. As a licensed, non-profit, international Hague accredited adoption agency, we are dedicated to helping our families throughout their international Haiti adoption journey.
When a newly-adopted child, regardless of age, joins the family, both the parents and the child face a period of adjustment. The parents will be getting used to the new role of parenting, and the child will be adjusting to his or her new home and family.
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It is important to understand that the process of domestic and international Haiti adoption and the removal from a birth mother, orphanage, or foster home to an entirely different home and perhaps from another country is a huge change and it can be quite traumatic. Try to see the world from your child’s point of view including the new sounds, smells, food, people, lights, and clothing they are experiencing. Be aware that your child will be grieving. Babies do grieve the loss of the birth mother, sometimes for weeks and months. Some babies withdraw emotionally or cry inconsolably for the first few days. This grief often emerges once they are more settled in their new home. Older children grieve the loss of the life they knew; all they knew is gone and they had no control over anything.
Here are some suggestions for helping you and your child to adjust:
1. Ease the trauma of transition as much as possible. Ask about routines, likes, and dislikes. Some parents have been able to send a receiving blanket or stuffed animal beforehand with their own body scent on it so the child recognizes them by smell. Even if washed on return, it will then have the familiar smell of their prior home to comfort them. When you receive your child, leave the original clothing on for the first few hours or days if possible, keep at least one piece of clothing if permitted (take new clothes to exchange), and keep it, unwashed, in their bed for a few days. Keep food changes to a minimum and slowly transition to new formula or food.
2. Minimize your child’s exposure to anyone outside the family for the first few weeks after international Haiti adoption placement. Let no one else hold the baby except the parents, even at the airport on your triumphant arrival home. Isolate yourselves with your new child at home for the first week or two, with as few visitors as possible. Do not let visitors hold your baby. If family members want to help, ask them to bring meals, do shopping and errands, or clean the house. If challenged, say the social worker or doctor advised this early isolation.
3. Recreate the routine. A predictable routine will help your child feel safe and secure. Keep everything quiet and low-key for a few weeks with no welcome home parties or other excitement.
4. Focus on building attachment in the early weeks at home post-international Haiti adoption. Lots of physical contact is very important. Hold and carry the child as much as possible. Use a baby sling or cloth carrier to carry her or him facing inwards against your body. Wear your baby all day while you go about household tasks or out shopping or walking. Play together. Newly-adopted babies should be responded to when they cry in the night. Leaving a baby or child to cry is not appropriate for newly-adopted children.
5. Prepare as much as you can beforehand.
6. You will feel exhausted. Get your support system in place before you return.
7. Take time for yourself, your spouse, and your other children. You need to take care of yourself. Make sure you eat nutritious food, get some exercise, and don’t neglect your marriage.
8. Get help from your support network when you feel stressed. If you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or depressed or are feeling frustrated or worried about your child’s behavior, talk it over with another adoptive parent you know and trust. Don’t hesitate to call your social worker about problems and don’t pretend everything is fine when there are problems.
Building Arizona Families is Hague Accredited for International Haiti Adoptions
Learn more about international Haiti adoptions with our Hague accredited adoption agency, Building Arizona Families, HERE. Let us know how we can better serve you on your international adoption journey HERE.
Contact Lisa Peterson, Haiti Adoption Program Manager, HERE for more information on the Haiti adoption process, learn more about upcoming seminars, or call her at 623-692-4424. Building Arizona Families thanks you for entrusting us with your adoption journey and the chance to help your family grow!