Intercountry Adoption: Where Do I Start?
Series: Factsheets for Families|
Child Welfare Information Gateway |
|Year Published: 2009|
Adjusting to Your New Family
What You Should Know
Adjusting to a new family and culture may be challenging for your child. Children who have spent most of their early lives in an institution must adjust to living in a family. Receiving one-on-one attention, sleeping alone, and owning things may be completely new experiences. Children often have trouble with new eating and sleeping schedules, in addition to changes in diet, tastes, smells, and numerous other cultural differences. Keeping some items familiar to the child, such as a favorite blanket or article of clothing or familiar-looking items from the child's country of origin, may ease the transition as well as provide important mementos for the future. Older children also may struggle with language, school, and cultural issues and will need more time to adjust.
Soon after your child arrives in the United States, you may consider taking him or her for a thorough checkup with a doctor who has experience in intercountry adoption. There are a number of clinics around the country that specialize in international adoption medicine. (See Some Places to Go, below.)
Your family also must adjust to your new status as a transcultural and possibly transracial family. Parents who have not joined an adoptive parent support group may wish to do so to share the joys of parenting, learn from each other's experiences, and help each other through challenges. Adoptive parents also need to be aware of the impact that the adoption of a child from a different country may have on other children in the family and on extended family members.
During this transition and throughout your lives as an adoptive family, adoption agency staff may be a valuable source of support. Some adoption agencies provide services for adoptive families, from about 6 months to several years after placement, to make sure your child is adjusting well. During this time, adoptive parents can also locate resources and referrals for additional services they need. It is normal for adopted individuals and their families to need support beyond this initial transition period. See Information Gateway's factsheet on postadoption services for more information about adoption services and their benefits: www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_postadoption.cfm.
Some Places to Go
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a directory of pediatricians with a special interest in adoption and foster care medicine: www.aap.org/sections/adoption/SOAFCAdoptionDirectory2.pdf
A listing of clinics that specialize in international adoption medicine can be found at: www.comeunity.com/adoption/health/clinics.html.
View Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for vaccines and preparation for travel early in your adoption process to ensure you have time to complete any necessary series of immunizations.
Information about follow-up medical exams and screening tests for children adopted internationally is offered by:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh8-Adoptions.aspx
- The University of Minnesota International Adoption Clinic: www.med.umn.edu/peds/iac/topics/screeningtests/home.html
- Adoptive Families magazine: www.adoptivefamilies.com/pdf/AskMD_JA03.pdf
Find more information about children's needs after adoption on the Information Gateway website:
- Obtaining background information:
- Children who spent time in institutions:
- Transracial/transcultural families:
Rainbowkids.com: The International Adoption Publication is an online resource designed to educate and support families built through intercountry adoption: www.rainbowkids.com.
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