Tips for Preparing Children in Orphanages for Adoption

Adoptive parents anticipate the adoption of a child with joy and a great deal of planning. By the time they travel to pick up their child, they have been reading about, dreaming about, and talking about this event for at least a year and sometimes much longer. Unfortunately, chances are pretty good that their child, regardless of the age, has had little time and information to prepare for what is probably the biggest event of her life. This lack of preparation can make transitioning to adoptive family life hard. This video of adoption workers talking with kids about what they think it means to be adopted is both cute and poignant.

What Can Agencies Do to Prepare Kids in Orphanages for Adoption

Depending on the country, agencies and orphanages may be able to do the following:

  1. Respect the role and knowledge orphanage caregivers. Specifically ask their suggestions of how we can help make the transition to an adoptive family smoother.
  2. Train orphanage staff on typical child development.
  3. Train orphanage staff on how trauma, abuse, and neglect affect children.
  4. Train orphanage staff on typical family life in the US.
  5. Encourage families to send a photo album to their child before the adoption showing pictures of life in their family and typical daily activities.
  6. Create a transition/good-bye ceremony between caregiver and child. Take pictures for the child and caretaker to keep.
  7. Encourage caregivers to give a gift to the child. If allowed, perhaps give the caregiver an allowance to help cover the cost.
  8. Encourage parents to learn basic phrases in their child’s language.
  9. Allow time for parents to talk with primary caregiver, if possible.
  10. Have agency staff ask caregiver basic questions about the child to provide to the adoptive parents to help smooth the transition. Creating a Family has a list of great questions to ask orphanage staff about the child.
  11. Allow parents to send small gifts to the child and encourage staff to allow the child to have these gifts.
  12. Prepare parents for realistic expectations of that first meeting and couple of days with their new child. Creating a Family has the following Online Adoption Education courses with Certificates of Completion (1 hour audio interview with experts) that can help with this training:
    • Transitioning Home for the Child and the Parent
    • Creating Attachment with Your Adopted Child in the First Year
    • Traveling with Newly Adopted Children
    • Happily Ever After? Unexpected Stresses of Newly Adoptive Families
    • Helping Kids Transition from Foster Care to Adoption
    • Preparing Yourself and Your Children to Adopt an Older Child
    • The Connected Child: Creating Attachment in Adopted Children
    • Getting Your Kids to Sleep and Keeping Them There

These are just a small sampling of the 100+ Creating a Family Online Adoption Education Courses, including many more that are relevant to transitioning to becoming a family.

What Adoptive Parents Can Do to Prepare Their Child for Adoption

Creating a Family has some really great suggestions of what parents can do to prepare their child for adoption and ease the transition into their family.

Image credit: Moche