Are you considering toddler adoption? Adoption is not an easy road, but if it’s intensely difficult, it’s also intensely fulfilling. Can there be any greater blessing than getting the opportunity to shower love on a hungry toddler soul?
Toddler adoption is wonderfully rewarding. But it is also very messy. You are not adopting a blank slate child, you are adopting a little person with history. Even if he is not verbal and can’t express his history, it’s still there, and it still matters.
• What are you imagining, and can you adjust your expectations? Toddlers come in all shapes and sizes; healthy, sick, friendly, hostile, and everything in between. Are you ready to accept your new toddler and love on her wholeheartedly whoever she might be?
• Are you patient and flexible, or do you have to have everything ‘just so’? If you adopt a toddler, you may never have anything ‘just so’ again, so don’t even consider it if you don’t have a good stock of patience.
• Are you active and physically well, able to run after a busy toddler, pick him up when he needs to be picked up, and piggy-back him when he needs a piggy back ride?
• How stable is your family, and if you have older children, how secure are they in your love? When you adopt a toddler he takes central stage, and other siblings fade into the background. Are your children able to handle that? Are they supportive of your desire to adopt?
If you’ve decided to go ahead with toddler adoption, congratulations. You’re one of a very special few, and if there are rewards in heaven for such as you, there are also plenty of rewards here on earth. Here are my tips to help you as you get ready, mentally and physically, for your new little person.
• Read. When your new child comes home you won’t have much time for reading , so read up now. Read adoption memoirs and been-there-done-that books, and make sure you look up reactive attachment disorder and be prepared to walk your child through that.
• Find out anything you can about your child’s previous home or orphanage, and look for ways you can provide continuity for your child in the upcoming transition. If he comes from an international country, learn some of his native language and practice making some basic national foods. If it is a domestic adoption, find out all you can about his likes and dislikes, bedtime routines, and what he is afraid of.
• Childproof your house. You want the focus during those first few days and weeks to be on positive reinforcements and attachment, and your new toddler will only feel jumped on if he’s told ‘don’t touch’ whenever he tries to explore. It’s not good for your nerves either to have a non-childproofed house—and you’ll really need those nerves for toddler adoption.
• If possible, visit with your toddler before the adoption, or send him pictures and recordings so that a welfare worker or orphanage staff can share them with your toddler and get him mentally ready for the transition.
Remember, nothing will be as you planned. Nothing will be as you expected. It’ll be harder. It’ll be better. Because there’s no way you can anticipate the complexity and beauty of a human soul.