Many families who adopt a child from Ethiopia end up adopting again. We actually feel that bringing another Ethiopian child into your family can be the best thing for that first child – especially if he or she is the only one who looks different from the rest of the family.
Families who have been through this arduous process learn a thing or two that helps in their second adoption. It doesn’t always make it easier but experience can be a great teacher.
John and Jennifer Johns, a YWAM family who brought their daughter Sena home just a little over a year ago, are getting ready to bring home daughter #2. Jennifer recently compiled a list of things she learned as a result of their first adoption journey. First-time families – take note!
1. After the paperwork is complete on our end, the rest of the process is completely out of our hands. The sooner you accept that, the better off you'll be.
2. God's timing and my timing usually don't line up. One of us is right and one of us thinks we are right - again, the sooner you accept that His timing is indeed perfect, the better off you'll be. Your child will not come home one day sooner than he/she is supposed to. You can choose to fret about it or you can trust God's plan. Trusting His plan is far better.
3. God has a way of redeeming lost time. When our first process went on months beyond what we expected, I grieved every missed milestone. Her first steps, her first words, her first birthday - all were lost to me. However, when she came home, we rejoiced in the firsts that we were able to experience with her. Now, just one year later, it seems that she has always been with us!
4. The process is draining and has an impact on the whole family. Each setback affected not only my husband and I, but our sons were also disappointed and needed to voice that. When Sena finally joined our family, the JOY was palpable.
5. Set realistic expectations. It is easy to fall in love with a picture of a precious child, but you also have to consider that the picture is a representation of a very real child. All children need structure and guidance and an adopted child will need an extra measure of grace thrown in, too. Do not expect them to behave as your biological children did. Really, don't even go there. Your biological children have most likely not experienced anything even remotely close to the losses that an adopted child has experienced and drawing comparisons between two completely different situations does not help. At all.
6. Read, read, and read The Connected Child, Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft, and Attaching in Adoption. Really read them and consider how you will implement some of the suggested strategies. Working to develop attachment early on will pay huge dividends down the line and the whole family will be better off for it. And make no mistake - it is work and you must be intentional about it. Don't expect your child to just acclimate to your lifestyle right off the bat. Stay home. Develop a routine and try to stick to it - especially early on.
7. If you ever have the opportunity to attend an Empowered to Connect conference, DO IT! The material truly comes alive in a way that it just doesn't through reading alone. It is one of the most worthwhile things that we have done to help in our journey as an adoptive family.
8. Read about the symptoms of post adoption depression BEFORE your child comes home and have a plan in place if you find yourself really struggling once your child comes home. Find a friend (perhaps another adoptive parent) with whom you can be brutally honest and who you trust to help if needed.
9. Know that above all, God is in control and we can trust Him to see us through any situation that may arise.
Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing these great suggestions. Be sure to read her blog: 7,739 Miles Away