Adoption is a journey and a very emotional process. I believe it is even more crucial to involve your kids when they are older and understand better what is happening. I am not saying is that you allow your kids to make the decisions about adoption, but that you include them in the journey.
Our oldest two children were young when we started our first adoption. Evan was 3 and noah was 2. But, we decided early to involve them in the journey as much as possible. As a result, when Kaia came home from Ethiopia, they had almost ZERO adjustment issues. We anticipate the same when Karis comes home from Haiti this year. While we believe God's grace was a big factor, we firmly believe that their involvement in the whole journey was key. Here's what we did in our family.
- We talked about a new sister from the very day we made our decision to adopt. This gave our kids about 14 months to adapt to the idea. Depending on your process, and the country you have chosen, you may have more or less time for this. When Kaia came home, there was an anticipation that had been built.
- We discussed the possibility and reality of being a multi-racial family. We did not highlight race, since our children were so young. But, we talked about the fact that we might adopt from a country where the people have different skin and hair. We talked a lot about how we were all created as perfect by God. During this part of the process Evan told us he wanted to bring home a "grey baby sister, not a black one!"
- We let the kids be involved in picking out a name for our girls in both of our adoptions. (We chose to give Kaia and Karis a new first name, and keep their given Ethiopian and Haitian names as their middle names.) While we made the ultimate decision, the kids got to share their votes...Some of the names they suggested were "The Squeakual" (As is the Chipmunks!), Bob, Evan said he wanted to name Karis "Kaia 2", and there were plenty more!
- We put pictures everywhere as we got them from our agencies. We are doing this now with Karis. It helped our kids feel as if they know their sisters before they arrive at home with us. Kaia's face was familiar and so is Karis'. As we wait for her to come home, they love seeing her pictures.
- We have made it a habit to pray with our kids for each of our girls daily. They are involved in asking God to watch over the girls, provide for them and bring them home safely.
- We talked about the travel aspect a lot with our kids. While we only made one trip to Ethiopia, our Haitian adoption will be complete after 3-4 visits. Each time we go we talk to them about the country, the people and the experience. We share pictures and small souvenirs. Each time we go, they get excited as if they were going with us. Most international adoptions will require a minimum of 2 trips now....So this is very important since you will likely be away from your children for 7-10 days at a time.
- We talked about the importance and call to help give kids a new home and family. We shared with them how they got to be part of doing something that God wants each of us to do. We told them they were part of changing a life and even changing the world. They were able to grasp the importance of the adoption journey through this. Even today, Evan will talk a lot about helping kids who don't have moms and dads. We hope this will be a trait and legacy they carry on into their own families.
All in all these steps have made our adoptions move very smoothly within our family. While we are not experts, we can speak from experience. These are just places you can start to involve your family.
What other ways can you think of that involve the whole family in the adoption Journey?
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