By Eileen Nelson, MA and Avisia Whiteman, MA
Early Childhood Specialists
Minnesota Department of Education
and Minnesota Department of Human Services
Adoption and Guardianship Unit
Parents who have adopted face the same challenges as biological parents. Caring for your baby's health and development needs, and taking care of yourself and the rest of your family are the same challenges in every family. However, as a parent who has adopted, you and your baby may face special challenges:
Understanding your infant's previous experience
You may have limited information about your baby's previous life or you may know that your baby had a very different life than the one you are planning. Your infant may have lived in an institution, with a foster family or in a culture different than your own. Each of these situations may offer special challenges to you, your family and your baby.
Getting information and support will help you and your baby make a successful transition. Adoptive parent(s) in Minnesota must receive a thorough social medical history of his/her adoptive child. The history of the adoptive child is provided on the required forms called: Background and Health History form, Birth Parent Social and Medical History form and the Outline for Health and Social History Narrative form.
Treating existing or emerging health issues
Your baby may have come to your family with health issues that require treatment or undiagnosed conditions may emerge as you care for your baby. These health issues may require special information and a useful resource is the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Minnesota.
Building your extended family
Your own family may accept your infant or the family may need time to adjust to the adoption. Occasionally an extended family rejects a child who is adopted. This can be a real challenge for you, but time and effort may help. Your baby may also have an extended family that you are just meeting. Figuring out how to enrich your baby's life with all the people who love your baby also might take time. If needed, getting support for yourself and your family might help you find solutions.
Adoption offers a set of unique challenges, but there are many resources available with information and services to support your family.
Parents Who are Investigating and Considering Adoption.
If you are considering adopting a child, it is important that you learn as much as possible about the opportunities available to you and about the legal and personal steps required for your child and your current family to be recognized as a family by the government. There are resources available to help you complete this process including public and private child welfare agencies, attorneys and others concerned with finding good homes for children.
Children are waiting for adoption in the community, across the nation and in other countries. You may want to spend time reviewing options and resources by talking with others who are adopting or who have completed an adoption process, talking with local child welfare agencies and reviewing printed resources on adoption. There are also a number of listservs, chats and other resources available on the Internet. Some resources to help in this search are listed here.