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Being an Adoptive Parent
Once a child or sibling group is placed in your home, a new journey begins that will last a lifetime. During this journey, it’s important for you to have realistic hopes and expectations of your child. Adoptions appear to be more stable when parents are tolerant of a wide range of behaviors.
You can’t predict with complete accuracy your capacity to manage any problems that may arise, particularly if you have had little experience with these issues. How a child will react to a new family may depend on a number of factors from their genetic makeup, personality traits, stage of development, to a history with family and other significant adults in their past. Children and families are ever changing and bringing them together will no doubt bring about more change.
What You Need to Do
When a child is placed in your home, you will need to ensure their well-being in that their emotional, medical, dental, and educational needs are being met.
Medical and Mental Health Needs
In addition to a child’s regular medical needs, some children require therapy and treatment to help them through past trauma and losses. Children in foster care are removed from their families due to abusive or neglectful situations. This can include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, or neglect such as not providing enough food or leaving children who are unable to care for themselves alone. It’s up to you to ensure all their needs are being met.
States provide varying levels of financial assistance to adoptive parents to help cover the costs for both medical and mental health services for a child adopted through foster care.
To find out more about medical and mental health assistance available to you, make use of the resources below provided by Child Welfare Information Gateway:
- Searchable database of adoption assistance by State
- State list of mental health service assistance programs
- State list of additional financial assistance for medical needs
- List of Web services that help you locate health care assistance
There is a wealth of resources available to adoptive parents to help you meet the educational needs of your child, particularly for sending them to college. Child Welfare Information Gateway has a great list of educational assistance programs and a searchable database of adoption assistance and medical assistance by State.
Meeting many of the day-to-day emotional needs of a child you have adopted will be similar to meeting the needs of any child by providing unconditional reassurance, love, and support. However, there are additional things you will need to prepare yourself for to help a child you’ve adopted work through past traumas and loss. Child Welfare Information Gateway has a great list of resources for adoptive parents on:
- Helping adopted children cope with grief and loss
- General information on parenting after adoption
- Specific information on parenting after adoption from foster care
Whether you’re an adoptive parent or birth parent, it can be hard to juggle the needs of your children with those of your own. Make sure to ask for help when you need it. Preventing burnout before it happens makes you a better parent all around. There are many different types of services available to adoptive parents including, but not limited to:
- Financial assistance
- Respite care
- Training and support
- Networking with other adoptive parents
Find out more about post-adoption resources available to you.