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Adjusting after Adoption

by McKenna on May 4, 2009
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),Adoption,Down syndrome


I’m back!  My husband and I recently adopted a little girl from Ukraine and I took some time off of The Mom Crowd to focus on our new little one. I have not experienced anything in my life more rewarding than inviting this precious angel, who was abandoned, to be a part of our family.  The fact that she will not die in an orphanage without knowing what love is makes me wish for others to consider adoption!

Adding a 15 month old to your family is a little different than adding a newborn to your family!  Reese joined our family with an already somewhat formed personality.  The only language she understood was Russian and she has lived her entire life in an orphanage sharing 2-3 caregivers with 15 other children 24/7. So, the adjustment after an adoption has some unique challenges that adjustments immediately after childbirth do not have.

Our adjustment and Reese’s adjustment since coming home from Ukraine has gone remarkably well.  My older two children did better than I could have imagined, with very minimal jealousy from my two year old son as he relinquished his role of being the baby of the family.  Most of the adjustment issues I was prepared for with Reese became non-issues and I have spent the last month in awe at how {dare I say} easy this transition has gone.

I think the research I did on bonding and attachment issues in orphans really helped prepare us all for this transition.  It is not realistic to expect an orphan to feel an instant love for their new family and many times new parents do not feel an instant bond with the child they adopted.  I did not have the expectation that from day one, she would feel bonded to us and even us to her.  My love for her started before she came, but my bond with her may be something that I would acquire over time and not necessarily instantly feel.

Reese’s personality is pretty laid back, so she ended up being content with our routine and family dynamics quickly.  A lot of orphans are not comfortable with too much touch because they are not used to it.   I was prepared to teach Reese to enjoy being held, but there was no teaching necessary…she ate it up from the start!  The one place she is aversive to touch is her face, so we are sensitive when we have to wipe her nose.  While it was good that she loved being held from the beginning, she did not like being put down.  Reese had a hard time with making eye contact with us the first week she was home.  However, that changed pretty quickly. We also had to work very hard for her smiles and giggles in the beginning.

Even though she had very little difficulty in adjusting to our family, I am still amazed at the changes in her over the last month!  After about four weeks, it became quite obvious that she knew we belonged to her and that she was a part of our family.  Around the same four week mark, she began laughing and smiling much more, did not require being held all the time, and is even doing better when I wipe her nose.  It is hard to put into words, but she obviously feels very established in our little family now and it brings me so much joy!  We are all used to our “new normal” around here.  The only thing I am still getting used to is the logistics of transitioning from place to place with three kids rather than two. Getting in and out of the car with three kids is probably not my favorite thing to do…

The question my husband and I had before we met this little girl was whether we could truly love her as much as our biological children.  The answer is aboslutely “YES!” and it happened quicker than we thought!

6 Responses to Adjusting after Adoption

  • Comment by Dawn
    May 4, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

    Awww… how wonderful. Congratulations and blessings to you and your wonderful family!

  • Comment by Amanda
    May 5, 2009 @ 5:28 am

    Reese is so awesome. Daniel and I enjoyed getting to hold her at church. I am glad the transition was easier than you thought. :)

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    Comment by Christy
    May 5, 2009 @ 6:18 am

    Awww… what a sweet little angel! What a blessing you and your family are to her!!! Congrats!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Kim
    May 5, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

    I am glad things are going well for you guys–our heros!!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Amy
    May 7, 2009 @ 10:41 am

    After two boys, I want so desperately to have a girl. I would love to consider adoption, so I really enjoy hearing stories like this. Congrats. God bless.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by kim
    June 3, 2009 @ 9:17 am

    We are pursuing the adoption of a special needs waiting child from Korea, and I was researching available grants/loans when I found your site. I have enjoyed reading through the abundance of information and can’t thank you enough for all that I have learned. I would love to speak with you privately about your adoption, if you don’t mind!


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