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4 tips to help in preparing for an international adoption

If you have made the decision to adopt a child from another country, you are no doubt excited but also somewhat apprehensive since you want everything to go smoothly.

Here are four tips to help you prepare for this new addition to your life, especially If the child is a toddler or older.

1. Language concerns

Even a toddler will know certain words and those will likely be part of a language other than English. An older child may only speak his or her birth language, so communication may prove to be one of the first hurdles you face as an adoptive parent. You might consider using the time before the completion of the adoption process to learn at least the basics of your adopted child’s language. To help the child learn English, you can employ the services of a teacher or professional translator.

2. Health issues

Depending on the circumstances in which the child lived, health issues may be a concern. The child may not have had sufficient nutrition. He or she may also have had exposure to other children who were ill or who were carriers of a disease. One of your first responsibilities as a new adoptive parent is to see that a pediatrician examines your new arrival.

3. Cultural differences

A child adopted internationally is from an entirely different culture. Unless your new family member is just an infant, he or she accepts behaviors and beliefs that may not seem appropriate here. You must teach the child proper behavior in this country, a learning experience that will take time for him or her to absorb. Keep in mind that there are support groups you can contact to help the child make the transition to a different culture.

4. Age question

For one reason or another, the institution you work with may not know the child’s actual age or birth date. However, the adoptive agency or the pediatrician who attends the child can make a “best guess.” You can then choose a new date and enjoy annual birthday celebrations going forward. The child’s true age is just one of the many questions for which you may need professional guidance when you become a new adoptive parent.