Adoption Resource Guide
Michele L. Jackson, Attorney at Law
Lydia Tarr, International Adoption Program Coordinator
Brooke Randolph, Adoption Education & Expectant Care
Mark Reder, Legal Associate & South American Adoption Director
155 E. Market Street, Suite 400
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Phone: (317) 632-9411
Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.
Two different lives shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.
The first one gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One sought for you a home that she could not provide.
The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied.
And now you ask me, through your tears,
The age-old question unanswered through the years.
Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?
Neither my angel, neither. Just two different kinds of love.
PREPARING FOR YOUR NEWLY ADOPTED CHILD
Most of your energy during the adoption process is spent completing
documents and jumping through hoops to make your adoption a reality. You have
anticipated and tried to imagine life with your newly adopted child. You have been
patient and waited. Now what? It is important that you begin preparing for the
arrival of your child before he or she comes home.
Your life will change, new demands will be required of you as a parent.
Whether you are a first time parent, or have children at home, each adoption will
require a certain amount of preparation to make the transition a smooth one for
both you and your new child. In general, these guidelines apply to all adoptions,
whether or not your child is an infant, toddler or older child. We will discuss more
specifically later, guidelines more specific to the adopted toddler and older child.
LANGUAGE BARRIERS: Plan for problems communicating, especially if
your child is older than two and speaking another language. Take the time to learn
a few phrases in his/her language, or create picture cards for communicating
simple needs. Remember, not only will you have problems understanding your
child, your child will have problems understanding you. Be patient!!
Sensory Overload – Too Much Too Soon You have been patient, filed all the
documents, traveled to a foreign destination and now you finally have your child
home with you. The first thing you want to do is take your child everywhere and
do all the things you have been dreaming about. DON’T.
Remember your home is a new experience in and of itself for your child. Your
child is dealing with a new environment, new people, new smells, and new toys.
Give him or her a chance to become comfortable with their new surroundings and
with you before you begin introducing new places, people and activities. Your
child needs to learn to adapt and be comfortable in his or her new home. Too
much “newness” will create anxiety for your child. Take it one step at a time,
don’t overwhelm your child with too much stimulation.
Maintain a schedule and routine- Children become comfortable and well adjusted
when they can predict what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Keeping your child on
a daily routine will help him or her adjust more quickly. When your child knows
for example, I wake up, eat breakfast, take a bath, have playtime and then take a
nap, your child will become comfortable and at ease much more quickly. Maintain
a weekly routine as well, such as, Friday is pizza night, Saturday we go to the
grocery store etc.
Grief & Loss - Your child may be going through a stage of grief at having
lost everything that was familiar and predictable. Your child’s surroundings, care
takers, playmates, language, food and his or her daily routine are lost and have
been replaced by everything new. Let your child grieve and go through the
emotions he or she is entitled to.
RAD: Reactive Attachment Disorder: When an child losses the birth
mother’s love, the child experiences a profound, emotional loss. Remember
parents, if this is the case, it does not mean you were a bad parent or did not love
the child enough. Loving is a two-step process, the parent gives love and the child
must accept the love.
The adopted child comes to the family in a different emotional state than the
parents. Because of the extended process of adopting, adoptive parents are
attached to the new baby or toddler before he or she arrives. In essence, they have
gone through a type of “pregnancy” preparing them for the child. In contrast the
child enters the family with little or no preparation or warning, with a history of
loss, possibly emotionally deprived and may even have a strong distrust for
caretakers and the reliability of love. Here are things you can do to promote
Love & Limits: Parents need to always be loving and at the same
time set limits. Rules and structure are vital, however don’t take away
love or nurturing as a form of punishment. Setting limits for the
child’s wellbeing and safety shows your child a form of love through
Love & Needs: Loving a child means giving him or her what they
need. Fulfilling the needs of a child is one of the key components to
parenting. In fulfilling the child’s needs you demonstrate to the child
that his or her wellbeing is important to you. Your child will develop
trust in you as a parent. Be careful though to separate needs from
Love & Acceptance: As the child learns to trust the parents, he or
she will begin accepting their love. Think of it this way, each time the
parent fulfills a need a raindrop falls into the glass, when the glass is
full of raindrops you have fulfilled your goal. The fuller the glass, the
more the child trusts the parents and begins an attachment or bond.
Love & Control: Most of the trauma that causes RAD happens
during infancy when the child is completely dependant and largely
powerless. Your child may believe that survival will be dependant on
gaining power resulting in many power struggles between parents and
child. While the parents need to maintain control, always remember
your ultimate goal is attachment through love.
Notice the word love is in all four concepts. Love and nurturing is the key
building block to achieve attachment and bonding with your child. Walter Buenning, PHD
Plan on the possibility of your child having some developmental delays. Your
child may be behind a year or two compared to other children the same age, don’t
be overwhelmed or concerned. Remember your new adoptive child may have
come from an environment with limited one on one time with caregivers, and lack
of toys to stimulate development. Many children have never left the orphanage
grounds. Remember with patience and love these delays can be overcome.
BEHAVIORS Your child may exhibit behaviors that you are not accustomed to
such as acting out and hoarding food. Be prepared for these behaviors and realize
they are a result of their past experience and not their current situation. Many
children who have lived in an orphanage their entire lives use different skills for
“survival” that you may be accustomed to. Over time, and with love and stability,
these behaviors will slowly diminish.
FAMILY If your child has lived in an orphanage all his or her life, they will not
know what it means to have a family. The concept of having a Mom, Dad and
other siblings is a new experience for them. Your child is used to being in an
environment with many other children and not having the one on one contact that
families bring. Your child may seem distant, or uncomfortable with affection.
Don’t force your child to be affectionate, this will come over time, and let your
child demonstrate affection behaviors when he or she is ready. Being distant does
not mean that the child does not love you, the child will learn through you how to
love family and show others emotion. Be patient!
GIVE OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS TIME TO ADJUST
Realizing that your new adoption will affect the entire family is a must
especially if there are other siblings in the household. Remember everyone’s role
in the family will be affected including parents and other children. You are
introducing a new member to the family unit. Everyone will be getting to know
one another over time. If there are other children in the family, expect that they as
well may display behaviors such as acting out etc. Give the children time to adjust
and find their place and role in the new family. Let everyone know they are
equally loved and important!
My wait is over, you are coming home!
I will travel tirelessly to meet you,
With only one goal in mind.
Crossing time zones and cultures, You I will find.
I have anticipated this child of mine,
Have gone sleepless from time to time.
Just to hold you, and to tell you I am here.
Now you are with me and having nothing to fear.
I have longed to be a parent,
And to give you my love,
I am here for you now, so gather your things,
You will come home with me to see just what love brings.
I have so much to show you, so many people to meet,
To show you a better life,
Home, family, toys, a baseball glove,
But most of all, I am here to give you my love.
Adopting a Toddler or Older Child
If you are adopting a child who is a toddler or older, they will come with a
history and a memory. Their past does not become erased when they are adopted.
They will have lived their short lives with behaviors equipping them to live in an
orphanage. These living skills are far different than a child living from birth or
infancy within the family unit. Your child will come with fully formed
personalities, temperaments and habits. So not only are you trying to manage the
normal behaviors of the toddler years, which are stressful in and of themselves,
you will also be faced with a child who has behaviors consistent with living in an
institution with many other children. Your child may not understand that his
behaviors need to change, so be patient.
Life in orphanages or institutions are based mostly on submissive and
dominance models. You may feel your child is too aggressive or passive in the
beginning. This is a learned behavior, a behavior maintained for survival. This
behavior may be “dysfunctional” for family life. Your child will have to learn
new behavior and his new role in the family.
If the child has lived in an orphanage all his or her life, he or she has no
concept of family or reference point for what family means. It will be a new
experience and the child will have to learn how to behave in the new environment.
Keep in mind that it will take time. The adjustment period may take a month, six
months or a year depending on the child’s past experience and temperament.
Assume your child has attachment issues, the previous section on RAD can be
Re-parent your child. Adopting an older child means the two of you have
missed the baby interactions that occur between parent and child to promote
attachment and bonding. Re-parent by rocking them, sing lullabies, read nursery
rhymes or books together. Older children may not have received these types of
personal interaction and still may have a need to pass through these phases or
Create structure and implement consequences for their actions. Your child
will test his limits with you, it will be their way of learning what their boundaries
are as well as confirming your commitment to them is real. Teach them rules and
consequences, and be consistent with implementation. Using time-out or removal
of privileges is a good strategy but being consistent and do it every time there is an
Have fun. While it might be hard in the beginning to have fun with your
child, especially if they are acting horribly, do everything you can to have fun with
them and laugh with them
Don’t expect too much too soon. Be patient with your child, with love and
structure they will come around when they are ready.
Show love any time you can through caressing, a gentle touch, a loving hug, or
even in the beginning a loving smile.
Preparation for adoption is important to anyone who is thinking of adopting a
child, however it is even more important for parents considering a trans-racial or
trans-cultural adoption because it will introduce you not only to all aspects of
adoption but also help prepare you for raising a child who looks different than you.
You and your child may be faced with racial bias. Are you ready to handle these
life situations? First and foremost, you must begin by examining your own beliefs
and attitudes about race and ethnicity. You may think you know yourself and your
family, but take a second look. Do you attend multicultural festivals? Do you
enjoy different kinds of ethnic foods? Do you have friends from varying cultures or
racial groups? Is it a big leap to do some of these things? To learn new cultures
and new ways of life? Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
It is important for children of culture growing up with Caucasian parents
to be around other adults and children of many diverse ethnic groups.
A child who is adopted with a sibling from the same ethnic group, have
an easier time adjusting and growing up since they bring a piece of their
heritage with them, and have someone who looks like them in the family.
Become intensely invested in parenting.
Tolerate absolutely no racially or ethnically biased remarks.
Surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
Celebrate all cultures, including the adopted child’s, yours as well as
Talk about race and culture with your child, especially as they become
Let your child know what to expect.
Expose your child to a variety of experiences where he or she can
succeed, this will foster physical and intellectual skills and build self
Take your child to places where there are people present from their ethnic
Help your child to develop skills to handle racial bias from the outside
Revel in the differences and qualities of other cultures and racial groups.
It keeps life interesting!
Prepare children at home.
Embrace your child’s cultural and ethnic heritage and celebrate it with
Educate yourself of your child’s past cultural heritage and be prepared to
answer questions about it.
Medical Issues for International Adoption
There are no children who are perfectly healthy 100% all of the time.
As a parent it is important to remember this, whether your child is biological or
adopted, there are no certainties with children.
Children adopted from overseas may present unique health problems
or issues related to their birth country and living conditions before the adoption.
Many children adopted from abroad have received little or no medical care.
Medical care is very limited and may be unavailable, especially if the child was
born in a third world country.
Medical questions and unknowns are inherent to international
adoption. It is only natural that you would like your child to be healthy, however
many times medical history of the child as well as the birth family may never be
known. In general, children are placed up for adoption due to abandonment,
poverty, illness of the birth parent or child, death of the parents or abuse problems
such as alcohol, child abuse and drug abuse. All the reasons why children are
placed for adoption can be cause for health issues in the child. Additionally, the
birth mother may have received poor pre-natal care if she received any at all.
After saying all that, don’t be discouraged. The great news is the vast
majority of health issues seen in a child placed for adoption in the international
community are minor and correctable. Specific health issues such as
malnutrition, scabies, lice, intestinal parasites, developmental delays etc., can all be
THE FIVE MOST COMMON HEALTH ISSUES
SEEN IN INTERNATIONALLY ADOPTED CHILDREN
HEPATITIS & HIV Blood tests are used to detect the presence of HIV &
Hepatitis in the child. The majority of countries open to international
adoption provide the results of these tests in your child’s medical history.
Make certain however that the date of the test is recent, to make sure the
child was not exposed while staying at the orphanage. If known, a child will
not be referred to a parent if they have tested positive for Hepatitis or HIV.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder FASD is a common risk in Eastern
Europe and Russia, it is uncommon in Asia and Latin America. FASD
occurs when the developing fetus is exposed to continual alcohol
consumption during the pregnancy or if the birthmother engages in binge
drinking. There are a cluster of problems associated with this syndrome and
Small brain and head circumference
Small eyelid openings
Sunken nasal bridge
Exceptionally thin upper lip
Short, upturned nose
Missing frenulum (smooth skin between nose & lip)
Small teeth / inadequate enamel
Joint, limb and finger deformities
Slow growth before and after birth
Vision difficulties (nearsightedness)
Delayed development & retardation
Behaviors: hyperactivity, short attention span, anxiety
Reactive Attachment Disorder
Sensory Integration Dysfunction The brain interprets the body’s senses
inappropriately, such as the child touching hot and cold and inappropriately
interpreting this feeling. This can result when a baby is left in a crib for long
periods of time, unable to explore their environment and do not receive the loving
touch from a caretaker. This dysfunction can be treated through therapy by an
Occupational Therapist who is familiar with this dysfunction.
The good news is while internationally adopted children can be exposed to a
variety of illnesses, most are treatable with today’s modern medicine. The best
defense an adoptive parent has is to stay well informed of the issues and illnesses
present in the country you are adopting from. With knowledge and education you
are empowered and will know what to do if your adopted child begins
demonstrating signs of illness or dysfunction.
www.adopting.org - Adoption Assistance, Information and Support
www.adoptioninstitute.org - Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
www.jcics.org - Joint Council on International Children’s Services
www.mulitculturalkids.com - Multicultural Kids, Inc.
http://rileychildrenshospital.com/document.jsp?locid=461 - Riley Children's Hospital
International Adoption Clinic
www.cincinnatichildrens.org - Medical information – International Adoption Center
www.adoptshop.com -Adopt Shoppe
www.rainbowkids.com -Caring for International Adoptees
www.nemc.org/adoption - Floating Hospital for Children – Helps families in the pre and post-
www.tapestrybooks.com - great resource for books associated with adoption
http://www.unicef.org/crc/ -The United Nations Rights of the Child.
www.discoverytoysinc.com - Toys for learning for Children.
Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg & Beth Hall – Book which provides guidance
for parents how are experienced or inexperienced parents considering transracial adoption.
Handbook for Single Adoptive Parents by Hope Marindin
Adopting on Your Own The Complete Guide to Adopting as a Single Parent by Lee Varon
An Educator’s Guide to Adoption. A book adoptive parents can give to their child’s teacher.
Adoption Wisdom by Marlow Russell
The International Adoption Handbook: How to Make Foreign Adoption Work for You by
Adopt International: Everything You Need to Know to Adopt a Child from Abroad by O.
Robin Sweet & Patty Bryan.
International Adoption Travel Journal by Mary E. Peterty
Adopting a Toddler: What Size Shoes Does She Wear? By Denise Harris Hoppnehauer
Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge
Risk and Promise by Ira J. Chasnoff, MD et al.
Raising Adopted Children, Revised Edition: Practical Reassuring Advise for Every
Adoptive Parent by Lois Ruskai Melina
Raising Adopted Children: A Manual for Adoptive Parents by Lois Ruskai Melina
LifeBooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child by Beth O’Malley
Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz
* Books for children.
*A is for Adoption by Eioleen Tucker Cosby. This is a Christian themed alphabet book. (ages 2
*W.I.S.E Up Powerbook by Marilyn Schoettle. A book to empower your adopted child. This
book assist your children in answering those questions which may seem difficult for an adopted
child. (ages 6 to 12)
*How I was Adopted by Joanna Cole. This book explains how a child is born, grows and is
adopted. (ages 4 to 8)
*One Wonderful You by Francie Portnoy. A book about forming a healthy identity when you
have two family legacies. (ages 4 to 10)
*All Kinds of Families by Norma Simon. A book which describes different type of families.
(ages 2 to 8)
*Mr. Rogers – Let’s Talk About It: Adoption: by Fred Rogers. This book discusses questions
your adopted child may have about adoption. (ages 4 to 8)
*Two Birthdays for Beth by Gay Lynn Cronin. A book which celebrates a child’s adoption day
and explains adoption. (ages 4 to 10)
*This is How We Became a Family: An adoption story by Wayne Willis.
*The Day We Met You (Aladdin Picture Books) by Phoebe Koehler
Center for International Adoption and Geographic Medicine, Riley Hospital For Children,
International Adoption Center, Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati, 800-344-
2462 www.orphandoctor.com - Website deals specifically with medical issues that are inherent
in internationally adopted children.
*Symbiotic Parenting, LLC. P.O. Box 801m Greenwood, IN 46142, 317-440-1515
Providing workshops and educational classes for the Adoptive Parent. Offering information,
local resources and support for the adoptive family.
*CARE Program Adoption education programs offered through Clarion Health, 317-962-6474
Options for Financing Your Adoption
Corporate Matching Gifts (Check with your employer’s human resources division.
Also check www.adopting.org/employer.html, www.adoptionbenefits.com or
www.abanet.org/family/advocate/sp97tax.html. (Target, Wendy’s, Hewitt, and
Hallmark all have adoption assistance benefit programs).
Call he National Adoption Center at (800) TO-ADOPT for information on
corporate employee adoption benefit plans.
Fundraising. Many churches and civic organization will support and assist in fundraising
efforts for adoptions.
Federal Tax Credit of $10,000
o The federal government provides a tax credit of just over $10,000 per child to
help with adoption expenses. The details are available in I.R.S. Tax Publication
968 and available online at www.irs.ustreas.gov in downloadable form.
State Tax Credits
o Several states offer tax credits to aid in adoption expenses as well as other grants
and subsidy programs. To learn if you qualify, contact your state tax office or
link to state website at www.state.yourstate.us, with “your state” being the
standard two letter state designation.
Grants and Loans
o The National Adoption Foundation offers low interest loans and grants to offset
the costs of adoption. www.nafadopt.org.
o The Hebrew Free Loan Association offers interest free loans and grants to assist
with adoption expenses for needy families. www.hflasf.org/adopt-loans.html
o The Gift of Adoption Fund offers low interest loans and grants to assist with
adoption expenses for needy families. www.giftofadoption.org
o Adopt Share is a Christian Ministry offering assistance with expenses involved in
o Bright Futures Foundation offers small grants to adopting families.
o Acres of Hope offers financial assistance and loan programs for the adoption of
physically and emotionally challenged children. For information, call (715) 765-
o Christian Adoption Resources (717) 492-1868
o God’s Grace Adoption Ministry offers grants and loans to adopting families. Call
(209) 572-4539 for more information
o Grants for Adoption is a private foundation awaiting non-profit approval status to
provide grants for adoption. Please email them at
o Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries offers fundraising and grant assistance. (509)
o Love Knows No Borders will provide information on financial assistance if you
send a SASE (two stamps) to 500 B Monroe Turnpike, P.O. Box 350, Monroe,
o Promise the Children provides grates to adopting families working with approved
o Sibling Adoption Grants provides up to $4000 for two the adoption of two
o Americans Adopting Orphans provides low interest loans and grants to qualifying
families. Call (206) 52-4-KIDS (5437).
o The Boatner Family Foundation provides grants up to $10,000. Write to: P.O.
Box 132272, The Woodlands, Texas 77393-2272
o Adoption Financing.com provides a no obligation expedited loan process.
o Adoption Funding-Adoption Network Law Center offers credit based loans (800)
o MBNA offers unsecured loans to qualifying families to assist with adoption
related expenses. For more information, call 888-627-8767. MBNA also provides
a credit card that contributes to each the National Adoption Foundation with each
purchase. (800) 932-2775
o Fifth Third, First Union, and US Bank also provide for adoption loans. Please
contact your local branch.
o Building Families Adoption Loan Program is a loan program through Old
National Bank for families in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
o Child Adoption Funds #225 9393 N. 90th St., Suite #102, Scottsdale, AZ 85252
o A Child Waits provides low interest loans to qualified parents. (866) 999-2445.
o United Way International provides assistance for the cost of travel for children in
need of immediate medical attention. (703) 519-0092.
o The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides numerous resources for
adoption assistance. View their website at
o Many banks will give second mortgages on home equity. The funds can be used
for adoption and interest is tax deductible.
o Check into your IRA, 401K, or retirement plans for information about borrowing
against those funds.
o Steven Curtis Chapman runs a foundation called Shoahannah’s Hope that
provides grants to adopting families. Shaohannahshope.org
o Adoption grants for Christian couples living in Wabash County, Indiana contact:
Carmen Fleck, 260-774-9315 or email at email@example.com
o Life International provides grants for adoptions. Call 309-747-3556 or visit their
website at lifeintl.org
o After adopting, don’t forget that you will be able to deduct your child as a
dependent, saving tax money.
Military, Nonrecurring Program
o Full-time military personnel are eligible for a one-time subsidy of up to $2000 per
o Tax Accountant Len Titone has adopted 6 children and is a tax consultant. He
can be contacted at 21 E. Cedar Street, Zionsville, Indiana 46077. (317) 414-
“How to Make Adoption an Affordable Option” is a free comprehensive booklet published by
the National Endowment for Financial Education. Order at www.nefe.org or call (719) 948-4000
and ask for Item #602-E.