Foreword by Dr. Johnson
Joyous, challenging, thrilling, scary, fulfilling— all of these adjectives apply to the experience of adopting a child. However, above all, the term that I want partnered with your adoption is "well-informed." Joyous, challenging, thrilling, scary, fulfilling— all of these adjectives apply to the experience of adopting a child.
Whether by birth or adoption, we all have expectations for our children and what parenting will be like. Generally we focus on the good times rather that the trials we might face knowing that the human race would face extinction unless denial was also part of our reproductive strategy. With birth children this optimism is warranted as we can ensure that prenatal care, good nutrition, avoidance of toxins, delivery under medical supervision, appropriate care during infancy, breast-feeding and a nurturing environment are provided. Such diligence stacks the deck in favor of the healthy, normally developing child we envision. However, with adopted children we control none of these factors. In addition, many more children with obvious special medical needs are being referred for international and domestic adoption. Therefore, a conscious revision of normal expectations may be necessary when adopting.
"Expectations minus reality equals disappointment" is a simple equation that helps us understand why a small percentage of adoptive families struggle. When our expectations of reality are not well-informed, the odds that we will experience disappointment increase. While we can never eliminate risk, the goal is to match the needs of an adopted child with adoptive parents who expect to be able to fulfill these needs.
This resource will help you begin to understand what a child with a particular medical condition may require and will help you set appropriate expectations of what parenting this child might entail. We want this to happen well before you get that first adoption referral for a specific child. By opening this volume you're beginning the process of learning, prior to the many steps that come next. Becoming well-informed will require further consultation with appropriate medical specialists, communication with other families parenting children with similar conditions, a realistic appraisal of your own capabilities and an honest assessment of how this adoption may affect your family now and into the future.
Over the past thirty years I have personally reviewed adoption referral information for over 20,000 clients and I wanted each child to find a home. However, accepting a child for adoption is a life-altering decision. This book with enable the first steps in your process of enquiry so you may go forward if you possess the desire, the appropriate financial, personal and social resources and realistic expectations of what life will be like. With this, our hope is that you will thrive as a family.
Dana E. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Divisions of Neonatology and Global Pediatrics
Co-Founder, International Adoption Clinic
University of Minnesota
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