My Advice to Adoptive Families


adopt from africaInternational Program Director, Lydia Tarr, has personally adopted four children from Ukraine and professionally she has assisted in placing over 200 children.

  • Focus on getting ready for your child, instead of on which day they will arrive. Children who have come from a background of trauma, neglect or abuse will oftentimes require a different approach to parenting and I cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared. For more information about education and support, please check out our adoption resources page. Learn how your child’s past can impact their current behavior and what may be needed to help your child to move on to a brighter future.
  • Build a strong support system of family and friends, as well as other adoptive families that will understand your needs. There will be times that caring for your child may be overwhelming and just having someone that can be there to listen is helpful.  Having someone watch your child while you take a well-deserved break is even better!  If you stay mentally and emotionally healthy, you are in a much better position to parent through any hard days.
  • Save up or fundraise for post adoption services that might be needed. Many families are typically focused on the final amount it will take to get their child home and do not realize how much they might need once the adoption is final.  Expenses such as doctors, dentists, counseling and other services may add up. My children all maxed out on their dental insurance coverage before completing all of their dental work after coming home. Counseling session may be needed as you begin to settle in with your adoptive children and these expenses may or may not be covered by your medical insurance.
  • Get familiarized with the Post Adoption Services coordinator in your community. Attend some meetings or seminars if possible and plan ahead for what “may come”.  Every child adjusts in a different way and at their own pace.  Some children may be considered a “resilient rascal” and seemingly unaffected by what they have been through, while the “wounded wonder” will be deeply impacted and may take much work to help them heal, mentally, physically and emotionally.  Being prepared to deal with your child’s past and how they handle it, may save you and your child some heart break.  You can find a listing of resources available in each state here.  Identifying the services available in your area is a proactive step towards a successful adoption.
  • Identify your parenting style. What makes you respond the way you do?  In what way did your childhood or past shape the way you will or do parent?  Understanding yourself will give you a greater depth of understanding your relationship with your child and help you to develop a secure relationship with your child.  I am currently reading, Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J Siegel, MD and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed.
  • Make a plan for self-care. While it is a labor of love and can be very rewarding to parent your new child, it can also at times be overwhelming and stressful.  Put time for yourself in to your schedule, pick some relaxing activities or hobbies that will allow you to take an emotional break periodically.  If you are happy and relaxed, when the stressful moments hit, you will be prepared to handle the impact and be able to be there for your child.  Do not feel guilty about this time for yourself, your child needs you to have it as much as you do so that you can fully be there for them!

For more information on international adoption, please contact us.



Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.