It is that time of year again…National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Not only this month but throughout the year, MLJ Adoptions International, Inc. encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making their community a better place for children and their families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to effectively care for their children, we can ALL help prevent child abuse and neglect by creating strong and thriving children, youth and families.

Research shows that protective factors are present in healthy families.  These are conditions or attributes of individuals, communities or families that promote the healthy development and well-being of children. They can serve as safeguards for families in helping them prevent abuse and neglect. They help to ensure that children and youth can function well in all aspects of their lives.

Such factors are:

  • Nurturing and Attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Parental Resilience
  • Social Connections
  • Concrete Supports for parents
  • Social and Emotional competence for children

When families make the loving commitment to adopt a child, a life-long journey begins toward developing and strengthening their skills, abilities, emotional regulation, patience, understanding, knowledge, and flexibility in parenting. For international adoption clients, this begins with understanding the conditions in the foreign country from which they have chosen to adopt, extensive education on child development, medical and behavioral concerns, attachment and nurturing, stresses when adopting, discipline options, the effects of trauma and loss, adopting multiple or older children, nutritional concerns, transracial or transcultural needs, and combining adopted children with existing biological children.

Next, families will be encouraged to not only continue their education, but also begin developing a strong support system within their community to include family, friends, neighbors, medical and behavioral health providers, educators, child care, social and cultural outlets, and a faith community. MLJ offers a Support Group for our clients and we help parents access local support groups as well. All of these will be needed to give parents those concrete supports they need along the adoption journey.

It can also be necessary and helpful for families to have access to mental health counselors who understand the stresses that often come with adoption and parenting. Both children and parents can benefit from these supportive services which can help them navigate personal or familial challenges. Once a child referral is received, MLJ will provide you with information on local adoption competent therapy options which range from individual counselors to supportive adoption groups. This includes local Post Adoption services provided by your state of residence.

Finally, our Social Services team is always available to help our clients before, during and after the adoption. Experienced adoption competent staff and social workers can help you with child or family challenges and in finding resources and support.

MLJ Adoptions International, Inc. takes its role seriously as a partner in your adoption journey in both good times as well as in any challenging ones that may occur. We offer pre-education to help prepare you for that journey and on-going supportive services along the way. Our goal is to help your family develop those protective factors needed to lovingly and effectively parent a child “from hard places”.  However, it is important for all of us to help strengthen families and connect them to supportive services. As an adoptive parent, you are making a huge commitment to parent and love a child permanently. You are helping to prevent the abuse and neglect of that particular child whom you are adopting. Won’t you also help other adoptive families by helping them to build strong community connections, enhance their understanding of adoption and child development, and just have a friendly voice with whom to discuss their concerns?

Focusing on ways to connect with other adoptive families is the best thing we can all do to prevent abuse and neglect. It’s everyone’s job to stand up for children!

Photo Credit

Karlene Edgemon works as MLJ Adoptions’ Director of Social Services. Throughout her 25 year social services career, Karlene has been able to watch adoption transform the lives of children and she is always brainstorming new ways to support adoptive families before, during and after their adoption.