This seems like good advice…….Right? Yet so many adoptive families simply do not do this. We understand……… Maybe you just want to try to solve the problems on your own.  Maybe you are embarrassed to tell others that this adopted child you waited so long for is creating havoc in your home. Maybe you don’t want to admit that you need additional skills to parent this “child from hard places.” Maybe you just think “this will pass” so you continue to ignore the mounting problems.


Unfortunately, the concerns just get stronger; the behaviors become more out of control; the toll on your family and marital relationships begin to increase; and you feel you are in a downward spiral that just won’t stop! Over time, you become exhausted, depressed, hopeless, and angry. But you DON’T have to live this way!


When we, as human beings, feel desperate, we naturally tend to look for a “quick fix” or “the easy way out” of our problems. With an adopted child, that “quick fix” can sometimes be thoughts to “get him out of here.”  However, remember that you are dealing with a person, a child’s life, and the fragile psyche of a traumatized orphan whom you promised to love and protect PERMANENTLY in your home. This child did not ask to be adopted; you adopted him. NO CHILD IS EXPENDABLE, not an adopted child nor a biological one. In fact, allowing the stress of inappropriate behavior or an ability to effectively cope with it to go on and on is NOT the child’s fault! The stress often continues and expands because you have been unwilling to, or were not aware that you could, reach out for professional help.




Taking such action early, when challenges and familial stress begin to occur is crucial for the child’s well-being and adjustment, your family’s overall health, your marriage’s overall stability, and the fate of this adoptive placement. Appropriate treatment can help you fortify your commitment to the child and prevent an unnecessary adoption disruption. It can help you and your family move from dysfunctional to functional—-and likely to become much stronger than you were before.


So, what should you do?


Contact the local adoption agency who provided your home study for information on local and statewide resources and services, adoption competent therapists, respite care, and support groups which you can easily access. Contact your primary adoption agency for overall adoption support as well as for helpful resources and parent connection. If you adopted with MLJ Adoptions International, look at the Safety Plan you created before your child arrived for those local contact numbers. Be willing to be actively involved in the services, including family therapy,

support groups, case management, mental health and educational assessments, marital counseling, special needs treatments, and parenting education—whatever is needed to calm the chaos in your home. You will also find that sharing your situation with other adoptive families, such as in a support group, can be a powerful outlet for validation of your feelings and a strong source of educational and parenting information that has effectively worked for others.


Your situation will be unique, however, in the particular services needed for YOUR family’s situation, but remember that additional services after your child comes home is quite common and nothing for which you should feel ashamed. Statistics show that half of all adopted youth will require mental health services at some point. Challenges with an adoptive placement, whether international, domestic or via foster care adoption, occur in at least 20% of the cases. You are not alone!


With the guidance and support of adoption competent professionals, you can begin to navigate the often-nebulous maze of multiple service providers.  Adoption professionals can help you determine what specific services you and your child will need.  They can help you advocate for your child among multilayered services and disparate funding streams. They can connect you directly to local agencies and individuals who can competently intervene and guide you toward active stability in your home and a stronger relationship and attachment with your child. With these tools in hand and the full commitment of both you and your spouse, you can achieve the healing environment you need to succeed.


So, don’t wait until chaos and despair overtake your home and family life. Reach out EARLY to adoption professionals to help you meet your promise of permanency for your adopted child.

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.