“We adopted a child from China, but we think she would be better off with another family without children. Does Lifetime help with re-homing or re-adoptions?”
It is first important to know the difference between the two terms:
Re-homing is a term that is used for illegally transferring a child to another family—for example, posting online looking for a family to take a child and then just giving the child to the family without any legal transaction, no transition, no preparation. Do not get caught up in that. Many states are enacting laws to prevent this from taking place.
Re-adoption is finding an appropriate family through the right channels and preparation. This process ensures it is the right placement for a child who had been previously adopted internationally or through foster care.
Over the years, Lifetime has helped find families for a number of children who were previously adopted and now need a different adoptive placement. This can be a very difficult experience for a child who has already experienced separation from their culture or biological family; however in most instances, the outcomes are positive for everyone involved, especially the child. When re-adopts take place, the focus is on finding a family to meet the child’s very specific needs, which often consist of more one-on-one time with parents or more focused therapies for special needs.
There are several reasons that families may consider re-adopting a child they are already parenting. Most all reasons fall into these two categories:
The Child Needs More Attention
Often, in children adopted internationally, the amount of time and attention a child needs to adapt to a new language, culture, and environment is underestimated. Also, coming into a family that usually has other children that have established roles and routines can be a challenge, especially if the child is coming from an orphanage or foster care. The family may not have been provided with vital information about understanding what the child had been through or their special needs, which made them ill-equipped to parent their specific situation.
It is important for the family to have a clear understanding of what parenting that particular child would entail. Many adopted children benefit from having a stay-at-home parent who also works as a guide. This parent can provide their full attention to what the child may need at home, in school, or even to ensure extra care is obtained, such as the possibility of medical or therapeutic needs.
Years ago, we worked with a couple who had adopted from an Eastern European country where the wife had grown up. They had boys at home already, so they chose to adopt a four-year-old girl. The change to their family structure was difficult as the little girl tried to learn English and fit into an established family where team sports dominated the weekends.
The adoptive mother soon realized that while she desired to provide a stable, American home and family for an orphan from her home country, their family was not equipped to change dramatically for the child. We were able to quickly identify a family who was hoping for a child in that age range, and with just one other daughter in the home who was older. The little girl found a forever family that could provide the time, attention, and focus she needed. The girl, now a teen, has thrived in her new family.
The Special Needs are Greater Than Expected
Prior to the Hague Convention Treaty, there were many cases of international adoptions taking place without honest or reliable medical records accompanying the children. This led to families who felt driven to provide a home for a child in need, who then found out that the child they adopted had diagnoses far more severe than they were prepared to handle. At the time, some were HIV positive, had medical issues, and much more. Changes have been made that have helped some of these concerns, but it still happens, even when adopting from the foster care system.
Stewart and Angela were an older professional couple who, after a presentation at their church, decided to pursue the adoption of a child who was waiting in the foster care system. After they attended the required classes and completed the home study, they began looking at the waiting child listings.
They quickly identified a sibling group of two children, six and eight years old, who they thought would be a perfect fit. Assuming the children would be in Christian private school during the day, both Stewart and Angela could continue working full-time with the help of a nanny for after school needs.
After just a few weeks, they realized that the children, having been in foster care since they were young, were not easily slipping into the structure of routine, school, and care as they expected. Public school had not prepared the children for the private school environment they were now in, and the nanny had quit after just a week on the job. Both children had been diagnosed with learning delays, and the six-year-old was now being tested for autism. Angela had gone to part-time work, but they called us at wit’s end, after realizing that the children’s needs were far more significant than anticipated.
In truth, parenthood often comes with surprises. And adoption is no different. There are times we all need help.
If any parent feels unable or ill-equipped to provide the love, care, and services that a baby or child needs, looking into adoption can be a wonderful way to ensure the child gets what they need to have the opportunities to grow up in a safe and secure family. If you are struggling to parent a child you have previously adopted, you can call or text to confidentially speak with an adoption coordinator anytime, 24 hours a day, at 1-800-923-6784.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.
Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.
Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.