When the Child in the Picture is Finally Home: 3 Post Adoption Tips

When the Child in the Picture is Finally Home: 3 Post Adoption Tips

The care center workers interrupted my son’s nap so that we could meet him for the first time almost nine years ago. In that moment, the little boy in the grainy Polaroid was finally ours. There was no more paperwork and no more waiting—we were a family.

My shocked one-year-old felt differently about that moment and, like any child who’d been abruptly awakened, he freaked out. Our joyful bliss immediately collided with the reality of caring for a needy, tired baby.

That cry shot right to my core—filling me with instant worry and self-doubt.

What if he doesn’t like us?

What if he is not ready?

Are we ready for him?

I was faced with my first taste of adoption reality—that nothing will wait for me to be ready.

Adoption will joyfully invade so parents need to prepare for the wonderful onslaught.

Adoptive families get busy very quickly—mine certainly did. Now, so many years removed from bringing our son home, I wish someone would have told me how to better weather the storm.

I could have avoided several miscues by doing three simple things:


Leading up to “Gotcha Day” you are, no doubt, in full planning mode—having the right car seat, finishing the bedroom and finding age-appropriate toys to have on-hand upon arrival. I’d recommend adding another item to the to-do list—doing NOTHING during month one of being a family.

Take the time to be with only your new family—spending time getting to know one another before opening the doors to the outside world.

Don’t be afraid to delay the “Welcome Home” party. Be firm in telling friends and family that they may need to wait to meet your new son or daughter.

Be more selective than reclusive—act as if you are writing a private journal, not publishing a children’s book.

This temporary selfishness will be forgotten. The time you spend as a family in those first weeks will not be.


Leading up to our adoption, I was educated and impatient—having taken numerous pre-adoption classes from our agency.

My studies had me prepared—I thought.

After our son came home, though, the book references dimmed as quickly as the real parenting issues emerged.

There is no playbook that can help navigate these treacherous waters—no formula for developing attachment and no tried-and-true timeline for newly adoptive kids to feel truly part of their new family.

The book does not exist—so don’t bother looking for it.

Don’t throw away everything you’ve learned, just shelve the books for now.

YOU are the only person that knows best for your new family. Ready yourself to embrace that role.

Be the author of your own chapter in the manuscript of creating a great, adoptive family.


When your family is ready to let others in, be prepared for the uncomfortable questions that others’ curiosity will create. You can welcome the questions of well-meaning family and friends without feeling the duty of answering them fully.

Adoptive parents are the translators of our kids’ stories to the world.

For my family, my son’s story is known and clear. Outside of our home, though, his story is filtered—to protect him, the process and others.

The questions will come so be comfortable enough to answer—or to not.

When you consider an adoption process, you’ll come to understand several truths:

Adoption is great.

Adoption is hard.

Adoption is painfully slow and then unexpectedly fast.

Navigating within these rushing waters takes confidence and courage. Have the confidence to integrate your new child as slowly or as quickly as you see fit. Garner the courage to be your family’s own expert.

For adoptive families, greatness awaits after the invasion subsides—so, please, be great today.

About the Author: Tobin Walsh is an adoptive father who sincerely and humorously blogs about parenting and adoption. You can read this original post on his blog, The Good-Bad Dad.

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With a combined 275 years of experience, Children’s Home Society of Minnesota and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota serve children and families through adoption, child welfare, and family preservation.  We are driven by the understanding that a child in a safe, nurturing home is a child who thrives. We work to give every child security, opportunity and a loving family. Through our partnership, we offer the following services to families nationwide. We encourage you to visit the Lutheran Social Service Rainbow Kids page to view additional country programs.

International & Domestic Adoption — Respected for our legacy of excellence in adoption services, Children's Home and Lutheran Social Service believe that every child deserves a permanent, loving family. Today the need for adoption is most urgent for older children, sibling groups, children with a history of abuse and neglect, and children with known medical and special needs.

Post-Placement Support & Connections — Children's Home and Lutheran Social Service are committed to supporting all members of the adoption circle throughout their lifelong journey. We are proud to offer educational and cultural events, travel, search and background services, and opportunities to connect to the larger adoption community.

International Child Welfare — Children's Home and Lutheran Social Service recognize an inherent responsibility to improve the quality of life in countries where we facilitate international adoption. We support targeted, community-based projects that provide care, protection, health and education to vulnerable children around the world.

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