When you’ve made the decision to adopt, you are presented with another difficult choice. You can opt to adopt a child from your home country, or you can adopt a child from overseas.
Today, more and more people are starting to adopt children from Africa. The conditions there are harsher than those in better developed countries, and adopting a child from Africa can help save a young child from becoming ill or even dying.
If you’re contemplating adopting a child from Africa, there are a few things you need to know.
Be 100% sure.
Adopting a child is not like buying a car—there’s no return policy. Before you make the decision to adopt, you want to make sure that you’re 100% sure that you want to adopt and that you want to adopt from Africa. There are some people who think that you should help children in your own country before going overseas, and you may become subject to the negativity of others. Make sure that you’re comfortable with your decision before diving in.
There may be a pre-existing condition.
Some children are placed for adoption because they have special needs, and this is something you need to understand before adopting. If you don’t ask the right questions or choose a trusted agency, you may end up with a child that has a pre-existing condition that wasn’t caught. This can now make you responsible for paying for their health needs and possibly spending the rest of your life caring for a child that requires constant attention.
You should get vaccinated.
There are different diseases in Africa than in the US, and befor you either travel to Africa to pick up your child or have the child come into your life, you should get vaccinated. This will protect you from catching an illness while in Africa or from your child.
Have the child checked by a pediatrician.
Once the child is with you, you should have them checked by a pediatrician. You may want to find a pediatrician before you adopt so that they’re aware of your situation. Plus, this allows the doctor to do any necessary research on their part. Then, have the doctor thoroughly check and test your baby and give them the proper vaccinations they need for a healthy life in the US. Even if your child saw a doctor in Africa, it’s always a good idea to have a second opinion.
It will require some adjustment.
If you adopt an older child, you have to understand that they may have experienced some type of trauma. They may have dealt with abusive parents or unhealthy living conditions, and this will make it hard for them to adjust to living with you. Make sure that you are there for the child and remind them that they can talk with you. You also need to ensure that you’re not forcing anything on them or pushing them to fit in too fast. Allow them to naturally adjust to the sights, culture, food and even you. You may even need to invest in some therapy or counseling to help them adjust to their new life.
Learn the Language
Unless you are adopting a baby it is wise to acquire basic knowledge of the child’s native tongue. This will accelerate the adaptation process and will help your child feel loved and wanted from the start.
Rules Can Vary Widely
Be very aware of adoption timelines and bureaucratic barriers. Some countries are far better than others in maintaining transparent and expedient adoption processes, while others are not. As around and don’t fully rely on the information provided by the agencies. Seek support groups online and reach out to parents that have already adopted. I know of some parents where the journey of adoption from Africa has taken only 8 months and others that are going on their fifth year of shuffling paperwork.
The most important thing regardless of your country of choice is perseverance and love.
Lisa Johnson lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She currently works part time for Glovico as a language instructor.