Sponsored by the HealthcareTrainingInstitute.org providing Quality Education since 1979
Add to Shopping Cart

Adoption Techniques for Treating Adoptive Parent Issues
Adoptive Parent continuing education MFT CEU

Section 7
Pre-Placement Preparations for Adopted Children

CEUs Question 7 | CEUs Test | Table of Contents | Adoption
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU

Read content below or click FREE Audio Download to listen
Right click to save mp3

On the last track, we discussed preparing siblings.  This included family discussion, the "role-play" technique and when siblings are also adopted.

Do you have a client who wants to help prepare his or her prospective adopted child for their first meeting?  On this track, we will discuss preparing the new child.  This will include the "photo album" technique, preparing the child’s room and pre-placement visits.

Dean, age 40 and Gail, age 38, had three biological children, and were in the process of adopting Nathaniel, age 5.  Gail asked, "Moving to a different state is going to be a big transition for Nathaniel, not to mention moving in with a different family!  How can we help Nathaniel to begin adjusting before he arrives at our house?"

Technique for Social Work CEUs, Psychology CEUs, Psychologist CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Addiction Counselor CEUs, and MFT CEUs

3 Ways to Prepare the New Child

#1 Technique: Photo Album
I stated, "First, let’s discuss the ‘photo album’ technique.  You might send a photo album or book to Nathaniel before placement.  Nathaniel can use these photos to familiarize himself with his new family and his new home.  Photos can also help assure Nathaniel that you and Dean are the right people when you come to pick him up.  You can check with your agency about what to put in the album, but generally, it might contain photos of all your family members engaged in everyday activities.  You might include pictures of the house, yard, pets, and rooms of the house, especially Nathaniel’s room."

I further explained to Dean and Gail that in preparing Nathaniel’s photo album, they might want to make sure the photo album is sturdy, to be looked at repeatedly.  I stated, "You might want to gear the book specifically to Nathaniel’s age.  To make the album age-appropriate, you might consider including deflated balloons that Nathaniel could blow up himself, stickers, or other things for Nathaniel to share with his friends." 

Since Dean and Gail had other children, I suggested that they cut a ribbon to the height of their tallest child and mark the heights of their other children on it.  I stated, "By sending that ribbon to Nathaniel, he will know how big his new siblings are in relation to himself.  You might also send a map to show where Nathaniel is now and where you live in relation to him." I continued to stated, "You might write things in the photo album that show you are including Nathaniel into your family.  For example, you might say, ‘This is the room you will be sleeping in.’"
Gail prepared an album for Nathaniel before his arrival.  In a much later session, after Nathaniel’s arrival, Gail stated, "We sent lots of photos in a series over about six months’ time while we waited for him.  We sent an initial set of pictures that were very recent and that included our extended family, animals, and house.  The next set were of summer activities.  Another set of photos included leaf raking and autumn woods walks.  We sent a set of winter photos with sleds and snowmen."

#2 Preparing the Child’s Room
Second, Dean, Gail and I discussed preparing Nathaniel’s room.  Have you found, as I have, that preparing a room for a son or daughter is one of the few fun aspects of waiting for adoptive families?  In my experience, many families put a lot of thought and effort into the bedroom as a way of "claiming" their child.   I have also found that children often enjoy seeing that their families have a place for them and that the family has prepared for the child’s arrival. 

I stated to Dean and Gail, "You may want to leave some things undone so that Nathaniel can pick out things he likes.  For example, you might let Nathaniel choose the color of the paint.  However, it may be easier to leave things such as wall decorations for well after the arrival.  You may all be too tired and too stressed to worry about painting and decorating immediately after Nathaniel comes to your home."  I have found that many experienced parents warn against overwhelming a newly arrived child with too many clothes or toys.  Excitement-filled vacations like a trip to Disney World may also be too intense in the first few weeks.

#3 Pre-placement Visits
Third, in addition to the "photo album" technique and preparing the child’s room, I discussed with Dean and Gail pre-placement visits.  I stated, "For many parents this is an exciting time; for others, it’s unrelenting agony.  Most parents suggest limiting the number of pre-placement visits as much as possible.  Nathaniel will likely feel like a visitor until actually moving in."

I explained to Dean and Gail that it is hard not to set up unrealistic expectations for Nathaniel regarding their family life if they filled their visits with Nathaniel with outings and endless family fun.  Dean and Gail, too, could form unrealistic expectations if visits with Nathaniel went extremely well. 

I stated, "Children often put their best foot forward during visitation, waiting until they are home and really comfortable before unleashing true testing behavior.  You may want to be prepared for all the normal adjustment problems even if your pre-placement visits go smoothly."  Have you found, as I have, that many parents are amazed when the happy, sunny child they visited with in pre-placement visits moves in and turns into a misbehaving, surly one? 

In my experience, many parents have reported that their surge of panic subsided within twenty-four hours of meeting their child.  I stated to Dean and Gail, "There is no way of predicting what meeting Nathaniel will feel like.  It has been my experience, however, that a newly adopted child may not offer eye contact, affection, happiness, or gratitude, necessarily.  If you feel scared, imagine what Nathaniel might be feeling."

On this track, we have discussed preparing the new child.  This has included the "photo album" technique, preparing the child’s room and pre-placement visits.

On the next track, we will discuss shock of the child’s arrival.  This will include the honeymoon, adjustment and the absence of immediate love.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Carnaghi, A., Anderson, J., & Bianchi, M. (2020). On the origin of beliefs about the sexual orientation and gender-role development of children raised by gay-male and heterosexual parents: An Italian study. Men and Masculinities, 23(3-4), 636–660.

Huynh, H. V. (2014). New directions in orphan and vulnerable children policy and research: A focus on supporting “suitable” institutions when placement is “necessary” for a child. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(4), 387–394.

Presseau, C., DeBlaere, C., & Luu, L. P. (2019). Discrimination and mental health in adult transracial adoptees: Can parents foster preparedness? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 89(2), 192–200.

South, S. C., Lim, E., Jarnecke, A. M., & Foli, K. J. (2019). Relationship quality from pre- to postplacement in adoptive couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 33(1), 64–76.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 7
What are 3 ways to prepare an adopted child before his or her placement? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

Others who bought this Adoption Course
also bought…

Scroll DownScroll UpCourse Listing Bottom Cap

CEU Test for this course | Adoption
Forward to Track 8
Back to Track 6
Table of Contents

CEU Continuing Education for
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs


OnlineCEUcredit.com Login

Forget your Password Reset it!