Adoption FAQ: On Pre-Adoption Preparation and ‘Really’ Being Prepared

Child-Looking-Outside-At-Window-PexelsQ&A With WACAP’s China Team 

Recently, WACAP’s China adoption team was asked how pre-adoption training and preparation correlated to parents’ feeling satisfied and equipped after their adoption.

For everyone on WACAP‘s staff, this question strikes a chord. That’s because – even when families spend months preparing and researching, meeting with their social worker, and completing the training hours required for an adoption – it’s always hard to prepare for something that changes everything.

Below, WACAP’s China adoption staff share about preparing for the kind of change adoption brings, while banking on the understanding and experience that will grow with a family.    

Preparing for What You Can Beforehand: Managed Expectations

After talking with families, here’s what China’s adoption staff observe about the connection between pre-adoption preparation and parents’ feelings of satisfaction after they adopt.

A lot of post-adoptive parental satisfaction has to do with managed expectations, so knowing what to expect is a huge piece of the puzzle.

As they move through the adoption process, WACAP families ­complete a series of required adoption-related trainings and reading. Those most open to learning and applying the information, and those who prepare themselves for all eventualities, tend to feel the most satisfied and equipped after the adoption.

Emotions and Reactions: Harder to Plan For

However, it’s also hard to truly be ‘prepared’ for what adoption is like until you have experienced it yourself. Many adoptive families who’ve completed the training and readings have commented that they ‘thought they’d understood what the adoption would be like … but found it was hard to prepare for their own emotions and their own reactions when the adoption actually took place.’

Speaking From Experience: What No Class Can Do

A WACAP case manager and adoptive mom agrees, sharing an experience from her life.

My own personal experience can speak to why it’s hard to fully anticipate and prepare for our own emotions (even with the planning we’ve done and knowledge we may have).

I had been working at WACAP for several years when we adopted our first son. I’d listened to the trainings many times over. I’d walked hundreds of families through the adoption process.

But there was nothing that could have prepared me for how I’d feel when my then-3-year-old son started winging blocks at my head as hard as he could and laughing when he managed to hit me in the face. Nothing could have told me how I’d feel when he spat in my face and then laughed when we were at the Consulate appointment.

At the time, his behavior worried me, even though I knew things would change with time and I’d seen many other families go through this exact experience.

Now that I know my son better, I know that he deals with his anxiety and fear by laughing hysterically and being very over-active. But all the classes in the world could not have prepared me for how I was going to feel when living in the thick of it in China.

Thanks to China’s adoption staff and to our families for sharing their thoughts and responses for this question. We also welcome your questions at




WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) is one of the largest and most experienced international nonprofit adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Since 1976, we’ve placed over 10,000 children with loving adoptive parents and provided food, medical care and education to more than 200,000 children around the world.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Advice, International Adoption, WACAP and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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