Insights from an Adoptive Mom {Multicultural Kid Blogs Virtual Baby Shower}

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Virtual Baby Shower.  For more information and to link up your own baby posts, see the end of this page. On February 13, 2009, I held my daughter for the first time. She was born 2 days late, after an uneventful (but ridiculously long) labor and nine months of throwing up 15-20 times a day. She was a petite 7 lbs, healthy and beautiful — with her dad’s blue eyes and my long lashes. On March 4, 2013, I held my son for the first time. At exactly nine months old, he came to us after spending the past 7 months alternating between a Congolese orphanage and hospital, where he was repeatedly treated for chronic malaria. He was just under 12 pounds — with the dimples, brown eyes and chocolate-colored skin of another. He was beautiful. Insights from an Adoptive Mom: Africa to America {Multicultural Kid Blogs Virtual Baby Shower}The adoption journey was the hardest thing ever. I’m pretty sure any adoptive parent would tell you the same thing. I spent 7 months of my life as a Crazed Person — a Crazed Person pretending to get up to pee at 2 am only to sneak off and check my phone for e-mails from the Congolese embassy (it was 10 am Congo time, okay?), asking random strangers with baby boys how much they weighed and — if said stranger reported a weight similar to the latest update of my son’s stats — could I HOLD THEIR BABY (it’s true). It was the longest 7 months of my life while I was in it and now I think of it as this gigantic blur. I’m not even sure what happened during that 7 months. My 3-year-old pretty much got herself from age 3 to 4 on her own. I just remember doing a lot of paperwork, crying a lot, feeling sick with worry and reading The Connected Child. I’m not sure why anyone who knew me during that time is still friends with me. But believe it or not — they are. I had the most amazing group of friends who walked with me during my life as a Crazy Person (Truth: I’m still crazy because now I’m PARENTING that kiddo I fought so hard to bring home). These friends prayed with and for me, cried with me, threw showers for our son, held fundraisers to help us with adoption costs, came to the airport at 3 in the morning to meet him, and then brought us meals for a month. For real. Now that I’ve been an adoptive parent for 13 months, I am Wise and All-Knowing (insert sarcastic snort here). I’ve had plenty of failures, challenges mixed in with huge blessings and awesomeness, so I’m going to share with you, adoptive families and friends of adoptive families, what I’ve learned. So that you can be Wiser and More All-Knowing than I have been. For the adoptive families:

  • The wait is SO HARD. But you knew that already. Having a child in someone else’s care while you have no due date just plain stinks. It’s okay to be angry and mad and sad and frustrated. I really have no advice for how to get through this part because I was terrible at it. All I can tell you is that I GET IT. Solidarity.
  • I’m telling you this because I love you: the hard doesn’t end when your child gets home. You are parenting a child from a hard place — whether that child is 9 months old or 9 years old. Your precious little one may struggle with attachment and put up walls to protect himself from being abandoned again. Your child from another country may be completely FREAKED OUT by all these white people speaking a strange language in a strange house and may try to run away. Your malnourished baby may have serious food issues and scream and cry whenever you feed him, throwing up from stuffing himself too full but still clutching to the remaining piece of bread on his plate and sobbing hysterically. Seek out resources for your child in the form of attachment therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, English tutors, or WHATEVER else your child needs. They will help your child AND they will help equip you to parent your child.
  • You may struggle with attachment with your child and with Post Adoption Depression (it’s a real thing, friend). You may feel guilt and shame that you aren’t happier after the child you’ve been longing for for months or years is home with you. You may struggle to feel connected to a child who is resisting your love and attention. You may feel isolated and alone because you don’t have other friends who have adopted and they just don’t get it. Seek out those adoptive parents who get it. They may not live in your community, but there are plenty of Facebook, Yahoo and Google groups along with conferences and camps for adoptive families. It is so wonderfully refreshing and encouraging to meet other parents who can not only advise but also commiserate. Take time for yourself to do things you like to do. See a therapist if you need to work through your own grief and attachment challenges.
  • Part of becoming an adoptive parent means that you will grieve with and for your child’s losses. Our little boy came to us young and is ridiculously happy 99.99999% of the time. But every now and then there will be an event that triggers him — most recently a blood draw — and I will see in his eyes grief and pain and hollowness that is beyond his years and beyond anything I can describe. These moments pierce me through, and all I can do is hold him close and tell him how much I love him until the sadness subsides.
  • Be open in talking about adoption around and with all your kiddos. Read books that encourage dialogue about birth families and adoption. Honor your child’s birth mother and father on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
  •  Incorporate your child’s culture by celebrating holidays from his birth country, learning to cook a few native dishes and providing him with some keepsakes from home. Always speak of his birth country with respect.

For friends of adoptive families:

  • During your friend’s wait, please ask her about her child. Ask her to see the latest picture and give you the latest update. She’s an expectant mommy without the bulging belly to give her away — so she doesn’t get to talk about her “pregnancy” very much. Treat her like you would any other expectant mommy! Pray for her little one’s health, throw her a shower and bring her meals when her child comes home.
  • Remember that your friend is parenting a traumatized child. This is life-changing for her. She may take the first few months to “cocoon” in her house with her family as they work to attach to their new child. Her schedule may change. A LOT. She may suddenly parent differently in a way that seems indulgent to you but is actually necessary to help her child heal. Show her love and understanding, even if you don’t always get why she’s doing what she’s doing. Give her an extra measure of patience. And grace. Lots of grace.
  • Remember that your friend’s child is grieving the loss of his first family and perhaps his first country. Refrain from saying anything such as, “You’re so lucky to have a family!” or “You’re so lucky to be in America!” Try to use empowering statements such as, “Your parents are so lucky to have you!”
  • Help with respite, if you’re willing and able. It took almost seven months before I could take our son to the grocery store because viewing that much food in one place when he had once starved was simply too much to handle. I was so grateful to the friends who came and stayed with the kids during nap times so I could run to the grocery store.
  • If we have become an interracial family, we would love it if you could build diversity awareness in your own home. If you provide your children with multiracial dolls, books, toys and artwork, it helps our adopted kids feel more comfortable in your home and less like a novelty, while also instilling compassion and insight in your own children. Win-win.

To both adoptive parents and the friends who know them: though there are challenges and changes in your life, you will be so enriched and expanded through this process. Three years ago, I’m not sure that I could have told you much about the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, I could prattle of the history, whip you up my favorite Congolese dishes and tell you all about which humanitarian organizations are doing fantastic and reputable work. All because of a little boy that I’m blessed to call my son.  

Multicultural Kid Blogs - Virtual Baby ShowerAt Multicultural Kid Blogs, we consider ourselves a (very large) extended family, and so today we are taking time to celebrate those members that are about to or have recently welcomed new little ones into their lives.  We are so happy for them!

Our Guests of Honor: We are thrilled to share in the joy of the following members as they welcome new little ones into their families: Melissa of Vibrant Wanderings, Annabelle of the piri-piri lexicon, Varya of Creative World of Varya, Carly of Africa to America, Jonathan of dad’s the way I like it, Kristen of Toddling in the Fast Lane, Juliette of The Art of Home Education, JJ of Simply Multicultural, and Kali of For the Love of Spanish. The co-hosts of this blog hop, listed below, have each written posts related to baby showers or more generally about becoming parents, plus we’d love for you to link up yours below. Also be sure to visit our Facebook page to leave your advice and well wishes for our guests of honor!


the piri-piri lexicon Vibrant Wanderings Creative World of Varya La Cité des Vents Spanish Playground Dad’s the way I like it Tiny Tapping Toes All Done Monkey

On this printable, you will find best wishes and words of wisdom from MKB to our new parents, and to moms and dads everywhere. Congratulations!

baby shower traditions

The following two tabs change content below.

Carly Seifert

Carly Seifert is a piano teacher and mother of two kiddos (ages 5 and 1). She blogs at Africa to America (, where she writes about adoption, multiculturalism, serving with her kids and anything else that strikes her fancy.

7 thoughts on “Insights from an Adoptive Mom {Multicultural Kid Blogs Virtual Baby Shower}”

  1. Pingback: [Virtual Baby Shower!] Supporting a Family During the Postpartum PeriodVibrant Wanderings

  2. Thank you so much for these insights into the unique joys and challenges that come with the experience of adopting. Having never gone through it myself, this gives me great ideas for supporting and celebrating with the adoptive families in my life. A huge belated congratulations to you!

  3. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday: The Birth of a Family - Multicultural Kid Blogs

  4. Thank you for sharing these moving experiences, I feel that I have learned about an aspect of parenting that I didn’t really know much about before now.

  5. This is such a beautiful post – full of wonderful advice! Thank you for sharing and a big congratulations to all the families being celebrated in this virtual baby shower!

  6. Pingback: It's Baby Shower Time! Multilingual Baby Shower Printables

  7. Thanks for sharing your story Carly! We adopted our little guy from Nicaragua when he was 2 months old. He turns 3 this weekend! As part of this journey I had the privilege to write a chapter of a devotional book with a lot of other wonderful adoptive moms to encourage other moms who are currently in the process of waiting for their child or have been recently placed with their son or daughter.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top