Daring To Journey Through Adoption: Turn In The Rose-Colored Glasses

i Sep 13th 10 Comments by

Daring To Journey Through Adoption

When we embarked on the decision to adopt, we began our journey looking through the lenses of rose-colored glasses.

We realized there was risk and we would trip over obstacles along the way{boy did we ever}, but in the beginning we pretty much naively floated along on the cloud of “adoption bliss”.

As I’ve had the immense privilege of getting to walk alongside others through their journey of adoption, it’s become very clear to me that if we are going to dare to journey through adoption we need to turn in the rose-colored glasses as we start our journey.

If you are going to dare to journey through adoption, you need lenses that are going to enable you to look at a distance, look in the middle and look at what is right in front of you.

Our limited vision creates issues when we don’t see adoption for what it really is.

If you are going to dare to journey through adoption, then you must see and prepare to go the distance. The fairytale life of an adoptive family as we swirl into each other’s arms and fly on the wings of love home together just isn’t the norm.

The reality is that once you get home, it’s hard. Really, really hard!

Those wings of love can turn to whims of doubt, frustration and anger. Swirling into each other’s arms turns into battling words, breaking up sibling squabbles, trying to juggle a very busy family life with children who all need different parenting and attention time {and this is the easy version of really hard}.

Birth children are adjusting to new siblings, parents are adjusting to dividing their attention and doing everything they can short of super glue to bond with the new child and not sever the bond with current children, someone in the family is returning to work to make the money needed to pay for the adoption, and the adopted child is scared out of their mind because they are now living with people they barely know, in a new home environment with new siblings, new community, new school, new food, or new language.

So, what does the journey of adoption look like through the right lenses?


Seeing at a distance means:

1.Get training and understand how to parent children from hard places.

  • I love Trust Based Parenting, was trained in it, and highly recommend it. Go to an Empowered To Connect conference or a local training around Trust Based Parenting methods.
  • Read anything you can by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Deborah Gray. We have to have new tools in our belt because traditional parenting tools just won’t work on kids from hard places.

2. Build your support team.

  • Attachment parenting is hard work and you need a support system that won’t judge you, will pray for you, will encourage you, will check in on you, and will sit with you and give you a tissue or a margarita. You can’t, nor should you do this alone.
  • Find a local adoption ministry through your church or check the Christian Alliance For Orphans site for partners who may be in your area.
  • Have others praying you through your journey.
  • Say “YES!” to offers of help with meals, errands, activities, etc.

3. Plan for “special ops” to call on.

  • Do your research, call offices, talk with other adoptive parents, and make your list of Counselors, Attachment Therapist, OT, PT, Pediatrician, Adoption Clinics, Respite, or anyone else that you may need to use a resource when the going gets tough and you’ve lost your mind and don’t even know what day it is let alone the name of the person you are supposed to call for help.

Seeing in the middle means:

1. Be aware of what’s ahead.

  • If you are just beginning, find an adoption ministry or adoptive parent to dialogue with and help answer your questions about dossier preparation and finding your way through paperland.
  • Know that you need time to order and acquire passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, or any other document that involves a government entity.

2. Anticipate a long wait period during the process and effectively utilize that time when you are now waiting on everyone else to provide you with information or progress.

  • Soak in the days with your children already at home rather than being “adoption crazy” and missing those precious times when it’s still just you and them.
  • Seize the opportunity to take care of you and work on things that will make you a better parent.
  • Educate yourself in areas that will empower you to parent your special child such as race, culture, adoptee healing, relinquishment, etc.

Seeing in the immediate means:

1. Know what needs your immediate attention and what can wait.

  • We can overwhelm ourselves to death if we don’t focus on the hear and now versus worrying about the “what if?”

2. Be present with your family in the day.

  • Are you stuck to your inbox or phone? I anxiously awaited too and wanted the news the minute it hit my inbox, but I also know that it robbed my attention at times when I should have been focused on my kids at home or the joyful moment around me.
  • Consider the underlying need of your kids that is manifesting in their behavior.

3. Be in tune with how you are doing.

  • It is vital that we are reflecting within as we move through stress and challenges in the adoption journey.
  • Understand our own flight, fight or freeze reactions to stress is vital in understanding how we handle situations. How am I responding? Why do I respond that way? How should/do I respond in a more healthy, connected way?
  • Recognizing the need to name shame and vulnerability in ourselves.

4. Intentionally nurture the relationship with your spouse every single day no matter how hard it gets.

  • This is your partner. Your lifeline. Your teammate. Your tap-out. Once you bring your kiddo home, it’s vital that you and your spouse have time together and strategize as a team. Believe me, strategy meetings become necessary on a regular basis.


Taking the time to know yourself, know the journey, and know your limitations is vital to having the right kind of lenses as you dare to journey through adoption.

I know this is just a small list and there are many other great suggestions. Please leave yours so that others can have a deeper tool box, or leave your question if we can help you as a community.







  1. Abby
    September 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Great advice Tara. We have experienced many of these highs and lows that you talk about. Adoption is a journey and there are mountains and valleys just like any other road you travel. I love how after a few challenging months with our newest adopted daughter, I am able to look back and see how much redemption has taken place and how God has truly drawn our hearts together. So important to be informed as a parent so that you aren’t surprised when things might get rough for a while.

    • Tara Bradford
      September 15, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks Abby, and yes, we must always look back and realize how far we’ve come as a family. The stressful times can cloud those realizations of progress when we are focused in the hard moment.

  2. Naomi
    September 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    This is great! I’m sharing it in my fb group!

  3. Our Life In 3D
    September 13, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Dare I say, ‘eye opening!” Great ideas

    • Tara Bradford
      September 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Would you mind sharing what made this “eye opening” for you? I think the dialogue around how this felt that way for some would be good.

      • Our Life In 3D
        September 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

        Tara, I was more having a play on words (taking off the glasses) than a revelation. We are 5+ years into two open adoptions and both have been amazing great. But I know our situation is kinda unique, as all adoptions tend to be. But reading the list just seems like a good primer for any new parents in general if you want to be a good or better parent. I think you have to prepare for the future and the inevitable conversation, and have a plan, but isn’t taking care of the kids and keeping them happy and healthy and being the best parent we can be what it is all about? I think a lot of natural parents could benefit from your list as well. Its good stuff for any parent. :)

        • Tara Bradford
          September 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm

          Oh, I see… I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed :). Thanks for clarifying. I agree that our intentions are always good(we want to be the best parents we can be), but that doesn’t always lead to clear direction to getting us there. Hopefully this list gave clarity to some direction for parents. I appreciate the input and thoughts!

  4. Don't We Look Alike?
    September 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Tara, this is really fabulous advice. I reblogged it on DWLA. Really, it needs to taught in Adoption 101.

    • Tara Bradford
      September 13, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Thank you Luanne and I’m grateful for the repost.