How to Keep Your Cool Through the Adoption Journey


Adoption is the legal transfer of parental rights & responsibilities to the adopting parent. Like any legal process, there is often a lot of confusion & paperwork involved. In inter-country adoption four different areas of law are involved. In addition, there are times when you must wait or be dependent on the decisions of others. Additionally, you are emotionally involved, eager to bring a child home & wanting to act as the parent. Unfortunately, when we allow stressors to get to us, we don’t think clearly, remember well, or do things to the best of our ability. Following these tips can help your adoption journey go more smoothly.

Read Everything Slowly & Carefully

There are a lot of information & documents, but you can keep it from being overwhelming. You will be provided all the information that you need with instructions. If you review the information given to you, you will be able to find answers to most of your questions. Take your time as you read & re-read it regularly.

Keep It & Keep It Organized

People learn in different ways, so it is important that you figure out what works for you. Write on your instructions, break it down step by step, draw check boxes for yourself, number items, or highlight using multiple colors. You may want to identify who is responsible for what steps or the order in which certain tasks are required. Keep everything in a file on your computer or in a special binder that you store in your kitchen or home office.

Have Faith & Manage Stress

Information is provided to you step by step along the way to decrease confusion; however, this means that you won’t receive all the information at once. You will receive what you need when you need it. This allows you to focus on the task at hand, without getting overwhelmed by all the steps involved. Despite popular belief, knowing more does not give you more control. This can be great practice for travel, when you must work within the systems of the country from which you are adopting. If you find yourself getting stressed at any point in the process, do the things necessary to take care of yourself; take deep breaths, laugh, talk to a confidant…

Communicate Clearly

If two parents are involved in the adoption, both should be reading all information provided & attending all classes. Discuss what you have absorbed together & ensure that you have the same understanding. Communicating with the professionals assisting you will be more effective, if you elect ONE person to communicate directly with them. Follow up all answers with a clarification of undersatnding (I understand that you are saying… Is that correct?).

Ask Questions Effectively

Utilize classes, seminars, & gatherings. Take note of your questions & ask at the end or when presenter prompts for questions. Paying attention when others ask questions may clarify things for you. Organize your questions & ask them all at once. This respects the time of the adoption professionals with which you are working. Utilizing email allows you to receive your answers in writing so you can reference them later. Take a deep breath & distract yourself. The adoption professional may need to research your specific situation prior to answering your question. If it has been more than 48 business hours, follow up once to ensure the email or voicemail was received. The more messages we are reading or hearing, the less time we have to research and respond.

Remember the Good

It is likely at some point you will run into a complication, a mistake from misunderstanding a form, or a change to the laws or programs. You will be less upset when this occurs if you remember the things that have gone well for you. Celebrate all milestones on your journey and focus on the positive & end result.

Brooke Randolph, LMHC, is a parent, therapist, and founding team member of MLJ Adoptions, Inc. with more than 20 years of experience working with children and families. She is the mental health expert contributor at, a national diet and fitness column; a private practice counselor in Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Vice President of PR, Outreach, and Communications at KidsFirst. She is a single adoptive mother who has authored adoption education materials and presented at numerous conferences and workshops throughout North America. Brooke is primarily motivated to encourage, equip, and empower parents and individuals to make changes that strengthen their lives, their careers, and their families.