What to Know as You Welcome Home Your Adopted Child

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Adorable little child smilingIn 2012, slightly more than 52,000 children were adopted out foster care in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Just under 9,000 children were adopted from foreign countries that same year. Over a third of children adopted internationally were between the ages of 1 and 2, while the average age for children in foster care was just over 9 years old.

Whether you are adopting a child from the U.S., abroad or out of foster care, use the following as a guide for welcoming home the newest member of your family.

Familiarity

The Child Welfare Information Gateway notes that older children adopted from foreign countries have more trouble adjusting. If a young child comes home with a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, let them hang onto the comfort item. Also, learn phrases in the language of your child’s home country if you adopted internationally. As you teach your little one to learn English, speak in his or her mother tongue during an adjustment period to make the child feel more comfortable.

Health Issues

Children adopted from foreign countries are required to undergo an examination before they leave their home country and travel to the U.S. Check that the doctor performing the exam is recognized by the U.S. Department of State.

Along with an overseas examination, the Centers for Disease Control recommends taking your child to see a doctor once he or she arrives in the U.S. During the examination, the child will be screened for any infectious diseases. Internationally adopted children have a higher risk for certain diseases, such as tuberculosis. The CDC also notes that nearly three quarters of all adopted children have some sort of parasite in their gastrointestinal tract. Ask your doctor for information about a full round of vaccinations appropriate to his or her age during the exam.

Identity

You might have to obtain a Social Security number for your child if you adopt from another country or if the child’s birth parents never got one. To get a number for a domestically adopted child, you’ll need proof of identity, such as a passport or hospital records, plus the birth certificate. For an internationally adopted child, use a copy of the child’s adoption decree to obtain a Social Security Number.

Once you create an identity for your child, it’s up to you to protect it. Identity thieves target children, according to LifeLock, because a child’s identity and credit history are blank slates. Thieves use identities to take out loans or apply for credit cards, which creates future financial problems for your child. Don’t reveal details about your child to anyone and always shred confidential paperwork that contains any identification information.

Life Book

Help your child establish a new identity and become part of your family by putting together a life book. A life book helps a child understand his or her personal history, according the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Include photos of your child at all stages of life in the book, including when he or she was in their original country or foster care. Ask the child what he or she would like to include in the book, such as meaningful photos and keepsakes.

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