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Adoption Blog: Talk to AF

Expert Q&A Webinar: Parenting After Older Child Adoption

transracial adoption skin and hair care expert Brooke JacksonParents who adopt a child beyond infancy, whether from the U.S. foster system or internationally, may have concerns about the transition (which may be measured in years, not months) -- ranging from sleep to school to attachment to sibling relationships to assessing development to talking about the child's past. Join older-child adoption expert Regina M. Kupecky, LSW, to ask any questions you have during Adoptive FamiliesAdoption Expert Q&A Webinar: Parenting After Older Child Adoption on March 12, 2013 from 1PM to 2PM EDT. Submit questions in advance by posting a comment below.

Regina M. Kupecky, LSW, has been working with adoptive families and children for more than 30 years, and is currently a therapist at the Attachment and Bonding Center (ABC) of Ohio. She is a co-author of Parenting the Hurt Child, Adopting the Hurt Child, and a therapeutic workbook A Foster-Adoption Story. She also co-authored The Mystery of the Multiple Mothers, a mystery novel with an adoption theme, with her brother.

Listen to the recording.

See the full lineup of upcoming Adoptive Families webinars and listen to recordings of past sessions.

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle


We are adopting a now 13 year old from foster care who has been with us 7 months.  It’s been harder than we expected (although we had a lot of training and did a lot of reading) .  It seems we’re constantly balancing trying to attach with her with redirecting her when she does things that negatively impact others in the family, which she resists vehemently.  We have a lot of support like a counselor experienced in this situation, agency support, an adoption girls group for her, etc.  Can you advise on this balance?  and also, is it ever appropriate to explain to her that some of the things she does (like refuse to accept parently guidance, lie, put her adopted older sister down, etc) are due to her background?

By western mom on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:59 pm.

I got a note from my child’s teacher: She has been wanting extra attention from me and also the parents from the classroom. She would want to hold a parents hand in the morning while walking to class and she wants to be next to me when we do group activities. When I compliment a kid in class for being good, she would get angry and ask me why I always compliment other people and not her (I have explained to her that when she is good and sitting down quietly with legs crossed and hands to herself, I’d always compliment her). The point system I have in class is not really working with her, I try to give her words of encouragement very often in class and I let her know that I love her very much and that she is one of my brightest kid in class.
What does this mean in my child? What should we do?

By ccl on Tuesday, March 05, 2013 at 5:57 pm.

We brought our 5-year-old son home from Ethiopia one year ago this week. In many ways, things have gone well.  Our biggest concern is that he refuses to talk about Ethiopia, his birthparents or his life before adoption.  When asked, he will make up a fictional story (usually involving Batman).  We have tried to ask “easy” questions about foods, activities, etc., but with no success.  We have put pictures of his birth family in his room, but he fails to acknowledge them.  I don’t want to rush him into talking if he’s not ready, but at what point should I be concerned?  What are the best ways to open the door to communication so that he feels comfortable sharing his past with us?

By 2plus2mom on Wednesday, March 06, 2013 at 8:35 pm.

We are planning to adopt a teenage brother and sister and have spent a couple days and a couple weekends with them so far.  They are turning 15 and 16 this month, but are definitely younger emotionally and socially.  We have had great visits and so far things are going quite well, they seem to be good kids.  One thing we are not quite sure how to handle that has come up several times is the 15 year old exaggerates and brags extensively. Not sure if he is doing it for attention or to impress us or if he just can’t help himself or maybe even wishes some of these things are real.  He is always telling about him and his friends having contests to see who can eat or drink the most and of course he is always the winner.  For example, he said that they had a contest to see who could eat the most of a glass filled with cinnamon (which I don’t think anyone would have enough cinnamon to fill 4 or 5 tall glasses) and another was that they were seeing who could get the most rabbits attached to themselves and he said he won with having 40 rabbits on him.  When we asked where they got all the rabbits from he stated that him and his friends caught them with their bare hands.  So we are hoping for any suggestions of how we should handle this, do we ignore it and hope it lessens as he sees he doesn’t need to impress us or do we point out these are impossible or make light of it and just kind of ask if these are really true or if he is just spinning a yarn??  Thanks for any suggestions!!

By 4catzlover on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm.

My husband and I have been selected for a young lady in the in foster system who is 15 yrs old and we are currently in the “getting to know her” stages via phone, letters and Skype due to her being several states away. We will be making a visit to see her very soon.
Some background on her: she was sexually abused at the age of 5 and we suspect the abuse continued as she got older. She also sexually victimized a younger family member several years ago but has gone thru years of counseling with quite a bit of success. And there have been no further reports of her abusing others.
But in the meantime, we are trying to determine which room in our home would be the best for her bedroom once she gets here.
You see, my husband and I sleep in different rooms because I am a light sleeper and he snores. There are no other children in the home. But my bedroom is on the opposite end of the house from the other rooms. So, the way its currently set up, her room would be right next to his and they would be sharing a bathroom, which he is not comfortable with (understandably so). The other option we have is a downstairs bedroom that has its own bathroom. But we wondered if it would be better for her to be closer to me during the night and have him move downstairs or if she might like having her own space down there since she’s been living in a group home situation for the past few years and likes to read a lot. Our other concern is that she has run away a couple of times and being downstairs would make it easier for her to do so. But we also realize she could run away from any of the rooms…
(FYI, we “live” upstairs and the downstairs is a fully enclosed basement only.) Thanks for the advice!

By TXgal on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm.

In June of 2011 we adopted two children currently ages 11 and 7.  We have 3 biological children, 6, 5, and 2.  The kids were a great fit and even now, the struggles we encounter are minimal on the whole spectrum but still issues that cause me heartache.  The oldest is our daughter - we really struggle with helping her navigate attachment.  She’s a sweet heart but very much a people pleaser.  So her friends’ parents will tell me she is fun and outgoing and yet when we go out as a family she will become withdrawn and sulk.  I can feel in my heart that our attachment with her is thin, but I also feel resistance because she keeps herself at arms length so she can justify in her head that our biological daughter is our “favorite.”  That isn’t so.  But our biological children do naturally understand things and boundaries that our adopted children do not. What can I do to help her really feel that we are here, firmly so. How do I help her be the child again and not the adult?  Like one of the other comments above, she frequently makes up stories for attention.  So we are offering guidance and correction constantly - and again, we don’t want her to feel like she isn’t worthy of being loved, but yet, how long can we tolerate outright stretching of the truth?  And to that point, both my adopted kids really struggle with right/wrong and truth/lie.  Makes sense given their background and need to survived.  I guess I’m just looking for tips to continue to foster healthy attachment for the kiddos.

By Jantina on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm.

We are adopting a 13-year old daughter from Mexico.  She has been living with us three months.  We have two boys ages 14 and 12 and a 16 year old daughter.  We are a homeschooling family. Our daughter was repeatedly abused at age 4 through 7 by multiple offenders.  She has lived in two orphanages.  She seems to be bonding with her father.  She has told me that she hates the sound of my voice.  I am fluent in Spanish while the rest of the family is still learning.  How do I balance instruction/correction and attachment?  She does well with her brothers but seems to hate her sister. She lies, destroys things belonging to her sister, defies me, and throws fits.  She is incredibly behind in school and emotional development.

She loves to talk but all of the stories are about her birth family.  We know that many of the stories are invented fantasies.  She tells about a “perfect” family who loved her.  Her parents divorced, her baby sister was adopted by another family when our daughter was three, and her mom is mentally retarded and unable to care for her.  She was abused by at least four male family members.  She has not had any contact with family since she was removed from them five years ago.  If we correct her for anything or even try to instruct how something should be done, she begins to weep and cry that she misses her mom, her dad, or her siblings.  How do we deal with this?

By ak2mex on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 7:41 pm.

I am adopting a 4 yr old who has been with me in foster for 8 months.  I’m worried that he will be resistant or rebellious toward a name change.  Right now he knows that me and other foster children in my house have different last names, but he thinks that his birth parents and siblings have his last name – but that is not the case. His birth mom, dad and siblings all have different last names.  The birth mom has explained this to him, but he ignores and rejects the idea.  He knows the children’s’ first names and insists that his parents’ names are Mommy and Daddy.  I think his last name is his connection to his family.  His siblings will be adopted separately and those families don’t want to maintain open contact with the birth family.  Should I change my child’s last name?

By Deemarie on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm.

We adopted a 14 year old 2 years ago from DYFS. He did not want to assume our last name. He lived with us 1 1/2 years prior to the adoption. He may have thought the adoption was the lesser of 2 evils (adoption or a group home). I think he is having difficulty attaching and acts more like a boarder than a family member. I think when he is 18 he will go back to his biological father, who was party to the abuse and relinquished his parental rights rather than do what was necessary to keep his son. He does have PTSD. He has been in counseling all along and now is back to weekly visits. He is purposely failing 4 classes despite being extremely smart. (He wants to quit school to pursue being a professional skateboarder. I will not agree to his quitting school). He said he does not want to give me anything to brag about. He also said everyone thinks he is a loser. The therapist said these are voices from the past and that he was severely psychologically abused (as well as physically and emotionally). Nothing I have done has persuaded him to do better in school (taking away priviledges does NOTHING but get him to withdraw, also probably from his past of deprivation). Do you think this is his way of taking control of things (much like an anorexic or bullimic person)? Any thoughts on how I can help him realize he needs to make more of an effort in school? Any help on attachment suggestions would be welcomed.

By Finallyamother on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 1:18 am.

My son’s birth mother has found him and is already trying to push him to move from his adopted family and move in with her. So far they have only talked on the phone, it has only been 5 days since their first contact. She has had mental problems, drug use, and criminal activy in the past. She has 2 children by other men, whom she does not have physical custody of . My son is very immature for his age and has a lot of development delays, even though he is of adult age. I think the birth mother should slow down some before uprooting him from the only family he remembers. He was 5 when we adopted him.

By Sasha on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm.
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