8 Things to Do Within the First 30 Minutes of Meeting Your Child

7. October, 2015UncategorizedNo comments

This article has been borrowed from: https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/7-essential-things-for-when-you-first-meet-adoptedfoster-child/. Copy link into browser to see original article.Ella on the beach


  1. Lower yourself to the height of the child when you are talking.
  2. Gently and respectfully look him in the eye. If he looks away, he is expressing discomfort with the intensity. You look away when he does, then gently reestablish eye contact.
  3. If your child does not speak your language, learn a few phrases in his language that you can say when you first meet him, such as “hello”, “I’m so glad to meet you”, “Do you need to use the bathroom”, and “Are you hungry”.
  4. When you bring the child to your home for the first time, remember the power of smell to soothe a frightened child. A great trick from Dr. Karyn Purvis is to freeze some cookie dough ahead of time so you can pull it out to bake as soon as the child arrives.
  5. Show the child around your house as soon as possible.
  6. Your goal is to give your child a voice as soon as she arrives by giving her simple choices. For example, as you are showing her around the house ask if she would like to hold your hand or walk beside you.
  7. If your child does not speak your language, provide a picture board to help him express his needs and wants. Arrange for a translator sometime that first week.
  8. Provide food and water soon after arrival because food can calm a frightened child, and research has shown that children from hard places are often dehydrated.

Newly adopted children’s brains are on fire with fear. Our job as a parent is to calm this fear from the moment you first meet.

We talked about ways for parents to calm these fears, how to stay connected while disciplining our kids, and so much more in this week’s Creating a Family Radio show with the wonderful Dr. Karyn Purvis, author of The Connected Child, and the founder and Director of the TCU Institute of Child Development. I’ve been doing this show a long time and this my friends is one of the best.

Links to resources mentioned in today’s show:

  • Disarming Fear
  • Trauma Informed Classroom – written for teachers, but would be a good introduction for grandparents to understand your parenting style.
  • You can get more info on Dr. Karyn Purvis and her research and training on parenting children from hard places at Empowered to Connect and at the TCU Institute of Child Development. Good stuff is happening at both of these places!

Ethiopia Program October Update

5. October, 2015UncategorizedNo comments

images​Dear Ethiopia Adoptive Family,

Happy Fall!  October is here and 2015 is rounding to an end.  It has been almost a full year since new changes were implemented by MOWCYA which caused a slowdown in referrals. It has been so exciting to see such great movement again! As you may have heard, West Sands waiting list is under 90 families with about 50 families on temporary hold for pregnancy or other placements. ​We’d like to remind families that it is imperative to keep your paperwork current through the waiting process in order to receive a referral. West Sands Ethiopia program is open again for new families wishing to adopt from Ethiopia.  We also need families who are open to, and ​ have completed training for adopting a child with HIV.  If you know anyone who has considered adopting from Ethiopia, please refer them to our program.

This month ​​5 children were matched with their families (​3 infants and 2 toddlers). This year 21 children have come home to a forever family. The First Federal Instance Court will open again in a couple weeks, and we are ready to get court dates for families to travel.  We love and appreciate each of you for your commitment to a child across the globe.  We appreciate your support in West Sands, and our mission in Ethiopia.

Please continue to help us advocate for the following children who are ready to be matched with their forever families:

  • Male Siblings (10AUG2006) – HIV+ & (10AUG2012) – HIV+
  • Older Male (20OCT2004) – Healthy
  • Infant Male (9SEP2013) – Hydrocephalus
  • Infant Male (04APR2014) – Physical and Developmental delays

    We wanted to provide you information about the process of receiving updates on your child after you are matched.   We know that updates are so important and valuable to waiting families.  Not only to help the wait pass, but to know the health and status of your child, who is also waiting for you.  Updates can provide peace of mind, and help alert us if there is a problem.  Receiving these updates is also very important to us for these same reasons. When agreements are made with orphanages, we ask the orphanage to provide matched families with updates monthly or bimonthly to keep the waiting families informed of their potential child’s condition. We advocate for regular updates from the orphanage, from the time that you are matched with your child, until your child is home.

    ​For the most part orphanages provide current photos regularly, and from time to time we also receive measurements. ​​Most orphanages respond promptly to our requests.  However, not all orphanages act with such willingness. Under the Ethiopian laws, MOWCYA licensing, or any other overseer, orphanages are not required to provide updates to Adoption Agencies or waiting families.  We ask the orphanages to do this as a courtesy to us and the waiting family. We let families know at the time of referral that we do request updates from the orphanage, but it is not a guarantee that we will receive them. Never-the-less we will continue to request updates. A​t times families have become upset and frustrated and feel West Sands is not advocating for, or providing required adoption services. We know that it is hard to wait without knowing, and it is even harder to hear when families have received an update but you did not. Our promise to you is that we will not stop requesting updates, but we cannot provide you with a guarantee that we will receive them. Although a child is matched to a family, the child remains in the custody of the orphanage until Embassy/Visa clearance. West Sands Adoptions does not have the authority to enter an orphanage without the permission of the Orphanage Director.  We cannot put demands upon the orphanage where we have no authority to make such demands.  All that we can do is ask and plead with love and respect.

    In addition to receiving updates, you should also know that we do not consider updated measurements to be 100% accurate.  The process to measure and weigh children is not done with the same standards that we use in the U.S.  Babies are often weighed with clothes and blankets, and likely will be measured differently each time.  We often receive measurements with transposed numbers, or incorrect numbers all together. Although families want to see measurements to know if their child is growing or on track developmentally, these measurements can’t be considered 100% accurate.  Also, please know that if your child’s orphanage does not provide regular updates, this does NOT mean that something is wrong with your child. ​Orphanages located in more rural areas do not provide updates as frequently on matched children, and obtaining information is harder.

    International adoption is a process that includes ​a lot of uncertainty.  The only thing absolute is knowing that a child without a family is in crisis.  West Sands can’t guarantee the health of a child in an institution.  Our role is to screen documentation, facilitate placements, and advocate for children who are in need.  Our support and sponsorship to an orphanage is not a guarantee that children will receive optimal care as they wait for their adoption to be finalized.  Further, we can’t turn our back on children in need simply because the Orphanage Director doesn’t agree with or understand the importance of providing updates. We have to go where we are called and assist children that can be served​even when circumstances make it more difficult.

    We hope this helps in understanding the process, and the authority over children as it pertains to receiving updates during the adoption process.  Our mission is to facilitate the placement of children who are true orphans in need of a forever family. When your family is matched with a child we will let you know if the orphanage is one that provides regular updates, or not.

    ​​If you feel that being matched to a child from an orphanage that does not provide updates would be too hard for your family, you will have to option to wait for the next referral. Preparing families for the process ahead and shaping realistic expectations is the key to a process with less stress.  We are always updating our program information and improving on ways to better communicate with our waiting families. We are grateful to be a part of your adoption journey and look forward to seeing your children come home.




    West Sands Ethiopia Team