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How to Adopt Internationally

An Interview with Jean Nelson-Erichsen, CoAuthor of "How to Adopt Internationally"

By Allison Martin

How to Adopt InternationallyJean Nelson-Erichsen is the co-founder of the Los Ninos International Adoption Center in Texas and the mother of four children adopted from South America. How to Adopt Internationally, by Jean Nelson-Erichsen and Heino R. Erichsen, is a hands-on book loaded with practical information for families who seek to complete an international adoption.

How did you come to write the book, How to Adopt Internationally?

Jean Nelson-Erichsen: Seeing infants and children neglected physically or emotionally affected me deeply and drove me to write articles, booklets and eventually books on international adoption.   By educating prospective parents, I helped make it possible for many orphans to find homes. 

What qualities or circumstances do you feel make for a successful adoptive family?

Jean Nelson-Erichsen: Adoptive parents who adjust the best are open-minded, flexible men and women who have prepared themselves well in advance for the child's initial reactions to the placement.  They know and understand developmental stages. Friends and relatives with admirable parenting styles are  mentors.  The child raised by a "village" of loving adults is a lucky child indeed.  I could go on and on, but I will conclude that married couples must be equally involved in the adoption plan for the adjustment of the child and parents to be successful.  

What would you suggest prospective adoptive parents look for when choosing an agency?

Jean Nelson-Erichsen: First look for an agency that is accredited.  In particular seek out a local agency or a word-of-mouth recommendation.  Then check out the agency with your state adoption licensing unit to see if there are any unresolved complaints.  I've written a long list of what to look for in my book. Over time, trust will be a major issue.  

What activities do you recommend for families after adoption?

Jean Nelson-Erichsen: Stay home. "Nest."  The international adoption trip is a marathon that calls for recuperation.  New parents need to let themselves relax and enjoy their achievement -- the  child.  Energetic adults try to do too much too soon and exhaust themselves and confuse the child. 

What has been the biggest learning experience for you in international adoption?

Jean Nelson-Erichsen: Learning to understand people as much as possible to determine their adoption needs.  There seem to be sixteen basic personality types who adopt internationally.  Beyond that, they are individuals who arrive at the decision to adopt for many reasons.  Each of them handles their adoption process differently.  As a professional, I must be attuned to those needs, and especially to the needs of orphans with whom they will be matched. 

How did you come to be interested in adoption yourself?

Jean Nelson-Erichsen: I had a life-long desire to adopt a daughter of a different heritage.  God led us abroad to adopt infant twin daughters and later a son.

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How to Adopt Internationally
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