to Adopt Internationally
with Jean Nelson-Erichsen, CoAuthor of "How to Adopt Internationally"
By Allison Martin
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
How did you come to write the book, How to Adopt
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
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
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
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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