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Adopting an older child

Updated: Mar 20



Spanking dolls. Screaming at bath time. Sobbing over spilled milk. Katja’s assimilation to her life went much more smoothly than we dared to hope. However, a few events stand out as being a bit alarming. With her blessing, I share them in the hopes they can help other families.


A dear friend gave Katja a big rag doll to greet her when she came home for the first time. Immediately, Katja spanked the doll, set it firmly on the ground and shook her finger at it. (Side note – she soon nurtured her dolls and is currently in the field of childcare where she thrives!)


Initially bath time was a challenge, as Katja screamed at the sight of water every evening. This reaction confused me, as they would have been bathed in the orphanage, but something made her very upset. Since bathing was not optional, we had to find a solution. In the end, we were able to leverage Katja’s natural nurturing nature. She began to bathe her dolls, and eventually wanted to join in the fun. (Side note – she grew to love the water and became an excellent swimmer, even earning her the nickname of The Fish!)


Katja was a very neat and careful eater. However, one night she accidentally spilled her cup of milk. We do not know if there would have been repercussions at the orphanage, but her terrified look and anguished crying signalled she thought she was in trouble with us. Many smiles, hugs and kisses later, she realized our love for her would not change and that, literally, there was no need to cry over spilled milk.


We will never know why she spanked her doll, screamed at the sight of water, or was horrified at the spilled milk.

Parents of children adopted at an older age must learn to let go of the need to have such answers. This was not a comfortable feeling for me. However, Katja was ready to move on, and so I had no choice but to leave these questions behind so I could keep up with her!

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