Highlight: Joy through adoption

November is National Adoption month. Mary Ostyn has journeyed through the process of adoption six times. She admits that sometimes the attachment process can be challenging when the child first arrives. Parents want to establish boundaries for the child, but find themselves saying “no” more often then they’d like to.

“Sometimes when a child first arrives at home, they’re testing every boundary and it can be so tempting for you to fall into the trap of saying ‘no’ more often than you even realize because you’re trying to establish those boundaries.”

Mary reminds parents that there is a power in saying yes that can often redirect a child in a positive way.

“If a child says, ‘can I have some ice cream?’ and it’s five minutes before dinner, instead of saying ‘no‘ right away, try saying, ‘Yes, you can have some for dessert right after dinner.’ The power of the yes cannot be underestimated.”

Karen and her husband had their older children already in the house when they decided to adopt. The older kids were an essential part of helping the newly-adopted kids to adapt.

“I think that what our older kids gained the most from the whole experience is a tremendous compassion, because they saw some of the struggles their younger siblings were going through and our older children saw how hard we were working to connect, and they have really been part of our support system.”

Bringing adopted children into a family with existing children can be both a challenge and a wonderful blessing, for both children and parents. 

“I think in general, it has been a really good experience for the older kids as well as the younger kids. The younger kids look up to their older siblings too, so that is a really powerful, wonderful thing.”

Karen says that its important to always be attuned to the needs of the existing children in the house as well as the newly-adopted children. This way, no one feels sidelined. Talking through feelings and issues with all of the children is the key to creating a strong, healthy, family.


Mary Ostyn is a former obstetric nurse, speaker, and writer of several books including,  and . She, her husband and their ten children live in Idaho. Four of their children were born to them, and six arrived via adoption, from South Korea and Ethiopia. Ostyn has been blogging about motherhood, food, frugality, and adoption at owlhaven.net since 2006.

Joy through adoption

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