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Blog – North Dakota Post Adopt Network
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Adoption by Family Type: Racially and Culturally Diverse Families

By | Parenting

Racially and culturally diverse adoption refers to placing a child of one race, culture, or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race, culture, or ethnic group.

The truth at the core of adoption is this: Family is more than biology. A family is defined by love. While some adoptive families may wish to adopt a child of the same racial background as themselves, others choose to adopt a child of a different race or ethnicity.

Transracial adoption is becoming increasingly common and socially accepted in America as couples continue to open their arms to children of all backgrounds. This calls for increased education around transracial adoption — its joys, challenges, and the unique journey of adopting interracially.

Racially and culturally diverse adoption forever changes families and requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Prior to the placement and throughout the parenting journey, parents who have adopted a child of another race, culture, or ethnic group must commit to deepening their own understanding of different races, cultures, and ethnicities to support their child or youth’s exploration of their own identity.

Advocate for your child.

Advocacy begins with understanding. What are the unique events that have shaped the history of your child’s racial heritage? What are some situations they may experience that you are unfamiliar with? This is where educating yourself will be very helpful.

Find ways to celebrate their racial heritage.

What ways can you do to highlight and celebrate your child’s ethnic heritage? This could mean cooking different food, celebrating different holidays, or simply participating in community events that you otherwise would not.

Parents in a transracial or transcultural family should do the following:

  • Become intensely invested in parenting
  • Tolerate no racially or ethnically biased remarks
  • Surround themselves with supportive family and friends
  • Celebrate and talk about all cultures
  • Take your child to places where people present are from his/her race or ethnic group

Transracial Adoption Can Be for Everyone

When you think of interracial adoption, what kind of family do you picture? If you’re like most people, your mental image is of white parents with a black child. This is a beautiful family! However, we need to dispel the idea that transracial adoption is something only white parents do. The interracial adoption definition is much broader than that.

There will be times when a black family adopts a white child, and there will be times when white parents adopt a black baby. Asian or Hispanic parents may adopt a child of a different race, and biracial couples may adopt a newborn whose ethnicity is different from either of theirs.

The beauty of transracial adoption is that, at its core, it is a reminder of the overwhelming power of love. Race matters, heritage matters, and understanding societal impacts on individuals of different races is a requirement for any parent considering adopting interracially. Within all of that, a transracial adoption displays love.

In the end, no matter what kind of adoption, the outcome is a beautiful family.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, NaTasha Sawicki, LBSW


Transracial Adoption | Adoption.com

Transracial and Transcultural Adoption (childwelfare.gov)

Potty Training the Adopted Child

By | Parenting

Potty training a toddler can seem like an overwhelming task.  Questions like where do I start, how do I know if they’re ready, and what do I even do may run through your mind as you’re figuring out all things related to potty training.  Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind if you’re at a point of potty training your child.

  • Set a schedule
    • Be sure to set potty times up on a consistent schedule and stick to it
    • Perhaps have a timer that dings when it’s time to try
  • Allow your child to have as much say in their training as possible
    • Create a time to pick out a potty chair together
    • Allow your child to pick out underpants of their liking
  • Be aware of the words you chose and the tone during potty training
    • Speak in a matter of fact way when talking about bodily functions, body parts, and where to use the bathroom
    • Accidents will happen – how you respond, both with words and expression, make a world of a difference
  • Modify your approach to your child’s personality
    • Each child will be ready to potty train at different times, and this is ok
    • Learn different techniques that might work with your kiddo –
      • stickers, praises, talking about it in everyday situations, or by example
    • Make it fun!
      • Have books and toys readily available to play with if need be!
      • Sing songs while waiting!
      • Consider praises and motivators (such as stickers) to assist with encouragement

For additional articles to read and consider, check out these resources:


This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW

Pica, Rumination Disorder, Laxative Abuse, and Compulsive Exercise

By | Parenting

For our last blog post series on eating disorders, I will be discussing Pica, Rumination Disorder, Laxative Abuse, and Compulsive Exercise, which are all classified as eating disorders by the National Eating Disorder Association.


According to National Eating Disorder Association, Pica is an eating disorder that occurs when an individual eats items that are not thought of as food and contain no nutritional value. Examples of items that someone with Pica might ingest are hair, dirt, paint chips, clay, etc. Pica can occur with other mental health disorders, such as intellectual disability, autism, and schizophrenia. Those with iron-deficiency anemia, malnutrition, and pregnancy are the most common cause of Pica.

Diagnosis: To diagnosis Pica, there are no laboratory tests available. A clinical history of the patient will help determine the diagnosis. In addition to clinical history, it is also important to receive tests for anemia, intestinal blockages, and/or side effects from substances/items consumed, such as paint or bacteria/parasites from dirt.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: Symptoms are typically related to the non-food items that the individual has eaten. Below are a few warning signs.

  • At least one month of consistently eating non-food items that do not contain any nutritional value
  • Eating items that are not culturally supported
  • Eating of items need to be developmentally inappropriate
  • Bowel problems
  • Injuries to teeth
  • Lead poisoning
  • Infections

How to help: If you or someone you know is displaying warning signs or symptoms of Pica, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Pica can typically be treated with certain medications and/or vitamins. It is also important to address any illness or medical needs resulting from non-food items.

Rumination Disorder

According to National Eating Disorder Association, rumination disorder involves the regular regurgitation of food that occurs for at least one month. This may include food that is re-chewed, re-swallowed, or spit out. Rumination disorder can be confused with bulimia, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and gastroparesis.

Diagnosis: According to the DSM-5, the criteria for rumination disorder are:

  • For at least one month, there needs to be repeated regurgitation of food.
  • The regurgitation of food is not due to a medication condition, such as a gastrointestinal condition.
  • It does not occur with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.
  • If another mental health disorder is also occurring, it is severe enough to get clinical attention.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of rumination disorder include:

  • Effortless regurgitation, typically within 10 minutes of eating
  • Pain or pressure relieved by regurgitation
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Dental issues
  • Social isolation
  • Bad breath

How to help: As with all eating disorders, it is important to seek professional help if you feel that you or someone you know may be struggling with rumination disorder. According to Mayo Clinic, behavioral therapy or medications may be included in the treatment protocol. Behavioral therapy it can help teach people how to breathe from the diaphragm which can help with rumination disorder.

Laxative Abuse

According to National Eating Disorder Association, “laxative abuse occurs when a person attempts to eliminate unwanted calories, lose weight, feel thin, or feel empty through repeated, frequent use of laxatives.” It is noted that although people try to use laxative abuse for weight loss and control, it can be harmful as laxative abuse actually aids in the loss of water, minerals, and electrolytes important for body hydration.

Symptoms and warning signs:

  • Severe dehydration
    • Weakness, fainting, blurry vision, kidney damage
  • Internal organ damage
  • Increase risk of colon cancer

How to help: Treatment for laxative abuse may include assistance from multiple health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, primary care provider, and dietician. It is important to have support from friends and family members or others also struggling with laxative abuse.

Compulsive Exercise

Although compulsive exercise is classified as an eating disorder by the National Eating Disorder Association, it is not a diagnosis with the DSM-5. Compulsive exercise can have many different definitions such as: secretive or hidden exercise, exercise as permission to eat, and exercise that interferes with important activities or continues to occur while injured or with medical complications. Compulsive exercise can be linked to many eating disorders.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: For a full list of symptoms and warning signs, visit: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/compulsive-exercise

  • Overtraining
  • Exercise taking place despite an injury
  • Feeling guilty if not exercising
  • Withdrawal from friends/family

How to help: If you or someone you know is showing symptoms and warning signs of compulsive exercise, it is important to seek professional help. Typically compulsive exercise can lead to serious eating disorders.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW


National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 22). Rumination Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/rumination-disorder#:%7E:text=The%20DSM%2D5%20criteria%20for,(e.g.%2C%20gastrointestinal%20condition).

Rumination syndrome – Symptoms and causes. (2020, October 14). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rumination-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20377330

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018a, February 22). Pica. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/pica

familydoctor.org editorial staff. (2021, January 28). What Is Pica? – Pica Eating Disorder. Familydoctor.Org. https://familydoctor.org/condition/pica/

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018a, February 22). Compulsive Exercise. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/compulsive-exercise


National Eating Disorders Association. (2018b, February 22). Laxative Abuse. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/laxative-abuse








Why is Post Adopt Needed?

By | Parenting

I’ve been with Catholic Charities ND for two months now, and I know that AASK staff speak with families that are just beginning to research adoption almost every week. Many of these families ask questions about current programs and process, length of wait for placement. But what about the questions about the future or what happens “after” the adoption?

Why is it important for families to ask their agency’s role after the adoption? Parenting is difficult in the best of circumstances, but there can be additional struggles with parenting children with hard beginnings. Children who have spent time in a foster home or have experienced trauma and neglect may require additional care from their parents. I encourage families to ask a different but still important question: “Who is going to be there for me after adoption?”

Families often dream of their adoption ending in a “and they lived happily ever after” scenario.  Parents often feel the adoption journey is the difficult part and once they bring home their child, all will be well. Parenting a child who has experienced trauma may take parenting skills and services that families weren’t aware of or prepared for. This is why post-adoption support is imperative!

Many children who join their families through foster care adoption may have deep wounds, and may behave in ways that don’t respond to typical parenting efforts. Which is why we at ND Post Adopt Network meet parents where they are at and for as long as necessary. We have compiled resources for adoptive and guardianship families to ensure families succeed.

Post Adopt can help with the transition of becoming a family after Finalization. We offer support groups, webinars and many different trainings, including Seven Core issues in Adoption and Trauma Knowledge Masterclass. There are even family events including a Mom and Dad’s retreat to help bring families together and get the support they need after finalization and a winter retreat that allows all family members to be involved. It’s imperative for families to know the services and supports don’t go away once finalization occurs.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, NaTasha Sawicki, LBSW