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One of the tangible expressions of the adoptive parents' love for the new child is the desire to provide material items such as clothing and toys. Usually one of the strongest urges of a new parent is to undress and inspect the child, then to bathe her and dress her in all new clothing. Parents should be cautioned to restrain these impulses during the early hours of the transition. Under most circumstances, the child has abruptly lost all that is familiar -- language, culture, people, places, and things. All that remains is her clothes, which smell and feel familiar. These should be removed and replaced only after the child has had a period of time with her new family. Stiff, new clothes may feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar; new clothes are a rarity in the orphanage. Most items should be washed prior to use and tags removed to prevent irritation.

Similarly, encounters with multiple new toys may be unfamiliar and frightening for children who have never had personal possessions. A child living in institutional care may never have had someone show him how to play with (as opposed to fling or bang) toys. Assisting the child's interaction with toys is a valuable activity for parents in the early days of the transition.


From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.


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