Tips To Help Make A Newly Adopted Older Child Feel Welcome In Their New Home
Posted on October 14, 2016
Welcoming a newly adopted child into the family, after months and years of planning, is a source of great joy for everyone involved. You probably feel like you're well prepared for this moment, but the truth is, it may take more time and effort than you imagined. Adoption is a process you will go through for life. Issues can crop up at any point during your child's lifetime, especially during challenging times, like birthdays.
When you are adopting a child who is older, more effort may be required, in order to make them feel welcomed in their new family. An older child in adoption terms, is anyone adopted over the age of six.
If you have adopted, or are considering adopting an older child, these vital tips may help you in your quest to make them feel welcome in their new home. Please note that these tips are most applicable to domestic adoption scenarios.
Build Rapport Through Honesty
The first week with a newly adopted child, especially an older child, can seem especially daunting, and may bring a set of distinctive challenges, you must find ways to overcome. Your child will understandably feel scared and overwhelmed with his or her new environment -- especially when they come from particularly harsh situations. One of the things you must understand with the adoption of an older child, is the feeling of rejection that may have come, from being in foster care prior to being permanently adopted. This must be handled in a manner which allows for the various feelings of fear, that this will not be a permanent home, which may feed into feeling unwanted and rejected. This feeling will likely impact your child's behavior, and adjustment to new places.
The best thing you can do is find a way to build rapport through honesty. Present honest facts about your home in a friendly manner, so that your child knows what to expect when he or she first arrives. A national survey of adoptive parents undertaken in 2007 revealed that 81 percent of parents feel that they had a warm and close relationship with their adoptive kids. Honesty and communication can play a vital role in bringing you all closer.
Look For Way To Make The Environment Comfortable
For families that have had the opportunity to interact with each other before the adoption is finalized,depending on where the child was living before, there can be opportunities to learn more about the child's likes and dislikes. Before you bring your child home, take the time to consider his or her interests intently during your interactions. Some of the child’s interests can be made available through their case worker, or during visitations with the child, if foster care was part of the process. You can use these interests to create a welcoming environment when he or she first arrives. For instance, if your adoptive son or daughter is fond of racing cars, you may want to prepare his room with a racing car theme, so they feel excited about their new space. Buying items relevant to your child's interests can make a big difference when it comes to making him or her feel welcome.
Organize School Placements From The Start To Create A Familiar Routine
A great way to make your child feel welcome in your home is to show how much you have already organized. They will likely feel excited with your enthusiasm. Organize school or pre-school placements and start a routine right away. Doing this from the start is a good way to settle your child from the get go. Your child will most likely be willing to adapt to changes since everything is new and there's no set pattern of behavior already in place.
Be Patient And Supportive
Adopted children can take a while to adjust to their new home. Any new home will be different from their past environments. Your job as a parent is to be patient and supportive, no matter how frustrating it may get. Your child has probably had limited instances of love and affection, so this can be a particularly overwhelming experience. Make sure they know how happy you are to have them in your life. This will promote a level of mutual trust in your relationship over time.
Lay A Set Of Ground Rules
Your adoptive kids may not be used to structure, so explain how your home runs, and the fact that you have certain rules for everyone in the household. This is a good way to make your child feel like he or she is part of the family. For instance, if you have rules about TV time, let your child know that these rules apply to everybody. Include your child in any family discussions and decisions, so they can start to feel like their opinion matters. Explain to your kids that these rules have been created to keep everyone safe, including the newest addition to your family.
Don’t Be Afraid To Celebrate And Discuss Differences
Multi-racial adoption is not uncommon and should not be made taboo. For example, if a Caucasian family adopts a child of a different race, they are no longer a white family. They are now a multi-racial one. In order to make sure your child feels welcome outside the bounds of race or color, prepare them by talking about the racial differences, and possible added attention. You can prepare them with the following:
- Find moments to highlight the beauty of differences in color, culture, and race that make your child and family incredible.
- Demonstrate that different color and culture is nothing to be ashamed of.
- Educate your family about race, and social issues to do with race.
Finally, consider being demonstrative with your feelings, because adoptive children don't always know what you're thinking and feeling. Once your child is privy to a new feeling of stability in your household, you will notice your bond starting to grow. Focus on these tips and find other ways to bond and be patient with your adopted child at all times.
Maxine Chalker is the founder and Executive Director of Adoptions From The Heart. She holds a MSW and LSW which she uses to give adoption a new face by breaking down the barriers and taking some of the mystery out of the adoption process. Chalker was also adopted.