Every day, children around the world are being adopted and joining new families. While this process can be a joyous occasion and a blessing to the child and adoptive parents, it takes work to create a strong family relationship. This will be a time of adjustments, emotionally and physically, for everyone involved. Adoption is a lifelong process.
Love your adopted child unconditionally. When you adopt your child as a newborn, bond with your baby just as you would your own birth child. Attachment and bonding is important for your you and your child, according to the Web MD website. With an infant, this can be accomplished by carrying your child in a wrap or a sling and avoiding letting visitors pass the baby from person to person, as this could disrupt the bonding process between the adopted baby and the adoptive parents.
Trust your instincts and do what feels right to you. Understand that it's normal for an infant to be fussy at times. If your baby cries often, it's not because of anything you're doing wrong. As long as your baby is fed when hungry, changed when needed and cared for, you are doing fine.
Understand that raising an adopted toddler or preschooler is much like raising a child you gave birth to. There will be time when she throws tantrums and misbehaves. This is a normal part of this age. Just be patient and show her love and comfort. Take the time to talk with your adopted youngster and answer any questions she has. According to an article published in 2009 by the Child Welfare Information Gateway titled "Parenting Your Adopted Preschooler," a child this age will be naturally curious and ask many questions. It also suggests that this is an ideal time to start talking about her adoption in a relaxed and positive way.
Welcome older children into your home warmly. Moving into a new home requires a major adjustment for a child. Give her time to settle in and adjust. Start building a relationship with your adopted child by keeping communication open and making her part of the family. Make loving eye contact and smile at your child often. Offer her praise when she does something well. The Child Welfare Information Gateway suggests showing her love and encouraging attachment by hugging her often or holding hands with her.
Be honest with your adopted teen. As a normal part of growing up, your teen will begin forming his own identity, and during this time might become more curious about his birth family. An article written by Ellen Singer and Marilyn Schoettle of The Center for Adoption Support and Education Inc suggests that adoptive teens need to consider their birth parents as well as adoptive parents when exploring their identity. This could include determining how he is like his birth parents and how he is like his adoptive parents.
Spend time with your child. Focus as much time on your child as you can. Plan activities and events to start making memories with your adopted child. Make a big deal out of celebrating birthdays in the family and anniversaries of your child's adoption. Start traditions with your new family.
Create routines, as suggested by the Child Welfare Information Gateway. This will help your child because he will know what to expect and what is expected of him. Stick with regular bedtimes, meal times as a family, rules and limitations.
Talk openly with your child about her adoption. It's best for children to hear about where she came from and how she is now a part of your family. According to an article published through the "American Academy of Pediatrics" by Dr. Deborah titled "Families and Adoption: The Pediatrician's Role in Supporting Communication," children love to hear about their adoption stories. While this can be a difficult subject to talk about, it can easily become a part of your family's history. It should not just be a one-time conversation, but something she hears throughout her childhood because her understanding of adoption will change as she grows into an adult.
- Don't be too hard on yourself if the adoption isn't going exactly how you pictured. Learning how to raise your adopted child will take time. Be patient.
- Angel Adoption Inc.: Raising an Adopted Child
- Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: Families and Adoption: The Pediatrician's Role in Supporting Communication
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Helping Your Foster Child Transition to Your Adopted Child
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Parenting Your Adopted Preschooler
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Parenting After Adoption
- Adoption Learning Partners: Let's Talk Adoption
- WebMD: Coming Home With Your Adopted Child
- Center for Adoption Support and Education: Adoption and Adolescence
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