Adopting a child is an amazing privilege and responsibility. Having a biological child may not always be a choice, but no kid is “accidentally” adopted. Choosing to love and parent a child who came into this world as someone else’s, takes a strong, empathetic, and loving person who sees that little human as they are and knows how much they deserve love and a place to belong. As an adoptee myself, I know your child’s challenges, whether adopted as a newborn or later in life. I decided to compile a few tips to help the transition go a bit smoother for everyone involved. Regardless of the child’s age, you have the honor of welcoming into your family; these suggestions can help your family adjust and find your wonderful new “normal” just a little bit easier.
The adoption process can be lengthy, and waiting may feel like all you ever do. Once your child comes home, the patience you develop will serve you well. Just as with bringing home a biological child, an adjustment period takes place when a new family member enters into the family dynamic. Whether you bring home an infant or an older child, the family will have to discover how it works with the new addition. It may also take your child time to adjust to their new normal as well. If you’re adopting from the foster care system, chances are they’ve moved around a lot and haven’t experienced much stability. You’ll have to let time be the healer of those wounds, as you show them every day that this new home is for life, and you will never give them up.
Create A Strong Support System
The term “It takes a village” is never more accurate than when describing an adoptive family. Having a solid support system for yourself, your adopted child, and any existing children in the home, can make the transition stage easier for everyone. Family members who have walked the journey with you are wonderful, but nothing beats talking to someone who has walked the same path. Find a support group of other parents of adopted children so you can cry and vent on the tough days and laugh and celebrate when things go well. Your child will love having other kids around that have shared similar experiences, even if they don’t talk about them. Regardless of who you choose, just make sure you have people there to help you and support you unconditionally.
Treat All Kids Equally
Let me preface this by saying, equally doesn’t mean the same. Depending on the age of the child you adopt, jealousy may arise in the household. Even if you thoroughly prepare your kids for the new addition, seeing you interact and love another child can cause many different feelings to surface. If you find this happening, it can be helpful to explain the reasoning behind your actions. For instance, children will have different expectations based on age. They may not have the same rules, but they will equally receive punishment for breaking the rules they do have. It is also vital that you show the same amount of love to every child in the household. The newest member may require more attention at first, so it can be helpful to explain that to their new siblings and make one on one time for them so they don’t feel left out. It’s a juggling act that isn’t always easy, and you won’t always get it right, but eventually, everyone will come to love and accept each other.
Create A Safe Space To Discuss Adoption
A safe space to discuss adoption will look differently for everyone, depending on your circumstances. If you adopt your child as an infant, you can begin introducing the idea early and expound on it as they grow. You should NEVER hide the fact that your child is adopted. My parents did this so well that I don’t remember when I found out, it was always something I knew, and it wasn’t a big deal. I knew they loved me, and I never felt different from other kids with their biological parents. If your child is older, they should know it’s ok to talk about their experiences and birth parents. If it is an open adoption and they see them, let the child know it’s ok to love both you and them. As the situation evolves, keep the door open for their thoughts and feelings to change on being adopted and let them know they are valid and ok whatever those feelings are.
Adoption is a process, even after your child comes home. Remember, LOVE TAKES TIME. Even for a biological child, some parents don’t feel that bond right away. With an adoptive child, it’s no different. The love between you and your child will grow as time goes on, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away. You are undergoing one of the most important and beautiful adventures anyone could go through. You’ve got this, and that amazing little human you’ve opened your heart and home to will have a fantastic future because you chose the path of adoption.