If you’re lucky enough to be able to adopt a child, there are a lot of exciting and challenging times ahead. Raising a child can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and it is vital to get it right. With adopted children, it is crucial to help them feel welcome, particularly for older children. Actions generally speak louder than words, so you should make an effort to show and not just tell – though verbal affirmations can be invaluable as well.
You should prepare properly for the arrival of your newest family member. Here are some of the best ways you can ensure your adopted child feels valued and safe in your family.
Get Their Bedroom Ready
You should ensure that there is a space for your new family member that is entirely their own. Ideally, you should give them their own room. This will be the place they retreat to in the coming weeks and months if they ever need time to themselves. You should ensure that they have a bed, desk, storage for clothes, and whatever else you think they might need.
Let Them Choose Their Room’s Decorations And Color Scheme
Allowing your adopted child to decorate their room will give them a sense of agency and belonging in that space. You could consider going for a shopping trip after they arrive to pick out different items for their room.
Take A Family Trip To Bond
You could consider taking a family trip to allow you and your newest family member to get to know one another. This can be particularly beneficial if you have other children, so they also have a chance to bond with their new sibling. It may be best for this trip to be somewhere you can spend plenty of quality time together. Avoid planning too many outings that may overwhelm your child. For instance, a weekend break camping or to a cabin could be ideal.
Learn About Their Likes and Dislikes
When getting to know your adopted child, it is crucial to learn about the things they enjoy. You should show an interest in the things they like and ensure that you provide them with the support to pursue the things they love.
When getting to know your child, you should find out what activities they enjoy, the foods they like and dislike, their sense of style and more. This will show them that you care and help them start feeling comfortable in your home.
Celebrate With An Adoption Announcement
An adoption announcement can be a great way to let your family and friends know about your new addition to the family. Just as you would announce the birth of a biological child, celebrating your newest family member is crucial. There are some beautiful adoption announcements you could choose from eco- and style-conscious brands like Greenvelope.
Make Time For Them
During the crucial first weeks and months, spending plenty of quality time with your child is important. It may help to take a few days or weeks off from work so that you can spend this time together. You could fill your days with activities that will help you bond, such as cooking together, reading age-appropriate books, shopping, or whatever you and your child will enjoy.
Let Them Express Their Feelings And Concerns
While adoption can be an exciting time for a child, it is also a period of big changes which might be unsettling for them. It is important to let them know they can express their feelings and that whatever they’re feeling is valid. It may help to get advice from other adopted parents on how to talk about emotions with your child. How well they transition will depend on various factors, including their age, experiences before adoption, and personality.
Be Open About Their Birth Parents
Depending on your child’s age, they may or may not have memories of their birth parents. It is essential to be honest about their birth parents if your child asks about them. You should use age-appropriate language and avoid giving them too much information in one go. Allow them time to process what you’ve told them and leave any difficult or upsetting details until they are older.
It may be beneficial to talk to a child or family psychologist with experience working with adopted children. They will be able to help you and your child work through the first months as a family.
Encourage Them To Pursue Their Interests
All children have their own interests, likes and dislikes. As a parent, it is your job to give your kids the freedom and opportunity to explore the things they enjoy. You should avoid pressuring your child to choose activities and instead provide them with plenty of chances to find the things they like.
Once your child has found something they enjoy, it is important to let them pursue this interest independently, but with guidance and encouragement from you where necessary. For instance, you could give them praise, attend recitals, and help them with more challenging projects and activities. Let them know that you are there for them if they need help.
Create A Routine
Routine is crucial for children. An older adopted child may have experienced a lot of upheaval in their life. Creating a routine for your child can help them feel grounded and safe in your home. You could start by setting the morning and evening routines, such as reading your child a book before bed and starting each day with their favorite breakfast foods.
You should ensure that there is enough time in their day for everything they need to do, such as homework and chores. Offering your child structure and routine, including both fun activities and everyday tasks, can be invaluable to help them settle in quickly.
Avoid Too Much Social Interaction Initially
While you might be keen to introduce your new child to your friends and family, it is essential not to overwhelm them in their first weeks and months in your home. You could consider inviting close family first and do so gradually. How your child reacts to new people in their lives depends on their past experiences and personality, so it is best to go slow and give them plenty of time to acclimatize.