When you adopt a child—especially an older child—the process can sometimes be stressful, scary, and challenging for the child. After all, older children have likely been through a slew of homes—from foster homes to orphanages, the process can be anxiety-ridden for both adoptive parents and children.
Once you have been approved with the adoption agency and have chosen the child you want, it may seem like smooth sailing. Unfortunately, the transition between being an abandoned child to a wanted and loved child can be difficult.
Here are five tips for helping your older, adoptive, child transition into your family:
1. Establish and Adhere to a Routine
Children of all ages need stability to thrive. It may seem simple, but establishing and adhering to a routine can help your child adjust to their new life—and family. A routine also helps your child feel safe, wanted, and loved.
Make sure you incorporate daily activities into your routine: breakfast, school, dinner, and bedtime. More importantly, make sure all activities in the home happen at a specified time—even if it varies slightly. You should also create a safe, family time, each day; dinnertime is a great way to do this.
2. Realize That Behaviors May Change
It is important to realize that the behaviors of your child may change over time. Just like when you date a new person, there may be a "honeymoon" phase for you and your child. During the beginning, your child may be shy and on their best behavior—and that may change over the coming weeks.
If you notice that their behavior changes in an unfavorable way after a few weeks—or months—be patient. It is perfectly acceptable to issue punishments, but go easy on your child during the beginning. Remember, this child has been through a lot and really needs understanding right now.
3. Make Food and Drinks Accessible
An adjusting child may want to eat or drink at odd times. Perhaps they really are hungry—or maybe they are exploring. Either way, make it easy for your child to find food and drinks. If you worried about their health, ensure that everything accessible is healthy: think water, flavored waters, veggies, and lunchmeats.
4. Don't Make Promises
It is important that you do not make promises that you cannot keep—especially in the beginning months. After all, this child—depending on age—has probably heard adults make promises before and the outcome was never what was expected.
5. Let Them Have Space
Even if the child is older, it is possible to overstimulate them. Make sure that you are open and welcoming, but don't force the child to spend time with you or your family members. You should also not force them into any events or gatherings that they do not want to attend.
Remember, your child has been through a lot and needs time to adjust. Give them space and make it known they are welcome, and they will come around.
In the end, adopting an older child is a very admirable thing to do. It saves a child from a life of hardship and allows you to spread your love. If you are new to adopting, use these tips to help ensure your child feels warm and welcomed in their new home. Contact professionals, such as those from http://www.achildsdream.org, for further assistance.