You made it through the long adoption process and are asking yourself, how do I make my adopted child feel welcome?
To make your adopted child feel welcome, take lots of family photos and start a family photo album. Embrace your adopted child’s culture, which will help your child feel at home. Participate in one-on-one activities with your adopted child to establish a bond and open dialog. Help them fit in.
Assuming that you made it through the adoption difficulties and likely hard times, you are now ready to know how to proceed after your adoption.
Depending on whether you adopted internationally or domestically will determine how you settle into your new family routine. With so many things to consider, it is easy to feel a bit overwhelmed not knowing where to begin.
If you have still not adopted a child yet and are simply researching to prepare yourself, kudos to you! The adoption process is timely, and being prepared can help cut down on the time it takes to adopt.
It is crucial to remember that although you have some adjusting to do, your adopted child is going through so much more. If you have adopted a baby, then chances are there will not be a huge grieving process they will need to get through.
Adopting toddlers and older children, however, brings with it more hurdles to overcome.
Children who are moved from one setting to another not only feel displaced for some time but also go through a natural grieving process. The life they knew is gone, and it will be your job to help them feel comfortable in their new environment.
A child’s adjustment period will be easier, however, if your child was a foster child who was already living in your home. There are so many benefits of adopting through foster care.
If you adopted your child internationally, your child will be grieving the loss of the culture they knew. Transitioning to an entirely different language, smells, tastes, and traditions can be terrifying and lonely as they begin to adapt to their new surroundings.
If you are not new to parenthood and you have welcomed an adopted child into your family, regardless of being an experienced parent, you will find it challenging as you deal with circumstances that only an adopted child will go through.
Rest assured that you will not be alone in your journey. The adoption process that you went through provided you with training on what to expect and how to deal with many things you may face as an adoptive parent.
You will most certainly receive continued support in the beginning as you and your adopted child settle into your new family.
Help Your Adopted Child Fit In
Transracially adopted children tend to have to deal with more social stigmas than biological children.
You will want to be your child’s advocate and think ahead on how you will respond to others who try to understand and or judge your family dynamics.
It will be important to take the focus off of the child and make the family the main focus as you communicate with others. Teach your child to be strong and confident when others acknowledge racial differences.
Assist Adopted Child During Time of Loss & Grief
Every adopted child experiences loss and trauma in their way no matter where they came from. An older child removed from a troubled home may grieve the loss of his or her biological mother.
No matter how dysfunctional their home life was, they will grieve the loss of what they knew.
If you adopted internationally, the adopted child will grieve the loss of a familiar language and culture. They will miss not being around others that look like them.
They will feel scared and uncomfortable, even if they logically know they are safe and loved. Anything new can be scary, especially to the adopted child.
As individuals, we all grieve in our way. Some prefer to be left alone to internally digest the changes being experienced. Teenagers especially can withdraw during this time.
It may be very helpful for you and the child to look at the adopted child’s biological family photos together to show them you value the life they had.
Helping your adopted child understand that it is okay to grieve the loss of what they once had during this vulnerable time is a step in a healing direction.
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Embrace Your Adopted Child’s Culture
Internationally adopted children will tend to be older than a child adopted domestically.
As discussed above, these children leave the life they knew; the culture, sites, smells, tastes and sounds. Grieving those losses can be devastating.
Help your child by embracing their culture. Participate in things that bring the culture left behind closer to the child and enjoy it with them.
Is there a restaurant in your area that offers a menu of foods similar to where the child is from? Keep your eyes and ears open for cultural events that can be enjoyed.
Although you will want your adopted child to be fluent in the language that you speak and know, encourage them to continue to remain or become fluent in their native language as well.
There are so many advantages of being bilingual, and there are language classes that can support that.
Watch documentaries on the culture and traditions of the child’s birthplace. Make your transracial child’s culture part of yours to help them feel special and a part of your family.
Discuss Race & Racism with Adopted Child
If your adopted child is transracial, they may wonder why your skin color is not the same as their own. Try to incorporate others who look like them into their lives through movies, books, and the toys you buy.
Do not try to downplay their differences. Instead, support and encourage pride in who they are and where they came from.
There will come a time when a transracial child will be faced with prejudice. Teach them how to respond if and when they are confronted with a situation like that.
Responding to ignorance with love rather than anger is the best way to address the judgment of others.
Establish a Bond with Your Adopted Child
Be mindful that it will take some time to establish a bond with your adopted child. For an infant or toddler, this could mean giving extra cuddles or holding them as they sleep.
They are small, but we cannot underestimate what they sense is going on around them. Your goal is to help them feel safe and secure in their new environment.
For an older child, establishing a bond could be done through participating in fun activities with your child. Go see a movie that you both are interested in. Take them roller skating, and tell them they can invite a friend.
Go to a carnival or fair and let your hair down. Drive to the beach or take them fishing. Show them you are fun and that you want them to enjoy life with you.
Establishing a bond does not happen overnight. However, with consistent effort, you will build closeness and a sense of trust for a lifetime.
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Encourage Your Spouse to be Involvement with the Child
If you adopted with a partner, most states require that you are both actively involved in the adoption process. This equal participation should not end after the adoption process is finalized.
Both adoptive parents should play an active role in parenting as well as sharing household and child-raising responsibilities.
Plan on taking turns preparing meals and assisting with other chores. Take turns driving your child to and from their extracurricular activities.
When both parents are actively helping with the family responsibilities, it helps bring the family closer together.
Tell Others About Your Adopted Child
Preparing to share your adoption news with family and friends can be such an exciting time! Will you do this over social media in a special post with a touching photo and in-depth story?
Some may want to send out a special announcement with a cute photo to close friends and family.
Be aware, though, that you may be faced with a variety of different reactions and questions. Some well-meaning comments from others may not at all be intended as disrespectful but may be received as such.
Everyone has their own opinions on adoption. Some may wonder why you would want to adopt a child who is racially different than you.
Maybe you adopted a child of the same ethnicity, yet your family is struggling with you not continuing the family bloodline.
Regardless of what people think, most of your family and friends will be happy for you.
Just be prepared for how you will respond to those who may lack tact in how they communicate their response to your adoption news.
Take Family Photos After Adopting Child
You will want to update your family photos to include your newly adopted child.
Digital photos are all the rage these days, and photo album books are also nice to curl up on the couch with.
Having a professional photo taken that you can share with others and display on your wall in your home will surely help your new child feel loved and welcomed as a part of your family.
Start a Photo Album for Adopted Child
Let us not forget the value of taking photos throughout your adoption journey, through the settling-in period, as well as throughout your child’s life.
The photos that you collect of your adopted child will help to make them feel loved, accepted, and valued as a member of your family.
Just be sure to include the same attention to your biological children so they don’t feel less special.
Medical & Dental Appointments for Adopted Child
A child’s health is of utmost concern, and you will naturally want to establish a medical and dental check-up routine with a pediatrician and dentist.
When a child sees that you care about their health and wellbeing, they will feel loved and cared for.
Get those appointments scheduled, mark them on your calendar, and set a task reminder on your phone to remind yourself when those appointments come up.
If you adopted a child internationally, you may have very little medical history to provide for your child’s doctor, as not much history is known when adopting overseas.
If you have adopted domestically, chances are you will have much more medical history for the child that was provided by their biological family.
Make Time for Yourself After Adoption
Good parents always put their children first. I think it is human nature that we want the best for our children as we put our own needs on the back burner. After all, is that not our job?
We often fail to realize that when our cup is empty, we have nothing to give to someone else. When we feel fulfilled and happy, it is much easier to share that happiness and give it to others.
When our cup is full, we then have something to give. Yet when we neglect our own needs and keep giving and giving until we are stretched thin, it starts to take its toll.
A happier you make you a better parent, so make time for yourself. Schedule a massage if you can afford it. Squeeze in a hobby or two.
As your children get older and need you less, you will be so grateful that you have your life activities to keep you occupied.
If you do not believe me, then learn from my own mistake. I put so much into raising my youngest daughter that I put no energy into myself.
I could have been a much better parent had I had a full cup of happiness to contribute. Instead, I was a needy mom constantly feeling as though my happiness was dependent on my daughter.
Putting your happiness in someone else’s hands is not fair to the person you rely on to make you happy. For us to be good parents or good partners, we need to already be happy and fulfilled.
It is only then that we have happiness and good vibes to share with others in our life.
When we define ourselves as only a parent and nothing more, then it is more difficult to bring anything to the parenting table.
If your children are what makes you happy, great! But what else is there in your life that fills your cup?
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.