6 Tips for Parents to Help Kids Adjust to Adoption
Approximately 135,000 adoptions take place in the United States every year. Welcoming a child by adoption can be a rewarding yet challenging experience, especially when there are already children in the household. Adoptive parents will be glad to know there are several helpful tips to keep in mind that can help kids through this time of transition.
How to Help During the Adjustment Period
An adopted child and his or her new brothers and sisters may go through a period of adjustment that has its ups and downs. Learning to relate to each other as well as observing and acknowledging the relationship each child has with his or her parents, takes time and may present challenges. To not only encourage emotional support between siblings and a newly adopted child, but also to help you remind the kids who are already in your home that they are loved, you should:
• Involve children at home in the family law process.
• Help kids set realistic expectations.
• Join a family support group.
• Spend one-on-one time with each child.
• Have a plan in place so that kids know what to do if they feel troubled.
• Reach out for additional support as needed.
In a perfect world, every child by adoption and his or her new siblings would adapt to the changes in their lives without any problems arising. In reality, it’s natural for every person in a family to process a vast range of emotions when an adoption has taken place. Depending on each child’s age, level of maturity and past life experiences, welcoming a new sibling or adjusting to being the new sibling in a family can spark feelings of uncertainty, confusion, anxiety and worry.
Children Adapt More Easily When They Are Part of the Process
Before your adopted child joins your family at home, there will undoubtedly be months of preparation ahead of time. This may include meetings with a New Jersey adoption attorney as well as getting a bedroom ready at home or even shopping for a welcome gift for your new son or daughter. Involving your at-home children in the process can make the overall situation more personal to them, which can help them more easily adjust to the changes in their life.
Let Your Kids Know There May Be Bumps in the Road
Adapting to a new family and lifestyle may not be all smooth sailing, especially if your adopted child has experienced trauma in his or her past. It’s helpful to talk about expectations with your new son or daughter and your children at home. If kids understand that there will naturally be some days that are better than others, they’ll be less likely to have adjustment problems.
Learn from Other Families’ Experiences
It’s not uncommon for kids at home to feel left out or worry that their parents don’t love them as much as their newly adopted sibling. Children who enter a family by adoption may experience similar anxiety. Joining a community support group for families who adopt can be quite helpful. When kids hear other people sharing experiences to which they can relate, it helps them to not feel alone. It’s also a good idea to verbally remind each child that he or she is loved.
Private Time With Parents Helps Kids Adjust
Life is busy, and you have many obligations to fulfill. If you can set aside a bit of time to spend one on one with each of your children, it provides a safe and confidential setting for them to share their thoughts. A child often feels comfortable sharing his or her heart while riding in a car, for instance, or taking a walk with a parent while no other family members are present. It is also an opportunity for you and each of your children to have fun together apart from the whole family.
Kids Need to Know They Can Come to You for Help
Welcoming an adopted child into a family is a joyful time. It helps kids to adjust if they know what to do if problems arise. Have a plan in place so that a child knows what to do if something is making him or her feel uncomfortable, upset or angry. This is particularly helpful if your children spend any amount of time at home without an adult present. Make sure each child has a way to get in touch with a parent immediately if a problem arises.
Tap Into Local Resources for Additional Support
Always reach out for assistance if things aren’t going well. For legal problems, you can schedule a meeting with a Haddonfield, New Jersey adoption attorney by calling Cofsky & Zeidman at (856) 429-5005 or contacting us online.