Helping an Adopted Child Feel Comfortable With the Extended Family
Roughly 135,000 children are adopted in the U.S. each year, and many of these kids are older than a year when they’re introduced to their new families. If you’re planning on adopting an older child, it’s important to take a few steps when integrating them with extended family members. An older adopted child could feel overwhelmed at first—especially if you have many relatives—but there are ways to ease the process.
Explain Who’s Who in Your Extended Family
The first step in integrating an adopted child is to explain to your youngster who’s who within your extended family. As with anything else you need to discuss with your child, the conversation must be on an age-appropriate level.
The easiest way of explaining who’s who within your extended family is to use visual aids, recent photos, or even videos of the key loved ones. With the help of visual aids, present the name of the relative as well as how the family member is related to you and the child.
You don’t want to overdo it initially in this regard. In other words, you will want to stick with more immediate extended family members. These can include a child’s aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
Don’t Overwhelm the Little One
While an initial inclination may be to have some sort of party to celebrate the arrival of the new addition to your family, if the child is over a couple years of age, consider a preliminary step. That initial step is to slowly introduce the new addition to your home to one, two, or three extended family members at a time.
Taking this gradual approach serves a couple of key objectives. First, your child will not be overwhelmed. Second, your youngster will have a better chance to get to know each individual family member through a gradual process.
Introduce Your Child to Others in a Familiar Setting
Another tactic to employ when working to integrate your adopted child into your family is to introduce the boy or girl to your relatives in a familiar setting. The most obvious location is your own home.
A young child will be easily distracted by being in an unfamiliar setting. Indeed, some youngsters end up distressed when brought to an unfamiliar location. This stress could compound if they have to meet new or unknown people in the process.
Explain Family Traditions to Your Young One
A useful tactic to integrate an adopted child over a couple of years of age into your extended family is to explain family traditions. For example, you should explain to your child what your family enjoys doing during the holiday season. This will not only familiarize your child with the practices, customs, and traditions of your extended family, but it also develops a sense of excitement on the part of the child for partaking in family events.
Follow Your Child’s Lead When Interacting With Extended Family Members
Finally, when it comes to integrating your newly adopted child with your extended family, follow your child’s lead. You don’t want to force your child to interact with an extended family member or deal with too much at one time.
If your child is tired, grumpy, or otherwise uninterested or apprehensive about interacting with family members, don’t force the issue. Forcing a younger child to interact with an extended family member when he or she is not up to it may backfire. This could lead to a persistent lack of interest or even distaste for family gatherings.
If you’re in need of a PA adoption lawyer, Donald Cofsky of Cofsky & Zeidman stands ready to assist. Mr. Cofsky has extensive experience representing people in all aspects of adoption cases. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling our Philadelphia office at (215) 563-2150. There is no charge for an initial consultation with the PA adoption lawyer from our firm.