If you’ve made the decision to adopt, congratulations! Your family is about to expand and that’s exciting. It can also be challenging, no matter how that child is brought into your world.
But parents who adopt have some worries that parents who have biological children don’t – namely, how to make that child feel at home in the beginning.
Give It Time
Don’t expect an instant family bond to form, especially if you’re bringing an older child home and not an infant. Children can need some time to get to know you before accepting you as family and feeling comfortable in their new home.
Your new child needs to know they can count on you, no matter what. Showing up when they need you, and even when they don’t, can help them learn quickly that you’re someone who cares and can be trusted.
Your child isn’t going to be perfect and you should expect there will be a lot of missteps before you two settle into a pattern or a sense of understanding. In the meantime, your child will have to learn what the limits are and they’ll do that by testing them.
You’ll both be swimming in untested waters in those first few weeks and you’ll need to figure out a way of life that works for both of you. It’s good to set limits and expectations so your child will know what is allowed in your house and what isn’t.
If your child breaks a rule of the house, you need to act on it – every single time. You can’t be worried about rocking the boat too much if things are going well. Your child doesn’t need you to be her friend, she needs a parent. And a parent should always strive to be consistent.
If rules are broken, there should always be consequences and they should be delivered calmly and quickly. Whether an older child is grounded from electronics or a younger child receives time out for hitting, boundaries are an important part of life and the family dynamics.
Don’t Take Anything Personally at First
When you’re trying hard to make a connection with someone, it can be difficult to stay neutral when they brush you off or hurt you with words or their actions. Instead of feeling hurt, remember they’re just a child and they are still learning.
Things will get better as they learn to trust you and how to communicate their feelings in a better way, but in the meantime, you have to set aside any personal feelings you have and let them figure out their way.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at email@example.com.