It’s all paid off. Your adoption journey has taken the most amazing turn ever, and you are preparing to welcome your new child into your life! Everyone involved has some type of emotions that they are dealing with, from sheer excitement and happiness to doubt and fear. These are all very natural emotions. But emotions are not solid predictors for what the future holds, so try to keep yours and your child’s in perspective as you adjust to each other.
Your decision to adopt an older child will bring with it some complexity with regard to your lives. It’s the reality of your situation. However, there are many things that you and your spouse can do to make this transition for your family a very positive experience that could create many wonderful memories and allow each of you to grow from.
Here are a few tips that parents of older adopted children may find useful:
1. Keep your child active. A bored or idle child is never good. Not only does it encourage laziness, but it also can provide too much time for focusing on negatives. Before you bring your child home, you should have researched and planned activities that he or she can do on their own and with your family.
2. Try not to stray away from discussing “difficult” topics such as your child’s past life and information about the birthparents. These shouldn’t be considered taboo in your family. Failing to discuss them will create a wall and will limit your ability to truly relate and understand your child, your child’s feelings, and what you will have to do as a parent to help your child to be the best person that he or she can be. That was your child’s life, and your child has the right to talk about it and own those thoughts.
3. Make positive reinforcement a definitive in your family. Reward for the big and the small. Refocus less than positive behavior through discussion and with compassion. Your child needs to know that he or she is “good” and that personal success is attainable. Do your best not to set up unrealistic expectations for your child’s adjustment or behavior. It may take time for your child to learn what is acceptable versus inappropriate behavior.
4. Seek support for yourself and for any member of your family that could benefit from it.
Whether it’s the help of a therapist or a spiritual adviser, you need to know that your family is not alone that there is help available if and when you need it. There may be some issues that your child has to deal with that you won’t be able to fully grasp or understand. Enlisting the help of a professional is not something that should cause shame or anxiety. It may be a necessity that could result in making all of your lives much more happy and satisfying.
Believe in yourself and in the power of love. You may have waited a lifetime for your child. It doesn’t matter how your family was formed, the most important thing is that you are one. Love unconditionally, realize that this child needs you, bask in the happy times, and learn from the tough times. You’re going to make it…together!