Adoption can be an overwhelming time not only for the adoptee, but also the adoptive parents. In preparation for your life as an adoptive parent, consider these ten useful tips for adoptive parents:
1. Be patient and ready to wait.
Adoption is often a pretty lengthy process – it does not just happen overnight. Be prepared to wait a bit before you can officially welcome your child home, but don’t become complacent. Spend the time preparing your child’s room, doing some research, and talking to the professionals about any questions you may find yourself having.
2. Find out your child’s background.
Take the time to learn a little about where your child comes from so that you can begin to understand their habits and other important factors. If you’re adopting an older child, talk to previous foster parents, adoption center directors, or even the child’s birth parents.
3. Keep your child’s new room simple.
Though it may be tempting to go all out in decorating your new child’s room so that they feel welcome, it’s better to err on the side of caution and keep it simple. Allow your child to acclimate to their new environment at their own pace, and consider their room as a “blank slate” for them to really make their own as they settle into family life.
4. If you’re in touch with the birth parents, expect an evolving relationship.
Remember that your child’s birth parents are also going through a lot with the adoption. Set a basic guideline for how the relationship between your child and their birth parents is going to work, but remember that nothing is ever set in stone. Prepare to be flexible.
5. Set up a support system.
From the very get-go, make sure that you have a support system of family, friends and possibly other adoptive parents to help you adjust. An additional family member is always an adjustment, so having a support system set up from the beginning makes the transition much easier on all parties.
6. On homecoming day, keep it low-key.
Hold off on the big “Welcome to the Family” party. A newly adopted child can be quickly overwhelmed with an influx of new people and a new environment. Minimizing the big celebrations at first to better serve your child’s needs.
7. Keep your child close.
If you’re adopting a newborn or a toddler, keep them as close to you as possible in the first few weeks or months so that you can begin to establish a bonding connection (much like the one established between birth mother and child for nine months in utero).
8. Help your child adjust.
Remember that a child’s first few weeks or months with your family may be a tough time as they’re still getting used to a new environment and new people. If you’re adopting an older child, see if you are allowed to send them a small care package that can help begin the acclimation process. The package may include a photo of your family and a small blanket or toy to help the child acclimate to the scents of your home.
9. Give time for love.
You may expect to fall in love with your child right away, but don’t be surprised if it takes some time. Be ready to give yourself some time to learn about your new child and who he or she is – it won’t always be love at first sight.
10. Cut yourself some slack.
Taking care of a new child can be a lot of work, but don’t let your dedication to your newest family member get in the way of your own personal care. Remember to give yourself some breaks from childcare to unwind and recharge.
These tips were developed based on WebMD’s Essential Tips for Adoptive Parents.