How can I help my family adjust?
Adoption is a big adjustment for everyone involved, but there are ways to help all members of your family adjust appropriately. The first thing to do is make sure that everyone has their own private space. This doesn't necessarily mean that every child should have his/her own room. It means that every person should have space to put things like clothes, toys, and special items or memorabilia--a space to call their own.
Having regular family discussions can help all members of your household feel included, which can lead to feeling comfortable and adjusted. During these family meetings, let everyone discuss their feelings and concerns. If anyone has a frustration, this is the time to bring it up. Make sure your family discussion is a safe place for everyone. No one should be allowed to insult, criticize, or degrade one another. No one should be called names or ignored when their concerns are voiced. Making your home a safe environment for your family will help everyone adjust healthily.
Another option to consider is family counseling. This can be helpful if your family discussions get heated easily. Having a counselor, a mediator, to help your family adjust and understand each other can make a huge difference. A family counselor can give you tips, advice, and guidelines on how to conduct your own family meetings in peace, harmony, and love.
Remember that full adjustment will take time. Be patient with yourself and your family. It will happen eventually. The important thing is to express love and respect each other. That's the best thing you can do to help your family adjust to the changes an adoption can bring.
How can I make my child feel comfortable in his/her new home?
There are many ways to help your child feel comfortable at home, as many are listed in the above answer. But, there are other specific ways to achieve your goal. Depending on the age of your child, make plans together to decorate his/her new room. Make it a personal, unique space that your child can enjoy and appreciate. When designing and decorating the new space, make sure to leave ample room for your child's memorabilia--pictures of birth or foster families, mementos of previous homes or relationships, or just anything that makes him/her happy.
When it comes to planning family events or trips, ask each person in your family for input--and use that input. Doing so will help your child feel that s/he has a unique role in your family and that his/her input is important and valued. If your child likes to go swimming, for example, plan a day at the lake or the local pool. Bring a picnic and enjoy each other's company.
Never differentiate between adopted and biological children. Your children are your children, no matter how they came to be in your family. Each child is an important member of the family and deserves to be treated with love, respect, forgiveness, understanding, and kindness.
There are many ways to help your child feel comfortable. Get creative and enjoy the process. Encourage all members of your family to do the same.
We have an open adoption. What are some ways to strengthen the birth/adoptive parent relationship?
Open-adoption relationships are important for many families. One of the most important is the relationship between the birth and adoptive families. When you agreed to an open adoption, chances are you agreed to terms of the relationship--expectations and needs of the birth family as well as your own needs and expectations. The best thing you can do to strengthen that relationship is to keep your word. If you said you'd update the birth parents once a month, do it. If you promised to invite and involve them in special events like birthdays and graduations, keep your promise. Doing so shows that you respect them and you're honest and trustworthy.
If you're uncertain about certain terms in your agreement, meet together and discuss possible changes or updates. This can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone. Speak with kindness and empathy. Listen to what they have to say and respect them. In so doing, you invite them to treat you in the same manner.
How early is too early to talk to my child about adoption?
There isn't one right answer to this question. Every situation is different, and so is every child. Speaking to your child about adoption is up to you, really. However, keep in mind your child's maturity level and how it may affect him/her.
When you talk with your child, make sure you're empathetic and ready for many questions. Encourage him/her to ask any questions or concerns that come up. If your child needs some time alone, allow it. You can always finish the discussion later. It's difficult for some children because it can bring up feelings of abandonment, confusion, loneliness, and fear. Be ready and willing to provide more support--in the form of support groups or counseling--that your child may need, even if s/he doesn't ask for it.
My child is teased for being adopted. Is there a way to get them to stop?
When teasing occurs, it's usually because of misunderstandings or a lack of factual information. The first thing you can do is talk with your child about why other children tease. Teach him/her how to handle teasing. Consider speaking with the teacher, so that s/he is aware of the problem.
You can also schedule a time to talk to your child's class about adoption and what it really means. This can help your child's classmates really understand the situation and stop teasing each other for being different. If there are a few children who are especially cruel, meet with their parents and discuss the problem and how they can fix it. Going to the source of the problem can create an immediate solution.
What happens if my child wants to search for his/her birth family?
Not all adopted children will have the desire to search for their birth families. However, some do. When this happens, it can be emotional and painful for you, but don't think of it as a betrayal or that you weren't a good parent. It can simply mean that your child wants to find out more about his/her personal history: health problems, reason for being placed, and so on. The best thing you can do is support your child in this endeavor, because it's an emotional experience for him/her, too.
There are many resources that can help in the search: online registries, search angels, or social networking. If you feel up to it, consider helping your child with his/her search. Show your love by supporting your child's decision to search. It can create a stronger bond between you two.
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.