Essential Care Tips for Adoptive Parents
The adoption process is long and tedious, but you’ve already started your parenting journey. No matter how you become a parent, responsive parenting is key to developing a loving, secure relationship. Here are essential care tips that can support the relationship between you and your newly adopted child:
- Build a support system. Set up a support system that will be available day or night. Learn how to accept help and delegate tasks, like cooking or laundry, to friends and family. Your support system should also include other adoptive families who can share first-hand advice.
- Learn your child’s history. If your child is not a newborn, then they had a life before coming into yours. Talk to previous foster parents, foster care directors, social workers, or birth parents and find out what their routines are, favorite toys, and how they like to be held. This information will help your child feel more comfortable.
- Keep the nursery or bedroom simple. Don’t overdo the decoration of the bedroom or nursery. Too many items or bright colors may overwhelm your new child. You want the room to be calming and welcoming.
- Be empathetic. Don’t assume your child is experiencing things the way you would. Try to see things from their point of view and watch their cues.
- Express your emotions. Your child should see you expressing your emotions daily. Show that you are happy to see them, and cry when you’re upset. Your child will begin to understand and express their own emotions.
- Create routines. Routines built into transitions, such as going to bed, increase confidence. Your child will know what to expect and will be less stressed. Anticipated activities also provide structure for your child to learn how to express emotion. For example, crying when you leave should be an expression of sadness for being temporarily separated, not disorganization and chaos.
- Be predictable. Respond to your child’s cries, calls and yells—verbally or physically—quickly. Your child should know that you will always be there, no matter what.
- Don’t take it personally. No one wants to hear “you’re mean” or “you’re not my real mommy,” but don’t take it as a sign of rejection. Your child simply hasn’t fully developed the ability to express emotion.
- Follow your child’s lead. At a young age, children should feel like they’re the center of the world. It’s a critical part of their development and helps to build inner strength and confidence. During this time, you will start to notice your child becoming more independent.
- Expect tantrums. Your child will whine, cling to you, and throw tantrums because they will not know any other way to express themselves. Don’t be overwhelmed or leave. Try to understand what your child is trying to communicate and get them to express their feelings in the appropriate way.
- Associate your words with actions. In the womb, children become accustomed to their mother’s voice and associate it with kindness. Pair your words with nurturing actions so your adopted child recognizes your voice as the caregiver.
Building attachment takes time. With these care tips your relationship with the new member of your family will blossom.