When bringing home an adoptive child, irrespective of age, parents often take a few weeks to settle in at home and get to know each other, limiting outside interests and work commitments. Here are important things adoptive parents should do when bringing their child home for the first time.
PREPARING FOR THE BIG DAY
Here are a few things to do in advance of your child’s arrival if time allows.
- Organize the child’s bedroom and gather bedding, clothing & diapering necessities. Ensure that your home is safe by childproofing electrical outlets, toilets, cords, blinds, and doors.
- Stock the freezer with meals or plan a meal train for a daily meal delivery from friends and family.
- Select a pediatrician and schedule an appointment for 2 weeks after you get home (unless there is a medical circumstance that requires quick intervention). Call your healthcare insurance provider and find out what is needed to add your child to your insurance.
- Research and develop a childcare plan, especially if both parents are working outside the home. Let the provider know when you will begin and enroll your child in advance.
SHELTER FOR A FEW WEEKS
Adoption professionals recommend you spend quality bonding time with your newly adopted child, minimizing group events where your child might be touched or overstimulated. Avoid a “Welcome Home Party” until you have been home for a month or two.
A rule of thumb is that for every year your child was not in your home, you should shelter for one month. If it all possible, take family leave from work to facilitate bonding. If you are going back to work or you have a preschooler, once the cocooning period is over, transition your child in a daycare, preschool or school over the course of a few days.
DEVELOP ROUTINES TO ESTABLISH TRUST
Predictability leads to feelings of safety and trust for all children. When basic needs are met in a consistent and loving way, children will trust the caregiver. Create a schedule for meals, naps, bedtime and grooming so your child can anticipate your willingness and ability to meet needs.
Routines create trust too. Your child will learn how things work in your family, promoting the feeling of safety.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
During the sheltering time, do not worry about forming bad habits or correcting existing ones. This is not the time to get rid of the bottle, ditch the pacifier, establish healthy eating, or try potty training.
If your child wakes in the night and you may need to check in several times, it is okay and expected. You are not spoiling your child. Your goal is to help your child feel safe. This is the time where you teach your child that you are available and willing to meet your child’s need.
When hungry, feed your child, even if that means cheerios and chicken nuggets for weeks. When scared, pick up your little one. When crying, hold your child and offer compassion and kindness.
When you see off-track behavior with an older child, check in and ask how your child is feeling and ash what might be needed to help feel safe. If a little one needs to sleep in your room for a few weeks, that is okay, too. You have a lifetime to teach your child many life lessons. The first life lesson is trust.
Be kind to yourself. You will not get it all right. You will mess-up many times. You will lose your patience. You will feel inadequate. You will be inconsistent. All of this is normal. If your child’s first lesson is trust, your first lesson as a parent is self-forgiveness. That is true for everyone, but especially a new, adoptive parent. Remind yourself that you are doing a hard thing and that mistakes are normal. Give yourself the freedom to start fresh. There is always tomorrow.
T's Learning Centers, with 5 facilities located in the greater Jacksonville area, is dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable environment for toddlers, preschoolers and young children, that contributes their happiness and security when they are with us and sends them home to their families ready to share the experiences of the day.