Children over the age of two are considered as 'older children' for adoption purposes. Adoptive parents in the process of adopting or have recently adopted an older child may want to know more about how to help the child adjust to the new surroundings, new family and new parents. Adoptive parents must remember not to over stimulate their child and give them time to be comfortable with their immediate family and for the first few weeks avoid too many outings or extra activities so that you and your child get more time to know and understand each other. This can be termed as the 'adjustment period' for you and your new older child.
Adopting older children and bringing them home is a time of
excitement for the new parents. It is a big achievement for them and
one of the biggest dreams of their life gets fulfilled. For adoptive
parents, it is an occasion fit for lots of celebration and having fun
and they want their child to be as excited and filled with happiness
as they are. They want to do everything they have planned to do with
their child and live their dreams. They may want to take their
children to park, to visit grandparents, to restaurants and theatres
and throw several parties to welcome them. However, we must remember
that children may still not be ready to take it all and may be
experiencing 'sensory overload'.
Your child need few weeks or even months to settle down to new food,
new smells of the house, new rules, new traditions, new lifestyle, new
habits and in cases of international adoption, new language and new
customs. The children need more structure and routine to adjust to the
routine of your family. Breakfast, lunch and dinner on time, brushing
teeth before going to bed, being read a bedtime story by mom or dad
and waking up with a good-morning kiss may be some of the things that
they should learn are the routine and so they have to get adjusted to
it. There can be weekly activities too such as Fridays are for going
out and have fun and we go for a weekend visit to grandparents, every
Though the children may have reached a certain age physically,
living in foster care or orphanages may result in 'missing'
some developmental, social or psychological milestones. So, treat them
as if they are much younger than they actually are and re-parent them
like a baby or a toddler to help them bond easily with you. Sing
lullabies to your children, rock them and read them nursery rhymes.
This also means that you offer them limited choices and do not give
them freedom you would have otherwise afforded to children of their
age. Play little kid games with them. This will help to feel less
stressed and they can live the times that they have missed with their
parents or 'you'.
Multiple placements or bad care giving practices can leave older
children scarred and they may have attachment issues. So, implement
strategies and tips for such children. This will help the children to
heal and facilitate their smooth integration into your home. Try to
play games with them and enjoy the time together with your new child
by sharing a giggle. This will just strengthen your love for each
other. Within a few days, assign little chores for your child that are
appropriate for his or her age and maturity and then compliment him or
her on completing it. This will make the child feel needed and they
will learn to should responsibilities as one of the family.
All children may have different personalities, temperaments and backgrounds
but all of them need to be taught the rules. They should know the
consequences of breaking the rules such as timeout, removal of
privileges or extra chores to be done. Then be consistent on their
implementation. Take sometime for yourself too and relax, go for a walk
and take a warm shower. If you are tired and frustrated, it is
impossible to be a good parent. Adjustment period with your child may
last up to six months or even one to two years, so be patient.