Adopted older children do not have the benefit of being unaware of their circumstances like an infant or toddler. For many of them, their childhood has been traumatic and lonely at times. Older children waiting for adoption have typically been in multiple foster homes, may remember their birth parents and are aware that they are now destined to live with people they do not really know. It can be exciting for them, but frightening and confusing as well. Here are some ways to make the adjustment process a little easier.
Allow Them Space
The excitement of the new person can make the parents, other relatives and any biological children very excited. They may want to take the child places, spend time with them and show them everything about their new lives. However, it is important to remember that even though all children want a family of their own, this change can still be difficult for them. Make certain they know people are there and happy to meet them, but let them have their personal time whenever needed.
Make it Theirs
Whether they have a whole room or are sharing one with a sibling, make certain their space is decorated by them. Let them choose paint colors, posters and more to make it their personal space. Many children in the foster care system will be used to having a private room, but not one that they were able to truly transform into their own territory.
Know Their Story
Adoptive parents need to know the whole story of where older children have been and what they may have endured. Some children will have lost their parents to illness, but many others were taken away because of abuse. It is important to know the details, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, to be certain they are able to get any counseling they may need. If they were in counseling at the time of the adoption, the parents should consider continuing with the appointments as scheduled. Adoption is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately it cannot instantly fix everything.
Remember the Past
Parents should avoid trying to pretend the child's past no longer exists. Even if their biological parents were abusive, many children will still love and miss them. They should be allowed to have their old photos or keepsakes rather than trying to hide them away. It should not be taken personally if they have a problem referring to their new parents as "mom" and "dad". Their hesitation could be the fear of losing someone else after becoming attached to them.
Adoption is a process that can be challenging, but will benefit everyone involved. The foster care system is overwhelmed with children that need homes, and many of these kids will turn 18 before a family is found for them. Adopting an older child will give them the opportunity to see how wonderful it feels to be a member of a loving family.
Contact an adoption expert like Jeffrey T Bitzer for more information.