Having an older adopted child myself, I have always been interested in hearing the perspectives of the child on their adoption, particularly those that were adopted as an older child through international adoption. Below are some ideas for parents adopting an older child internationally that came straight from these young adults. This is the second post in this 2-part series. Part one similarly shared tips for adoptive parents from young adults, but focused on in-country and travel related tips. This second set of ideas are intended for after the child is home in the United States.
- Health care once home: If your child has a medical need, you might want to take them to a physician or a dentist as soon as they get home to begin treatment; however, unless there is a pressing urgency to receive treatment right away, consider waiting until the child is feeling more comfortable in your family. A treatment or appointment might seem simple to you but to your child it might trigger deep-rooted fears of abandonment or neglect. They might feel like you are trying to change them or fix them by seeking treatments immediately.
- Choosing your battles: Once home, your child may misbehave or act out as an indication that they are not feeling safe. Try first holding your child to let them know they are safe instead of immediately trying to correct the behavior. Make sure your child’s needs are first being met so that they will learn to trust you, even if that means letting them slide at first on things like snacking or hygiene.
- Raging: Your child might have long periods of raging – let them. Do not minimize these as just ‘throwing a fit’ as your child has many years of pain and anger stored up that can be brought to the surface by the slightest of things (a memory brought on by a scent, a food, etc.).
- Give your child plenty of time to learn what it means to live in a family: Your child might have never slept alone and probably hasn’t tried a wide variety of food. Cooking some dishes native to their country and using chop sticks at meals will make him/her feel more comfortable and is a good learning experience for your family as well.
- Make their world small: Entering a new home, in a new country with a new culture for a child can be pretty overwhelming. While you might be anxious to take your new child shopping, it is better to try to spend as much time at home until the child feels more comfortable. Once home, show your new child every room in your house. Let them get used to the idea of a kitchen with food that they can choose. Help them to understand your bathroom protocol. They may have never had a bedroom or a bath to themselves! Let them explore the house and get comfortable before venturing out to the neighborhood, and then further (school or mall).