Becoming a grandparent is one of the most exciting roles to fill. But if the newest member of your family is being added through adoption, you might have some questions on how to bond with them. You might even be overwhelmed just thinking about it. We want to reassure you adoption won’t get in the way of building a beautiful relationship with your grandchild. Families are made in all kinds of ways, but they all have one thing in common: love.
If you’re looking for some great ways that you can bond with the grandchild you’ve been waiting for, here are five tips for getting to know the newest member of your family.
1. Family is What You Make it
Like we mentioned earlier, love is what really makes a family. That’s all it takes to build a long‐lasting relationship with your grandchild. There are countless ways to show how much you love them. Include them in your fun family traditions, celebrate holidays and birthdays together and share your favorite hobbies and activities! You can also take part in your grandchild’s favorite activities or events. Seeing their grandparents arrive for their sports game or a concert they’re preforming in will mean the world to them. Any way you can think of to show you’re always thinking of them is a great way to build a stronger bond.
2. Treat Your Grandchildren Equally
It might sound obvious, but having a grandchild that’s adopted should not make any difference when it comes to how they’re treated. Once they become a member of your family, they’re family — just as if they were your biological grandchild. Some grandparents don’t realize this though, and accidentally isolate them from other members of their family. You should not introduce them with phrases like, “This is my adopted grandchild.” It can make everyone uncomfortable and place unnecessary stress on your relationship. It will be hard for your grandchild to build a bond with you if you’ve already introduced them with adoption first instead of who they are. They want to feel like every other member of your family, so you shouldn’t feel the need to differentiate them from your other grandchildren or another member of your family.
3. Don’t Try to Force a Relationship
It takes time to build a lasting bond. So, don’t get discouraged if you can’t connect with one another right away. Trust in the process and everything will be fine. Depending on how old your grandchild is, and the type of adoption their parents pursued, it can take a while before they’re ready to open up to you. For example, if your grandchild is adopted from foster care at an older age, he or she may need more time to fully adjust to being a member of your family. The best thing you can do is to be there until they’re ready to talk with an open ear and a shoulder to lean on.
4. Make Time for Them
Your grandchild wants to get to know you. If you live close by, you should always try to go out of your way to see them as often as you can. Grandparents that live closer tend to have a better relationship with their grandchildren. Not only that, but consistent face‐to‐face interaction will give you another opportunity to bond and get to know each other.
If you can’t manage to visit them in person, there are other workarounds to help you stay connected. You can use video chat services like FaceTime and Skype to spend quality one‐on‐one time together. Schedule time in your calendar to catch up on everything that’s been going on. You can also use social media as a tool to stay up to date on what’s going on in their lives. It might not provide the same feeling as an in‐person interaction, but it’s a great way to stay involved.
5. Educate Yourself on the Adoption Process
If you don’t already know the ins and outs of adoption, use your grandchild’s adoption as an opportunity to get familiar with the process. Depending on what type of adoption brought your grandchild into your life, consider taking the time to research how that type of adoption works. Also read up on correct adoption terminology and take the time to learn about their adoption story. Remember to avoid words that imply “giving up” or “giving away” a baby. The birth mother didn’t “give away” her child. She wanted to give them their best chance at life!
If the family is involved in an open adoption, don’t be afraid to ask questions! An open adoption just means that your grandchild will already be familiar with their adoption story. If that’s the case, take this opportunity to get to know your grandchild’s other relatives. Knowing that everyone is on the same page can help them feel more comfortable.
Take it One Step at a Time
There’s no need to rush a new relationship. If it takes longer than you expected, don’t worry. In the meantime, use this opportunity to learn all you can about adoption, and embrace the newest member of your family with open arms. Remember to be yourself, and your grandchild will warm up to you before you know it.