When adoptive families bring home a newborn, it is a very similar feeling to biological parents bringing home their newborn. They usually know what they need to have at the house, and they know what to do to keep the baby safe and content. If, for some reason, they don’t know how to care for a newborn, there are countless books and websites devoted to this information. But what do you do when you bring home an older child — one who can tell you what they need, like and dislike? Advice books on this topic are few and far between.
So, what are some things you can do to prepare your house and family for a new family member? And how can you make the first day easier for your new child? Read on for some tips.
Talk with your other children
Hopefully, any other children living in your home have been on board since you first made the decision to adopt. Before the new child arrives, talk with your other children about what to expect from their new sibling. If your adopted child has developmental or medical needs, explain what that will look like. Let them know the new child may be upset at times and how they can help them. Remind them the child may need space while they adjust to their new living situation, and to not ask many questions right away.
Now, while you are reminding everyone in the family how to act when the new family member arrives, also remind them that you are there for them as well. They will be excited to have a new brother or sister to play with, and they may feel frustrated if their new sibling doesn’t immediately share the same enthusiasm. Assure them that you understand their feelings, and they can talk to you if something is bothering them.
Welcome them into your home
Start with a tour of the house and showing them their room. Make sure they know where to find more towels, where to put dirty laundry, which bathroom is theirs. Show them their closet and dresser. A welcome gift is a nice touch to leave in their room.
Discuss rules and expectations
When your child arrives, and they’ve settled into their room, have a meeting to answer their questions and discuss rules for the home. You don’t need to overwhelm them with every minute detail — save that for a few days later. But it is very important that everyone is on the same page about non-negotiable house rules and the consequences for breaking them. While this may seem overbearing on the first day, most children want boundaries, so they can feel safe and cared for.
Maintain your day-to-day activities
Your new family member will want to see how a day in their new life looks. Discuss daily chores and rituals. Having everyone work together to complete tasks will help the kids learn to work together and develop relationships. Identify activities the entire family can participate in together, but also allow for one-on-one time with each child. While it may be exciting to introduce your adopted child to family and friends, save this for when the child has been with you for a few weeks. You want to help the child understand the permanence of the adoptive placement before turning your house into a revolving door of visitors.
While adoption changes the dynamics of a family, preparing your home and children can help ease the transition to growing together as one family.