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Steps for making a newly adopted child feel like part of the family

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Adopting a child is an excellent way of adding a new member to your family and giving the child a fresh start at life. However, the adoption process requires careful planning--much more planning than you might have thought of.

As adopting parents, you may feel ready for the experience and even excited to give your new child a home. But depending on the age of the child, little details can swing the adoption process from a joyful to a stressful experience. This is why proper planning will make everyone have an easier and more fruitful time moving forward. In addition to hiring a family lawyer, consider the following tips.

Start preparing before the child arrives

Adopting a child begins long before the child actually moves in. You should take time to understand what the needs of the child are, what interests they have and how you can prepare your home to be more accommodating. For example, if the child enjoys playing board games, you may decide to purchase a few of their favourite options and place them in their room.

Also make sure your home is clean, childproofed (cover electrical outlets and remove loose cords) and has enough food for the child's first few days.

Minimise social events for the first few weeks

With the arrival of your new family member, you may be tempted to plan a "welcoming party" or take them out to the local park/church. While these events are good for the future, you should take the first few weeks to bond with your child.

Spend time with them at home to learn more about their habits and behavioural preferences. This doesn't mean that you should lock them in the house, but don't overwhelm them with outside attention either.

Honesty is the best policy

As an adopting parent, you don't have to be perfect. You may be struggling with issues in your own home, such as keeping your other children disciplined and focused. Therefore, don't feel pressured to come across as perfect to the adopted child.

If they're old enough to understand, be honest about what your family is struggling with and make them feel part of the process. Many adopted kids may easily feel rejected, and coming across as perfect may exert undue pressure on their transition into your home.

Develop a predictable routine for the child

Just like with any other child, create a routine that your adopted family member can adapt to. A predictable routine makes children feel safe and it also develops their trust. Set meal times, sleep times and waking up times that your child can slowly get used to.