According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are approximately 3,000 children available for adoption in Michigan at any given time. Fortunately, many of these children are able to find loving families to call their own. With that in mind, the adjustment to a new family and a new environment can be a struggle, especially for a child who has already had issues with abuse or neglect in the past. If you are considering adopting in Michigan or you have already adopted a new child into your family, follow the tips below to help your family blend together in the future.
Transition The Child Into Your Home At His Or Her Pace
Unless you are adopting a member of your family (like a niece or grandson), chances are you will need to go through a transition period before welcoming your adopted child into your home on a permanent basis. This gives you, the child, and other members of your family a chance to get to know one another. It’s important to handle this transition at the child’s pace. Some children adapt quickly and thrive in new environments, while others are reclusive, timid, and hesitant about moving to a new home. You may work with the child’s foster parent to establish a timeline best suited for his or her needs, as well as the needs of your family.
Create New Family Traditions
Oftentimes an adopted child will feel like an outsider because he or she does not fully understand current family traditions. You can still maintain your current traditions and teach your new child about them, but it would also be wise to establish some new traditions that your adopted child can feel a part of. For instance, you may turn Saturday night into a movie night, where you make popcorn at home and watch a movie together as a family. Let your children take turns choosing the movies for movie night, or give them a choice of three movies and put them to a vote. You could plan a monthly camping trip or start a special project with your children (building a treehouse, painting a barn, etc.). As long as your adopted child feels included in the process, he or she will start to bond nicely with your family.
Take Notice Of The Child’s Unique Interests
What does your adopted child like to do? If this is an activity your family already participates in, the transition should be quick and easy. If not, it gives you a chance to try something new. Perhaps the child has a strong liking for playing musical instruments. You could enroll him or her in music classes, and the whole family could go to his or her recitals. Encourage your other children to be supportive of your adopted child’s hobbies, and they may learn to love them as well.
Find The Appropriate Discipline Techniques For Each Child Individually
Discipline is an important part of parenting, but it can be difficult at first because you want your child to feel loved and supported. We have a comprehensive guide for discipline techniques for foster and adoptive children that may give you some insight on different techniques to try. As a whole, you need to make sure you find an appropriate discipline technique for each of your children as individuals. Learn what they respond to best, whether it’s taking away a privilege, giving them additional chores, excluding them from a fun activity, or anything else along those lines. With the right discipline in place, you won’t have to worry about your child resenting you – at least, not any more than a child naturally would.
Attend Family Counseling Sessions Together
Family counseling is a great way for blended families of all varieties to come together as a unit. For instance, if two people who each have children outside of the relationship get married, they may attend blended family counseling to get the kids to work well with one another. The goal of family counseling is to encourage communication and ensure that each child’s voice is heard. The counseling sessions are held in a safe, unbiased setting, where children and adults alike are able to speak openly about things going on in their family. If there are any unresolved issues between family members, a counselor can help the family members come up with ways to overcome those obstacles and move forward.
Eat Meals Together As A Family
If possible, it’s always ideal to eat meals together as a family. You may not be able to do this because of your work schedule or your spouse’s work schedule, but you should try to eat together as often as possible. Turn off the TV, put away your cell phones, and enjoy dinner with your loved ones. This is a valuable bonding experience that all of your children can benefit from, not just the adopted ones. Talk about things that happened throughout the day, and encourage your kids to participate in the conversation. This simple act will do wonders for your family bonding experience.
Learn About Your Adopted Child’s Culture And Heritage
If your adopted child is a different race or comes from a different country, you should take time to learn about his or her cultural background. What holidays are celebrated in that country, and what beliefs do they follow in that culture? Family blending is about more than just letting a child adapt to your lifestyle. You should also be willing to learn about and adapt to his. Doing this will help your child create his or her own identity, and it will help you see what your child may be passionate about in the future.
Create Individual Bonding Sessions With Each Member Of The Family
Each member of your family should take some time to get to know your new child. Set up bonding sessions for the child with each person in your family so they can interact one-on-one. For example, your spouse may take the child out to dinner by himself or herself for some parent-child bonding. Then you may schedule a time for your oldest child to teach your adopted child how to play a certain game, sport, or instrument. All of this will depend on the age of the child and the age of the other members of your family. Just make sure the bonding activities are enjoyable for everyone involved.
Let Your Child Choose His Or Her Room Décor
If your child is going to get his or her own room, let him or her be a part of the decorating process. In many cases, adopted children have never even had a room of their own, let alone the ability to select what goes on the walls, bed, etc. If your adopted child is sharing a room with another child, you can still let him or her pick out some new wall hangings or a new comforter. The key here is to make the child feel special, important, and proud of his or her unique style. This sense of entitlement can be a big confidence booster, which will ultimately lead to better experiences as a family.