Newborn babies don’t typically require much of a selling point. Almost everyone loves to cuddle tiny infants and bring them home as their own. Older children, however, are a much different story. Many people hold a great deal of fear about adopting older children into their families. They are worried about the baggage an older adoptive child may carry with them.
As with any human relation, people speak out louder when they have a negative experience than a good one. Many older children are able to assimilate into functioning families and live very happy lives. While the transitional period for an older child may be more complex, it can also be exceptionally rewarding. Included here are a few tips for transitioning an older adopted child into your home.
Love UnconditionallyMany older children who are up for adoption have had more than their fair share of hard knocks. They are often the product of abuse or neglect and are ashamed of being in the foster system. One thing these kids believe, is that your love for them is conditional on their good behavior. Even if this is contrary to the truth, these kids will work to “prove” your love from the start; this can result in misbehavior.
One of the best ways to show your newly adopted child that you are in it for the long haul is to love them through their outbursts and poor behavior. All kids are going to test you in different ways, but an older child may push you by mocking your lifestyle, looks or beliefs. Personal attacks can seem below the belt, but try to remember where the child is coming from and keep things in perspective.
Don’t Expect Gratitude
A common problem for adoptive parents is that they experience a “savior’s complex.” What this entails is the belief that, because they “saved” the child through adoption, that child is forever indebted to them and should be eternally grateful. This is flawed thinking and almost never ends well.
An adoption should be performed because you feel the need to give to someone else, and a gift should never be given with the intention of receiving. The desire to parent a child who has come from hard circumstances is a difficult one and will result in a hard-won battle for peace and affection. However, once you have earned a child’s trust, you could be hard-pressed to lose it, and that is something to be grateful for.
As all parents learn, the hardest and most important aspect of parenting can be consistency. Something that is okay today cannot be wrong tomorrow and vice versa. Your children need you to be stable force in their lives, and your discipline and expectations, just as your love, should not be conditional.
For parents who have biological children it is especially important that you be aware of the consistency in your relationships. Do not hold your biological children to a higher standard than the adopted child or vice versa. All rules should be standard in the home, and everyone should face the same consequences. This consistency can help tamp down the conflict between siblings as the family merges.