In the USA there are thousands of children waiting for adoption within the foster care system. While international adoption and adoption from birth will always be popular options, domestic adoption from a foster care setting is another wonderful option for bringing a child into your family. But how can you make this process as easy as possible for the child? How can you reduce stress and help your new son or daughter settle into their new home and life with you? Let’s take a closer look at how best to transition your child from foster care to adoption.
Learn Your Child’s History
On average, children awaiting domestic adoption from foster care are around 8 years old. This means they have their own history, whether good or bad,which may have an impact on how well they initially settle into your home. It is important to gather information from the foster home or foster carers as well as your child who, as they are likely to be older and will be able to communicate some of their own thoughts and feelings to you. Some of the information you may wish to find out are:
- How many relocations has the child faced? (school, town, home, etc)
- Is the child still in contact with their extended biological family?
- What does the child like? Food, games, activities? What do they not like or find upsetting?
- What were the birth parents like?
- The medical history of the family and the extended biological family.
Create a Stable Home Environment
Where possible, in the early weeks and months of your child living with you, try to clear your schedule as much as possible. Focus on creating a stable bond with your child, and make your home a place of safety, stability, and routine. Going through the adoption system and foster care is a very unstable existence for a child, and for many, their adoptive home is the first place for stability they have experienced in their entire lives. Ensuring an adopted child has a home that represents stability and safety will help reduce stress and adverse behaviours that can come with this, which are harmful both to your child and to your bond.
Seek Help and Guidance
No parent is ever perfect, and adoption can be a challenging time for both the child and the adoptive parent. With this in mind, if you are starting to struggle, don’t be afraid to reach out to one of the many adoption support groups available for advice and support. There are also a variety of therapy programs available for your child both through their school and other initiatives which can help them to work through some of their feelings.
Overall, the best thing you can do when it comes to welcoming your child into you home from foster care is to be there for them. Be their secure base, and be patient and understanding. It may take your child some time to bond with you, or view you as their parent, but by being loving and patient you will see your family come together.