How to Help Your Adopted Child Acclimate to Your Family

Adoptive parents can take steps to help their children adjust to a new family

There’s no better feeling than welcoming a new member to the family. Weddings, births, adoptions: it doesn’t matter. Having a new child enter your life is a special kind of joy.

Sweet, right? That doesn’t mean these joyous changes are going to come without their fair share of challenges. If you’ve just adopted a child, you’re probably starting to figure that out. It’s a brave new world, and you want to make sure everything is perfect for the new little miracle in your life. 

Here are a few tips to help your child adapt to your home.

Chef it Up

Meals are one of the best ways to build community in a household. They are a time for everyone to come together and just be around each other (and complain about their days). Making your child healthy meals is a great way to keep their energy up and will help them feel more comfortable in this new setting.

Make Sure they Are Sleeping Right

You’ve heard that sleep is important a zillion times. Now you’ve heard it a zillion and one. Healthy sleep is going to make every other part of your child's new life easier, from school to sports to family activities. Find out how much sleep your child needs and create an environment that helps them get that.

Keep Age in Mind

Toddlers and teenagers aren’t exactly going to need the same approach. If you’ve adopted a young child, make sure they are getting lots of facetime with you. Engage them in conversation and be present in these highly formative years of their life. 

If you adopted a teen or preteen, give them a little more space. I’m sure you remember thinking you were all grown up in the 9th grade. Treating them with the kind of respect and restraint you would show other adults is a good way to show them they can trust you.

Go on a Trip

Ah, the family trip. If you’re anything like me, you can still remember the long car rides you used to take with your family. Although if you do remember those, try and remain optimistic about the ones you’re going to go on with your kids.

Vacations and trips are excellent family-relationship building experiences. You’ll be able to do some serious bonding with your new child and make sure that they have some good memories to talk about right off the bat.

We all tortured our parents with, “Are we there yet?” Now, it’s your turn.

Don't Force It

It can be really tempting to enforce too many rules. You’re overjoyed that you have a new child in your life and you want everything to be perfect. Especially with older children, it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one going through a big change.

As tempting as it can be to yank that smartphone out of their hands and tell them they have to eat dinner at the table every night, giving them some space will help them feel a sense of autonomy in their new environment.

Let them Help Decorate

Don’t stress too much over the details. Welcoming a new child into your home can be challenging, and patience is required to allow your family to build trust, bond, and grow together after challenging times. 

Remember that each circumstance with each child is different--some may take more time to build trust than others. Be assured that there are many resources available to help you and your child work through these hurdles. 

Just remember, good things take time, so have patience and know that one day your family will feel totally complete.