Before your child arrives, prepare their bedroom. Make sure you have all the necessities, such as nappies if they’re a baby, or new pyjamas. If you have adopted a toddler, remember to childproof your home – toilets, electrical outlets, a stair gate. Most adoption professionals will suggest that you spend quality time with your child for the first few weeks; this is called ‘cocooning’. Try to minimise how often you leave your home, and soak in the first few weeks with your new child. This is an important time to establish some sort of familiarity between yourself and your adopted child to ensure maximum comfort for all parties involved.
Try to cultivate a strong routine for your child, as this will make the child feel safe. Create a schedule in your home for meals, naps, bedtime etc. This will help secure an attachment between you and your child. Routines are also helpful in creating trust and making the child feel as if they belong. Every family has their own set of rules, but you’ll quickly find out what works best in your home.
Remember to be kind to yourself. You are only human, and you will not get it right all the time. At some points, you may even feel inadequate – it’s all normal! Offer yourself the grace of understanding that parenting can be difficult, and mistakes are normal. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself when your adopted child first comes home, savour the moment and learn as you go. The most important thing you can focus on is making sure your child is comfortable and content in their new home. Children can pick up on how you’re feeling, so try to relax.
If you have adopted an older child, they will be bringing a lifetime of experiences with them – many of them may not be so positive. They’ll probably be feeling uncomfortable and awkward in their new home, and depending on the nature of the child, a welcome home party could be a great idea for them to feel at ease. Always make sure the child feels included – invite them everywhere. Yes, everywhere! Let them know that their presence is welcomed and needed. Remember bonding won’t happen overnight, so give them space and time to start opening up to you.