November 17, 2004

Life After Adoption-an article by my good friend Holly Richardson

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tamra @ 2:11 pm

Preparing for Life After Your Child is Home
*Plan for post-adoption adjustments – consider a “familymoon” with no outside obligations for at least a couple of weeks
*Educate yourself on post-adoption emotional adjustments, up to and including post-adoption depression and post-adoption PTSD
*Plan for some post-adoption issues to surprise you.
*Have quick, easy meals planned and ready in the cupboard or the freezer for the early days
*Keep a list of important contact people to call with questions, concerns or when you just need to talk!
*Do NOT overload your child in the early days and weeks at home – that includes limiting visitors, limiting excursions, even limiting gifts. Gradually, you will be able to take the limits off as your child becomes more accustomed to life in his or her new home.
*If this is your first child, be prepared for major life changes! This includes loss of privacy (the kids follow you to the bathroom), loss of personal space, a decreased ability to be completely spontaneous, etc.
*If this is not your first child, be prepared for things to BE DIFFERENT than with a biological child, and indeed, from other children you may have adopted in the past.
*Be flexible in your expectations – for yourself, for your new child and for others in your support circle
*Know that the adjustment of going from “Me” to “Mommy” overnight can be completely overwhelming. You can get lost before you know it.
*Be prepared for feeling a bit like an “impersonator” of a Mommy or a Daddy – it’s a new role and one no one can quite prepare you for.
*Don’t be surprised if you ask yourself “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” It’s very common!
*Guilt feelings seem to come with the package
*Expect your child to have attachment difficulties
*Expect your child to grieve, no matter how old (or young) they are when they join you
*Expect that reality will be different than fantasy and can lead to all kinds of feelings – guilt, resentment, surprise, frustration and more.
*Don’t expect to fall in love instantly with this new person in your lives – if it happens, wonderful! If not, know that you are perfectly normal and in the majority
*Expect their emotional maturity to lag behind their chronological age
*Don’t be surprised when parenting methods that have worked before with biological children, or adopted children who are strongly bonded to you, don’t work with your new child
*If they are older, expect boundaries to be tested – sometimes right away, sometimes after a “honeymoon”
*For older children, expect significant milestones to bring mixed emotions early on – and maybe later on, too
*Expect “food issues”, even from the very young – the formula is different, the bottles are different, the bottle nipples are different. Every age group can be expected to have food issues
*Don’t expect your child to be grateful to you for “rescuing” them. If gratitude comes before they are parents themselves, enjoy the pleasant surprise!
*Be consistent with certain rituals or routines – bath time, bed time, doing chores, etc. These children frequently crave ritual.
*Consciously work on creating family traditions and rituals
*Work on scrapbooks, with kids or by yourself. There is something incredibly healing about scrapbooks.
*Be aware of how often you are touching your new child – he or she will need LOTS of physical contact, regardless of their age
*Be prepared for sleep disturbances – for you AND your child!
*Consciously work on building attachment with your new child
*Use music in positive ways in your home
*Be educated on post-institutionalized issues regarding personal space, personal belongings (for example, your child may help himself to someone else’s things and not consider it stealing – it was, afterall, the norm in the orphanage!), passiveness and/or aggressiveness, bathroom habits and more
*Prepare for your child to be delayed in at least one area, but likely more than one.
*Give your child developmentally appropriate chores
*Keep your other relationships alive and healthy, especially the one with your spouse
*Have fun!!
*Take lots of pictures
*And finally, enjoy the ride! There’s nothing quite like it.

One Response to “Life After Adoption-an article by my good friend Holly Richardson”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Hi Tamra,
    Great articles, but we haven’t heard fron YOU in a while.
    ‘Hope everyone is doing well!


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