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Older adopted children need a little extra effort on their behalf to feel at home in their new environment. One way to do this is to give your child a grand tour of your home, being sure to point out where his/her personal space is: sleeping arrangements, storage for personal belongings, and so forth. An added touch would be displaying a photo of the child in a prominent place, such as with other family pictures on display. This is a special way to help your newly adopted child feel that they truly belong in your family.
Chances are, the arrival of your child will hold mixed feelings for them. They have left a foster family and a life they have become accustomed to, as well as a school and friends, and are grieving these losses. They may be excited about their new life, but unsure as to what it will bring. Maintain patience and understanding.
Until you are comfortable, and sure about your child’s behavior, watch them around family pets. Older adopted children can harbor feelings of anger and are at a loss as to how to release it. It is also wise to watch family pets around the newest member of the family. Your pet will be interested in learning about this unfamiliar new family member, even seem jealous of him, and may act in a way that seems out of character. Some pets may even be nurturing of a new baby and try to snuggle up to him, accidentally injuring or smothering him in the process. Use caution, and keep your eyes open, soon enough your child and pet will become good friends.
It is normal for children, adopted or not, to struggle with their identity as they move through each developmental stage of childhood. An adopted child may face greater difficulties as they question their own self-worth, where they fit into the family unit, and as they struggle to understand why they were given up for adoption.
Adoptive parents can greatly help their child through these difficult times by being honest and open about the adoption , by reinforcing the child’s importance within the family, and by creating an adoption lifebook that grows with the child throughout his/her lifetime.
Chances are your older adopted child will have mixed emotions when they first arrive. He may need help sorting through his emotions, and will require lots of love and understanding. He is not rejecting you, he is grieving the loss of his previous life and worried about this new life that he finds himself in now. Place yourself in his shoes, and it will be easier to comprehend the level of adjustment that it will take for him to find a new “normal.”