Adoption is a truly special and exciting time for both the family and adopted child. As is the case with many heartwarming family adjustments, there can be bumps in the road with adoptions. At Family Connections Therapy, we help families who may be having a hard time creating a smooth adjustment period for their new family member.
Many times, the foster care program has little information about the child’s past. Children may have an unknown trauma history or develop symptoms from the changes involved with foster care placements. If the child connected with any of their caregivers in the foster care program or if they had a strong attachment to their biological parents, losing these connections can be difficult. It’s common for children who have had many foster home placements to have an increased level of behavioral or emotional symptoms. This is due to the heightened level of instability endured at a young age.
Families often feel confused about why their adopted child acts out when they have such a wonderful new home. It’s common for adopted children to test for safety. In other words, children will often see if there is anything they can do that is ‘bad’ enough that would cause the parents to ‘give them back’ to the foster care system. It’s not that the children want to go back into foster care, however after so many adjustments in foster care homes, they may just find it difficult to trust another new living environment. If trauma, abuse, or neglect occurred prior to adoption, symptoms can increase as well.
Below are key ways to help establish a smooth adjustment after adopting a child:
- Find ways of incorporating their favorite items from the past into their new home. This can be a comfort food, specific culturally significant item, a picture of their foster or biological family, and more!
- Establishing structure, routine, and predictability to help the child feel stable and safe in the new environment.
- If a child demonstrates symptoms of food insecurity (for example, hiding food away for later, usually in the bedroom; a common symptom for children who have lived in group homes), then creating a non-perishable ‘emergency food stash’ can be helpful.
- Incorporating fun activities from the past into new family hobbies. Examples can be the child’s favorite games, songs or places to visit.
Forever families may feel unsure about how to connect with their adopted child. They may need support with finding ways of connecting, providing structure, and providing corrective guidance when needed. Each child is different, which is the reason it can be helpful to have a therapist to help the child process emotions regarding the adjustment(s) and possible trauma, learn coping skills, and help the family discover individualized ways of bonding together.
We’re Here To Help
We can help work with your family and develop healthy ways of connecting and bonding with your child. We are here to support you in creating a smooth transition when welcoming a new child into a loving family.
Book an appointment online or call our office today at (858) 776-8804. We currently offer tele-therapy appointments for all clients and are accepting new clients now.