Adoption Jitters: 5 Ways To Help Your Existing Family Welcome The New Member

The decision to adopt is huge, most especially if you already have a family going. The wonder and worry can drive you a little batty, but coming together as an existing family can really help you make way for the new child. The following five tips can help you all make the transition more wonderful for everyone involved.

1. Discover Everything You Can About Your Adoptive Child's Life

Especially if the child you're adopting is a little older, they may have been through some really tough times. Know what's happened to them and study up on ways you can help them adjust to your family. Ask the adoption agency to be clear on any obstacles you'll all face together and ask how you can best approach the most sensitive issues. No matter what your new family member has faced previously, together, you can work toward a smooth transition and lasting family bonds.

2. Make Expectations For Your Family Clear

The kids you already have may be nervous about the newcomer, so it's important that you explain things to them clearly, particularly if they're younger. Children may have the idea that you're not satisfied with them and that's why you want to adopt another child. They might feel threatened because they're going to have to share everything in their lives, including you. A whole host of ideas is likely running through their minds, and it's up to you to help them sort it all out, long before the new sibling arrives.

3. Don't Go Overboard With Decorating

While you do want to open your home in many loving and wonderful ways, you may not want to throw too big of a welcoming party. Keeping the event more low-key means everyone can get to know each other on more normal terms, with less pressure and no pretense. As your family gets to know the adopted member, you can add more items and excitement to the mix, but throwing a huge bash may be overwhelming initially.

4. Let Everyone Know They're Part Of A Strong Support System

Yourself included, everyone needs to have others to talk to and turn to as a family expands. Make sure you've planned on a way to have some "me" time or couple time with your partner, but also see that the children have someone they can depend on when they feel out of sorts. It can take time for a family to come together completely when welcoming a new addition, but in the meantime, people need to be able to vent, inquire, and seek advice.

5. Give The Love Time And Space To Grow

Idyllic, problem-free families usually only happen in movies, not real life. Expect an adjustment period for everyone, including your adopted child and, perhaps, yourself. As everyone pulls closer, there's bound to be some pushing away by someone periodically. Keep an eye on grades at school and keep conversations open so that everyone feels comfortable revealing their feelings about the situation. The time it takes to totally transition a family after adoption can't be predicted; however, it can be planned and prepared for so that, hopefully, the full bloom isn't too far into the future.

Congratulate yourself and your family on taking the steps to adopt -- it was probably a long time in the making, with many obstacles overcome. No matter what, when you come together in support of each other and your adopted child, something beautiful should happen to your whole family.