While everyone can chime in their two-cents worth about being a parent, there are challenges that adoptive parents face that other parents do not.
Instead of having the growing anticipation of bringing a child into the world, many adoptive parents receive a last minute phone call notifying them there is an infant or toddler in need of immediate placement. Suddenly, a quiet home of two adults must swing into a full-time nursery.
When adopting older children, new parents must be prepared to set boundaries, roles and rules. While it can be tough, parents are not meant to be a child’s best friend – they are there for guidance, support and to teach a child how to thrive. Unfortunately life is about consequences, and teaching children these lessons early in live is beneficial, preparing them for the real world.
As a new parent, you should clearly establish your role, while still providing and meeting the basic needs a child requires. A child requires feeling safe physically – meaning they need to know that you will provide for him/her – albeit it food, shelter and water. A child also needs to feel safe from an emotional and mental standpoint. Every child adapts differently, some require more space and time to be accepting of a new home; however, establishing trust is important. An adoptive parent should never make a promise he/she cannot keep, as this helps increase a child’s trust.
Children love structure and some predictability. Establishing these components immediately is very beneficial, giving children a sense of protection and calmness. Some parents prefer to allow older children to participate in establishing suitable home rules, giving them some control during a very vulnerable time in their lives.
Some parents prefer waiting a few days to establish comfort with their new child before lying down ground rules. Parents always have the ultimate say and should strictly adhere to that principle. When rules are broken, parents must back this up. If a parent waivers, children will have a difficult time respecting his/her authority. Spouses or partners should discuss issues related to parenthood often. Parents need to both be on the same page to ensure an effective parenting plan. If parents do disagree, they should never do so in front of children. Children can be manipulative and easily pick up on weaknesses. Most parents remember from their childhood days’ –trying to divide and conquer parents – not much has changed in the world of parenting.
Consequences are a natural part of life, one parents cannot constantly battle on behalf of their children. If a child neglects his/her homework and the teacher assigns detention, how else will a child learn to do his/her homework next time? Sometimes letting consequences be carried out is in the best interest of the child.
While this guide is intended to mostly serve for adoptive parents adopting an older child, Heart to Heart Adoption, a Utah adoption agency, strives to provide prospective parents with the most thorough parenting information related to open adoption and private adoption.