While all adopted children have to make huge adjustments when they are first placed with a family, older children have unique needs and face challenges that younger children do not. As an adoptive parent, it's impossible for you to anticipate every single need that your child may have. However, you can educate yourself on some of the more common needs so you can spot issues quickly and respond with as much love and support as possible. Following are three common adjustment issues that you should be prepared for when you adopt an older child.
An older child may find it difficult to bond with you, because doing so makes them feel like they're being disloyal to their biological parents or former foster parents. To help them get over their feelings of disloyalty, be sure to allow them to talk about their former family as much as they want to. When a child feels like you're not trying to erase the life they had before they came to live with you, they will be more likely to open up to you and trust you. However, you should not expect instant results. It takes time to build trust.
When you adopt a school-aged child, their whole world changes. Not only does their family, home and town change, they also have to start a new school, meet new teachers, and make new friends. Since there are so many changes, you can expect that your child's school performance will suffer, at least in the beginning. Many adoptive children have trouble paying attention in school, and some may get into trouble or have altercations with other children. Understand that academic success often takes a back burner in this time of adjustment and upheaval.
Many adoptive families strive to make their child feel welcome and end up doing more harm than good. Parties, activities, and special outings are sometimes too much for a child whose entire world has changed. This is especially true if you adopted your child from another country. To help your child adjust, keep things low key. Stick to your normal schedule. Structure is best during the adjustment period. There will be time for parties later on.
Helping an older child navigate the ups and downs of adoption is difficult. However, all children benefit from a loving, understanding family that allows them to make adjustments in their own time.
For more information, visit sites like http://www.achildsdream.org to help you with the adjustment period for your adopted child.