Q: My wife and I plan to adopt a child under the age of 9 from foster care. We have just started taking the classes. My wife has a 9-year-old from a previous relationship, and we want to do everything we can to prepare him in advance for this adoption. Any help is appreciated.
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Dawn Davenport 0:00
Welcome to Weekend Wisdom by Creating a Family. Creating a Family is the National Support and Training nonprofit or foster adoptive and kinship families. And this segment is part of the overall creating a family podcast. So each Sunday morning, we drop a short segment answering a question that we receive, you can submit your own questions to info at creating a family.or. And you can put weekend wisdom or something in the subject line and it will find its way to me. So here is today's question. My wife and I plan to adopt a child under the age of nine from foster care, we have just started taking classes. My wife has a nine year old from a previous relationship, and we want to do everything we can to prepare him in advance for this adoption. Any help is appreciated. All right. So first, congratulations on the soon to be new addition to your family. And even more congratulations for knowing that you need to prepare your son for becoming a brother through adoption. So I do have a couple of tips for you and helping to prepare him in advance. My first tip is to read books about adoption and different ways families can be formed. Now creating a family has a terrific list of books to help prepare siblings for adoption. It would help if you could also read some books to explain adoption. There are a lot of other books out there that explain adoption to the adopted child. And those are also good for your son. But there are some books that are specifically geared to siblings. And these lists on our website are broken out by age of the child, which is very helpful. And given that your son is nine there are several Riedel now chapter books that would just be ideal for him. Where it's not all about adoption, but adopted, some of the characters are adopted. So it gives you a good window of opportunity to discuss adoption. You can find that list of books at our website, creating a family.or, hover over the word adoption and click on suggested books and then just scroll down and you'll see that there's a whole category for preparing siblings for adoption. My second tip is talk about families that don't match. If you're open to adopting a child of a different race from the rest of your family. Your family will be the focus of more attention when you're out in public. So it helps to prepare your children for this experience. And you need to help them with understanding that families don't have to match to be families. And you could talk about it in a matter of fact way. And frequently. Often you bring it up to help normalize the conversation, and the idea of how families come together what makes a family. Depending on your existing children's ages, they will likely get questions from both other kids as well as adult at nine, your son may or may not get them from adults by guarantee he'll get a lot of them from kids. And you need to help them with appropriate responses by practicing. You know canned responses. Canned lines are scripts that he feels comfortable, and that feels comfortable to your family values and your sense of privacy. And kids have a way of taking pre rehearsed lines and making them their own. So a variety of options will help both of you feel more confidence that they'll land one that works so anticipate and prepare him for these, especially if you're a child you're bringing in will not be of the same race as your family. And we have a great list of suggested books and resources. To help explain unmatched families. You can find it the same place I mentioned above creating a family thought org. Hover over the word adoption and then click on suggested books. And tip number three, tell your child why the adjustment might be rocky. If you're adopting other than a newborn and it sounds like you are you will have some preparation to do if your children are old enough it helps to prepare them in advance for the myriad of ways that new siblings may react Your son is nine he is well old enough to understand that remind him of the times that he had to adjust to a new or unexpected situation and how he responded bring up times that he felt fearful or uncertainty over a new relationship or a new experience. Explain that his new sibling will likely be even more scared than what they've experienced already. The new sibling might act out their fears by rejecting them or going the other extreme and becoming a clingy little shadow. Unfortunately, their new sibling may also react mean or are even angry. And you need to talk about this fact that sometimes kids have learned to be aggressive, and to compete for the limited amount of attention that they received in the past and foster care in their first home. You can assure him your son that these behaviors were useful and even maybe necessary for their new sibling when he was in those settings that they're inappropriate in your home and tell them that you won't allow him to be armed, and you will also be retraining your newly adopted child to cope with his big feelings. It might even help to continue to reassure your older children frequently that you are ready for these behaviors even after the new kid has arrived. You don't want to make your existing son overly fearful, but you want him to be prepared, that this child is not going to act like he's on vacation and maybe even not thrilled about landing in your home. Tip number four, plan to stick close to home. Explain to your son in advance that the new child may be overwhelmed by all the changes and the new experiences at first, tell them that the family plan is to stick pretty close to home for a while after the new child comes. If it applies, remind them of the times that you or another family member brought home new babies from the hospital and stayed home to recover a bit. And you can compare the new adoption relationships to that time to help normalize a plan for your child. So they won't be resentful towards a new sibling. Because then nine is a great age to start brainstorming things that you can all look forward to during this time when you're going to be sticking closer to home. Maybe you can have them make a poster together have fun things at home wish lists things they want to do. This may be a great time to replenish your art supplies or your Lego supplies, or even buy one of those great big LEGO sets that takes weeks to assemble that you might want to set up to do with the child. Keeping in mind that that might not be depending on what the new sibling is whether they're capable of participating in that. And that might not be the best idea. It also might be a great time to invest in a new swing set that you've had your eye on or a trampoline or something along those lines that everybody can look forward to participating in. And my last tip is to prepare for regression. Prepare yourself for the possibility of developmental regression in both your existing child as well as your newly adopted child. And you talk about how it might feel for the new kid to get so much attention during the transition. Everybody is going to be talking about the new kid worrying about the new kid. So you can lay the groundwork for how your son can talk to you about how that feels. Not just now in advance, but specifically when it's happening, and acknowledge that this actually might feel a little disproportionate the attention for a while but it won't last forever. And you can reassure them that you have a plan to help you share your focus and your attention once the new child comes home. And once a new towel arrives. Be alert to behavioral regressions. Remind your son when their new sister or brother is feeling overwhelmed or scared, she might resort to acting more babyish than typical behaviors to get attention. So keep your household routines as regular as possible during the transition, schedule some one on one time with your existing son. And yes, we know that this probably feels unattainable especially at the beginning. But do find the time also give him the words that he can use to tell you that he needs more of your time and attention. And when he uses those words that may be saying, maybe you teach him to say, I'm feeling a little lonely right now mom or you. Maybe you say he can tell you. I need some more attention, Dad, that when he says that you will find a way to respond. This won't last forever. But in the short term, it's really helpful. Hope these five tips will help you some. So thank you for listening to this week's weekend wisdom. If you liked it, please tell a friend to subscribe to the creating a family.org podcasts. Thanks. Do you know that we have 12 free courses that can help you be the best parent to your kid possible? Thanks to our partners, the jockey being Family Foundation, you can go to Bitly slash JBf support and choose from our library of 12 courses many of them will dovetail really nicely with the show this podcast go to Bitly slash J B F support that's bi T dot L y flash J B F support
Transcribed by https://otter.ai