As you look forward to the adoption of your baby, you’re probably experiencing various emotions. If you already have a child at home, one of those emotions might be some anxiety around the prospect of having to meet the needs of both your children.
Any changes in the family can also cause some behavior changes in your child. Children may react emotionally when they lose your constant attention or when their daily routine changes. At some point during your adoption process, your child will realize that something is different. If you want to be an expert when your new baby comes home, it’s worth thinking through a few key things beforehand.
Breaking the News
Before the new baby arrives, it’s good to talk to your older child about what newborns are like. Explain what they look like, how they can cry often, and how they need to be held much of the time. Children under the age of three are normally egocentric, so use their baby album to plant the scenes to help your child get a sense of what to expect.
Include Your Child
Your life is going to change when your new baby arrives, so cherish the time when it's just you and your older child. If your friends and family are lined up to help, you need to make sure that your older child will be happy with the people who will look after him or her. You can also let your child make choices for the new baby, like selecting a new toy, choosing a new baby outfit, or deciding where the crib is going to be. These decisions, no matter how small they seem, allow them to feel a sense of control, which is important during this transition time.
Talk Openly about the Adoption
You might consider letting your older child attend a family meeting with a social worker and encourage him or her to ask any questions. Certainly, it’s easier to present adoption if your older child is adopted too since you’ve probably been talking about adoption for some time. If not, there are so many wonderful adoption books and stories for children, so you can use them to prepare your child for the adoption process and bringing the new baby home.
After Your New Baby Comes Home
It’s really important to let your older child help take care of the new baby. Your child can choose an outfit for the baby to wear, bring you a diaper, hold the baby bottle, or other small tasks. Children love helping, and even the smallest of tasks will help your child feel good. Talk to the baby in a positive way about his or her big brother or sister. For instance, talk about how your older child can ride a tricycle and how he or she is going to teach the baby someday. When both children need you at the same time, try to take care of your older child first if possible. You can even ask your older child to help you with the baby first and point out how he or she is wonderful for helping you out. When visitors come to bring gifts for the baby, prepare some small gifts for your older child too. The most important thing is to organize your time so you can spend time with your children. Do that by preparing and freezing some meals in advance, ask someone from the family to help you with cleaning, or anything else you need.
Perhaps the most important thing is don’t forget to give lots of extra kisses and hugs!