Getting To Know You...
Most people who adopt a baby have thought about this child for quite a long time. They've put their hopes and dreams into the baby or child, and they have an image of how they hope things will be. The reality, however, is often quite different in the beginning from this romantic image. In the first months with your adoptive child, it's very important to dispel your romantic ideals about how you envisioned things would be - and to deal with things as they are. These first months - whether you've brought home an infant or a 10 year old, will be formative and very important.
Getting to Know Your Baby
It's important to know that birth mothers don't really know their babies any more than you know yours the day that he arrives in your arms. Yes, they carried the baby around for nine months and the baby recognizes the mother's smell and voice; however, the mother doesn't really know the baby yet. So, just like the birth mother, you are going to have to get to know your baby. If it's possible, before you even bring the baby home, try to sleep with a blanket or sweater for a few nights to get your smell into it. Then, have the orphanage or home give this to the baby and put it in his crib. This is a great way for him to become familiar with your smell, even before he meets you. If you are bringing home a very small baby, try to wear him in a carrier as much as possible. Slightly older babies can benefit from this touch and attention as well, as many of them weren't given much attention in the orphanage or home where they were before they came to you.
There are a number of lovely ways to bond with your baby. Find out about massage classes in your area for infants. These are great classes that allow you to have a lot of eye contact and touch with you baby, while also helping with their circulation and digestion. Music is another great idea. Play classical CDs or other soothing music for the baby; playing it at the same time of day, particularly at bedtime, can give the child a soothing feeling and a sense of routine. You can also enjoy infant yoga, swim classes and other activities.
Creating a Bond with An Older Child
Creating a bond with an older child can, at times, become more of a challenge. Older children who are adopted have often come from difficult situations. They've been abused or neglected. They often haven't had sensitive physical touch and love in their lives. Give an older child the time to adjust to your house and to warm up to you and your partner. Listen to the child and pay attention to the needs that you see. At first, some children won't want to be touched or held; others may need this very much. Some will have trust issues and assume that you are going to leave them. Others may have nightmares. In the first month or so, minimize the contact that your new child has with other visitors. While your family and friends may want to come and get to know the child, large crowds and a lot of foot traffic may overwhelm him. Even large crowds at the mall or the circus may be too much. Try to keep communication open with the child and get a sense of what will make him comfortable during these initial months.
Whether you adopt an infant, a toddler or an older child, there will be an adjustment period for everyone. Give yourself and your child time to get to know each other, to establish a routine and to become a family. With time, you'll feel comfortable with each other and will wonder how you ever lived without this child in your life!