Many Florida families are growing thru something called an intervention. There is a time between when a child has been removed from their home and before parental rights have been terminated that an intervention can occur. At this point, the child is in foster care, but the parents still have legal rights and can ask to create an adoption plan. The parents can select a family to adopt their child, and if the family they choose have a home study and are qualified to adopt, the court can approve the adoption.
Once in the home, you must understand that love alone is not going to raise your child. Along with the knowledge, you gained reading the information provided and talking to previous people in his life, you now get to parent. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
Remember this situation is not only new to you, but to him as well. He will try your patience and it will be hard, but you will get through it. Here are some helpful steps when adopting a toddler or older child:
- Give your family time to get to know each other. I know you are so excited you want to introduce your child to your family and friends right away. Please refrain from guests or visiting other families for a while. Your child needs time to gain trust. Too many visits, in the beginning, could make him anxious that he is moving again, or could just be chaotic meeting too many new people.
- Observe your child. I mean watch what they do. If he picks through the trash – let him and observe what he does. It could be very telling about what his prior situation was like and provide you with much needed insight. When you know the why, it is much easier to deal with how to correct it.
- Be patient. Understand his routines from his former caretaker. Take the time to observe his behaviors. Write them down. When you write them down, you don’t forget them. Review them later and make a plan for how to correct them. Let him get comfortable with his surroundings. Don’t try to smother him. He will eventually warm up to you and start trusting you. Then you can start instilling a routine and parenting style. Knowing his triggers will help avoid conflict.
- EXAMPLE: A child was removed due to neglect when birth mother left him alone for two days. When he goes to his room for bedtime, he cries and cries or wakes up with night terrors. Consider leaving him alone in a dark room at night could be terrifying for him. Knowing this, you can change your approach. Leave a light on,play soothing music, let the dog sleep in the room. If you change the memory, he will learn to be more comfortable.
- Be consistent. Once you develop a routine and stick to it, your child will build trust. Once they trust, they feel safe. Once they feel safe, they bond and connect, and their real true personality emerges.
- Be kind to yourself. You will make mistakes, and you will learn from them. Don’t dwell on the negative, just do better next time.
- Give yourself a time out. Take a break to take care of yourself. The next few months are going to be a big adjustment for everyone. You will be a much better parent if you give yourself space to refresh and renew.
- Know your resources and use them. There is a lot of information about adopting older children. Your community network can also provide information (Doctor, therapists, support groups, church, etc.).
As your child gets older, new challenges will inevitably arise. Some may be related to the adoption and time prior to that, others may not. You may not know which is which and that’s okay! Every kid is different and the best thing we can do as parents is love them and ensure they have the help and resources they (and we!) need, when they need it.
Here are some recommended books: