Adoption is the legally binding process of a child (or children) to a parent (or parents) requiring that they now provide financial, emotional, educational, and medical stability for the child entering their home. Although adoption is a legal proceeding-it is something much more complex and life altering. Adoption expands your view of love, kindness, family, and connection.
Within a family unit, each member has their own relationships, interactions, and past experiences with each other that define their current dynamic. When adoptive children merge into this dynamic they are bringing with them their connection to their past family structure (whether those relationships were positive or negative). Siblings naturally have a yearning for competition amongst each other in competing for time, relationships, memories, and attention from the parental figures in the home. This can create a positive relationship from shared experiences or a negative relationship based upon the outcome of those experiences.
Changes within your financial status, job loss, divorce, marriage, or health complications, can all impact the way that your family functions; as does adoption. Adoption radically changes your entire family and affects each individual within that unit. As you are expanding and growing as a family-ensure that your family focuses on four goals:
Create time and opportunity spent individually with each person within your home. Find ways to engage with each other in activities that are specific to their interests and hobbies. Take time to listen to how the family structure change can cause various emotions including insecurity, excitement, and/or distrust. Then your family will begin to grow and change into a new family unit.
The following are family activities that can be utilized to assist with the changes in your family structure and ultimately lead to strengthened family bonds.
- Family award night-identify a night each week that each member votes on various positive superlatives for each family member. For example: “most likely to star in a movie”, “most encouraging”, most likely to pick up their room”, and/or “most likely to make a silly joke.”
- Family suggestion box with weekly family meetings-set up a night each week for a family meeting to discuss challenges and successes throughout the week. Encourage a family suggestion box to be included so that each member can contribute ideas for strengthening the family structure.
- Filling your emotional cup- this activity allows for each member of the household to identify and clarify their feelings throughout the week. This ensures that each member is able to express themselves within the family unit and provides opportunity to resolve issues that may weaken your family structure.
Write the below emotions on stickers or pieces of paper with tape. Place your emotions for the day or week within your empty cup and then discuss what filled up your cup today.
- “Tell me about you” Board Game-Take the blank board below and add the following questions (these questions can be tailored to your children’s ages and developmental levels). Then roll a dice when it is your turn and whatever question you land on is the one you answer. This game is a great way to assist with the change in family structure when your family unit first expands. This gives everyone an opportunity to learn more about each other and creates discussion that leads to further growth.
- Favorite Movie
- Favorite Memory
- Favorite Food
- Feelings about Adoption
- Feelings about School
- What does “family” mean to you?
- What is something that makes you feel mad?
- What is something that makes you feel sad?
- What is something that makes you feel happy?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What is your favorite activity?
- What is your favorite holiday?
- What is your favorite type of music?
- What are you the most excited about for this year?
- What are you the most nervous/scared about for this year?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- What is your least favorite chore?