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5 Bonding Tips for Adoptive Parents

Image Gallery: Parenting Start the bonding as soon as you bring baby home. See more parenting pictures.
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Being an adoptive parent is an adventure. Whether your child has come to you from a different culture, a foster care placement or through private adoption, there are steps you can take to make love and trust the building blocks of your new family. And the age of the newest member doesn't matter -- whether you've adopted an infant or an older child, there are plenty of things you can do to strengthen the connections among everyone in your household. Find opportunities to forge strong bonds with your adoptive child from the first day you bring him or her home.

Looking for ideas? Read on for five tips that can work for any growing family.

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Adoption is a serious step. It isn't without its humorous moments, though. Once your child comes home with you, take a deep breath and laugh out loud -- hooray, you did it! Keep laughing, too. Take every opportunity to show that you're enjoying your child and love having her in your life. Humor and joy are contagious. They can make up for all those little things that are bound to go wrong in an average day of parenting. If your adoptive child knows you're delighted, she'll start trusting you and opening up. Laughter is a great stress buster for the whole family, too.

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Reach out to other parents; they can help.
Reach out to other parents; they can help.
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The adoption process has become more complex in the last couple of decades. With the growth of single adoption, adoption by older couples, gay adoption and overseas adoption, the dynamics of the average adoption are, well -- there's no such thing as an average adoption these days. The good news is that more children are finding loving homes, and many more people are discovering the joys of raising children. Because your adoption experience is probably somewhat unique, you'll be one up on the bonding challenges ahead if you can connect with people who've had similar experiences. Whether you're adopting a child from another culture or raising a child with special needs, there are adoption support groups that can help. You're not alone.

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When you participated in the home study during the adoption process, your family was interviewed multiple times. They were vital to the adoption process then, and they're critical now. Once your adoptive child has settled in, carve out regular family time. If it seems awkward at first, plan activities like board games, sports or computer games that everyone can participate in. Cook together, eat together, institute a family movie night. Now is the time to circle the wagons and show your adoptive child that he's an important part of something special.

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Embrace where your children come from.
Embrace where your children come from.
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If you've adopted an older child, he has a background. Instead of ignoring it, celebrate it. If he hails from another culture, try to understand a little about the language and customs of that locale. Learn about the food, and demonstrate that those elements can still be part of his new life. If he's having trouble adapting, be patient, and don't equate confusion and fear with rejection. If your child is older than three, the adjustment period may be longer than if he's a toddler. The key is to remain enthusiastic.

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The time you spend with your adopted child is golden time -- and there should be plenty of it. Familiarity and shared experience build bonds, and sometimes just being there is the key to getting your new relationship on a more solid footing. Raising an adopted child is a learning experience for everyone in the family. The more time you spend involved in your child's daily activities, the more important you'll be in his life. If your child has abandonment issues or other problems, there'll be challenges, and overcoming them may involve getting professional help. You can make a start by sharing as much time as possible with your adopted child. Your presence will reassure him, and your observations will help you understand his needs better.

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Sources

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  • Adamec, Christine. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption." Alpha Books. 2005
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  • Bigg, Matthew. " doption system seen failing kids from minorities." Reuters. 6/13/08. 12/6/10.http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1220202420080613
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