About 63% of Americans have moved to a new community at least once in their lives, while 37% have never even left their hometowns. When it comes to foster children, however, many children move from home to home, often staying with multiple guardians during the same year. However, some foster kids will find a family to adopt them.
In recent decades, Americans have started getting married later in life. The average age of a first marriage is now 27 for women (it’s 29 for men). In the western world, more than 90% of people will still get married by the age of 50. And as we marry later, many couples look to adoption or foster parenting to create their family.Roughly 135,000 children are adopted each year in the United States. Of non-stepparent adoptions, approximately 59% are from the child foster system, 26% are from other nations, and 15% are voluntarily relinquished American babies. Similarly, approximately 33% of all U.S. adoptions happen in single-family homes.
When it comes to foster care and potential adoption, there are many aspects that are difficult to emotionally handle. Talking to a child about new placement, discussing birth families, and explaining why their peers may or may not have been adopted — it can all be emotionally exhausting. But it’s important to keep in mind, no matter how stressful or overwhelmed you feel during the process, the child is dealing with a lot more. You will be able to get through it, though, as long as these situations are carefully handled with compassion, honesty, and keeping the child’s best interests in mind.
Here are some great tips about talking to a foster child about adoption and how to help them deal with a move:
- Start by doing some research — You should know and understand all the ins and outs about the U.S. adoptive process. Read articles, look up statistics, and talk to professionals. However, you can’t ignore your adopted child during this time. Obviously, you don’t want to bring up numbers and complicated statistics, but reading books about adoption will help them better understand what’s going on and will be a great way to bond for the both of you. Try Let’s Talk About It: Adoption, by Mr. Fred Rodgers.
- Celebrate the placement — Celebrating the new placement can not only provide closure, but can help start this new relationship on the right foot. Depending on the age of your newly adopted child, ask about their favorite restaurant or activity. Even if your adopted child is still a baby, simply throwing a small party to celebrate will help them transition to your new home.
- Keep everything updated — It’s important to have all the child’s files and documents completely up to date for the new placement. Check medical records and be sure to regularly update your child’s lifebook with pictures, stories, and information.
- Be aware of your wording — No matter the age of your newly adopted child, you need to be careful about your wording around the house. Respectful language and behavior is essential to allow the child to feel comfortable. You should feel free to use the words “birth child,” adopted child,” and simply “child.” But try to avoid using the words “real child,” natural child,” or “own child.”
- Have fun as a family — It’s important to plan regular events and activities where the focus is not on adoption. Instead, focus on having fun together, creating family memories, and strengthening your relationships.
Adoption can be a wonderful thing but it will require a lot of work. In time, do everything you can to help your child consider and understand his or her own history, why they aren’t with their birth family, and help with the transition to your own family. Good luck and congratulations!