The Baby Has Arrived - Now What?
Bringing any baby home certainly takes adjustments. You don't necessarily know how to hold the baby, how to bathe the baby, how to feed it, and more. Bringing an adoptive baby home has, perhaps, even more adjustments. If you are bringing a newborn home, they you have all of the same adjustments that a birth mother would have. If, however, you are bringing a slightly older - or significantly older - child home, then you'll have even more adjustments to make. The child will need to adjust to you, and you will need to give her space to do so. Similarly, you'll need time to adjust.
Adjustments for the Child
Most of the time, when you adopt from another country, you end up bringing the child home when she is six months old or more. Many children have been in orphanages and they haven't been played with a great deal or stimulated. For these reasons, it's very important to give the baby time to adjust. Don't be threatened or feel scared if the baby cries a lot in the beginning. They need time to adjust - to your language, your home, your foods, your noises and so much more. You've wanted a child for a very long time, and now she has finally arrived. There is a tendency to want everything to be perfect, in these situations, right away. These things take time, however, and the best gift that you can give to your new baby is time.
Visitors and More
You are excited about the baby, and others are as well. This may mean that family and friends want to come to your house to meet your new arrival. If you have a very small baby who doesn't need much time to adjust, this may be fine. Keep in mind, however, that you may need some space and time. If you travelled a great deal to get the baby, then you are probably tired and in need of rest. Invite friends on your schedule and don't feel badly if you aren't ready to see everyone yet, or if you don't want the big party that your mom wants to throw. If you've adopted a slightly older baby, you may need to be even more sensitive about these issues. Having a crowd come over to pinch her cheeks, or having a large party for the baby's arrival may really scare your new child. Keep her feelings in mind. Your family - you, your partner, your baby and any other children that you have - are the ones that matter now and you need to consider all of your feelings and needs before anyone else's.
Marking the Arrival
At the same time, it is often very nice to document your baby's arrival. Since you weren't there at the birth, most likely, you will want to have something to show your child as she grows. Take pictures, as long as this doesn't upset your new child, to document when she first comes to you, what she does for the first few weeks and more. Create a special scrapbook with the date of her arrival and with all of the pictures of your early days together. If you want to do so, make "Arrival Announcements" as other parents would make birth announcements. You can order them from a company or make them yourself. Oftentimes, children will be asked at school to talk about their birth or to bring in pictures from an early stage in their lives. Your scrapbook can be a great way for your child to feel included in these activities and to feel special since you marked her arrival and early days with you.
Creating a Routine
Finally, one of the best ways to get a child integrated into a new culture and a new family is by creating a routine. If you've taken off work for awhile to be home with your baby, you may fall into a trap of not having a routine. Babies - and most people in general - thrive on routine. Consider this to be a tool that will help you to bond and that will help her to integrate into the family. Enjoy a walk first thing in the morning each day. Establish eye contact throughout the day and try to play on a play mat with the same music each day. Give your baby time to adjust slowly, but start to set a few routines into your day that she will recognize and begin to appreciate. This may help the adjustment process.
Welcoming an adoptive child into your lives is exciting and emotional. Take it slowly so that you, your partner, your other children and your new child will have time to get to know each other and to bond. Soon, you won't be able to remember life without her there!