If you are in the process of adopting a toddler, you need to realize that although the child you are adopting is very young, they are coming to you with memories and attachments. They are also going through the normal phases of life that all toddlers go through. Here are a few things you should expect when adopting a toddler.
As a toddler, your adopted child will beginning to develop language and communication skills. They will have developed ways that they communicate with their bodies and emotions. They will have just started to develop verbal communications.
You are going to need to learn how your child communicates. There will be numerous little signals that your child gives off that you are going to to need to learn and pick up on.
At the same time, don't be surprised if your toddler's communication skills regress a bit when they come into your home. Moving into a new home with new parents and expectations is a huge transition, and many toddlers will react by withdrawing until they feel safe in their new environment.
Toddler's thrive on routine. They like to know what they are going to do, and when they are going to do it. Routine allows your toddler to master skills necessary in their day to day lives. It also allows them to know when they can push their boundaries.
You can make your toddler's transition easier by working with your child's current caregivers to learn what their routine was before they came to live with you. Try to mirror as much of that routine as possible. The more you can keep their routine similar, the easier it will be for your child to make this huge adjustment.
Set clear expectations for your toddler as you develop a routine, but also be flexible and don't overwhelm your child with new rules and regulations. By sticking to your child's routine, you will help your child become comfortable and learn that they can trust you.
Do not expect your child to immediately start calling you Mom, Dad, Mama or whatever name you and your partner want to be called. Even though your child is a toddler, they have probably already bonded with and been removed from multiple caregivers. It is going to take time for your toddler to trust you.
The attachment process can go smoother if you are gradually introduced to your new child via their current caregivers. Photos, letters and phone calls as the adoption process starts will help your child learn about you. You should ideally visit with your child while their current caregivers are present, and gradually increase the time you spend with your child as they slowly make the transition from their old home to their forever home. Being gradually introduced to your toddler will help them accept you and develop attachments.
However, you should also be prepared for resistance from your child. Even toddlers raised by their biological parents go through stages of rebellion and defiance where they say no to everything you ask and try to push the boundaries. This is part of their natural development.
Often, toddlers will also accept one parent and form a stronger attachment to them. Do not be surprised or hurt if your toddler resists embracing you or forms a stronger attachment with one of you. It will take time time for your child to embrace you and start calling you affectionate parental names.
Adopting a toddler can be a joyful experience; however, you should be aware and prepared for the communication and attachment challenges. Slowly create a bond and develop a routine that your child can count on to make the transition easier to your child's forever home. Visit this link for more information about adoption.