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Health & Parenting

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Bringing Your Adopted Child Home

What to expect from the adoption process and when your family finally comes together.

Keep the Nursery Simple

It's tempting to overdo the decorating of your baby's or child’s new room, filling it with bright colors and an array of toys and clothes. But if you're not bringing home a newborn, this may be a little much for your new family member.

"You want the room to be calming, not over stimulating," Walton says.

Don't expect to settle your baby down in her perfectly prepared new crib at bedtime, say goodnight, and turn out the light. Even a newborn you gave birth to probably wouldn't settle down to sleep alone in a new crib. A baby or child who's just been separated from the world he knows needs comfort and closeness.

"Babies and children who have been in an orphanage are used to sleeping in a room with multiple children," Samantha Walker, associate director for international adoptions at New York’s Spence-Chapin adoption agency, says. "They then arrive in this beautifully decorated room, so lovingly prepared for them, and are expected to sleep alone. They may not be able to settle in by themselves."

Ease the transition by temporarily moving the crib into your bedroom or placing a mattress or daybed for you in your child's room until your child feels safe.

If You're in Touch With the Birth Parents, Expect an Evolving Relationship

You may have some degree of open relationship with your child's birth parents if you’ve adopted domestically. (This is even becoming more common in some international adoptions.)

You may have established a plan in advance about how that relationship will work -- how many letters, whether or not there will be phone calls or visits, and so on. But remember that it's not set in stone.

"Be prepared that your relationship with your child's birth parents will evolve on both sides," Walton says. "It's your job as the adoptive parents to take care of the child not to take care of the child's birth parents," she adds.

Be sensitive about what the birth parent(s) may be going through. They're adjusting too.

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