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Bringing Your Adopted Child Home

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

Your New Child’s Homecoming continued...

"Minimizing the big celebrations at first will serve your child's needs better," Walker says. "A big party can be very stressful, especially for a toddler. Keep the celebrations low-key at first, especially during the first few weeks after coming home."

Family and friends who want to show their happiness for you right after you come home can do it best with a short, mellow visit. They might even volunteer to bring food or do a load of laundry.

2. Keep Your Child Close.

A child who is born to you spends nine months getting to know the sound, scent, and rhythms of its parents while in utero. A baby, toddler, or young child who is adopted needs the same kind of close bonding time to feel safe and comfortable with you as the new parents.

So in the first weeks and months, keep your baby or child as close to you as you can as much as possible.

Try a sling or wrap or other carrier even if your child is a bit older. "I tell parents that they may need to prepare for having a child on your hip who's 30 pounds or more," Harder says.

That also means gently discouraging loved ones from playing "pass the baby."

"Let friends and family know that they can't expect to scoop up the baby or child and confuse the situation for a little one who's already going through a lot of changes," Harder says. "You don't need to be totally isolated, but you need to make it clear to the child that you are the parent, the caregiver, and protector."

3. Help Your Child Adjust.

You are overjoyed that your new baby or child is coming home with you -- but it might take your child a little while to feel the same way.

"Your baby or child is being separated from everything they know," Harder says. "Be prepared for what those first days, weeks, and months might be like."

If you'll be bringing home an older baby, toddler, or child, Harder suggests that if it's allowed you send a care package to the child before you meet. That care package could include a photo album of you and your family. "You can also sleep with a small blanket or soft toy that can be sent to the child so that the child learns your familiar smell. That can ease the transition," Harder says.

4. Give Love Time.

"You may expect to fall in love with your child instantly, but that might not happen," Walton says. "You think it'll be this lovely picture where you sit and nurture your child and the child gazes into your eyesright away. But you may not feel that instant bond. You may like but not love your child right away."

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