Adjusting Your Family to an Adopted Newborn Baby

Bringing a new person into your family is one of life’s most memorable moments. Whether adjusting to a newborn or changing your family life after adoption, you may feel like you need some guidance.

These are the best tips for transitioning into your family’s new life, so everyone finds their happy place in your home. 

mom holding adopted baby's hand

How to adjust to an adopted newborn baby

1. Don’t worry about instant connections

Around 20% of new parents don’t feel instantly bonded with their children. It’s an exceptionally prominent challenge for parents of newly adopted kids.

You may have been in fight mode for months or years to bring them home. Now that primary focus is gone. What’s left?

Look at your life after adoption as a learning adventure. Every day gives parents and kids a new chance to learn about each other and grow together. 

2. Personalize your child’s room

Anyone who has adopted a toddler or an older child should help them personalize their room. They may have switched foster homes frequently and never felt like they could put down roots.

Encourage them to pick the paint for their walls, comforter set, and furniture to help them feel like a permanent part of the family.

3. Consider saving their cord blood

Parents of adopted newborns have a unique opportunity — they may be able to save their child’s cord blood. It’s integral to adjusting to life with your new baby because it prioritizes their future healthcare needs.

Cord blood contains stem cells that treat hundreds of conditions that develop later in life, including:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Bone marrow cancers

You may not know your child’s entire genetic medical history, but saving their cord blood is an extra precaution you can take that may save their life later on.

mom holding her adopted son

4. Plan engaging bonding activities

Sometimes parents feel an odd distance between themselves and their adopted children. Bonding activities can help with that—plan engaging activities to help everyone make memories together, like taking educational field trips or making crafts. You’ll spark their imaginations during much-needed bonding.

5. Check in with a therapist

Adoption is a celebration, so parents might not always discuss their mental health battles afterward. A therapist can help you figure out how to handle any inner challenges you might face. 

Some parents experience postadoption depression syndrome (PADS) and feel disconnected from their children. Parental anxiety and high self-expectations are common PADS symptoms that hurt parents who feel alone in their concerns. Therapy will teach you how to work through these things if they arise.

6. Form a support system

Your support system will be a significant part of adjusting to life with your new baby. If you don’t have someone you can call for help, it’s in your best interest to consider who those people might be.

Whether you have a partner or not, you’ll need someone on your side when you’re taking your child to the doctor’s office, wondering why they don’t sleep, and juggling their needs with your own. An encouraging voice goes a long way in making parenting feel easier.

adoption paperwork and stamp

7. Set Family Rules

Family rules set boundaries and expectations. Both are essential for kids of any age, especially adoptees. Consider sitting with your family after your adoption finalizes to set rules for everyone like:

  • Knocking on doors and getting permission before opening them
  • Asking how you can help others every day
  • Being quick to apologize and replace destructive behaviors with positive ones

Rules like these put everyone on the same page and on equal footing. Older adopted children will also appreciate respect for their privacy and share the expectations with themselves.

8. Weave their traditions with yours

Older kids from other cultures will feel much more comfortable in their new family if they can keep their favorite traditions. Weave your holidays and celebrations with theirs. You’ll create a blended family that makes a beautiful life after adoption that never erases where your child came from.

9. Read adoption books together

Parents of adopted infants and young kids can raise them with books about adoption. Reading stories from their perspective or about challenges they may face will prevent them from feeling alone or broken. You can also prioritize longer books with adopted children as their protagonists if your child is older.

Some book titles to explore:

10. Reinforce their safe space

Many adopted children struggle to feel safe. They may have encountered bad people in foster homes or poor treatment by other kids within the system.

Reinforce your child’s safety within your home as often as possible by respecting their wishes, asking for their opinions, and vocalizing your love for them daily.

gay couple with adopted newborn baby

Final thoughts on adjusting to life after adoption

You don’t have to worry about adjusting to life with your new baby. Celebrate the end of the adoption process and start creating your new routine. As you learn what daily life looks like with your child, steps like these will fall into place.

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Beth Rush

Managing Editor

Beth, the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind, is well-respected in the nutrition, parenting, mental health and fitness spaces. In her spare time, Beth enjoys cooking and trying out new exercise routines.

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