by Emily Giedzinski
Fourth of July has rolled around. Everyone is anticipating visiting or meeting your recently adopted child for the first time at all the family and friend gatherings that come this time of year. Despite everyone’s well- wishes and your own desire to share your newest family member with those who care, it is important to be aware of what is in the best interest of your child.
If your adoption is very recent, this might mean having to decline or extremely limit outings for some children. In the first few months after an adoption, forming parent-child attachments and bonding is the foremost priority. It might be scary, confusing, or overwhelming for the child to be introduced to many new faces so soon after the major transition of leaving their previous setting – whether it be an orphanage, foster family, or family of origin – and joining your family. It’s ok to decline invitations promptly and graciously, explaining – as much as you prefer to – that it may not be the best fit for your family right now.
If your child has begun to settle into your family and has been slowly but surely introduced to the MVPs (most valuable people – like extended family and close friends) in your lives. How do you decide what is a good outing for these kids?
This is a decision that should be made by the people who know your child and their needs best. Most likely this will come down to you, your spouse, the child’s counselor, and maybe even the people who are responsible for care for the child (daycare teacher, nanny, grandparent who looks after them during work hours, etc. may contribute valuable insight). Every case must be assessed individually, pursuant the best interest of your unique child.
Good questions to take into account when assessing the situation may be:
- How comfortable does my child feel about not necessarily having my attention all to themselves?
- How comfortable is my child in larger social situations?
- How does my child/ would my child interact with other children?
- How comfortable is my child with other adults?
- How would my child react to new experiences, sounds, smells etc.?
These are just sample questions – not an exhaustive list – of things you might consider. Think attending through, but also know you can plan an “escape plan” – be it a place to “take a break” from it all or an exit plan that is communicated – as appropriate to your family – in case something hard comes up.
If your child has settled in and is performing well then a typical Fourth of July gathering may be no problem. Even at that point there may be a few things close family and friends should keep in mind while interacting with the child.
An adopted child may have a variety of experiences in their past that complicate communication and interactions. Whether its sensory concerns, limited communication, preferences about touch, language, or cultural barriers or simply adapting to new surroundings, an adopted child may not communicate verbally and nonverbally the way most children might. It is important to educate the immediate people who will interact with your child so they can best understand your child’s needs and intentions as they engage socially.
Your family will find its own best way to celebrate! You have the opportunity to include your MVPs in your kids’ lives in whatever ways best fit everyone. Here’s hoping you, your child, and community have a wonderful Independence Day, no matter what type of celebration is the best fit for you this year.