When we have a child we often save their baby bracelet from the hospital, the outfit we brought them home in, or their first pair of booties. What do you keep when your child joined your family at 7 years old? Do those keepsakes not matter as much? In my house, I kept one of my daughter's little girl hair clips. It’s in my jewelry box next to my boys' hospital bracelets.
When older children are adopted into a family the bonding process is often overlooked or skipped due to the chronological age of the child. There’s an expectation they will just join in and pick up where a 4, 7, or 15 year old should. We forget that the child born to someone has 9 months in the mother’s body learning her voice, heartbeat, and smell. There are months of holding, rocking, talking, singing and more with other family members. Babies recognize their father’s or other significant adults' voices hearing them for 9 months. Adoptees no matter the age need this bonding and relationship building time too.
Use those first few months to have fun, get to know each other, play, relax. There will be plenty of time for school work and chores later. After all, when an infant is born into a family there are no expectations of them other than to grow and feel safe and loved. These should be the goals for your child when they join your family no matter how or when that happens. Have patience and cherish these times no matter what age your child joins the family!
- Amy Reamer, LMFT, RPT-S