A new child in your family

Settling in

Often children who have just moved to live with a new carer or their new adoptive family feel the need to test the adults around them. This is a picture of a little boy looking up.They can be doing this to see how naughty they need to be before they'll be moved again, to yet another carer. This can be a difficult time for parents and child alike. Try to remember that the child is probably frightened and lonely – they have left their familiar surroundings, school, friends and may be living with you in a completely different part of the country. There are no familiar shops, streets, parks and even the people they hear talking around them have a funny accent!

Your Parents for Children social worker will help you during this difficult time. Some people try to go it alone, thinking that if they ask for help, we will take their child away because they can't cope. This is very far from the truth. We can offer advice and put you in touch with other families who have been through the same thing.

Familiar objects

We all like to have familiar objects around us, especially if we're feeling anxious. Having their own toys around them will help a child feel more comfortable in a new environment. Even if some of the toys and clothes they bring seem a little tattered and battered, resist the temptation to rush out and replace them straight away. You may want to show how much you love them by buying new toys, but that battered old teddy bear with only one ear has been with him through every move he's made in his short life, and is an important member of the family.

The past

If the child has suffered abuse or neglect, they can sometimes feel that it was their fault. They may not like people, including you, to know about their past for this very reason. Your social worker will help you to gauge the right time to talk to the child about their past and explain that there's no blame attached to them.

It's always best for a child to know about their background. Explaining to a child why they were adopted won't necessarily be easy, but it's important that it is done as a gradual and continuing process, throughout the child's life.

Children have the knack of asking difficult questions at difficult times. Your Parents for Children social worker will help you to prepare for the "Where did I come from?" moment well in advance.

Remember, talking about the past in a loving and accepting way means that it isn't a frightening subject and reassures your child that they can ask you any question they like.

Photo © www.johnbirdsall.co.uk