4 Tips To Deepen Your Relationship With Your Adopted Child

April 7, 2022 | 5 min read

Establishing a deep and meaningful connection with your adopted child may not happen overnight. As with every important relationship, it’s a process, meaning it will take time, attention, and care to blossom.

Adopted parents often feel that the relationship they have with their children isn't developing as quickly or as strongly as they’d like. It’s important to remember that each child is unique, and to become a genuinely tight-knit family, it will take patience and practice. Below are 4 tips for parents wondering how they can deepen their relationship with their adopted children.

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1. Be Open With Your Communication

Healthy communication is at the root of every strong interpersonal relationship.  As an adult, you already have well-established communication styles and, depending on the age of your child, he or she may already have developed some of their own habits.  These communication styles, which we often do not even notice, may not mesh well and lead to frustration in the home.  Whatever ingrained habits you each bring to the table, your parent-child relationship will not get far without learning to speak each other’s language.

To have good communication, you need to start by making time to communicate. Though life gets busy and it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, prioritize time for one-on-one communication. Make sure your child understands that he or she has your undivided attention and can speak about whatever topics, large or small, they have on their mind.  Use that one-on-one communication time to model and practice healthy communication practices. Share your frustrations, hopes, dreams, and uncertainties in a developmentally appropriate way so your child can see that your relationship is built on acceptance.

Simply being physically present during a conversation is not enough.  You need to be mentally and emotionally available as well. Be an active listener as your child speaks. Show that you value them and their thoughts by giving them your undivided attention. Give them the time to share whatever is on their mind while resisting the temptation to jump in with your own opinions or feedback.  Even a young child will appreciate having this space to explore their thoughts freely. Active listening helps establish a strong sense of trust and empathy, which will be important as your child grows older and faces more complex challenges.

2. Capitalize On Bonding Opportunities

Adoptive parents need to act as the stable rock in an adopted child’s life. After such a significant shift in their lives, fear or worry is a natural and normal reaction. Be sure that you are present as they work through their thoughts and feelings, and provide a shoulder for them to lean on or talk to about how they’re handling the process.

Additionally, you and your adopted child need to spend time with one another so you can deepen your relationship. Take time each week to do something fun with one another, whether that’s catching the latest movie, making ice cream sundaes, or walking through the park together. Try to carve out time to create meaningful memories and be sure you’re engaging in activities your child is interested in.

One thing some adoptive families do to create a stronger tie is set times for you to sit down and eat dinner together as a family. These times when you can take a break from the stress of work, school, and other responsibilities and just spend time as a family can help you to develop a deeper bond. While family dinner might not be a possibility every night, it is important to carve out time each week to connect with your loved ones.

3. Create A Routine Together

Children crave routine and structure in their lives. For adopted children, this is especially true, as routine gives them the feeling of control over their lives and works to help them build trust in you. Creating a routine for your family can help your adopted child adjust more efficiently. Work together to build out the structure so that your child feels included in the process. Some ideas of routines you can create are:

    • Bedtime routines — What time do they need to be in bed? What is the nighttime routine for showers, brushing your teeth, and screen time as the evening goes by?
    • After-school routines — Do they need to finish their homework before watching TV? How long of a break do they have after getting home from school before they need to work on assignments?
    • Structure regarding playdates — What time do they need to be home from playdates during school days? Are they allowed to have friends over before homework is finished?
    • Chores — If your child is old enough, what chores are they responsible for around the house? Create a list and hold them accountable to completing these tasks.

One important thing is to create these routines and stick to them. Do you walk your child to school? Make it a habit to do this every morning. Does your child like to be read a bedtime story? Read one each night to establish a sense of normalcy. The repetition of routine gives your child’s life a sense of predictability, which can be comforting to a child who may have felt a great deal of unpredictability before joining your family.

4. Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Often when a child is brought into a new home, they can experience feelings of worries, frustrations, or nervousness. These complicated feelings look different from child to child but can often manifest as “acting out”, reluctance to open up, emotional outbursts, withdrawal, or rejecting affection.

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As a parent, you need to remember that this is not them expressing their dislike for you. Adoption is a complex situation, and it will take time and patience to help your child and family process this new change. Be patient with your kids as they adjust to the new family dynamic. Don’t pressure your child to act or react a certain way when it relates to expressing love and affection. The best you can do is ensure you are emotionally available and supportive of your child. Things will eventually fall into place. It just takes time and patience.

The best advice that we can give you is not to compare the progression of your relationship to that of other adoptive families.

Take a deep breath. Treat yourself with kindness. And, remember that it takes time and patience to develop into a loving and caring family. The important thing is that you are there and invested in establishing a healthy, lifelong relationship.

Are you looking for resources or other advice for adoptive families? NCHS is here to help! Our Families Forever program connects families formed through adoption with community resources, one-on-one support, and connections to mental health services to ensure your family thrives.

To learn more about our Families Forever program or work on deepening your family relationships, reach out to our team today.