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Coming home with your adopted child

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

If you give birth, you have nine months to get used to the idea and your baby will have the same time to become familiar with you - your voice, your smell, maybe even the music you listen to. If you adopt, the process can take a great deal longer and your son or daughter will recognise, and be comforted by, things you may have no knowledge of.

The majority of children placed for adoption in the UK today have been taken into care because of chronic neglect, abuse or other family dysfunction. On average they will be three years nine months old and may already have experienced a number of different foster families.

Consequently, an adoptive family does face particular issues. So, how do you ensure that you get off on the right foot? Here are a number of tips which may help.


Discover as much as possible beforehand about your child. Social worker and play therapist Julia Davis from Adoptionplus tells BootsWebMD: "Find out as much as you can about the child from their foster carers, if they're in foster care. So, what their routine is like, what sort of foods they like, what helps them if they're unhappy.

"Do they like to have a cuddly blanket all the time; do they have a particular toy that makes them feel better? All those little things you can find out from their foster carers and, if you transfer those over into your adoptive home, that can really help children know that you know about them and know how to make them feel better if they're feeling wobbly or unhappy."

Fiona Strachan, adoptive mum of three and parent coach, tells us that smell is very important, so try and use the same (or similar smelling) shampoos, bubble bath and washing powder as were used in the last home your child was in. "I think anything that can help your child feel comfortable will help make the process a bit easier."

This also applies to food. You may want to serve brown bread and salmon fillet, but your child may feel happier with sliced white and a sausage. Fiona says you can always gradually revert to the things you prefer at a later date but try not to make too many changes too soon. Be sympathetic about where your child has come from and gradually weave your own lifestyle into their life.

She also says that it's possible children may regress a little when they first arrive in your home and you should try not to worry if they play with toys slightly younger than their peers, stop using 'sippy cups' or take a bit longer to potty train.

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