Vacationing With Adopted or Foster Children

As parents to adopted or foster children, you are responsible not only for their physical and emotional well-being, but for their healthy development on all levels as well. Nothing is more important to these children than stability, feeling that they are truly part of a loving and happy family. A vacation is the perfect way to bond and have a fun and memorable family experience. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly how to plan the perfect vacation to suit everyone. You want to be sure the kids have a great time and come away with wonderful memories. Before you stress yourself out with worry to the point that YOU don’t enjoy your vacation, take some time and think about what you can do to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone – yourself included.

Plan Ahead

First and foremost, take care of any official necessities and get them out of the way.  Book your travel plans as early as possible to maximize savings.  Travel discount sites such as Kayak are handy one stop shop sites.  At least 2 weeks prior to your trip, contact any case workers, social workers, court-related personnel, etc, with the details of your vacation and gain permission where needed involving foster children. If you are going to be traveling to a different climate make sure you are aware of any potential medical issues the child may have in regards to such a change and prepare accordingly, with allergy medications, sunblock, etc. If the natural parents are still involved, they may refuse to allow the child to travel with you. Each situation is very different so make sure you cover all bases and protect yourself and the child in every way. Once you get the all-clear, make sure you write down the names, numbers, and titles of all officials involved in the child’s case and keep them on hand throughout your vacation in case of an emergency or in case any questions arise.

Build Excitement!

Once the official stuff is taken care of, it’s time for some fun! Spend some time talking with each child one-on-one about the upcoming vacation and find out what they want to do most.  You can also do research online to find inspiration.  When I was researching things to do in Las Vegas with kids I discovered this great list providing Las Vegas attractions for kids. While it may not be possible to do everything they suggest (hang-gliding may be out of the question), more than likely there is something the two of you can plan that will make this a memorable experience for them for the rest of their lives. Talk to them and take into consideration as well any fears they may have regarding things such as large bodies of water (a trip to the ocean can be a very intimidating experience for a child who has never been there before, and they may become afraid), or camping outdoors at night. You don’t want to be in the moment and find out only then that your child is afraid. Talk beforehand and prepare the child for the experience, and make every effort to help them through it. With your patience and support they just may overcome their fear and find something new and exciting to enjoy!

Capture the Moment!

Be sure to take lots of pictures, and in this day and age of digital everything, follow up the vacation with some actual prints in a little photo album for the child. Something he can look at any time and keep forever; a touchstone of sorts.
Above all, relax and enjoy your family time. Don’t have unrealistic expectations that absolutely everything will go perfectly. Things happen, situations arise, and kids will always be kids. They are just like us and have good days and bad, they can feel cranky and irritable (especially when tired), and they get sick unexpectedly. Be prepared for any eventuality and don’t overreact and let it ruin the entire vacation for everyone. Roll with the punches and remember that as long as no one loses their life or a limb, pretty much anything else can be dealt with and put away. Remember, your kids are watching your reactions at all times, especially to the stressful stuff. Teach them how to handle things constructively and show them that family is the most important thing and that nothing is going to detract from that. Those memories will become life lessons thanks to you.

Top 10 Must-know Tips for Adopted Parents

Adopting a child may be a straightforward legal process but what many parents do not know that the real work comes when living with him or her. Although your lawyer or agency may give you ideas on how to make the new member of the family feel welcome, you cannot rely on that alone. Luckily, the following tips and advice for adoptive parents will help not only in simplifying the process but also making him or her feel comfortable.

Ensure You Are Ready?

Adopting means bringing and accepting someone new into the family. It is a lifetime commitment that you are making and, therefore, you must ensure that you are ready. Note that a number of people view adoption as failure to get a child. This means that you should be able to look beyond what people will say or think.

Know the Costs

Adopting costs vary depending on the mode of adoption that you want. These costs can go as high as $30,000 if you are after a child from outside the country. There are also different ways of defraying these costs, and you also need to be conversant with them.

Get an Adoption Lawyer

Not just any lawyer can help you through the adoption process. This is why you must look for one who specializes in adoption. Hiring an expert will not only make the process simple but also ensure that the law is followed to the latter as you get the child.

Keep Realistic Expectations

Parents have many expectations about the child they are expecting. Many adoptive parents have different fantasies about the child but if these expectations are not realistic, then bonding with the child may not be that easy. You need to understand institutionalized have different behaviors from those living with relatives or even parents. Furthermore, keep your expectations in line with the age of the child you are adopting.

Anticipate the Child’s Needs

These tips for adopted parents cannot be complete without talking about understanding the child’s needs. Children come with different needs that vary depending on their age and background. However, you need to be able to anticipate these needs and meet them.

Communication is Key

Once the child is already in the family, you need to be a clear communicator. If you have a slightly older child, ensure that you not only listen attentively but also provide clear and simple instructions. This should not just end with you but the entire family.

Build a Connection

It is also important to develop a good relationship with your adopted child. It is this relationship that also contributes to how comfortable and safe the child will feel. You can also look for local cultural programs that will help the child connect with his or her culture.

Revisit Missed Developmental Stages

This is critical if you are adopting a child who is over one year. Children of this age are likely to have missed out on a number of developmental activities, and you have to identify and offer them. Do not be afraid that this regress the child as it will give the child time to bond with you.

Use Humor and Silliness

Dealing with an adopted child can be a little difficult in the beginning. There are times when the kid may be singing badly or even making a purposeful mess. During such times, humor and sometimes a silly smile can help you cope and let him enjoy his or her moment. However, do not let this compromise discipline and good behavior.

Be Prepared with Your Child’s Story

There is still stigma associated with adopted families. However, this should not prevent you from having and telling your child’s adoption story not only to him or her but anyone else who wants to hear it. This story can also help in strengthening the bond with the child and making him or her feel appreciated in the family.

Adoption Advice: How to Parent an Adopted Teenager

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The normal development of a youth during their teenage years is to form an identity separate from their parents. This is also the time they will learn and use adult life skills. When a child is adopted during this time, it adds a whole new level of complexity to the normal development process. This can affect even those children who were adopted as infants. Knowing how to parent an adopted child takes a different mindset than for birth children. How much they know about their birth family varies as does the amount of contact that may be allowed. These components as well as how much they understand their adoptive history, can have an effect and influence in their development.

How to parent an adopted teenager is to know about these concerns and to be aware that they may affect how the teenager develops. From the ages of 13 through 19, teenagers experience a fast physical and hormonal growth. They will begin to develop physical features that make them look grown up, but do not be fooled, they are still children. While being adopted does not affect brain development, early experiences in life does. There are early life conditions also that can affect the brain or influence the way it develops like; alcohol, drugs or neglect. How you can parent an adopted teenager is to:

  • Expose them to healthy non-academic social activities. Have reasonable limits on isolated or indifferent activities. Adopted children need to spend quality and healthy time with their parents. They need to build attachment and security with their family.
  • If you see signs of struggle in the school environment, ask for a disability assessment. Make sure you work with the teachers, counselors and especially your child to find helpful strategies to relieve these struggles.

Teenagers, not just adopted teens, have struggles figuring out where they belong, and who they are. They have to decide what their beliefs are, what they want to be and what career they will pursue. As they figure out who they are, they have to discover how they fit into their family and with their parents. They may start to define themselves in different hair and clothing style. Allowing them some leeway in these expressions is important. How to parent an adopted child going through this phase may bring about even deeper expressions of being different. For the adopted teen to form an identity is more difficult as they may have different cultures in their background and almost certainly different family styles. Giving your teen as much information as you have will not only give them a sense of where they came from, but it will establish a bond of communication between the two of you.

Give your adopted teen a balanced view of their biological family. If you have the information, giving both faults and strengths about the birth parents is important. How to parent an adopted teenager in regards to birth parent information is to avoid agreeing when they criticize their birth family or the adoption process. Their critical thinking skills are just forming and at this time in their development they may be extremely judgmental of others.

Raising an adopted child is very rewarding. There may days of challenges, but with open communication, supervision and guidance, parents of adopted teenagers can help them become happy productive adults. How to parent an adopted teenager is to respect them and their history. This respect will be returned to you in a healthy, happy son or daughter.