If you have a child older than 5 I'd suggest taking the class to listen to the whole hour. I took a few notes and here's some little tidbits that I took away with me. (*please remember that well adjusted, healthy kids exist in the adoption world, but they don't make great seminar material, so don't freak out too much at the scary possibilities. they are real, but they are only possibilities.)
- The biggie rule of the whole seminar is to MAKE TIME FOR EVERYONE. I know you don't have time. But your only job in life this year is to spend time with every member of your household every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. Nothing else matters. Soccer doesn't matter. Coffee with your girlfriend doesn't matter. Your blog doesn't matter. Some suggestions included taking a typical child out of school for half a day to go for ice cream. Or stagger bedtimes so that everyone gets a personal goodnight. We started implementing that one last night and my oldest loves it already. Bonus, he slept in an extra half hour today too.
- Expect the adopted child to act younger than their chronological age. Neglect, trauma, institutionalization, and malnutrition play a part in stunting various bits of their growth. The teacher gave an example of an 8 year old with the coping skills of a 3 year old. You know how 3 year olds are kinda mean? Yeah, they are. Look at my little 3 year old.
I know you'd never believe it by looking at her, but sometimes she throws fits. Wailing, hitting anything within arms reach, throwing toys across the room. Well, imagine an 8 year old doing that. So there were some ideas on how to protect the others during tantrums, like having a safe spot that they can play while the adopted child works out a tantrum.
- Sharing rooms - believe me, this one was a little sad for me... She recommended (probably pretty wisely) that new kid doesn't need to share a room with the others for a while after they get home. I have total fantasies of the double girl room for Abs and her new sister. Visions of them jumping on their coordinating, but not matching beds... But, it's not suggested until we understand the nature and personality of the new child. Some are sexually active at shockingly young age (at no fault of their own, of course), but still it's something that needs to be investigated before we explore that room sharing idea. The exception was if your kids are old enough and mature enough to come tell you immediately (example = 12 year old and a 7 year old, or something like that).
- Give the typical kids a non-caregiving job to help out, like teaching new sister how to play with legos. It's a learned skill.
There were so many great points made in this seminar, I can't recommend it enough if you have other kids in the house with you. I thought it would be mostly common sense stuff, but I definitely picked up some tips that I think will make the transition smoother.