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Adoptive Family Stages of Growth

Every family has its bumps in the road. At those times, it's helpful to remember that it's normal to have challenges and to know what to expect.

family walking in field

Stages in Growing Together as a Family

  • Norming: If I act like the perfect child, I can stay.
  • Storming: Will they keep me if I show who I really am?
  • Forming: I am feeling like a part of this family.
  • Reforming: Who am I? What parts of my birth family and my forever family do I want to make a part of me?
  • Transforming: I am an interesting person who is from two families.

Guidelines for weathering a storm

  • Recognize the signs of a storm approaching (What does your child look like when a situation is escalating?)
  • Are there younger children you need to route somewhere else?
  • Make sure everyone knows the plan for how to handle storms and sticks to it.
  • Know how to hold an out-of-control child without anyone getting hurt. Know how to calm yourself through relaxation or deep breathing.
  • Use each storm as an opportunity to learn new ways of communicating, negotiating and problem-solving.
  • Connect with other adoptive parents and lean on them for advice and support.
  • Avoid power struggles. Choose your battles carefully.
  • Limit the other things you need to do. Rest in your free time.
  • Keep your sense of humor and optimism.
  • As you identify a counselor, make sure they are adoption competent.

Myths and Realities of Sibling Adoptions