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Family law: Helping toddlers adapt to adoption

Many New Jersey parents expand their family sizes by adopting children from other countries. Sometimes, such parents share similar ethnic backgrounds as their adopted kids, but not always. Most families who adopt children through family law centers go through adjustment periods after they bring their children home.  

Just as birth families may encounter challenges after parents bring newborns home from the hospital, adoptive parents may also struggle from time to time, especially if their children are toddlers who cannot fully express their emotions. The good news is that there are several ways parents can help adopted children adapt to their new surroundings. By knowing where to seek support, parents can usually overcome most obstacles that arise.  

Many children adopted into families in the United States have come from backgrounds that include dire circumstances, such as violence or poverty. Such children often fear starvation and may exhibit signs of anxiety where food is concerned. Parents can help alleviate their adopted toddlers' stress by allowing them to keep snacks in their room or to carry food with them wherever they go.  

Like birth children, adopted children need discipline; however, adoptive parents should be leery of typical means of discipline that may stress their children, such as putting them on timeout if they misbehave. Adopted children sometimes feel as though they don't fit in and sending them off to be alone as a form of punishment may cause them to feel further isolated from their new families. It may be best to provide children in such situations more time with parents, not less. When legal issues are the source of adoption stress, New Jersey parents may tap into local family law resources for support.     

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