Airport Homecomings

January 3, 2019 justinwalters Blog

Many people may have prayed for and waited for the moment they get to meet your little one, but I would like to take a moment to remind you and your family and friends of the big picture of adoption. We encourage everyone (including the parents) to keep the child’s best interest in mind. For family and friends, this may mean they need to be patient and willing to provide help and support from a distance, initially. The first time that your child is exposed to your family and friends may be at the airport when you arrive home with your child. Please use these suggestions to help you prepare your loved ones for this potentially overwhelming celebration for your child.

Tips for Parents:

* Limit people at airport if possible (try not to post your arrival time on social media)

* Set expectations with family and friends before you leave (don’t be loud, don’t approach child, no hugs, no holding the child, no extended conversations, don’t get on their level)

* Have in country translator tell the older children what to expect

* Have a couple of advocates at airport to remind/reinforce what guidelines have been established by the parents

* Parents be aware of your child’s emotional state (know when they are overwhelmed, when to leave, or if they are doing okay)

* Be willing to remove yourself from the joyous celebration if it is not healthy for your child

* Only the parents should give things (food, drink, gifts) to the child

* Parents should approach individuals with their child instead of allowing visitors to approach them (begin with the siblings and then no more than one or two people at once)

* Hold the child facing you and not outwards toward the crowd

* For older children, hold the child’s hand at all times or keep your arm around them to keep them close

* Make consistent eye contact with the child during the homecoming as they are meeting people

* Try to stand slightly in front of your child to keep distance between the visitor and child

* Introduce visitors to your child

What Family & Friends Can Do:

* Be at airport but stand back and observe quietly (allow the adoptive family to approach you)

* Help the family with luggage

* Help reinforce the family’s wishes to not overwhelm their child

* Organize a semi-circle of prayer for the family (remembering to give the parents and child space)

* Decorate their house

* Stock the refrigerator

* Create a welcome home basket

* Write encouraging notes for the family to read daily

Reasons:

* This is one of, if not the biggest, transition time in your child’s life. Be aware of their needs and how overwhelmed they easily can feel (just because a child looks “okay” or “attached” does not mean they are, they may simply be scared)

* This is one of the most vulnerable times in your child’s life (they do not understand the need for a crowd)

* Reinforce attachment/bonding by not letting everyone bombard your child and by not letting anyone else hold your child

* The child needs to learn proper stranger anxiety (remember everyone is a stranger to them at this point and many children may exhibit signs of indiscriminate affection)

* Initial expectation for family and friends can be set at the airport (what you allow/don’t allow there will set the tone for future encounters)

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