When I write about adopting an older child my definition is any child who is walking and talking when we become their adoptive parents. By the time a child is walking and talking, they are thinking and remembering too, and in most cases, their life before becoming our child was completely different. When I have started new schools or a new job usually, I receive some packet of information that outlines the rules and expectations. Most of us find comfort in this information when we start something new. If a child is old enough to walk and talk, then the child will also find comfort in the same kind of information about their new home and family.
Imagine being hired for the job of your dreams! On the first morning you arrive at the office and everyone greats you with open arms, shows you where everything is and sets you up at your desk. Your are expected to do the job you were hired for, but no one seems to have any information about how your company does things. You look around and notice your co-workers all use some strange stick to type with, instead of their fingers. There is a stick at your desk but you don’t have a clue why or what to do with it? It would be nice if someone at your job would bother to help you understand how to do your job and what method it should be done. It would be nice to at least have an information packet.
Imagine how a child feels walking in the front door of their dream family and being greeted with smiles, hugs and love but without a clue about what the rules, customs and standards are or what was expected.
Adoptive parents who sit down together before their older child is placed and create a set of house rules and expectations are not rigid or domineering–they are loving. Depending on the age, the child is at the time of placement, adoptive parents should attempt to have some kind of visual aid for children to use and learn to understand the rules and customs of their forever families. Younger children may like charts and graphs. For pre-teens and teenagers some adoptive families post the House Rules, or have signed contracts.
The important thing to tell children is that periodically the House Rules are reviewed and sometimes changes are made. Children who can follow the rules will be given more opportunity to help change them and gain privileges, children who don’t follow them may need more rules added later. The House Rules are just about everyone understanding what is expected and what their job is in the house and in the family.
Later today look for my Blog about some of the true goals adoptive parents have when using House Rules.