There is perhaps no greater gift you can give to a child than the gift of a forever family, the treasure of a loving home. But as miraculous as it may be to expand your world and grow your heart by adopting a child, there is no denying that it is still a transition, not only for the child, but for every member of the family.
Therapy pets can make the entire process much easier. And if you’ve ever loved an animal, it’s probably not hard for you to understand why. Animals not only provide unconditional love and constant companionship, but they can be a tremendous source of comfort and consistency: reducing stress, decreasing anxiety, and providing stability in a time of great change.
A Difficult Journey
As joyful as adoption in itself may be, it often follows a deeply challenging, often traumatic, period in the child’s life. The child may have lost one or both parents; they may have been removed from their biological family because of severe dysfunction in the home, or parents may have voluntarily relinquished their rights.
No matter the cause, adopted children have experienced loss, grief, and uncertainty. Children may experience intense feelings of guilt and disloyalty as they settle into their new home, new life, and new family. The unfaltering love and acceptance of an animal can help children process these complex emotions and manage their transition.
Best of all, if you want to take the benefits of animal companionship to the next level for your child, you might consider registering your pet as an emotional support animal (ESA). This will require a letter of medical need from a physician or psychiatrist, but it can allow your child to bring their ESA with them to more places, including, potentially, the classroom. Knowing that their animal companion can be with them most, if not all, of the time can be tremendously reassuring, helping your child combat stress, anxiety, and depression whenever and wherever it may arise.
But it’s not just your child who will benefit. Newly adoptive parents will too. After all, adoption isn’t just stressful for the child. Adoptive parents face a significant transition as well. And on top of the stressors of expanding the family and making a welcoming home for your child, odds are you’re also facing significant financial stress.
The costs of adoption can rise into the tens of thousands of dollars, often requiring families to take on significant debt. And though it will all be more than worth it in the end, having a sweet four-legged friend to soothe you when life gets overwhelming can make all the difference in the world.
A House Into a Home
Let’s face it: every household is its own little universe. Every home is its own ecosystem. And it takes time for adopted children to adjust to the rhythm of the family. A pet can help tremendously with this as well.
After all, taking care of a pet requires a consistent routine. Giving your child age-appropriate chores in regard to their pet’s daily care will not only increase the bond between your little one and their pet, but it will also help them feel more at home. They’ll be able to see themselves as a contributing member of the household, a part of the rhythm of the family.
Best of all, a pet can truly transform a house into a home for your child. The way you feel about your physical environment, for example, has a profound impact on your mental health. But to come home every day to an adoring animal provides precisely the social enrichment that children may need to perceive their new home as a truly warm, welcoming, and inviting space, a place they cannot wait to get to at the end of a long day.
Animals are more than pets. They’re companions. They’re comforters. They’re counselors. And when you are in the process of adopting a child, they can be exactly what you and your child need to make the transition smoother, more peaceful, more loving than you could have ever imagined.