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Adoptive Parents: Tips for Bonding with Your Child

Adoptive Parents Bonding with ChildAlmost all adoptive parents have the same initial fear – will my child love me?

“The reality of adoption is that we share our beloved children with another family,” says Dawn Davenport, Creating a Family. “We want them to love their first family, truly we do, but the irrational part of our mind worries.”

This worry is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. “Truth be told, there is probably not a birth parent alive that doesn’t share these fears on some level as well,” says Davenport. However, it’s also nothing to really worry about either. “If we do our job well, their birth family will hold a special place in their heart, but so will we,” adds Davenport.

How to Better Bond with Your Newly Adopted Child

“Many adoptive parents are shocked and a little concerned when their child is finally placed in their home, yet they don’t feel an instant connection,” says Nora Sharp, MLJ Adoptions. But don’t worry. As The Supremes once said, “You can’t hurry love. No, you just have to wait.”

These things just take time. “With some patience, consistency and creativity, you and your child will slowly create that connection you both desire,” adds Sharp.

Sit Back and Relax – It Will Happen

The first thing you can do is just relax. “Forming a bond between you and your adopted child will take time,” says Sharp. “Don’t expect you and your child to be instantly bonded the second they walk through your door,” especially when dealing with an older child.

Adopting an older child is different than adopting a newborn. This is particularly true when it comes to forming a family bond. “The child needs to adjust to a whole new life,” says Dee Paddock, Rainbow Kids. And this takes time – days, weeks, and even months. “It takes a long time for the older adoptive child to make you his parents, your home his home. And it takes time, too, for you to make him ‘your’ child,” writes Candace Wheeler. “Often adoptive parents expect too much too soon, both of themselves and of the child.”

Open Up & Communicate

One of the simplest yet most impactful things you can do with your child is talk. “Be present and interact with him or her,” says Susan Kuligowski, Adoption.com. “Talk to your child often.” This not only helps establish a relationship, but also builds trust and is a great way to find common ground and shared interests. However, it is also important to respect a child’s space. “Remember,  it’s common for a toddler or older child to be shy when being transitioned into a new family,” says Kuligowski. “Don’t force a relationship. Be patient as you learn about one another.”

Take Time to Be a Family

While welcoming a new child into your family is an exciting time that extended family and friends want to be a part of, it is important to give your child time to adjust. This means privacy.

“Allowing a child to have their own space and privacy is important,” says Sharp, “especially for an older child or teen. By giving them some space to call their own, this will allow them to become comfortable in your home, and eventually let their guard down.”

Create a Routine

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to create a routine – a set structure to the day. This means waking up at the same time, eating meals at the same times, and going to bed at the same time. “Children coming from foster care/institutions crave structure and routines,” says Sharp. “It helps give them a sense of control and allows them to develop trust.” This type of routine will help normalize your situation and allow your child to grow more comfortable in his or her new environment.

Normalize the Situation

While it’s important to create a routine, it is also important to have fun!

“Spending some time every day playing with your child can help create a connection and build your relationship,” say Sharp. “Whether it’s playing a simple game of blocks with a younger child or a board game with an older child, taking your time to engage with them in a fun activity will help build your attachment.” Other great ways to grow as a family include:

  • Taking a Family Photo: “Having a picture of you and your child near their bed will help reaffirm every night when they go to sleep and every morning when they wake up that they are part of your family now,” says Sharp.
  • Find a Common Interest: “Do activities together,” advises Sharp. “Teach the child how to do something you love: cooking, gardening, fishing, a favorite sport. They may end up enjoying the activity, creating a shared interest!”

Do You Have Adoption Questions or Need Someone to Talk To?

Adoption Makes Family is here to help! We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. Our adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.

24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100

Adoption Makes Family was founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal.

If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at dr.kirschner@adoptionmakesfamily.org or use our online contact form.

Sources

  1. Davenport, Dawn. “Will My Adopted Child Love Me As Much As If I Was His Birth Mom?” Creating a Family, 2 Apr. 2018, creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/will-my-adopted-child-love-me-as-much-as-if-i-was-his-birth-mom/.
  2. Kuligowski, Susan. “5 Ways to Create a Strong Bond With Your Adopted Child.” Adoption.com, adoption.com/5-ways-to-create-a-strong-bond-with-your-adopted-child.
  3. Sharp, Nora. “Eight Attachment Techniques to Use with Your Adopted Child -.” MLJ Adoptions, 21 Aug. 2014, www.mljadoptions.com/blog/eight-attachment-techniques-to-use-with-your-adopted-child-20140820.
  4. Wheeler, Candace. “Adopting an Older Child.” Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, mare.org/For-Families/New-to-Adoption/Adopting-an-Older-Child.
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