Bringing a child into the family always requires a period of transition as the entire family gets used to the new member. Whether you have other children or not, building a solid connection with your new son or daughter is essential to his or her development and to the unity of your family.
There are many ways to build that bond with your child. Here are some of our favorites. Obviously, you’ll have your own traditions and family bonding ideas. Try out as many as you can. You’ll find the ones that feel right.
Talk About the Adoption
By keeping the lines of communication open from the very beginning, you develop a level of comfort in talking about it with your child. When your child is ready, he/she can ask questions and you’ll be ready to answer them. As he/she gets older, a more formal sit-down discussion won’t feel awkward – as it might if you never spoke about the adoption until then.
This openness also builds trust and communication, which is important in all aspects of your parent-child relationship.
A lack of touch has long been known to cause developmental delays in children. Cuddle, hug, hold hands, give high fives, make eye contact, and rub your child’s back frequently. Touching builds trust, enhances your bond, and offers a form of communication.
Developing family traditions in which each member plays an important role can bring you closer as a family. This is enjoyable not only during the event itself, but also with the anticipation leading up to it. You might draw upon your own family traditions as well as create some new ones after you adopt a child.
We often think of traditions revolving around holidays, and those are important, but we don’t have to settle for once or twice a year. Consider weekly and monthly options like these:
Game Nights: Each week, allow someone new to choose the game.
Movie Nights: At home, the kids can get involved with choosing the movie and making the popcorn.
Evening Walks: Weather permitting, a walk around the neighborhood provides an opportunity for exercise and communication about your day or what you see as you stroll. Starting this when the child is still an infant allows for a seamless integration as she grows old enough to walk.
Family Dinners: The entire family can get involved with planning, shopping, and preparing the feast.
Mini-Vacations: Yearly summer vacations are wonderful bonding opportunities, but so are monthly day trips to nearby attractions like parks, museums, festivals, and other events.
Build an Extended Family
Make sure your biological family as well as your friends and neighbors are introduced to your child. In some instances, you might need to remind a well-meaning friend to refer to him as your son rather than your adopted son. This network of love and support is important in any family, and making your child a part of a rich community increases his feelings of love and belonging.
Respond to Your Child’s Needs
This article from UC Davis Medical Center says you don’t have to worry about spoiling your infant by responding to his cries. Instead, providing that comfort as it’s needed can lead to a more confident toddler.
If the child is older when you bring her home, learn as much as you can about her likes and dislikes. Give her the opportunity to do activities she enjoys. Even simple things, like providing a toothbrush in her favorite color or making her favorite foods, can help her understand that you’re listening to her and that you love her.
Every relationship is different, and building a connection can take time. Stay consistent with touch, traditions, and everything else you do to strengthen your bond, even if it doesn’t seem to be working or if it seems like your child is too young to notice. The connection you’re creating forms a foundation that you will continue to build upon as a family for years to come.