Finding healthy ways to bond with your adopted baby is a huge part in the initial stage of parenthood. Especially for first time adoptive parents. There are many books and resources available that will suggest “the best ways.” But, the reality is that every adoption experience is different. While there may be some common denominators, every parent and child share a unique attachment. Thus, there is no true secret or magical ingredient. Establishing an attachment and building a relationship with your adopted baby takes time.
Adoption Choices of New York is here to suggest our 10 ways to healthfully bond with your adopted baby. We hope that it provides you with insightful ideas and helpful guidance. If there are other methods you’ve heard about, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments.
10. Set Predictable Routines
There’s something about settling into a predictable routine every day that provides comfort and stability. Through this, we learn what to expect, and to lean on the promise that our needs will be met no matter what. It’s the same for your baby. Infants thrive on routines, because they aren’t able to care for themselves. They need to know that they will be fed, changed and loved throughout the day. So, if all their activities occur along the same pattern, they will learn that they can trust you as their parent. As a result of this security, a healthy bond between you and your adopted baby.
9. Promote Family Involvement
Are there other children in your household already? Older or younger — encourage them to get involved. This can help them bond with their new sibling as well, and speed along your adopted baby’s adjustment process. Have them play together. Before your baby arrives, get your other children’s input with potential names. Make sure that none of your children ever feel left out. A fear that biological children can feel is that you might favor the adopted baby more than them. So, promoting family involvement will diminish this and strengthen the bonding experience.
8. Start New Traditions
We all like having things to look forward to, right? What were things you used to excitedly wait for as a child? Now, put yourself in your baby’s shoes. He or she no doubt is similar in this way. So, give them something to anticipate. Start a new tradition when they become a part of your family. For instance, why not celebrate their Adoption Day each year? Make a day of it! Pack up a picnic, or plan a special trip that surrounds something from their culture or heritage. Doing this will make them feel important, special, and loved and will enhance your bond with them.
7. Encourage Their Growth
Along those same lines, try to see through your child’s eyes when they are discovering things about themselves. What they like, what they don’t. Encourage them in their exploration, and support what he or she has stronger inclinations towards. This period in their life is very important; they are searching for what will eventually define them and give them their sense of self-worth.
If your son or daughter shows an aptitude for reading early on, be sure to have books around that they can read and enjoy. When they are older, take them to a bookstore and let them pick out their own selections. Have them visit a library. Teach them about borrowing books and how to apply for a library card.
If they show they have a passion for animals, add in a trip to the zoo. Do they love to dance and sing? Play music and have a dance party with them. All these and more are healthy ways for you to bond with your adopted baby.
6. Be Sensitive to Their Needs
Grief always accompanies adoption, and it unfortunately doesn’t disappear with time. It remains with them, and rears its head throughout their lifetime. Usually at defining moments in their development, or around major events. Holidays, educational achievements, personal accomplishments or milestones. Instances like this can cause some adoptees to isolate. To feel ashamed or guilty. Be sensitive during these moments, and let your son or daughter know that they can always come to you and talk about it and ask questions.
In their infancy, shower your baby with love, kisses and cuddles. Respond to their cries promptly, and comfort them during sleepless nights. Bond with them through hugs and rocking them in your arms. Tell them every day how happy you are that they are part of your family.
5. Don’t Take it Personally
If your baby refuses to eat, sleep or cuddle — try not to take it personally. It has nothing to do with your parenting abilities. Rather, it is part of them grieving and adjusting to their new life with you. Take it one day at a time. Their behavior will gradually improve and pass within a few weeks or months. Let them know that they are safe with you. That everything is ok. The more you love them through this process, the stronger your bond with your adopted baby will be.
4. Talk About Adoption
From day one, implement the language of adoption into your daily conversations. Getting your baby used to hearing words pertaining to adoption is important. It will take out the strange or uncomfortable nature of the subject for them in later years. They will feel safer about bringing it up and asking questions. Be sure that you assure your child right away that it’s ok to talk about adoption. That if there’s anything they want to know about themselves or their birth family that you support them wholeheartedly. That it’s ok and natural to be curious.
Many prospective adoptive parents wonder when and how they should share their child’s adoption story with them. For best results, don’t wait. Share it with them right away. Never pretend that your son or daughter didn’t have a life before you. That will cause irrevocable damage, and hurt the bond you could have with them. Your child’s adoption story is a part of them, and is what makes them different from being a biological part of your family. Knowing that it’s ok to talk about, and having open lines of communication surrounding adoption is vital.
3. Make Eye Contact
In their infancy and younger years, Peek-A-Boo is great way to promote eye contact. It’s a way to communicate “I see you” and “I’m here” when they are first understanding everything around them. Eye contact provides stability, security and comfort, and is a great and healthy way to establish a bond between you and your child.
What’s more, a lot can be said via eye contact. Be sure to do this as frequently as you can. Don’t be shy, but also don’t rush or force it. When your child is drinking from his or her bottle, for instance, gently smile and meet their gaze. Kiss their forehead at bedtime, and say loving phrases while looking in their eyes. Science has proven that eye-to-eye contact stimulates attachment.
2. Give it Time
Remember that it takes time to build a relationship. Adopted or not. So don’t try to rush bonding with your adopted baby. Attachment cannot be forced, as trust is something that can only be earned. As long as you remain consistent, open and honest, your child will learn that they can safely attach themselves to you.
1. Always Be There
No matter what, the number one way to healthfully bond with your adopted baby is through always being there for them. Rain or shine. Day or night. One of the burdens of being an adopted child is the constant fear of abandonment. This isn’t your fault, and isn’t the fault of the birth mother either. It just happens and never goes away. So, always, always be there for your adopted son or daughter.
Healthy Ways to Bond with Your Adopted Baby
You may think that too much attention will make your baby feel spoiled, or grow up to demand more. Ironically, it’s just the opposite. Bonding with your adopted baby while they are young will make them feel secure and help them grow into independent, responsible adults. The more safe and secure your son or daughter feels growing up, the more self-reliant they will be become. The more confidence they will feel about branching out and spreading their wings. Their need for attention will also diminish, and your bond will change into a well-rounded, mature parent-child relationship.
Adoption Choices of New York
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of New York.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
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Solchany, JoAnne. “12 Ways to Form a Healthy Attachment with Your Adopted Child.” BabyCenter, www.babycenter.com/0_12-ways-to-form-a-healthy-attachment-with-your-adopted-child_1374194.bc.
WhattoExpect. “Bonding With Your Adopted Child.” Whattoexpect, WhattoExpect, 15 Feb. 2019, www.whattoexpect.com/family/bonding-with-your-adopted-child.aspx.
Www.facebook.com/canadaadopts. “10 Great Ways Adoptive Parents Can Bond With Their Child.” Canada Adopts, 29 Jan. 2015, www.canadaadopts.com/10-great-ways-adoptive-parents-can-bond-child/.