How To Bond With Your Adopted Child:
Studies show that bonding starts in the womb. A baby becomes familiar with mama’s heartbeat, smell, and sounds. And then that bonding continues on as breastfeeding happens and mom and dad respond to every need that the baby has. A bonded child creates confident, stable, and grounded adults. For an adopted child, this has been disrupted and that creates a huge heartbreaking loss. This is why bonding with your adopted child is so important. Now, you are mom and they need you to help them heal and build that confidence and stability.
Here’s how to bond with your adopted child and what to expect in the first few months of them being home:
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The honeymoon phase:
This honeymoon phase is normal for a new child entering a family! This is a phase where they are still getting to know you and are agreeable and easy to get along with. Typically, many children begin to test boundaries and express themselves more when they are comfortable. This is normal, but be prepared! Get your heart, feelings, and mind ready for the day that this happens. It’s just like any other relationship. Be ready to respond with patience and a safe environment. You can check out our tips on how to create a safe environment here: Parenting An Adopted Child.
Cocoon in your home:
So many professionals suggest cocooning in your home for the first few months when you bring your child home. This is especially important for young children and the promotion of attachment and bonding.
For our family, we were blessed by a move that took us to rural Oklahoma shortly after our adoption. In this time we saw our daughter grow incredibly secure in her relationship with us as we were her prime source of interaction and love. This was a very healing season for our family!
For activities to do as you cocoon check out Greatest Family Games For All Ages.
Celebrating differences, heritage, and color:
This is such an important concept for adoptive families to remember. Bringing a child into your home, no matter their age is still bringing a human that craves a sense of belonging and recognition. Celebrating their heritage, hair type, skin color, or ethnicity allows your child to explore and become confident in their identity. In our home, we celebrate by always talking about visiting Haiti (the birth country of our daughter) braiding, twisting, and beading her beautiful curly hair, and eating Haitian food on holidays like Easter, Filipino food on Christmas, and American food on Thanksgiving. It’s one of our family’s favorite traditions!
Addressing the birth family:
This can be such a struggle for many adoptive families, being soft-hearted and open-minded to their questions is really important. Children want to know where they come from and who they come from. If you answer these questions to the best of your ability in age-appropriate ways it allows your child to always know their identity and be secure in who they are. Many children will leave home when they are adults to see their birth family. If you address it and help them discover their roots before this time it takes away the need to discover it. They already know.
Becoming faithful and fearless
This is your child! Now is the time to be fully committed no matter what road is taken. This means celebrating your child, defending your child, and advocating for your child. This video has amazing perspectives from all different kinds of adoptees. The information is valuable and I have personally heard and seen these answers over and over again! Always let your child know that you are on their side- they need your commitment and loyalty!
Address the heart not the behavior:
Y’all, we keep talking about trauma behavior. I know it! And I’ve lived it. Keep in mind as you navigate this new world with your child that their responses don’t tend to make sense. They’re struggling, and you need to be ready because there are days that are discouraging. Oftentimes, these behaviors can overwhelm and cover the real work that needs to be done. The heart work. As your child acts out, try to keep in mind that this is a symptom of the healing that needs to take place. A meltdown over a change in schedule is not because of a bad attitude but because of a fear of the unknown change. These books have GREATLY encouraged and refined my parenting as we’ve hit these hard days:
Loving the kid you have not the one you wish you had:
Adoption so often is romanticized. We forget the heartbreak that comes along with this amazing decision. I was convicted a few months ago when listening to a podcast about parenting the child God blessed me with. Many of us have unfulfilled childhood dreams that we try to live out in our children. Maybe it’s the son that loves construction that you are trying to parent as if they were an attorney. You can’t change the talents that the Lord blessed your child with.
Notice the part where it says “in the way he should go”? Train your ballerina up as a ballerina that loves Jesus! For the many adopted children that have experienced life in a difficult way, train them up in the way that God created them to be.
Create all the memories that you can. The first year or 2 after we brought our daughter home she would ask questions like “did I use that car seat too?” All 3 other kids used the same car seat, the same sippy cup, breastfed and slept in our bed. You name it, we had a memory for the first few years of their life and they were different than her’s. I often found myself having to say, “yes, everyone else used that, no, you didn’t get to use that.” That was hard for her to hear and hard for me to say.
How to create the memories:
So we started creating our own memories. We made little traditions like for every birthday we gave them their gift the day before their actual birthday so that a memory of mom and dad was created and special. We were silly and put her in the baby car seat so that in 3 years she could ask, “did I ever use that car seat?” And I could say, “yea! All of you sat in that silly baby car seat.” It’s been important to her, and now when she asks, we have lots of memories of all of them together doing the same stuff.
Treasure the moments:
These moments are fleeting. In the middle of it all it seems like normal daily activities and then 3 years down the road you realize how much everyone has changed and the mundane moments become treasured memories. Be intentional about treasuring those memories. Write them down, record them with pictures. In our home, any time we take a trip I take tons of pictures and put them in an album for them to flip through. My kids love the albums and really treasure the memories that were made.
For other fun activities check out this article by Fablemoon says! Top Ideas For Family Bonding Time
For more adoptive or parenting tips be sure to visit us at Grace This Place!