Adopting a child will be one of the most significant changes you will experience in your life. Not only are you welcoming an adopted child into your home, but you are also providing a child with a loving, stable environment they may otherwise have not had.
You may be feeling a mix of emotions – happiness, excitement, maybe even stress or anxiety. It is normal to feel somewhat worried about family bonding after an adoption, especially if you are adopting an older child or fostering to adopt. But we promise it will all be worth it in the end.
BONDING STARTS BEFORE THE ADOPTION
Preparing yourself to bond with your child should be work that starts before placement even occurs. This will help you be prepared for issues that might occur based on the various circumstances of the adoption. For international adoptions it might be a language barrier, it might be dealing with trauma, loss, and grief. It can also be how you will begin the work to integrate a new child into your immediate family and extended family. It may be how you as a parent prepare yourself to explain why your adopted child may not look like you. It may also be how you as an adoptive parent become culturally sensitive and inclusive when trying to adopt a child from a different culture. It could even be preparing yourself and your home to care for a child with disabilities. It is important to examine this on a circumstantial basis and to talk to your caseworker to best prepare for bonding.
Continue reading to learn about ways that you can bond with your adopted child after they are in your care.
BONDING TIP #1: MAKE AN EFFORT TO LEARN ABOUT THE CHILD
Although it may be tough to get your newly adopted child to open up, especially since they may be shy to a new parent or have experienced traumatic life events, it’s best to show interest in them and their likes and dislikes. By doing this, it will help you better understand them, and as a result, will make you feel closer to them. Likewise, if a child recognizes that you’ve made them Mikey Mouse-shaped pancakes because they love Disney or bought them ice cream because it’s their favorite food, it will make the child more comfortable with you and allow them to open up.
BONDING TIP #2: STICK TO A ROUTINE
Every child craves a routine, whether they express it or not. Once a routine is learned, it can give a child a sense of accomplishment and control. Over time, the routine can help build trust with the child and their parent(s). Adding in or adjusting your routine to fit your child’s needs can also help build trust faster, such as reading a book before bed every night, going to the park once or twice a week, and other exciting things to work into their routine.
BONDING TIP #3: ESTABLISH PERMANENCY
A lot of older children that are up for adoption have experienced some trauma, to say the least, in their lifetime. They may have jumped from foster homes, or have never truly had one trustworthy caretaker. Establishing permanency is key to building trust and overall bonding with your child. You don’t ever want them to worry about losing you, or about leaving their new life. And they may worry about that due to their past.
When your child is acting out, it’s important to remind them that even when they misbehave, that you still love them, even though you don’t appreciate their behavior at that moment. This will allow space for your child to heal and trust and most importantly, feel safe and secure with you in their life, even when they do act up.
BONDING TIP #4: HAVE FAMILY-FUN DAYS
Just as you would with any of your children, adopted or not, the best way to bond with them is to have fun! This can be as simple as playing dress-up with them in the yard or as extravagant as taking them on vacation. Some other family-fun activities include:
- Going to an amusement park
- Having a picnic
- Going on a scavenger hunt or a hike
- Going camping (age permitting)
- Playing video game tournaments, board games or cards
- Taking a day trip to the lake or beach
- Partaking in winter activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, tubing, or sledding
BONDING TIP #5: SURROUND YOUR CHILD WITH LOVE
Surrounding your new child with love is the best way to make them feel secure, safe, and happy! You will love your new adopted child just as if they are your own. Attachment from the child will come with time and will vary depending on their age and their past experiences. It’s important to make them constantly feel loved, without overly parenting or hovering them, as they need space and time to adjust.
Making sure to remind them that you love them verbally or physically, such as giving them a hug when they leave for school or writing them a note in their lunch can help form the bond you desire. You can make your child feel loved other ways as well, such as allowing them to be a decision-maker in family decisions, sharing toys with children (especially if you have other kids), letting them decorate their new room, celebrating their “gotcha day” and other signs of love can sharpen and create a bond.
TYPES OF ADOPTION OFFERED AT BURLINGTON
At Burlington, we assist our clients with four kinds of adoption: Domestic, International, Special Needs, and Foster to Adopt. Depending on your existing family, we can help you determine what your needs are and help find your family the best fit. We encourage you to read our blog, How to Prepare for the Adoption Process, to learn more.
Did you know there are over 440,000 children in the foster care system? Although the ultimate goal of foster care is reunification with families, sometimes, that is not always possible. If you’d like to learn more about foster care, check out our blog, 3 Reasons Why You Should Foster A Child.
BONDING WITH YOUR ADOPTED CHILD | BURLINGTON UNITED METHODIST FAMILY SERVICES
As a parent, you always will strive to make your child feel loved. Adoptive children may not always warm up to you right away, and that’s okay. Sometimes, they have not experienced a safe environment and may be resistant to their new family. But over time, they will love their new family, just as you love them, and will build trust within their new life.
At Burlington United Methodist Family Services, Inc., we help all families – no matter the marital status, sex, religion or race in the adoption process in finding their forever child. Although there is a lot to consider and prepare for, Burlington will be there to help you every step of the way. We are rooting for you and your family and can’t wait to help you create your forever family.
For more information about adoption or birth parent counseling, please fill out this form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our Charleston social worker, Jennifer Brown, at 304-720-1904 or email@example.com, or our Keyser social worker, Patty Leasure, at 304-788-5384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“For I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” — Jeremiah 29:11