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How to bond with your adopted child

When you start down the path toward adoption, your goal is to welcome a child into your lives. If all goes according to plan, you, your spouse and your new child will become a healthy, loving family.

However, there are steps you must take before you get from point A to point B. No matter how lofty your goals, you may feel a measure of disconnect when you first adopt, especially if you have already had one or more biological children. Pregnancy and birth wire mothers to love their babies. Adoptive parents may need to develop their emotional bonds more intentionally.

You might not fall in love right away

It’s important to understand that you can show love for your adopted child even if you don’t feel it right away. You can develop those feelings over time. One adoptive mother made this clear in the story of her first adoption. She had already had five biological children and was surprised by the initial distance she felt from her adoptive child. She later adopted other children as well, and she reported the same alien feeling in each adoption. But the key was she wasn’t surprised in the later adoptions.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway also acknowledges this common situation. To help parents develop their sense of closeness, it points toward an article on attachment parenting. It says you can increase your sense of attachment—and your child’s sense of attachment—by taking several simple steps. They include:

  • Responding to your child’s cries and needs. Don’t try to dictate the schedule or relationship.
  • Close physical contact, including skin-to-skin contact. This is particularly important with infants.
  • Increase physical contact with your infant by sharing your bed or using a baby carrier.
  • Make your parenting style child-centered. Especially if you already have other children, you need to be ready to meet your new child at his or her level.

Over time, actions such as these can help you form the bonds of affection that other mothers might feel immediately after birth. It might take time, but it’s every bit as rewarding.

Children have their individual needs

It’s important to remember that as much as you need to develop your affection for your child, your child will need to bond with you. This can be trickier in the cases of older adoptions, especially if your child has suffered through trauma. But the good news is that adoptive children can form the same loving bonds as biological children.

The key is to remember that adoption is different than giving birth. It has unique challenges. But in the end, your family will enjoy the love you put into it.

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