Often times the word “bond” can make us think about keeping things together. Much like the scientific meaning of the word, bonds are the foundation and adhesive in our relationships that have the ability to strengthen over time. Forming a healthy bond with your adopted child is really no different than bonding with a biological child, but sometimes the timing is just different.
Why Forming a Healthy Bond is important
Children can learn how to trust during infancy. Babies who sometimes mimic their parents are learning to bond with them. That said, creating a bond early-on with your child can be beneficial to their childhood development, which can help them learn how to build their own relationships later in life. A Harvard University study showed that children who bonded with their adoptive parents at home were happier about going to school every day, making new friends and looked forward to learning more. In addition, these children were able to develop a better work ethic and stronger social skills.
Unfortunately, more studies are showing that depriving children of nurturing and loving environments have lasting effects. Sadly, these studies are also showing that a lack of love in the home can lead to long-term mental health illnesses. Bonding with your child (especially during infancy) can help them learn how to connect with their own children later in life. Furthermore, nothing says that you can’t bond with your adopted child the same as biological ones. If you feel unprepared as a new or adoptive parent, Adoption Choices of Nevada offers parenting classes to help you along the way.
I’m Worried about my Child Fitting in
Feeling anxious, nervous and wanting your child to feel like they’re part of the family right away is normal. However, forming a healthy bond with your adopted child requires time, patience and more effort on your family’s part (especially at first). Toddlers (although hilarious and cute) can often have personality traits similar to their parents at that age, making them pros at knowing how to test their limits. At this stage, toddlers will often benefit from positive reinforcement that helps teach them correct behavior. On a more positive note, once your toddler attempts to test your boundaries and limits, it is a sign that they are becoming more comfortable in their environment.
What are Some Strategies that I can Use to Bond with My Child?
Don’t feel discouraged if the bonding process takes longer than what you feel is normal. Each family has their own story when it comes to adoption, just like every child has different needs. If your child is struggling to bond at first, it’s okay to give things time and not rush them. Sometimes it can take several weeks or even months. One of the first things you and your family can do is establish a routine. Routines can help children to feel more in control and less anxious about what’s going to happen next.
Talking and playing with babies and toddlers can also help them feel wanted. In addition, if you have older children, get them involved. Assign them roles in the family. This can help nurture a sibling bond. For example, have your older children help out with things like feeding, changing diapers or playtime. Starting a new tradition with your adopted child and celebrating it every year can help them feel included as well.
Offering reassurance to your child is critical. Your adopted child wants to feel like he/she is included, wanted and loved. Simply by finding ways of telling your child you love them, you’re helping them learn about trust and confidence. Once your adopted child comes home, consider updating your family portraits to include them. Regardless of any and all toys you can buy your child, some of the best things you can offer them is your attention and love.
Forming a Healthy Bond with Your Child
Building a bond with your child requires nurturing. Even simple gestures like eye contact, touch and eating meals together can mean more than you know. By maintaining eye contact with your child and listening to them speak, you’re helping establish trust. When you hug, kiss or even tickle them, you’re showing love through touch. Being silly, playing and reading with your child are all examples of things you can do to help form a bond. Further, giving your child your attention during mealtime helps him/her to feel like they are listened to and that they matter.
As you’ve read, the bond between parent and child is instrumental for development. Statistics show that children who are loved and nurtured at home have greater chances of being able to bond as parents themselves. No matter what age your child joins the family, forming a healthy bond with them can help lead them into healthy habits they will use in adulthood.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
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
Desiree (Desi) Pohl is eager to start her career in writing! A Colorado native and adoptee herself, she lives, works and goes to school online from home. Desi received her BA in Communications in December of 2018 from Grand Canyon University and is currently a full-time online graduate student working towards her MA in English.
The majority of her writing thus far has centered around research papers for school; though, at one point, she created and managed a blog called “PTSD Me” that allowed her to share her personal experiences with others. She enjoys writing short stories and articles focused on women and family issues, mental and physical health, and wellness. Desi has said that it’s important for her writing to reach readers on a personal level, and she loves sharing her own story in hopes it will make a difference to others!
She aspires to become a writer or editor first and foremost when she’s finished with school. When she’s not writing articles or working on homework, Desi enjoys spending time with her husband and three dogs. Being in Colorado, they are a family who loves the outdoors. She’s been a swimmer most of her life and is currently training for her first open-water marathon swim next year at Lake Tahoe!
Asaoka, Keila. “The Importance of Bonding with an Adoptive Child: Child Abuse Prevention, Treatment & Welfare Services: Children’s Bureau.” Child Abuse Prevention, Treatment & Welfare Services | Children’s Bureau, 17 Nov. 2018, https://www.all4kids.org/2018/10/24/the-importance-of-bonding-with-an-adoptive-child/.
“Bonding With Your Adopted Child.” What to Expect, What to Expect, 15 Feb. 2019, https://www.whattoexpect.com/family/bonding-with-your-adopted-child.aspx.
“Bonding With Your Baby (for Parents).” Edited by Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, June 2018, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/bonding.html.
Winston, Robert, and Rebecca Chicot. “The Importance of Early Bonding on the Long-Term Mental Health and Resilience of Children.” London Journal of Primary Care, Taylor & Francis, 24 Feb. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5330336/.