Sometimes hopeful parents wonder if raising a child through adoption would be “the same” as raising a child they gave birth to. As most adoptive parents will tell you, “There’s no difference. That child is your baby!” The adoption truth is this: adoption builds families.
Maybe you’ve wondered whether or not you’d love an adopted child as much as you would a biological one. You might be struggling with whether or not the love you’ll feel for your adopted child will be as strong as the love you have for your biological children.
Asking yourself this question is natural and necessary, even if it seems shameful. The truth is, each relationship we have with our children, bio or adopted, is unique – and so is the love and connection we have with them.
Bonding With Your Adopted Baby
We often hear of the instant, close bond between mother and baby, but sometimes these ties don’t come right away, even in biological families. Some moms and dads just have a difficult time bonding with their babies. Bonding with a new baby can be especially challenging in cases of post-partum depression or anxiety.
The bottom line is that an immediate level of love and devotion doesn’t always happen. In many families, parents grow to love their children and develop bonds a little later. Adoption can work in the same way. The love may not happen right away for some families, while others feel an immediate connection.
How Does Love Develop Between Parent & Child?
The foundation of a close, loving relationship isn’t always formed by carrying your child in the womb or sharing genes with them. In reality, the love that develops between a parent and child comes from the care and nurturing the parent provides their child. If you keep this in mind, then it makes sense that the love you feel for your biological children will be the same for an adopted child.
Since you’ll be providing primary care to your child, it won’t matter that they didn’t biologically come from you. You’ll be the one needed when they’re sick or hurt. You’ll be the one to answer their many curious questions. They’ll call you their parent, and you’ll call them your child. The relationships parents develop with their biological children can be created with your adopted child who, truthfully, is simply your child.
8 Ways to Bond With Your Adopted Child
Allowing your adopted baby to sleep in the same room can make it easier to care for them if they wake up and will enable you to give them reassurance and comfort quickly. Some adoptive parents suggest that this co-sleeping arrangement reinforces parental instincts.
Some parents are wary of allowing their baby to sleep in their bed because it can put them at risk for SIDS. But you can get a co-sleeper bed attachment for the side of your bed to allow your baby to sleep near you in safety.
2. Affectionate cuddling
Nothing replaces touch for bonding with your new baby. Cuddling, snuggling, and sweet hugs will warm your heart. The more you cuddle, the more they will grow to trust you and feel closer to you. Showing your adopted child affection builds a sweet relationship between the two of you.
All babies need skin-to-skin touch. You can wear your baby in a sling or lay them on your tummy after bath time to relax. You can also apply lotion to the baby’s legs, arms, and backs for some gentle massage, skin to skin.
4. Family fun
If you adopted a child and not a baby, make sure you set aside at least one evening or one day over the weekend for family fun. Play games, go for long walks or go to a playground. As you build memories together, your child will feel comfortable and a part of your family.
5. Talk to them
By nature, humans are communicators. No matter your child’s age, they need you to talk with them. Talk to them you’re feeding them breakfast or when you’re driving in the car.
Babies and little kids learn language from those around them. They learn distinct tones and find comfort in your voice as they grow accustomed to it. It’s a sweet way for you to bond with your child as you incorporate talking to them.
6. Play together
Play is a child’s love language. If you play with them, they’ll feel closer to you, and you’ll feel closer to them.
For babies, play peek-a-boo, tickle, and give them a big smile. You’ll be rewarded with a big smile. To bond with a child, play at the playground together. Or color, do play-dough or play hide and seek.
7. Eye contact
Eye contact is another way to build a bond with your adopted baby or young child. Make eye contact during feedings, or when you’re changing their diaper.
When you smile, it gets conveyed not only with your mouth but through your eyes. Babies love interactions, so include eye contact when communicating with them.
Most of all, as a new adoptive parent, try to relax and enjoy your new relationship with your child. Your baby will pick up on your comfort level and be able to relax.
Don’t worry. It may take time to bond with your adopted child, but that’s okay. But eventually, you’ll both feel comfortable together.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 24, 2017, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”