I am a proud adoptive mom and that was by far the best decision I have ever made. I had all the same fears and exciting moments as other parents, although my daughter was three when I adopted her.
In this blog I want to talk about how to develop a bond with your newborn. You may wonder will I be able to form a bond with this child? What feelings will I have? Will I instantly love my child or will it take time? How is the child going to feel about me? My spouse? How will the child bond with the rest of my family?
These are feelings and thoughts that adoptive parents and adoptive children often think about. Adoptive parents often have high expectations about how their new child will bond with them. But please rest assure, these feelings are no different than parents of biological children. We must remember, all children are different, and they learn things at a pace and speed that is right for him or her. Children learn to crawl and walk when they’re ready. They learn to talk when they’re ready. This is also true for their emotional development. Some babies like to cling to their blankets. Some children just don’t. Here are some helpful hints that are good to know when bonding with babies and children.
Skin contact is crucial when bonding with your newborn – for both parents, not just the mother. Have plenty of skin-to-skin cuddle time. Have the baby learn your voice, your smell, your touch and your heartbeat. Swaddle your baby in a sack, a baby Bjorn or a front wrap.
And on that note….when carrying your baby in a sling or front carrier — feel your baby’s warmth and look down often to make eye contact with your baby – which can help you bond.
Communicate throughout the day. Look into your baby’s eyes while you talk and sing to your baby. Narrate what you’re doing, thinking, and feeling.
Play the same music for your baby and sing the same songs. Repetition is important for your child. Music is comforting and the more and more you can establish and bond with music the more comfort the child will feel. Try to have a music time several times during the day.
Read – read a lot together. Make reading fun. This is a wonderful way to bond and a wonderful way to foster learning and curiosity. Cuddle up together with a colorful book. Reading books about adoption mixed with other baby books is crucial. How we became a family is very important and to talk about it in the beginning, all the way through makes for a natural transition. This makes it a part of their beautiful story. It is very important not to focus too much on the adoption so have a nice wide variety of book.
Play with your baby every day.
Also, hold your baby as much as possible. It is not good for babies to be left alone for long periods of crying. They learn to self-sooth and in an adoption scenario we want to create a very safe feeling. It is important to connect.
Spend plenty of close-up face time with your baby. Smile at your baby, and return the smile when your baby smiles first. Before long, you’ll be having a kind of conversation with your baby – when you smile, your baby smiles. And when you coo, your baby will coo back.
Be part of a support group and learn from other families on how they are bonding and open up a dialogue so you can share some of their helpful tips.
I hope when’s my daughter is older we can one day sit down and talk about the strong bond we have together, but in the meantime, I am just enjoying being her mom.
So remember…just be yourself. Let go of your expectations about bonding and let it all happen naturally. You will have good days and bad days…just like all families do…
Executive Director & Birth Parent Case Worker, Adoption Choices of Colorado