Getting through the LGBT adoption process is an arduous journey; and one that doesn't end once your child joins your family. While your family may look complete, you still have to put in a bit more work to ensure your child is happy in the family you have created. Making and strengthening family bonds is essential after an adoption. Here are some ideas on how to get started on that.
A Two-Way Street
The first thing you need to recognize is that the bond between parent and child needs to go both ways, and it likely won't be an instant thing. You may be surprised to see that you do not experience a "love at first sight" sensation when you first meet your child, but that is entirely normal.
You need to expect that there will likely be some frustration on your part in those first few weeks with your child. After all, you haven't had time to get to know them yet -- they're just a small, demanding stranger who likely won't allow you to get much rest. Give yourself time to get to know your child and have faith that the bond will grow in time, with a little effort.
Below are some methods to keep in mind as you work to build bonds between you and your new child.
- Create a routine. This will help develop a sense of normalcy and trust for the child.
- Spend time together! It may seem obvious, but make sure to set aside time to spend with your child, especially outside of day-to-day activities. Try to plan special activities, even if it's just window shopping or cooking a meal together, to help you get to know each other and get used to each other's presence in a variety of environments.
- Allow the child to keep their own space. They may not have been in a situation to have much privacy in the past, and letting them have their own space can help them feel comfortable enough to start letting their guard down.
- Take family photos. This is a great way to show your child that you are invested in their future as a part of your family. Additionally, having a family photo in their bedroom can help remind them that they are a part of the family even when they are alone in the room.
- Encourage them to ask for help. Many adopted children come from situations where they may not have had a reliable adult to ask for help, and they may be used to dealing with problems themselves. Make sure your child knows that you are here to help with anything they may need, and follow through on that promise when they come to you for assistance, no matter how small the problem may be.
Reaching out for adoption support and advice can help you ensure that you're doing the best thing for your child and your family. Whether you reach out to online or in-person support groups, consider asking other parents what they did to help support bonding with their child. With a little time and patience, your child will find their place in your family!