With more than 130,000 children being adopted each year in the United States, thousands of families find themselves going through huge changes. Through the adoption process, parents often worry about whether the child they wish to adopt will develop an attachment to them and their new family or not. However, they often do not stop to think about them developing an attachment to the child.
Parents Need Patience
Adoptive children, whether they are adopted at birth or well into their teenage years, have a history that their adoptive parents cannot relate to as they have not lived through it. Through the life experiences dealt to children placed for adoption, especially for children placed past infancy, children may develop coping mechanisms that make it difficult to allow a parental figure to develop a close bond in fear of getting hurt.
Parenting a child with a hurtful past can be difficult. However, giving your adopted children an abundance of patience and love is key in developing attachment from both sides. People often say a child is “difficult to love” when they are simply carrying the scars from a misunderstood childhood. As a parent, it is imperative that you get down on their level and try to understand them. Understand their feelings and reassure them that your intentions are not harmful. Give them assurance that you are there to love them and support them throughout their life.
Can my adopted newborn develop an attachment to me?
Many people who choose adoption desire to adopt a newborn. With this comes a fear for adoptive parents that the baby they adopt will not develop an attachment to them as they have grown attached to their biological or birth mother through the womb. It is important that as a new parent, you understand this is not true. While it may take a bit of time, a newborn or infant will develop a connection or attachment to their caregivers — including you, their adoptive parents.
Parents can create an emotional connection through skin-to-skin contact, spending quality time together, and tending to the baby’s needs day in and day out just as you would with a biological child. As you are developing an attachment to your child by spending time with them, they are developing an attachment to you by connecting you to being a trusted person in their life.
It is important to remember that no matter the age of the child you have adopted, whether they are an infant or seventeen years old, developing an emotional attachment will take time. Developing a healthy attachment is a two-way street in the adoption process that cannot be rushed or forced.
If you or your child is not immediately attached, do not become discouraged. Should you begin to feel overwhelmed with the emotions that come along with this process, reach out for support. It is important to remember that you are not failing as a parent if there is no immediate connection. Give yourself grace through the process.