Adopting a little one is a huge step. After all, you are bringing a new person into your family. This is clearly something to celebrate and feel joyous about. However, it is also important to recognize the amount of responsibility you are taking on, as well as the fact that some hard times may lay ahead.
The first important task of an any parent is bonding with their new little one. However, this step can be a bit more difficult for adoptive parents. While those babies who are placed within the first few months of life will likely bond nearly as quickly and easily as a biological baby, those who are adopted after 4 or 5 months of age may experience separation anxiety and other related problems.
Of course, this does not mean you cannot or will not have a good relationship with your child. It only means you will have to work hard for that bond. However, the fact that you must work for your relationship makes it even more incredible and strong.
So, how do you go about bonding with your adopted baby? Try these tips and tricks.
Be Ever Present
Many adopted children have problems trusting a caregiver to stick around. This means it is highly important that you are ever present as a parent, giving your little one a chance to adapt to the situation and develop a sense of trust and understanding that you will always be there for them.
Even if your baby was adopted before they were old enough to experience separation anxiety, this is important because it gives the child a sense of security as they grow older and learn more about their family history.
Besides always being there for your child, you must also be quick to respond to their calls for help. Whether your child is crying for food, comfort, or for some other need to be met, be sure to respond as quickly as possible.
Remember, crying is your child’s only form of communication, and allowing the baby to cry for too long can cause them extra stress. By scooping the child up as soon as he or she calls for help, you are establishing the fact that you will always be there to meet their needs, laying the foundation for a solid parent/child relationship.
Offer Comfort and Touch
Children who have been neglected—or those who have spent time in overcrowded foster homes—may be accustomed to being ignored. Unfortunately, without the typical hugging, cuddling, and comforting that most children receive, these children can develop serious psychological problems.
Because your baby may not have had their cries for comfort answered in the past, it is possible they won’t seek out comfort at all. Therefore, you will want to be sure to offer snuggles, back rubs, and other forms of comfort on a regular basis whether the child seeks these things out or not.
Even if your baby never was in a neglectful household, it is highly important to hold and cuddle them on a regular basis. Try baby wearing as a way to keep your little one close while you carry out household chores.
Sometimes the best way to grow close to a child is to play with them. Therefore, it is best to make plenty of time for play throughout your day. Sing songs, play peek-a-boo, and show them hand clapping games. While the child may not participate right away, keep playing near them and encouraging them to join in.
Create and Maintain Routines
Slightly older babies and young toddlers thrive on routine. If you are adopting an older baby, try to maintain whatever routine was in place for them before the placement. Not sure what that was? Develop a routine that makes sense for your family and stick to it. This consistency will help the baby know what to expect and offer them some comfort in their uncertain little world.
While the transition to parenthood is likely to be hard on you, remember that these big changes are even more difficult for the newest member of your family. Whether your new addition is a newborn or a year old, be sure to practice patience as your family adapts to the new situation and finds a new normal.
Care for Yourself
Last, but certainly not least, you will want to be sure to take small breaks from caring for your new baby so you can care for yourself. After all, an exhausted parent is not going to be the best parent they can be.
Of course, in order to take those breaks, you will need some help. For this reason, it is a good idea to line up some assistance before the placement happens. This help might be from family or friends, or it might come in the form of a postpartum doula who can help with older children, chores, and even baby care when needed.
If you are in need of a postpartum doula to help you through the huge transitional period after adoption, I would be thrilled to help. Please contact me today to learn more about what I can offer your family.