Posted on: 11 August 2015
Adopting a child comes with a lot of expectations. Generally, it takes a lot of time, expense, and effort to complete an adoption, so it's natural to expect that once the legal and logistical loopholes are taken care of, everything will fall into place, and your newly completed family will be perfectly happy. Because of those expectations, it can be a real blow when you find yourself wondering if you've made a mistake, if your child will ever form an attachment to you, and if they'll ever really fit into your family. These feelings can be distressing, but they're completely normal – parents routinely experience the same kinds of doubts after having their own biological children. However, adoptive families do face special challenges when it comes to forming bonds. Take a look at some tips that can help you and your adopted child form a close parent-child attachment.
Meet Your Child Where They're At
Unless you've adopted a newborn, the chances are that your child experienced some trauma before they came to live with you. They may have been abused or neglected, or they may have lost loving parents under tragic circumstances. If yours was a U.S. adoption, your child may have spent time in various foster homes or group homes. International adoptees often come from crowded orphanages. All of these experiences can be traumatic for a child. As a result, your child may have experienced some delays in their emotional and mental development.
You may notice that your child's behavior or abilities don't match up with their chronological age. Your 8 year old may perform like a kindergartener in school or throw temper tantrums like a toddler. The important thing is to meet the needs that your child has, whether or not they match up with their chronological age. If your child is performing at a lower grade level than their chronological age would suggest, work with the school to develop a learning plan that addresses their abilities at that level. If your 10 year old is afraid of the dark like a smaller child, install a nightlight or stay with them while they fall asleep, just like you might do for a four or five year old. With time, your child's mental and emotional age will become more congruent with their chronological age.
Talk Talk Talk
You want your child to associate loving and nurturing actions with the sound of your voice. This will help build trust between you and your child. The best way that you can do that is by talking to your child as you go about your day, especially when you're doing something with or for your child. Just keep a running dialogue going as you go about your day. When you wake them up in the morning, you might say, "I'm going to help you get dressed, and then we're going to have breakfast. I'm making eggs and waffles. After that, we'll take a walk to the park. Look, here is your favorite red shirt and blue jeans, are you ready to put them on?" and then just keep going from there. You can describe what you're doing as you're making breakfast, or point out interesting sites on your walk to the park.
For the time being, don't worry about whether or not your child responds (though obviously, you should stop talking and listen if they do!) Even if your child isn't talking, they're absorbing what you're saying, and they're noticing all that you're doing for them. Before long, the sound of your voice will become synonymous with affection and caregiving for them. As a bonus, all of that talking is great for your child's language development. Recent studies show that talking to babies is even more important than reading to them. This may be especially important for children who have spent time in orphanages, as they tend to lag in language development.
Finally, it's important to give your relationship with your adopted child plenty of time to blossom. All relationships change with time, and there's every reason to believe that your relationship with your adoptive child will evolve into the perfect fit for your family. For more tips and advice, you may want to contact a local adoption agency like A Child's Dream.Share