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Strengthening the Bond With Your Adopted Child

Mrunal Belvalkar Feb 28, 2020
Many parents think too much of parent-child attachment will in fact cripple their child and make them dependent. However, only a child who knows he can always come back to his parents, grows up to become a truly independent individual.
If you are looking for ways to strengthen the bond between yourself and your adopted child, here are a few pointers that will ease the process for you.
Did you know that more than 30% of American couples consider adopting every year? Biological problems faced by a couple tops as a reason for couples to opt to adopt a child. However, many couples also want to do their bit for orphans, foster kids and homeless children, and hence volunteer to adopt a child.
Adoption is a very noble cause, in my opinion. It is one of the best things you can do for an adoptee; even better than monetary help, or donating to a foster home or adoption institute.
As with any relationship, it is important to ensure one thing between you and your adopted child, and that is bonding. Attachment and bonding are fundamental emotional needs of a child, we all know. But have you ever wondered why? What is it about parent-child bonding that makes it indispensable and hence crucial in adoption?

Why Parent-Child Attachment is Important

The fundamental needs of a child, are biological safety and psychological security.
Every infant and child seeks to be under the shelter of such an individual who will guarantee his/her survival, and will provide the child with a feeling of security. Children learn through the exploration of their surroundings.
However, the survival instinct is high among human beings, and more so in infants. Hence they first seek to be in the company of individuals who guarantee this. This tendency of infants marks the beginning of attachment between the child and an adult. The adult is called 'attachment figure'.
The primary attachment figure is the mother of the infant. However, the child has a basic tendency of attaching to any adult care-giver who ensures 'survival and security' of the child.
According to a study conducted by Sidney J. Blatt, children internalize their interactions with the attachment figure, and patterns of a caring relationship, in the form of mental representations. If these mental representations are 'impaired' (on account of being based upon disturbed relationships), the child grows up to be more susceptible to depression.
Ambivalent insecure attachment can lead to dependency, loss, and abandonment focused depression; while avoidant insecure attachment increases vulnerability to self-worth and self-criticism focused depression. The child develops anger towards the attachment-figure or towards self.
Many problems can develop due to abnormal attachment patterns. These include depression, anxiety, sexual aggression, tendency to give in to substance abuse, criminality, etc.
According to a research undertaken by Juichi Kobayashi of the Crime Prevention Section, Division of Criminology, National Research Institute of Police Science, Tokyo, Japan , a child's bonding to his/her mother decreases sexual aggression in the child.
The parent-child attachment and bonding are shown to play a major role in this. Another testimony to this is the conclusion drawn by a study titled "Parental bonding and depression: Personality as a mediating factor" ...
... conducted by P. A. Avagianou and M. Zafiropoulou; "lack of parental care and over-protection is linked with depressive symptoms and a number of personality characteristics, such as low self-esteem, introversion, distress and emotional instability".

Attachment and Bonding in Adopted Children

Not only does every child, irrespective of his/her socioeconomic status, background, race, ethnicity, religion, have the same basic needs; it has also been shown that the process of forming family ties, of establishing intimacy with care-givers, experiencing and reciprocating love, affection, is the same in different cultures all over the world.
The sooner you grasp this concept, the quicker you will be able to bond with your adopted child, no matter if he/she is of the same religion, race and ethnicity as you or not. Bonding between a child and his/her parents goes a long, long way into making the child grow up to be a physically, emotionally and socially responsible and stable individual.
Bonding occurs on many levels, and can be approached in many different ways, each with its own unique theory and advantage -
  • The top-most among things you have to consider when trying to bond with your child, is the fact that your child needs a parent and not a dictator. Identify the difference between over-parenting and attachment parenting and focus on the latter.
  • Do not act detached or let your child feel neglected either. Get involved. Instead of showing him how to use the fork and knife, hold his/her hand and actually help him/her use it. While teaching them to tie their shoe lace, help them do it. That way, even day-to-day chores can turn into bonding activities.
  • Children love to play games. Use this fact to your advantage. Team games will allow you to really connect with your adopted child. Trust building games will help you improve the equation between you and your child. Winning your child's approval and trust will ensure undying love too!
  • Take an interest in the child's hobbies and activities he/she likes to do. This could include outdoor sports activities, indoor board games, art and craft related hobbies etc. Take on tasks together, like drawing or painting together. You could even ask your adopted child to teach you how to do something you don't know, like swimming, or drawing.
  • Plan a picnic, trip, or trek. A picnic gives you an entire day to do all kinds of things your child likes to do. Plan the course of the picnic so that you engage in all your adopted child's favorite activities. Select the destination according to his choice, prepare his/her favorite food, and turn an ordinary picnic into one of the best days of his life.
  • Bedtime stories can also be a wonderful idea to bond with your adopted child. You may not be able to spend sufficient time with your child during the day. However, bedtime could be a nice way to do that. Your adopted child will appreciate it too, chances are there was nobody who would come and tuck him in his bed and read out a story to him before.
  • Treat your child in such a way that he/she feels counted upon and important. Involve your adopted child in decisions of the house, run an errand in the supermarket with your child, ask for your child's opinion while buying something for the house, let them choose their own things.
A sense of belonging, experiencing the ties of a family, closeness (both physical and emotional) to parents, are some of the most beautiful and warm effects of adoption on an adopted child. It is essential that your child feels a part of the family; this is why bonding in adoption is very important.

Age of the Adopted Child

It is far easier to adopt babies, for all the preparation is on the parents' part. A baby doesn't need to be 'prepared' for being adopted. The challenge is to adopt a child that is few years old.
Children, even at a very young age, have an individuality that you should never disregard, disrespect or take for granted. Even at a few months old, a baby is learning to identify people, emotions, needs. Even an adoptee that's only a couple of years old, has formed an image in his head about what parents are, what a home is, before you choose to adopt him.
When it comes to a grown up adoptee, however, things get a little more challenging. You are going to have to put in quite some efforts and really try to make it work. It's similar to the difference between planting a seed and planting a cutting.
The seed is bound to root, grow and flourish; but the cutting needs extra care and nurturing for it to root in the soil and grow into a tree. It deserves and needs all the care and attention you can spare. When dealing an older adoptee, it would be best to educate yourself as much as you can about older child adoption issues.
This will help you prepare better to welcome the adopted child in your house, family and life and establish a strong, lifelong bond with him/her.

We would have never had an iPhone, iPod, iPad or a Mac, if it hadn't been for two kind people - Paul and Clara Jobs - who agreed to call somebody else's child their own.
Did you know that Steve Jobs was their adopted son? Just imagine, what if they had said 'no'... but they chose to say 'YES'. A child is the purest soul that walks on Earth. A child knows nothing but to love. No child in this world deserves to be without a parent.
I congratulate you for your decision to adopt a child and wish you all the very best for the journey you are about to embark upon. May it truly prove to be the journey of a lifetime!