How We Bonded
All prospective adoptive parents worry about attaching to a new baby. AF readers describe their concerns--and what they did to alleviate them.
When I got a call saying there was a baby available, the due date was just days away, and it was a boy, I was worried. How would I bond? Could I be the single mother of a boy? On the plane to Hawaii, I was happy, but anxious. After we left the hospital, we were alone in a hotel room for about 10 days, and it was there that we really bonded. I gave him lots of kisses when bathing, feeding, and cuddling him. I talked to him constantly. I read to him. I told him I loved him about one hundred times a day. Two years later, he loves to hug and give kisses!
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
We adopted our son when he was a week old and we had an easy attachment process. Two things we recommend: carrying your baby in a wrap-type carrier and taking an infant massage class. The versatility of the wrap facilitated eye contact and made it easy to take our son along, whatever we were doing. Infant massage was a wonderful way to experience eye contact and bond physically.
When we first made the decision to adopt, I will admit that I wondered whether the bond with my daughter would be as tight as I hoped. My wife's bond with Olivia was dramatic and immediate. She cut the umbilical cord, helped weigh the baby in the nursery, and took part in a lot of the "firsts" at the hospital. My attachment to Olivia grew quickly. Last night we sat quietly looking at our Christmas tree for about an hour. My favorite way of enhancing our bond is simply looking at her, face-to-face, especially now that she's learning to smile! As she has learned my voice, she looks for me when I speak to her.
I adopted two sons as newborns. "Wearing" the babies when they were little helped us to bond. With my second child, his big three-year-old brother needed to bond, as well, and I worried about that—unnecessarily as it turned out. We flew to Texas to pick up Niki, and when the adoption workers brought the baby in, Benjamin screamed, "Our baby, finally our baby!" He held bottles and helped with diapers and baths, and the bond between them is extraordinarily strong. Now seven and four years old, they stick up for each other and nothing gets between them.
As adoptive parents who already had a biological child, we were very concerned about how we would bond with our newly adopted baby, especially because he was coming to us at seven weeks old. I had nursed my daughter, and wondered how not having this would affect attachment. So we practiced attachment parenting in as many ways as we could. We wore our son in a sling whenever possible. We slept with him. We rocked him and held him all the time. We used feeding time to make eye contact and interact with him. And since he was bottle-fed, my husband had just as many opportunities to bond with our son as I did.
Bonding with our child was a concern of mine even after my husband I were chosen as adoptive parents. The birthparents who chose us invited me to be present in the room for our son's birth. My husband and I bathed, fed, and cared for our son in the nursery. We felt like our son's parents even before going home. My suggestion for other adoptive parents is to respectfully ask the birthparents to let you participate in bathing, feeding, and holding at the hospital.
--A couple from Nebraska
I have adopted domestically twice. In my experience, the sooner I held them, the sooner they felt like mine. Make sure your paperwork is processed and the hospital social worker is on board with the adoption process. This person is key to granting you access to the nursery as soon as the baby is born. Do not leave this matter up to the agency or legal department.
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