The beauty and wonder of motherhood can be unparalleled. For many mothers, there’s nothing more incredible than holding your baby for the first time, or the joy of hearing them utter their first words. According to psychological studies done at the University of Minnesota, nurturing your newborn is a symbiotic relationship. In other words, care for your little one directly impacts your health.
If you’re far enough along in the adoption process, your excitement may exceed any doubts or worries in your mind. It’s easy to get caught up in the whims of parenthood, and you might feel overwhelmed with anticipation. Nothing compares to seeing your child’s bright eyes and innocent smile, or hearing their playful giggles. Before long, you’re caught up in daydreams about your future together.
Yet for many adoptive mothers, the adjustment process isn’t quite so simple. It’s difficult for your little one to adapt to a completely different environment, and many babies struggle with abrupt changes. The kind smiles they knew will disappear, and the place they call home will crumble apart. Strange people and bizarre surroundings will replace everything they once loved. And to top it all off, they’ll likely be transitioning alone.
You’ll never be able to completely comprehend your child’s experiences. They will face struggles in areas where you can’t relate. Nevertheless, your patience and thoughtfulness are vital. Creating a bond with your baby won’t appear magically. Like any relationship, it takes hard work and persistence. The tie between you could be resilient steel or flimsy thread: it’s up to you to decide.
Step 1: Tying the knot
Is connecting with your baby taking an unnaturally long time? Don’t panic! There’s no such thing as a “natural” amount of time for a bond to form. Most parents have an unrealistic expectation that they will naturally “click” with their child within minutes, like two puzzle pieces sliding into place. According to most research in postpartum care, however, the instant attachment between mother and child is a myth. While there’s truth behind the caretaking instinct, it’s actually common for your first interaction to fall short of expectations. Even birth mothers fail to experience the rush of hormones associated with instinctive nurturing.
Your fondness for your child is a result of your guardianship, not the other way around. The bond with your baby emerges from days of dedication and endurance. Don’t presume the match will be instantaneous; any attachments arise after time spent protecting and supervising.
Step 2: Tightening the strings
There’s a well-known rule for achieving any goal: you can’t expect results without putting in the time. The same thing applies to motherhood. If bonding with your child is a priority, then you need to make an effort. That doesn’t mean you need to put your entire life on hold, but setting aside days for your child will reinforce your connection.
Some mothers focus on what’s known as “cocooning.” Cocooning is a process much like its namesake; imagine a caterpillar, safely swaddled in its cocoon, warm and swathed with gentle padding. The caterpillar’s metamorphosis only occurs when it feels ready to break free; this transformation is nearly identical to an adopted child. Before your child embraces their new life, they need to be engulfed with your tenderness and comfort.
Put your phone away and designate a few moments for bonding. Eliminating your distractions will establish the bond with your baby that you’ve been yearning for.
Step 3: Securing the connection
What’s an essential, yet often overlooked, way to bond with your baby? It may surprise you. Physical touch can revolutionize your relationship. The more affection you pour into your relationship, the more your baby will reciprocate.
For this type of intimacy, anything goes. Your love will deepen as you cuddle, kiss, hug, hold, or snuggle! Physiological research suggests that touch releases important hormones: endorphins, which boost happiness, and cortisol, which regulates stress.
Nursing is another way to cherish your baby. This may come as a shock to you; perhaps you didn’t think it was possible for an adoptive mother to breastfeed their adopted newborn. Believe it or not, you can tend to your child’s needs in a variety of different ways. Even if you decide against personal lactation, supplemental nursing systems are available. Skin to skin contact is particularly valuable: gently cradling your child against your chest promotes tranquility and contentedness.
So go on– wrap your arms around your little one. Grab some blankets, nestle up and listen to their delicate heartbeat. All the cuddling is beneficial for both you and the baby.
Step 4: Strengthening the Bond With Your Baby
As your child gets older, make sure to spend quality time outside of the house. Put your day on hold and devote a few hours to your child. Deliberate actions prove that you care, and there’s nothing quite like adventuring with your most trusted companion.
“Mommy and Me” dates are a perfect way to do this. Of course, this applies to adoptive fathers as well. Mark off a day on your calendar for just you two. Whether you travel to the zoo or just take a sunny stroll in the park, every second means the world to your child. If it means the world to them, we’re sure it means the universe to you.
Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of your voice. Children are more attentive than most parents give them credit for. Reading stories to your child will feed their active imagination, along with increasing their recognition of your voice. If your child has too much energy to sit still, try singing songs together and dancing around.Teach them fun new words and watch their vocabulary improve. Each night when you tuck them in, whisper amusing little stories of mystical lands or funny creatures. Every time you communicate with them, they’ll begin to flourish.
Linked for Life
When all is said and done, each parent-child bond is drastically different. If you feel like you’re behind, pause and think about the millions of parents that feel the same way. There are no time constraints on getting closer to your child. Milestones can only be reached by you; comparison will only add difficulty to your experience. Again, there is no correct way of connecting — just do things that make them smile. When you watch their little faces brighten and feel their tiny fingers grab hold of you, you know you’re doing something right.
Adoption Choices of Oklahoma
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. You may visit our website here or call 405-794-7500 (Oklahoma City) or 918-982-6220 (Tulsa).
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Kenneal Patterson is a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. She is currently studying Journalism and Political Science, with a minor in Global Health. She is honored to work with Adoption Choices, and hopes that her journalism will inspire others to be more empathetic and kind. She thinks that writing can convey important messages of hope and love, and wants to share these messages with others.
Kenneal spends her summers at home in Golden, Colorado, with her many cats and dogs. She is eternally grateful to those who read her work!