Home > Adoption, Early Childhood, Family, Infant Attachment, Parenting > Parent-Orphan Attachments; Part Two

Parent-Orphan Attachments; Part Two

My good friend Theresa adopted two Russian orphans. They have a chapter in Peek-A-Boo, I See You! called Theresa’s Orphans. I discuss her journey to Russia to adopt one and coming  back with two. One child was left with her sister in a cemetery by her mother, who never returned. The other child was an infant and left in a crib and received little attention due to the overcrowding. Consequently, the back of his head was flat. He was rarely picked up. Neither spoke English and Theresa did not speak their language. Her parenting is a book in itself. She has been a model mother for her children and they have accomplished as much as their level of intellect and security has allowed.

What makes their life different from children who are born into loving families is not their country of origin, their language skills, or their adapting to a new life in a foreign country. It is their level of ‘attachment’ in the infant years. Attachment is the connection between parents and child which creates the foundation for their growth as a family. Attachment creates trust and security within a baby or toddler. This emotional link between parents and infant shapes the child from infancy into adulthood. The parent-child attachment forms through touch, eye contact, and consistent care, causing a baby to feel loved, nurtured and safe. For adopted children, the attachment is broken or compromised by poor care giving, abuse, or neglect from their birth parents. Adoptive parents must nurture a new, strong attachment between themselves and their new child.

There are some basic steps adoptive parents can follow that are common sense responses to an adopted child’s needs:

  • Begin by making sure you are consistently meeting your baby’s needs. Respond quickly to their cries and their signals. This will not spoil your baby; instead, it helps them to know they can depend on you as they build trust.
  • Encourage closeness and bonding by holding, rocking, and cuddling the baby as much as possible. Some parents use a sling or other carrier to keep their baby close to them.
  • Consider co-sleeping with your baby, or at least having the crib near your bed at night. This allows you to meet the baby’s needs quickly during the night soothing them with the sound of your voice.
  • Do activities that encourage your baby to make eye contact. Games like peek-a-boo,or making silly faces, help the baby look into your eyes so they associate with you. You will find that you also benefit from this interaction.
  • Cuddle your baby while feeding them a bottle and make eye contact during this time. Hold the bottle while feeding so the baby can see and feel you taking care of them.
  • Try to avoid “passing around” the baby at family gatherings or when you have visitors. Only the primary caregivers (usually mom and dad) should hold and care for the baby for the first six weeks at home. Being passed around is alarming for a baby who has been through many changes in a short time.
  • As you move to a new schedule, be consistent and develop a predictable routine. Babies are happiest when they know what to expect. This is especially true when they have had the stress of being moved to a new adoptive home.

New adoptive parents who do not understand or start the process of attachment and bonding miss the golden opportunity of bringing their adopted children into a secure and harmonious family environment.

This web site may be helpful it is well worth your time to go there if you are adopting or have adopted.


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