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Struggling to bond with your adopted child?

Struggling to bond with your adopted child? Posted on January 25, 20161 Comment

The Mommy Book is genius in its simplicity and how it cleverly articulates what it is to be a mummy or mommy.

The Mommy Book is one of a series of American children’s books written by Todd Parr.  It was a great book for me to read with my kids during those early days of adoption. (There’s a Daddy Book too)

Wonder Boy and Super Girl had been with us for about three months, and we (me and the kids) were struggling to bond to each other:

  • They were grieving for their foster mum, while getting used to living with brand new mummy
  • I was trying to get my head round being a mummy, and dealing with all the emotional baggage that brought
  • For those first few months our relationship seemed to be built on rejection and aggression (them to me), exhaustion (me) and lots of shouting (all of us)

A post on the Adoption UK forum led me to this book, and since then I’ve recommended it to other mummies struggling to bond / attach with their little ones.

I love reading this book – Wonder Boy always counts the number of mummy activities I do and Super Girl can’t wait to get the hugs and kisses page for lots of XOXOXOXO!

Both think it’s really funny that one of my favourite mummy things is to watch both them sleep. It’s usually at that moment I’m pinching myself – they are here and they’re mine.

What I like about this book is that mummies can fly aeroplanes, drive mini vans, eat pizza on the sofa and hang out with their kids.

There’s something really magical about this book that even after a day of raging tantrums and spectacular meltdowns over the most minor transgressions, they would both choose The Mommy Book for their bedtime read.

In a way the book has been therapy for me. I don’t need to be perfect, knocking out muffins and cookies at the drop of a hat, cooking up perfect meals, and hosting super, fantastic birthday parties. All I need to do is be there. That’s good enough.

Adoption and attachment

Building a solid and secure attachment with your adopted child takes time and patience. It can feel like an uphill struggle, and often there will be times you will think there has been very little progress, as your life is surrounded by chaos and disarray.

For me the following has really helped:

  1. Laughter and play – how can you introduce laughter into your lives?
  2. Maintain tight boundaries, encourage your child to make positive choices and celebrate their success.
  3. In the early days, in between what felt like continual tantrums and rages, I would make note of little positive gestures. Wonder Boy brushing my hair, Super Girl giving me a dandelion or daisy. These little gestures showed me that things were improving albeit, slowly. Celebrate the little baby steps. It all adds up.
  4. Eye contact is important – play games like peak-a-boo.
  5. Praise, praise, praise – you cannot praise your child enough. They need to know how amazing and awesome they are. Read about descriptive praise in Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting: The Revolutionary Programme That Transforms Family Life
  6. Look after your self – easier said than done. Parenting an adopted child can feel unrelenting, you need to have an escape – a good book, a long soak in the bath, a glass of wine or two, for me it was and still is running.

For more reading on attachment check out:

Dan Hughes, Treatment and parenting model

12 ways to form a healthy attachment with your adopted child

Pact adoption alliance attachment resources

(First published 5/5/15)

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