Just after our adopted children arrived to live with us. And after had recovered from the shock of becoming a new mum, overnight, to two older, traumatised children. Adjusted to my new reality of a permanent state of exhaustion. I realised things just weren’t feeling right. I was struggling, bonding with my adopted children was hard. If you are struggling to bond with your adopted children, may be my experience will help.
Are you struggling to bond with your adopted child?
We were building a family
That takes time and patience. A lot of time and patience, and a lot of love, that might only go one way.
My kids came with a lot of baggage
How could I possibly expect them to just leave that at the front door and welcome me with open arms? In their eyes, I was mummy number three and I had to earn their trust. And that was tough, a fight, a battle.
I was rejected
They said this might happen. And it did. They wanted a Daddy, not me. Of course that hurt, it made it hard to want to bond with my newly adopted children.
It wasn’t easy watching them run it sit on Daddy’s lap, be the first to hold Daddy’s hand, have Daddy read them their bedtime story.
Once, on the way back from school, Super Girl fell off her scooter and she cried out for Daddy, not me.
Rejection, it hurts.
But it wasn’t personal
As my social worker kept saying, I couldn’t take this personally. All our emotions were running wild, this was some of the fallout.
And then there were my emotions
Not quite sure why I didn’t factor this in.
But the early days of adoption tested me like nothing else. It pulled out deep-seated emotions from issues that I thought had been well and truly resolved.
And who knows maybe I had post-adoption depression.
It’s possible that I did. Nothing was ever diagnosed. But what I do know, those very early days and months I struggled to bond with my adopted child.
If you are struggling to bond with your adopted child, what should you do?
1. Ask for help
Don’t suffer in silence, talk to your social worker, your doctor – ask for help.
Praise, praise, praise – you cannot praise your child enough.
Your adopted child needs to know how amazing and awesome they are. Read about descriptive praise in Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting: The Revolutionary Programme That Transforms Family Life
Once we started praising our kids, our lives got a whole lot smoother.
Books like The Mommy Book is genius in its simplicity and how it cleverly articulates what it is to be a mummy or mommy.
Even after a horrendous day when we had been driven to tears. The kids would calm down and then ask for this book. The Mommy (or Daddy Book), is magic.
4. Go online
Check out the Adoption UK forums, you can post a message and get instant responses. There are some brilliant adoption groups on FaceBook, with fellow adopters willing to offer their ear, experience and give you a virtual hug.
5. Look and listen
Take notice of the little things.
Amongst the screaming, the fighting, the hitting, scratching, punching a little gesture was made. A crumpled dandelion handed to me by a little hand.
Then round two began.
While you are struggling to bond with your adopted child, it’s important to look after yourself.
Take time out for you.
Do something you love, enjoy, that takes you out the home. A walk, go to a cafe, read a book, go for a run, have a massage, take a yoga class.
Whatever it is, take time for you.
7. Give yourself time
You are creating a family, and that takes time.
It was fifteen months after our children came to live with us, while we were getting ready for school, Super Girl said, I know that you are my mummy now.
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