Attachment and forming a child-parent relationship can be especially difficult with adopted children. However, the keys to forming a healthy attachment are the same whether your child is biologically yours or has been adopted.Remember that attachment is a process but make it a priority with your child. Here are some important things to keep in mind with an adopted child.
- Consistency is key. Be predictable. Adopted children, depending on their age at adoption, might have trust issues. It is important to show your child you are there for them. Disruptions of previous attachments can explain the behavior of older adopted children. Your child might have a weakened sense of security due to the loss of previous attachments with their biological family, caregivers, etc.
- Be extra empathetic and sensitive. Always try to think to yourself “What might my child be thinking/feeling right now?”.
- Place the focus first on the immediate family. Following adoption, focus on attachment within the family, other social relationships can come later. It is important for your child to build and understand that their relationship with you is unique.
- Be emotionally available and practice emotional intelligence. It will be just as important for your child to see your emotions as learning and recognizing their own. As your child learns to communicate their feelings and needs, you can better help them as a parent.
- Don’t take their words or actions at face value, especially for older children. Children sometimes do or say things but what they are really doing is communicating how they feel. Usually difficult feelings, such as: anger, fear, and frustration can come out in different ways. Also, remember children are not always in control due to their still maturing brains.
- Become more child-centered. In general, children feel they are the center of the universe. This might have not been the case for your child before adoption. Make sure they know they are the priority, this will help build self-worth and inner-strength in your child.
- Give security to your child with a routine. Children work best with routines because it gives them a sense of security. And nothing is better than ending the day with a good massage from Storybook. Although, depending on the age of your child at adoption and their history, it might be better to start with our new Breathing Stories until you have built some trust with your new little one.
And remember, as the famous Maya Angelou said “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and love you no matter what”.