Your baby girl is home now, maybe this is your first adoption, or maybe you are already a parent? You’ve waited months to bring home this baby and you love her. You have provided her with a comfortable home, a closet stuffed with clothes, and a belly full of food. And yet, you honestly struggle to say that you are really “in-love” with this child.
Some adoptive parents feel an intense attachment within the first few minutes or days after bringing baby home. For others, it may take a bit longer. There are plenty of resources that talk about helping children attach to parents after adoption, but what about you? You’re afraid to speak about it out-loud. But actually you’re not alone, and there are many reasons you might not be bonding right away with your baby.
Why You Might Struggle To Bond with Baby
- Unresolved grief over a previous child-related issue (such as miscarriages, infertility, disruption in another adoption)
- Attachment issues in the child which can make you feel rejected as a parent…creating your own attachment issues
- Inability to communicate adequately with the child (speech issues, special needs, language barriers in older children)
- Previous experiences with attachment issues with an another adopted child
Never Let Feelings of Inadequacy Interfere With Your Parenting
As an adoptive parent I’m sure you understand what a precious gift a child is. Nonetheless you might sometimes feel inadequate as a parent, either because of your infertility issues, difficulty in the adoption etc. Instead of trying to prove that you are “worthy enough to be a parent”, you need to remember that that is exactly what you are to your child— a parent. You are here to fulfill her emotional and physical needs; to guide and love her—no matter how difficult it might be.
People Might Comment
And you should not let this affect your feelings about being a parent. You and your child will be okay. If your child doesn’t share your features or is of a different race, yes, you’re going to run into people who will ask you “is that child really yours?”. The answer is yes, she is— in every way that counts.
You Will Get There
If you have the feeling like you can’t bond with your adopted child, know that you will get there. It’s important to work through your feelings so that you can allow the connection to happen naturally on its own time.
Find at least one person other than your spouse that you can be completely honest with about your adoption struggles; it will help relieve some pressure. Do not be ashamed of your feelings. Know that you can reach out to your adoption counselor for the support and guidance you need, it’s more common than you think.
Even celebrity Katherine Heigl struggled to bond with her adopted baby last year. To her husband Josh on the other hand, it came naturally. “I had to embrace who I am as a parent. I watched Josh, and it was so effortless for him. I call him Disneyland Dad — he’ll get on the floor and roll around and make her laugh. That wasn’t really me. So I felt like, oh gosh, I’m not the kind of parent she prefers. Then I realized — I’m the cuddler. I’m the one she comes to if she’s hurt. And I have a ritual for putting her to bed. She has one blankie that goes over her, one that goes by her face, and one that she holds. It’s our little thing.”
Choose to Keep Loving
Choose to love your child, even if you don’t feel an attachment right away. Loving your baby is your choice, the deep emotional bonding may not happen instantly but remember to be patient. Until it happens create traditions and routines that will bond the two of you in a unique way, keep holding her and loving her and you will eventually fall in love.
Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome
Some adoptive parents can experience more than just a struggle to bond with their baby. Doctors can often link depression in new mothers to the sudden demands of an infant and new financial responsibility, as well as her loss of professional identity, social networks, and personal freedom. Sometimes depression is simply about not getting enough sleep or alone time. Adoptive parents experience all these things too. If you have symptoms of depression post adoption, you could be experiencing “Post-Adoption Depression” also known as “PADS”. It’s common that the inability to immediately “fall-in-love” with your baby can lead to PADS. You can find more information about PADS on our website Learning Center-PADS. Consult a doctor if you feel as though you may be experiencing any symptoms of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome.