We've adopted a child - how do we bond? (24 months onwards) 

Health visitor Ruth Oshikanlu talks about how to bond with a child you've adopted.

More about adoption and fostering

Transcript of We've adopted a child - how do we bond? (24 months onwards)

We’ve adopted a child – how do we bond?   Ruth: “It's not uncommon for some adoptive parents to find that they do not easily bond with their new child. It does take some time to get to know a new person. Here is how some parents have coped with the transition.   Parents: “Alice was just 10 months old when she moved in, so it was easy to have a lot of physical contact with her, because she needed to be carried everywhere. But I think that high level of physical contact really helped her to bond with me and Jake, my partner.   When we first met her, we got down on her level straightaway and tried to play with her toys and her things.   When you say "getting down to their level" it sounds so basic, but it really does matter actually being down there amongst the Lego or whatever they're playing with.   Yes. My daughter, she likes toes. So she'd play with her toes. Being at home, no socks on. She'd want to play with mine. At first I thought, "No." But I found that she found it a comfort and it enabled me to believe that she really does trust and love me as her mum.   We felt fairly instantly that the boys were bonding well with us during introductions and particularly our elder son was really keen to move on from foster care.   But even with that, you still have to, I think, be mindful that the children need to remember and have the past acknowledged, as well as having a chance to try and forget some of the things, to help that transition from one life, as it were, to another.   My little girl, she was abandoned. They found her at four hours old. So her history pretty much is a blank. What I've chosen to do is just immerse her in my culture, which is a Jamaican culture, so she can identify with that.   So as she gets older and has an understanding of the adoption process, and even the fact that she was abandoned, so finding birth parents may be impossible, she'll still feel like she can say,   "Well, this is where I came from," in that sense.

  My younger son was only two-and-a-half when we adopted him. He already had such a personality. He had possessions. He had tastes. And even more so with our elder son. So, if your child is a little older, you need to be able to make that whole person feel welcomed.   When our daughter moved in we had a routine straightaway. I thought that really helped. It really helped me. When you're not so sure about what she needs emotionally...   Because I didn't know her that well for the first couple of weeks, but I knew that she slept at midday. I knew that she has her dinner at five o'clock.   I kind of hung on to that routine more than she did, at first. I've joined an adoptive support group where we meet every three months. And all of us are adoptive parents. And I find it really good, because we can go and we meet in this forum where we can just voice everything we want to voice. It's all confidential.   And I get a sense of happiness, as well, that my girl, while I'm up there, discussing what we're discussing, she's downstairs with children, that are like her and come from a same type of situation, and making friends. I've got to say that psychological services that are there to help families like ours are really important, not just for us, but for so many families.   It's really important to discuss this with your agency at the beginning, I think, isn't it, to know that there's going to be something there to help you in professional ways that family members can't possibly.   We've heard from some parents who have adopted a child, how they coped with the transition. My advice would be to seek support from your health visitor or GP or local support groups where parents who have been through the process can share their experiences with you.”    


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