How to Bond with Your Child

Many adoptive parents are fortunate enough to meet their newborn babies at the hospital the day they are born. You may think that adopting a baby from day one doesn’t come with any challenges, but for adoptive moms especially, it can be hard thinking you’ve missed nine months of connection and suddenly there is this brand new, little human being to get to know. My son was three days old when my husband and I met him for the first time, and we had only learned about him the day before he was born. I remember feeling like I had so much catching up to do. Thankfully, we had some “forced” bonding time while we waited out ICPC states away from our home.

There’s not much to do while you’re temporarily living in a hotel room with a newborn, but it’s actually perfect scenario for bonding. My son and I spent some time skin-to-skin, which is becoming a more common hospital practice between moms and babies. Even though I didn’t give birth to him, I still felt like it was important for us to spend time bonding this way. Research shows that skin-to-skin has healthy benefits for babies, such as stabilizing body temperature, breathing, and heart rate. Babies also cry less, and parents are thought to be more confident and relaxed. Moms and dads can both partake in this bonding, too. So, spend some time with your naked baby on your bare chest and get to know one another! Other physical ways to bond with your newborn might be bath time or adoptive breastfeeding.

Cocooning is another great way for adoptive parents to bond with their newborns, or even older children. The definition of cocoon is “to envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way,” and that’s exactly what the goal of cocooning is for adoptive parents. Cocooning is about setting boundaries with family and friends, and focusing on your little family. Ideally, adoptive parents do all the caring for their child; all the feeding, diapering, soothing–anything and everything their child needs. It’s not that you don’t want other people to love on your child, but it’s about creating connection and stability. It’s all about bonding. Some parents may want to practice cocooning for a year, while others may do it for a just a few weeks. Find something that realistically works for your family.

Lastly, get to know you child’s birth family; it’s a peek into their DNA and history. Open adoptions, though they vary in openness, are thankfully very common today. We were fortunate to spend time with our son’s birth mom after he was born. We got to ask questions, and see and hear her. She is part of our son, so it was important to us to know her and continue growing our relationship with her. As I bond with her, I feel more closely bonded to my son.