Many families of internationally adopted children encounter an initial struggle with attachment, particularly with older children, but it is so very important for building a healthy family. Children form strong emotional bonds with their parents or caregivers during early childhood, and developing these bonds is crucial for the child to grow into an emotionally competent individual. Unfortunately, some children who have been in neglectful situations don’t know how to respond or connect emotionally. Internationally adopted children are at the most at risk of developing attachment problems. Trying to connect with a child who has trouble attaching can be heartbreaking for adoptive parents, but you have to teach your child how to respond.
Creating a Family is a national adoption and fertility education organization that provides resources for people struggling to have a family of their own. Because creating an attachment after your adoption is so important to the process, they have compiled a list of eight tips for creating deeper attachments with adopted children.
- Creating attachment in our children begins with self-understanding of how our childhood attachments affect our current life.
- Let go of expectations of how your child should be and accept the child you have.
- Give your kids the language of emotion by actively discussing how they, you and others are feeling. When reading books with your child, stop and reflect on how the character might be feeling.
- Take the long view in parenting by focusing on what motivates a child’s behavior rather than doing whatever works in the moment to stop the behavior.
- Create a culture of compassion in your family by acknowledging and honoring differences.
- Discuss a shared experience with your child and notice the differences in what you each remember. The point is the shared telling of the story, focusing on the event and the emotions, rather than the accuracy.
- Create a family book with all members of the family. Include a chapter for each family member to create a story in images and words about themselves, and chapters of family vacations, celebrations, traditions, etc.
- Hold regular family meetings, allowing family members to share what they think about upcoming events, things that have happened, the family schedule, etc.
The important thing to remember is to keep trying. Keep cuddling. Keep making eye contact. Keep to your routines. Keep playing. If your child rejects you, it will hurt, but remember, he needs your love more than you need his right now.