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Helping your adopted child bond to you

You’ve welcomed a child into your heart and into your family, but how do you create a strong bond with your adopted child? We spoke with adoption experts and parents who shared the best ways to foster a strong bond.

Happy mother and a newly adopted son

Photo credit: codacci/iStock/360 /Getty images

Many children (and, let’s face it, many adults) have a hard time being honest about their feelings. These activities help foster a sense of openness, love and safety while your adopted child learns to be part of the family.

Make time to craft

“Being a family is all about creating new memories. And what better way to do that than by crafting together?” says adjunct professor and writer Charlene Jimenez.

“Your child belongs. But she may forget that sometimes. A great way to remind her and spend time and bond with her is to create a visual family tree,” says Jimenez. “What’s important is that she can see herself placed among her family, and making a creative family tree can help her visualize that.

Use scrapbook paper to glue family photos with an Elmer’s® glue stick, and use buttons to create the tree, such as this pictured example from Embellishing Life Everyday.

Use photos to engage conversations

Melissa Levin adopted her 6-year-old twins from Russia when they were 15 months old and said they have always enjoyed bonding over crafts.

“At age 4 we gave them their own little cameras and they went about documenting their world for the summer,” Levin said. “We printed out all the photos (all 200 for each girl) and they created their own photo albums, painting front and back covers to go along with them. The bonding comes into play as we went on outings together and family events and talked about what we wanted to take pictures of. “

Research her culture and her past together

Jimenez suggests you and your child research your child’s past by gathering items like a hospital bracelet from when she was delivered by her biological mom and photos of her biological family or foster families, as well as any letters written to your child. You can also encourage her to write out her feelings in a journal.

“Getting those emotions out can help her look to the future instead of being trapped by an unhappy past,” says Jimenez. “Try to keep most of the lifebook happy and reminiscent. It will be treasured by your child and she can look back at it when she’s having a rough day. People have always loved your child. It’s important that she knows that.”

Games to promote bonding

Touch is an important part of attachment; however, some children who are adopted may not want to be held or hugged. You can promote physical attachment in a non-threatening way through fun games. Babies and toddlers will love peek-a-boo or singing “This Little Piggy Went to Market” as you wiggle their toes. Older kids may love playing tag, or even throwing a baseball back and forth, to encourage natural conversation and closeness.

Simple activities to promote closeness

Activities like painting your daughter’s fingernails or brushing your son’s hair while you watch a movie together are great ways to promote physical attachment in a non-threatening way. You can also start a nightly routine of snuggling with your child as your read his favorite book. If you have a young baby, “babywearing” is a great idea, in which you carry him in a sling or baby carrier so he gets used to skin-to-skin contact.

There are many ways to foster a strong bond with your child,through crafts, games and daily activities. Trust your instincts and give your relationship with your child time to develop and grow.

This post is sponsored by Elmer’s.

More on adoption

How to discuss adoption with your child
The realities of adopting from foster care
Adoption – Where do you start?

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