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© 2010 By Deborah Beasley ACPI CCPF

After years or months of paperwork, home inspections, and court proceedings, your adopted child is home at last.   Whether you are a newly formed adoptive family, or a seasoned parent, you look forward to creating familial bonds and loving memories between parent and child.  But, what happens when bonding is delayed? 

While most children are graced with an abundance of psychological and emotional resilience helping them combat life’s challenges, some encounter great difficulties making the transition into adoption after pre-adoptive trauma.  Poor attachment in an adopted or any child may be a sign of trauma.  Before parents can gain insight into what trauma is, how it occurs, and what we can do about it, it is important to understand attachment and bonding.

What is Healthy or Secure Attachment?

 Many foster-adoptive parents and children will begin to experience bonding magic within the first weeks of being together.  Although it can have many definitions, I describe attachment simply as a deep emotional connectedness between parent and child.  The attached parent is a knowing parent, attuned to their child in such a way that they meet the child’s needs at deep levels of understanding, love and parental commitment.  The attachment-aware parent is able to meet their child’s needs, not only physically, but at emotional and psychological levels as well. All needs are met in a timely and appropriate manner.   The parent creates the supportive structure the child craves in order to bond with the parent and grow strong.  The child then experiences environmental safety, and feels surrounded by that safety in mind, body, and spirit.

Reciprocal Bonding

 A sign of healthy attachment is also the reciprocal relationship of child to parent. Parenting expert and educator Pam Leo, in her book Connection ParentingParenting through Connection instead of Coercion, Through Love instead of Fear (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Inc.)  states, “The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.”  A child secure in her environment more readily feels the desire and inward motivation to fulfill a parent’s reasonable requests. 

A connected child shows trust in the caregiver’s leadership.  He respects the adult caregiver to the extent he himself feels respected, heard, and understood.  When a child believes he is loved and safe he naturally accepts parental direction without the need for harsh consequences and punishments.  

When a child shows love he often manifests it through his ability to give and receive affection and empathy.  He feels pride in his accomplishments, and holds a high self-esteem. The joy, care, and even charm a child experiences with a nurturing parent sparks an inner drive to be in close proximity with that parent.  When separated by school or independent activities, the connected and attached child initiates  or responds to re-connection with the parent through physical contact, a hug or kiss, or conversation.  In other words, the child seeks opportunities to be in relationship with the parent.

Watch for my next installment…

Questions about parenting your adopted, biological, or special needs child?  I can help.  Reasonable rates, and the first thirty minutes are free!  Contact me from this website, or: www.TogetherAtLastFamily.com