Adoption is an option that many families turn to for a variety of reasons. With the increase in international adoptions and the older age of children when they are brought into their forever homes, more families are facing challenges with Reactive Attachment Disorder. This is a technical term for children who fail to attach at an early age to a significant other in their life.
Many families, in an effort to negate the negative affects the children experience when they fail to adequately develop emotional attachments to their caregivers, will use attachment parenting to increase the positive effects for children and a lifelong effort to improve their child’s ability to have deep relationships with others. But whether the child really has Reactive Attachment Disorder or families are just dealing with attachment and bonding issues, attachment parenting is a way of improving the positive effects for children and increasing their ability to be successful as adults.
In adoptive situations, children can enter into a family’s home anywhere from birth to late teens. Between birth and the toddler years children are dealing with basic trust issues and learning to become attached to their primary caregiver. Children who are adopted also are dealing with basic trust issues and attachment because they have lost their primary caregiver. It may seem that an infant would not recognize the loss of his birth mother; however just as a new mother will recognize the scent of her infant, the infant immediately recognizes the scent of his mother.
Initially, mothers who would be giving their children up for adoptions were encouraged not to hold their child at birth so that they wouldn’t form an immediate attachment and potentially change their minds. However, the reality is that the immediate holding and bonding at birth also forms an attachment to the scent of the woman who is his mother. The jury is still out on whether forming that attachment and then losing it is more detrimental than not forming it at the time of birth at all.
Using attachment parenting provides a high level of nurturing, consistency and security for a infant or toddler who is grieving the loss of a caregiver. This increased attachment helps them to form natural bonds with their current caregiver and increases the success rate of their ability to form deep relationships with others as they grow into their preschool years and beyond.
Attachment parenting does not end during the toddler years but rather continues through preschool, early grade school and adolescence. In the preschool years children who are adopted often question why they were adopted and where they originally came from. By using a positive parenting response, providing truthful answers and having an open attitude with the child about the truth of their origins, adoptive parents are often able to help their children work through these emotional issues in a positive manner.
Between the ages of six and 10 children who are adopted may question the primary loss of their caregiver and have an overall sense of being different from other children in the family or in their situation. Sometimes this leads to feelings of rejection. Adoptive families who are able to provide their child information and help them deal with their feelings of rejection are able to do this only by continuing to develop open lines of communication and being consistent with their overtures for a continued attachment with the child.
Adolescence is a tumultuous time for any child and those children who have been adopted may have additional questions. For instance, in the early adolescent years adopted children have questions about their birth family and wonder how the family looks or if they, the children, have similar talents as their birth family. Later in adolescence children may express a desire to learn as much as possible about their birth family and can engage in a great deal of abstract thinking about that family. This is also a time when the children may express a desire to search for and become reunited with their birth family.
Adolescence is a time of difficulty not only for the child but also for the family of any child. The addition of an adoption makes the use of positive parenting and attachment parenting even more important to both the parents and the child. Parents who are able to share information with their child’s including pictures of their birth family and answer any questions with as much concrete information as they have, allowing the child to grieve through the process, will increase the ability of the child to cope with their reality. Going through these processes with the child is important for the adoptive parents to be as supportive as they can be to help the child find information about their family.
By incorporating attachment parenting and positive parenting techniques throughout the upbringing of a child who’s been adopted both the parents and the child will have less chance of feeling neglected or rejected at a time when the child is questioning his origins.
Attachment Parenting:Developing Emotional Attachments in adopted Children
Attachment Parenting International: Adoption and Foster Care
Parenting.com: Ask Dr Sears: Attachment Parenting an Adopted Child
BabyCenter: Forming a Healthy Attachment with Your Adopted Child
Adoption and attachment Center of Iowa