Bonding and attachment are vital to a child’s development. Children who are adopted have experienced a severed attachment with their birth mother. Babies can hear noises outside of the womb by around 20 weeks gestation. Their brains are neurochemically prepped to enter into the world that they were expecting. Separation from their biological mother and her ‘world,’ can be stressful and even traumatic. This causes an even greater need to effectively bond with their adoptive parents. Bonding and attachment enable the child to develop a sense of safety and security and eventually lead to other crucial functions such as socialization, stimulation of intellectual development, and identify formation. Therefore, it is important that you meet your child’s needs in a consistent, sensitive manner. Feed on demand. Respond quickly to fussing. If you adopt a toddler or older child, allow him to regress: Try bottle-feeding, rocking him to sleep, carrying him, and letting him sit on your lap. In short, be there for your child as much as possible in the early days, weeks and months.
Cocooning is a period of time, ideally 6 to 12 weeks long, where adoptive parents limit outside visitors and interruptions while providing focused care for their child. During this time, they hold, feed, change, rock, and ‘wear’ baby by using a sling. In older children adoptions, adoptive parents attempt to simplify life, settle into a routine, and limit the care of their child to mom and dad. This all encourages the closeness and consistency that the child is craving after experiencing a severed attachment with their birth parent(s) and possibly additional care givers. Cocooning is said to be one of the most important things an adoptive parent can do to develop a secure, trusting, strong relationship between them and their newly adopted child.
As difficult as it is in our fast-paced world, try to restrict your hours away from your little one as much as possible and be fully present during this time of cocooning. Neurobiological research shows that, when parents multitask, children can sense this. So turn off your computer and cell phone, block out your mental to-do list, and concentrate on the relationship at hand. The time you invest in feeding, changing, carrying, singing, playing, and soothing will solidify the bond with your child.
Dear Family and Friends,
The day we have longed for is fast approaching. We are finishing preparing our home and our hearts for our new daughter. Adoption is something that has been a part of our lives for years. We’ve researched, prayed, and discussed growing our family through adoption for quite some time. We didn’t enter into this wild adventure recklessly, naively, or uneducated. We have taken classes and read countless books, articles, and blogs (learning straight from those on the front lines) about bonding, attaching, and parenting our little girl. We’ve done all that we possibly can to learn how to be the best parents for our child.
Soon baby girl will be saying goodbye to the only life she’s ever known. She will be placed in our arms and into a new life. As in all adoptions, loss is a big part of her life. It always will be. She will never forget that. It will never change. She is/was not too young to remember. Studies have proven that to be a fact.
God’s plan, from before baby girl was even conceived in her mother’s womb, was for her to be our daughter. It is His PERFECT plan for her. We have complete confidence in that. Her journey to our home may be vastly different from what you had imagined for us, but God is sovereign in His ways. She is our greatest blessing from Christ above.
We know that you have walked alongside of us through our adoption journey. We shared our joyous news and you were there with us. You offered your encouragement, support, prayers, and finances and those have continued until this very day. We are ever grateful for each of you. Thank you again. We know, that just like us, you want baby girl home with her mommy and daddy, and you want your chance to meet her, hold her, play with her, and love on her. However, we know that just like us, you want her transition to her forever family to be as positive as it can be.
Babies' needs are unique. Walking through our front door as a family of three on that magical day won’t be like a family bringing home a biological child from the hospital. We hope you will understand that. Because of adoption our family is now unique. It is our responsibility to teach her that we, her parents, will kiss her boo-boos, tuck her in a night, console her tears, fill her little tummy, and love her unconditionally for the rest of our lives. She needs to learn to trust us. We will need your help in doing that. Through careful consideration, prayer, and education we have created an attachment plan for our daughter. Please understand that we are doing this only because it is what is best for her.
This letter is to share with you that we will be doing what the adoption community refers to as cocooning. As part of the cocooning, we will be limiting baby’s interaction with everyone outside our household for at least the first month. It is important that we make her world as small as possible. We will be establishing structure and comfort for her. We will be staying home during this time and hope to not leave her eyesight. You are welcome to call, email, send cards, facetime, and skype with us. We will be in close proximity to her at all times. Eventually, we will be out and about gradually so she isn’t overwhelmed. For a time
we ask that you don’t hold, kiss, or hug her as she learns that we are her parents and primary caregivers. We would love for you to talk to her, wave, blow kisses, and sing to her. Our desire is for her to learn that we, her parents, will meet her physical and emotional needs. Please know that this won’t be forever.
We also wanted to share with you some of what we have learned. Experts urge adoptive parents to ignore any worries that something negative will come of them “spoiling” their new child. Parenting an adoptive child is very different from parenting a biological child. It is. Common parenting and disciplining techniques are not always best for children from fragile backgrounds. We welcome your advice and suggestions, but hope you will respect our decisions as they are unique to our family. We are taking on a new role as parents and as all new parents do, we will be learning as we go. We don’t claim to know all the answers. We pray daily for the Lord’s guidance in caring for our daughter.
Most of all family and friends, we share our excitement with you! We hope you will let this be only the beginning of your involvement with our growing family. Baby girl has already had your love poured over her, and we don’t want that to end. Just as we’ve spent our time longing for her to be in our arms, we long for her to be in your arms as well. Come along with us and ride out the final stage of the wait!
We are so incredibly blessed to be loved by you all!
-Adapted from "Our Cocoon, An open letter to family and friends" at nothinglefttopaint.wordpress.com