Adoption is a wonderful, loving, and selfless choice. But while waiting families cannot wait to welcome a little one into their home, many are unsure about the cocooning process and/or bonding with their adopted child.
In this post, you’ll learn about the importance of bonding and attachment, what cocooning is, and how to tell your loved ones about it.
Bonding and attachment are vital to a child’s development, and adopted children have experienced a severed attachment with their birth mother. Babies can hear noises outside of the womb by 20 weeks into their mother’s pregnancy.
Their brains are neurochemically prepared to enter into the world that they were expecting. But separation from their biological mother and her “world” can be stressful and even traumatic. This causes an even greater need for the baby to effectively bond with their adoptive parents.
A safe, secure child can develop crucial functions such as socialization, intellectual stimulation, and identity formation. So it’s important to meet your child’s needs in a consistent, sensitive manner:
Cocooning is a 6- to 12-week period of time when adoptive parents limit outside visitors and interruptions while caring for their child. This encourages the closeness and consistency that the child craves after experiencing a severed attachment with their birth parent(s).
During the cocooning period, parents hold, feed, change, rock, and “wear” baby in a sling. For older children, adoptive parents will try to simplify life, settle the kids into a routine, and limit their care to Mom and Dad.
As hard as it is in our fast-paced world, try to spend as much time as possible with your child and be fully present during this time of cocooning. 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 your baby. The time you invest in feeding, changing, carrying, singing, playing, and soothing them will solidify your bond.
When you welcome a bundle of joy into your home, of course your family and friends want to meet and hold them! But it’s important to keep your child’s world as small as possible during the cocooning process to establish structure and comfort for your baby.
To help your friends and family better understand bonding and attachment, and your plan to “cocoon” when you bring your little one home, consider sending them a letter like the one below.
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 have taken classes and read countless books, and articles about bonding, attaching, and parenting our little girl.
Soon, our baby will say 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 not too young to remember. Studies have proven that to be a fact.
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.
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 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 by staying home during this time and trying to not leave her sight.
You are welcome to call, email, send cards, and/or FaceTime 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, her parents, will meet her emotional and physical needs. We would love for you to talk to her, wave, blow kisses, and sing to her.
Please know that this won’t be forever.
Most of all, family and friends, we share our excitement with you! 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!
Gifts of Grace Adoption Support Center has worked with expecting moms, adoptive families, and children in the Lafayette, Indiana community since 2013. We believe that quality, affordable, Christ-centered adoption services empower pregnant moms and dads, create thriving adoptive families, and help all children be placed in a loving home.