Tips on Raising an Adopted Child to Form Healthy Attachment

Urvashi Shah
3 to 7 years

Created by Urvashi Shah
Updated on Mar 04, 2021

Tips on Raising an Adopted Child to Form Healthy Attachment
Reviewed by Expert panel

Adoption is as wonderful as pregnancy wherein the waiting period to have a child adopted is similar to that of waiting for 9 months to have a baby in your arms. A lot of people consider adopting a child these days for a number of reasons. This enables a child to grow and thrive in a loving family while also have a number of opportunities and experiences ahead of him/her. While they often have positive experiences overall, many adopted children as well as their adoptive parents will encounter several challenges at different points in their lives.

Challenges Of raising An Adopted Child

So let us look at a few challenges of raising an adopted child-

  1. Answering questions:

    The inquisitive minds of children urge them to ask several questions, some of them being weird enough. In case of adopted children, who are aware of their adoption, might come up with questions like-‘Why am I adopted?’ or ‘Who is my birth mother?’ and so on, which will be tough for adoptive parents to answer. Being unsure about how to answer these questions can leave the child and the parents at a loss
  2. Physical differences:

    You may not have complete and accurate information about a child’s genetic makeup or predisposition to certain diseases or conditions. At times there is little information available from the adoption agency and hence answering questions regarding your child will be tough
  3. Emotional issues:

    An adopted child is prone to several raging emotions if he/she becomes aware of the fact that they are adopted and put for adoption by their birth mothers. A child can even suffer from psychological trauma at times due to the feeling of neglect, making it tough for the adoptive parents to cope with
  4. Questions from others:

    Adoptive parents should be well prepared for a plethora of questions which will shower on them from families, friends, distant relatives, neighbours and so on. At times comments and feelings from others can prove to be hurtful for the adopted child as well as the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents must be prepared to confront these types of comments and questions, and helping the child prepare to answer them, which can make a big difference in the ability to deal with the scenario

Raising an adopted child can be a tough yet challenging task, here are some tips on raising an adopted child that you can have a look at-

  1. At first you need to manage your expectations as your child will not be immediately showing love, affection and attachment towards you. You need to understand that the child has come in to a different environment and will take a while to settle in the same. Do not make your child feel obligated towards showing his/her feelings and emotions towards you. Be supportive towards him/her and allow the child to settle in the new surroundings
  2. You need to establish the rules of your house, certain consequences and reward systems too before-hand. Your rules and expectations need to be realistic. You may not want to educate your child about the house rules all at once as it might pressurize him/her, do so one at a time, with an ease
  3. Having realistic expectations also mean that you need to accept that your child will disobey at times but that doesn’t mean you can let him/her off every time. With your rules and regulations to be followed in the house, you need to teach discipline to your child to follow the same and bear the certain consequences on breaking them too. Do not be too lenient with your child but also don’t be too rigid. The perfect balance comes when you are supportive and empathic towards your child
  4. You can take opportunities to revisit the developmental stages that your child must have missed while he/she must have been in a foster home
  5. Anticipate your child’s needs without him/her having to ask you. Needs such as healthy foods, clean and good clothes, basic amenities should be met before your child feels the need to ask from you. This will enable your child to feel how responsive you are towards his/her needs
  6. You can engage in any weekly activity such as having a day out during the weekend, catching up on a movie or visiting some relatives, which will help you establish a strong bond with your child from time to time. Your child will not feel left out when you keep giving him/her quality time
  7. Your child might not have had a chance to learn about certain emotions or behaviours. So instead of being aggressive or ignorant towards your child, take it s a fortuity to teach him/her empathy, social behaviour and so on. Since your child is young, this is the perfect time to model him/her

Regardless of your child’s history, responsive parenting is the key towards achieving a stable, secured and a loving relationship with your child. Here are some ways to form a healthy attachment with an adopted child-

  1. Always be there for your child, whether he/she is crying, happy, angry, frustrated and so on. No matter what the age of your child is, always be responsive towards his/her emotions and feelings
  2. Be empathic towards your child, irrespective of what he/she may be going through
  3. Be emotionally available towards your child
  4. Don’t take your child’s behaviours personally every time. If your child pushes you away and says, “You are not my mommy”, do not take it personally. Since your child is young, he/she has no control over the emotions, which are yet developing with time
  5. You need to become child-centred, which will enable your child to feel loved by you. Parents who are supportive in this phase of development often find their children becoming more independent and self-reliant

The matter of adoption is sensitive and hence you need to be careful initially, especially if your child is young. Here are a few tips on what not to do with an adopted child-

  1. Do not mention any differences:

    Do not make your child feel that he/she is coming from a different place. Do not alienate your child as there is a high chance of making him/her feel left out
  2. Do not keep it a secret:

    Most parents think they are doing a great job by keeping it a secret from the child that he/she is adopted. But this is a misconception, you must tell your child the fact as soon as possible. Also ensure the child knows how much you love and care for him/her
  3. Do not sympathize:

    You need not sympathize but empathize with your child. Your task as a parent is to create a strong and healthy environment for your child to exist. By sympathizing you are only making your child vulnerable and weak, which will interfere with him/her in later stages of life
  4. Do not give any special treatment:

    Giving your adopted child any sort of special treatment will only make him/her feel that they are adopted. Treat them as normal and strong

Adopting a baby is a thrilling experience. If you have just adopted a baby and feeling overwhelmed, it is only natural to feel so. But here are a few tips on how to care for an adopted baby that you must be aware of-

  1. Get a medical check up:

    First thing is first, you need to seek medical intervention where your baby's doctor can assess his/her growth and development and conduct age-appropriate screening tests, such as checking for possible anaemia and a visual or hearing impairment. If your child hasn’t been immunized, he/she will receive them immediately after the check up. International adopted babies are a special case and they will be checked for hepatitis B and C, HIV, intestinal parasites, syphilis, and tuberculosis, in addition to standard newborn screening tests
  2. Pre up for the future:

    Once you have brought the child home, look after him/her constantly and start treating him/her as your own, which will instil a feeling of belongingness in your child. As the child starts growing, you can begin telling him/her stories of how you brought them in the house. Rather than hiding the facts, which might come later as a shock to your child, it is better to tell the truth right away
  3. Dealing with others:

    Adoption being a sensitive issue may not be perceived well by others in your extended family or friends. You might not be able to change others mentality and thinking towards adoption but make sure you show constant loyalty towards your child

The better you understand adoption, the better you can teach your child to be proud of who he/she is. It is your duty to raise a strong and confident child in your supportive and dynamic environment.

Did you like the blog? Did you find it useful? Please share your thoughts, ideas and feedbacks with us; we’d love to hear from you.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Mar 07, 2018

Very useful Blog. Thanks Urvashi. keep do writing.

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| Mar 08, 2018

very useful info!!

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