Anyone have trouble attaching to adopted child

Allison - posted on 06/15/2009 ( 11 moms have responded )

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I have 2 adopted children, different families- I think I have a problem attaching to my son. Just wondering if this is a normal feeling , anyone else experience this? He is 6 and I have had him since he was an infant - VERY difficult baby - was born drug addicted and cried constantly - did not like to be held much, cuddle, very different from a "normal" infant - feel like i never really bonded with him and still struggle with that - any suggestions or ideas??

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Cheryl - posted on 06/23/2009

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How long have you felt this way? It must be scaring you to death. Having 2 birth children of my own (now in their mid-30's), I can tell you there are times when you just don't like them (and mine were very good kids). There are times when you wonder what ever made you think you could mother a child. If you think about it, the same thing happens in marriages. At times you wonder"what was I thinking?" When this happens, you might just try to answer that question. What were you thinking when going through the adoption process? What were the special things that made you want to make him yours? What dreams did you have for him? Every age has the things you wish could last forever and things you can't wait for them to outgrow. Try to get through the bad while looking for the good. Make a list of all the good things about him as well as the special things of having him in your life. As a grandmother to 5, ages 13years-10 months, and a foster mom to 3, ages 1,2 and 5, there are many times when I wonder why God ever thought I could love this child. My 5 year old came to me like a little frightened animal trying to protect her young(her 2 sisters). She was just 4 yet had been mothering the 2 baby's as well as experiencing neglect and abuse herself. She would fight each time you crossed her about anything because that was how they survived. She hadn't experienced unconditional love herself, so couldn't understand it. !6 months later, she is a normal 5 year old with occasional bursts of bad behavior. We are getting ready to start the TPR trial next week and have an adoptive family eager to accept all 3 into a forever home. Was it easy? NO!! Was it worth it? YES!!! Hang in there. I have over 75 years of parenting experience( I'm 56 but I added up my years as birth and foster mom) I have learned and lived through a lot.If I can be of further help please feel free to contact me. Good luck and God Bless you.

Cheryl aka Mema

[deleted account]

Bonding is an ongoing process, not an event that happens. I am continually building a foundation with both my children. I find that I need to spend dedicated time with them to continue feeling bonded. I also have to do something with them that they really enjoy and so experiencing that with them helps me feel more bonded to them. Also I do a lot of games where I am teaching them something, or it requires some back and forth between us. The best bonding happens when we go swimming because I get a lot of skin to skin contact.



Another thing to consider is post adoption depression. I suffered from it and after seeing a therapist for few months, I could really begin the bonding process. Is it possible therapy could help?

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Calliope - posted on 08/03/2015

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Talk with an attachment specialist... it might be him not you that is not bonding. He may have attachment issues. These kids may never bond to you the way other kids do. If he does have attachment issues or even RAD, parenting is totally different and you will need experts guiding you so you don't feel down on yourself. Even trained counselors are flummoxed by RAD children so ask for someone trained in it or counseling will not work.

User - posted on 05/04/2012

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I agree with Leah. I bet your son has something that needs to be diagnosed. A friend at work has a son who could never be touched or held as a baby. He is on Concerta which treated ADHD but this medication works for him too. He also didn't like clothing rubbing on him and tags would have to be removed from clothing. Have him diagnosed. There is something more wrong. By the way, her son is fine. Does great in school and is a great kid. Medication did the trick!!

Liz - posted on 08/13/2011

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Hi Allison. You aren't alone. I know you posted this a while ago, but I'm going through something very similar with my son who we adopted from Russia. He will be 6 soon, is possibly on the spectrum and most definitely has ADHD. Makes me so very sad and causes a lot of tension in our family. I love my son but he has never shown much affection really and often says "I hate you!" very aggressive and self oriented. Hits, screams, orders people around. We don't know much about his parents, other than his mother was 20 and a smoker. Said she didn't drink, but I don't know. How has your situation been lately? I hope you are seeing a change.

Amber - posted on 09/07/2009

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We adopted ours in Oct of 2006 but started fostering them in June of 2003. They are a sibling group of 6 total but we were only able to adopt 2 because the other 4 had already been placed in care with other families. We had tried at one time to get the sister but didnt have any luck. They were severly abused and state thought it would be better if they were all seperated. Luckly the now 8 and 9 yr old girl and boy got to stay together. At times I think how in the world did I get my self into this. When they are fighting or struggling with school. E has ADHD and ODD which makes life miserable at times even on meds. J is really smart yet major attitude. We got them when they were almost 2 and 3. They do get to see their siblings on occasions. It is hard when you dont fully bond with the child. Sometimes you bond more with one then the other. You just have to think positive and keep an open mind.

Paulette - posted on 07/29/2009

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About a week ago, I was sitting on the sofa with my two girls and my 3 yr old who had been giving me lots of headaches/ rough times, etc,,, said " T.T. momma, I'm glad I came to live with you. I really like it here." Need less to say, I was in tears cause we have had some pretty rough days. She is best when we have days of loaded sensory activities> ie, water play, sandbox activities, playing with rocks or beans on the kitchen floor, shaving cream on the table, or anything else that gives her some tactile imput. I have also been having her look right into my eyes when I talk to her although that doesn't always work. It has taken us a long time to bond but the wait was well worth it.

Leah - posted on 07/22/2009

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Has your son had a psycological evaluation? I am wondering if he could have FAS, or some related disorder. These children can be very difficult to bond with.

Tara - posted on 07/13/2009

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Wow, that's tough. I'm impressed and happy that you have "stuck it out" with your son. Some people who adopt children don't feel that instant bond and then go through an adoption disruption...basically, they give the child back. I can't imagine how awful that must be for the kids! Have you tried counseling? You can go separately and together if necessary. Sounds like a good idea. Good luck!

Paulette - posted on 07/12/2009

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I sometimes wonder if we don't have some attachment issues ourse,ves. I adopted my great neices after having them in foster care for 1 1/2 yrs. The three yr old makes it very difficult at times and is extremely jealous of her 2 yr old sister because I have had them since the 2 yr old was 3 wks old and have been mom to her forever. I am considering some family therapy, but the biggest and best thing I did was to join a group in the community that has family situations similar to ours.

I would also suggest finding some time alone with him. Let him decide what he wants to do during that time frame and enjoy the time you spend together.

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