In my last post, I wrote about bonding with a biological baby after suffering from HG. In this post, I’ll write about bonding with our adopted infant using the techniques of attachment parenting. I am not pursuing the adoption of an older child through international or state adoption, so please note that the techniques I speak of regarding bonding with the adopted child do not relate to these situations. Infant domestic adoption and older child adoption require very different bonding techniques. We’ll get into the different types of adoption later.
Sometimes rather than feeling an immediate surge of love for a newborn, mothers must warm up to the new tiny stranger in their lives. It’s not at all uncommon to need that time and space to bond with your baby before you fall head over heels. I like to think of it as mommy/baby courtship.
This courtship will be especially important for me with our next child, because this child will not come from my body. Sometimes I worry (among other things) that it might be difficult for me to feel a connection to our newborn. But then I have to think that my love for LB didn’t grow out of his biological connection to me. It grew because I worked hard to get him here, and because I realized when I held him for the first time that God had given him to me to care for and nurture and love. And I trust with prayer and a little work on my part, I’ll fall just as deeply in love with our next baby.
I’ve been exploring advice for deeper attachment with an adopted newborn. One resource I know I’ll rely on more than others is The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby by Martha and Dr. William Sears. I was first introduced to Dr. Sears and his methods of attachment parenting when my sister-in-law (upon the suggestion of her friend Molly) gave me The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears. Following his advise, I think it made for a wonderful transition from in there to out here for LB and myself.
I breastfed LB until he weaned on his own at 15 months old. I don’t know if he lost interest or outgrew it, but I didn’t push it until he seemed to be pulling away more. It was a wonderful experience that I took great pride in since my pregnancy was such an unhealthy experience for both of us.
One thing I want to attempt with our adopted newborn is nursing. This is rather controversial in the adoption world. Some people are adamantly bothered by this. It’s not something I had planned on advertising, but then I thought about it, and it isn’t something I feel ashamed about. I don’t know if nursing will even be successful, but when I see my doctor again in June for my annual check up, I’m going to talk to her about it. I’ll keep you posted. That’s just one step in my plan to help me bond with our newborn. I would love to be able to nurse this baby, and pump so Travis can bottle feed him or her just like he did with LB.
We practiced another controversial parenting method when LB was a newborn: co-sleeping. It can be done safely, where it does not put your baby’s health at risk. Using a nearby bassinet until the baby is old enough to be out of the woods for SIDS risk, or using a side sleeper are two great ways to safely practice co-sleeping. Bed sharing allowed for me to nurse LB in the middle of the night for as long as he needed or wanted without feeling exhausted or growing discouraged. I was right there when he cried to immediately meet his needs. I think co-sleeping with our adopted newborn will help us in bonding with our second baby. I hope to be able to meet their needs and instill in them the trust that comes when a baby cries and a parent immediately responds.
I remember in the first few days after LB was born, this was a critical step in our bonding process. Placing him naked wearing only a diaper on my chest allowed him to hear my heartbeat as he did in the womb, while at the same time providing a comforting metronome for him to sleep peacefully to. This is something Travis and I have talked about doing again with our adopted baby. Skin to skin contact is so vital to the survival of a baby that nurses often accept the help of volunteers in the NICU unit of hospitals to simply touch the babies suffering from drug withdrawal. These quiet moments together are sure to aid in bonding.
Another technique I used with LB. This idea is also supported by Dr. Sears, but another big proponent of baby wearing is Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Sleep Longer. While doing work around the house, I had LB with me in a sling. Everywhere I went, he went. He suffered from severe colic and GERD, and I know the only way we both got through those rough months was through breastfeeding and baby wearing. The sling provides a tight, comfortable wrap to the baby’s body, which mimics his life in the womb. Wearing your baby in a sling frees your hands, but provides him with a constant comforting rhythm to sleep by. Should they cry, you are right there. And, contrary to popular belief, holding your newborn does not make them spoiled. I will use baby wearing again with our adopted baby to help them become secure in their knowledge that when they cry, we will respond.
I’m excited but nervous. This baby will be a stranger to us, but then again, so was LB. I don’t believe that biology has anything to do with bonding. I think that love is something that must be nurtured and tended to, and that’s why I believe adoption can be successful for both the child and the family as a whole. I don’t believe an adopted baby should be treated any differently than a biological child, and that’s why I plan to utilize the same techniques that worked so well with LB.
Within the next couple of weeks, our check to our homestudy agency will arrive, and we can begin our homestudy process. We’re very excited, as this is the first step of many on this long road. Right now we’re researching ideas for fund-raising and funding an adoption. Loans are always an option, of course, and we have looked into those, but only as a last-leg resort. Before diving into debt, we want to continue saving as we already have and then look into creative means to fund this process. If any of you have any tips or advice, or know of creative ways others have funded an adoption, please feel free to let me know! Thank you,