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As some of you might know, we had a 4 year old ad placed with us about 6 months ago. She has settled really well, very smiley generally and loving school, making friends, eating and sleeping well etc... Don't get me wrong, she has been pushing boundaries all over the place and regressing at times and there have been some meltdowns, but overall doing v v well. All social workers are thrilled and she does seem very happy.
The problem is me. I am just not warming to her and it's not her fault as she clearly wants to bond with me. By this stage just having her here feels pretty normal but I don't love her and find her irritating at times. I don't thinking i show it, DH would tell me if I did. I find it really hard to cuddle her or kiss her and I hate myself for it. All adoptive parents I know and social workers say it will come, but I do worry that it won't. I have a birth child too and adore him and feel so worried that I'll never feel anything like that for her.
Would really appreciate hearing from other adopters about how and when love came or if it never did.
This is completely normal and lots of adoptive parents find this happens - me included. It took me over 18 months with both my older children to feel this unconditional love. And with DD1, no one ever mentionned bonding problems with me, so I was stumbling in the dark and beating myself up about my lack of love. That wasn't healthy for me. It did come eventually - it will for you. Hold on, and fake it till you make it. Try and believe it will come, because it does. Make an effort to cuddle and kiss even when you really don't want to. Try not to hate yourself for feeling normal feelings that lots of adoptive parents experience. You haven't done anything wrong, and this isn't your fault
We had a thread on bonding where people shared their stories here www.mumsnet.com/Talk/adoptions/a1524717-How-does-it-happen-bonding#33127753
<Hugs> to you, it isn't easy. You will get there. You are aleady well on the way, if it feels normal having her around! Really, you are on the path there now, and it will take more time, but it's a long journey and you will get there eventually
I'm not an adoptive mum but just wanted to say it took me time to bond with and really love my second birth child too.
I do worry that it won't
Well good, that shows that you care for her and you feel responsible for her. That's how it started with DS for - and he was younger and (I guess) cuter and easier than a 4 year old (only 11 months).
I would say it took a year before I realised I loved him but it probably crept up on me earlier than that. It was a major shock to me that I struggled to bond with him when all social workers talked about was helping the child bond with you.
I maintain that faking it until you make it is the way to go though I'm sure that sounds rather cold!
Of course you're worried, and of course nobody can guarantee you will fall in love with your new daughter. All I know is that six months in is very very early for deciding you won't love her. I adopted a very cute, easygoing baby, and it still took easily a year before I really fell for her. All my adopter friends say the same.
I have huge sympathy with how you are feeling, but try to keep the faith.
PS. And I know it is very hard to talk about it in RL (I certainly never did) but you CAN talk about it here. We won't judge you, and we will understand.
Thank you all for your kindness and reassurance. I know that you all know how I feel and it helps very much. I had something like it with my bs with whom I didn't bond for months, but at least he didnt have to deal with his mum adoring another little person in the house. I'm pretty sure she hasn't picked this up as we are very even handed and save extra cuddles and treats for ds for until after dd has gone to bed.
lilka thanks for that thread. I can't believe I missed it the first time round. It's wonderful to be told again that what I feel is normal.
kew Faking until you make it is cold but absolutely necessasy, I agree. But it's so hard to do, for me anyway as I'm not very good at casual kissing and cuddling of people I don't love. I think that must be easier with a baby as well. DD's very large foster family was very demonstrative so she's used to this and wants it, too much so I think as it's been tricky to teach her not to hug and kiss most people who come to our house! She is super pretty/cute, but even that doesn't help.
Our sw, who have been excellent, tell me how I feel is normal but I do feel sorry for this little girl who is a delight by any normal standards and wants a forever family more than anything. She deserves a mummy who adores her and I hope I will become that woman.
She is super pretty/cute, but even that doesn't help. - no it doesn't does it? You feel like it should but it doesn't, not one bit - in fact its the opposite of helpful as everyone else tells you how wonderful and cute they are and all you can think is "yes but..."
She deserves a mummy who adores her and I hope I will become that woman. I must confess that I got to a point where I decided (very pompously!) that even if I could never bond with DS I would make his life far better than it would have been without me. I look back now and blush at my conviction that I was going to be Mother Theresa rather than just a mother.
I have unusually rare pictures on my profile (new kittens!) so you can for a limited period see just how impossibly cute he was! still didn't help.
Kew, that's exactly it isn't it? It doesn't help a bit. But, like you, I have decided that her life will be a million times better with us than it could ever have been and that's my goal for the moment.
Your ds is gorgeous and he looks so very happy.
Kew I laughed out loud when I saw the one of him in the glasses. Yes, he is so cute.
Jenny I am not an adopter and I have no idea how it will all pan out, except that I think and hope, one day you will just feel that love, unpromoted and unexpected. Maybe she will do something or look a certain way and you will see it, maybe she will be sad or not well and you feel it, or maybe it is like that old thing about the butterfly, being like happiness, but I think love can be like that too.
Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes and softly sits on your shoulder. - L. Richard Lessor
I am very sure you will find your butterfly, and it will all fall into place.
I was once so tired with my non-sleeping traumatised DD1 that I had a very cleary thought; if SS took her back now I would miss her but get over it. Of course now I would cut off my arms and legs for her and kill anyone who tried to take her - or 2 away - but love and bonding are not instanteous. In RL it is almost impossible to talk about; we jump through such hoops to adopt that when we do I think there is a societal expectation that we must just be 'grateful' to be parents and since we 'chose' this then we have no right to complain.
Love takes time and it sounds to me like you already have the beginnings of it here because you care and feel responsible for her. Remember you have a traumatised child and dealing with those issues sometimes gets in the way of our feeling the love grow. It will come. And 4 year olds of any description can be irritating and dislikeable; when it happens with our adopted children we worry that we don't love them 'properly' even though the feelings are normal to any parent. As others said, fake it till it feels real to you and take the opportunities to hug, cuddle and play together so you can see and feel the enjoyment in her company.
Please cuddle and kiss her.....imagine she may already be picking up on this and out may do damage in the future. Even if you are not a touchy feely person this little one needs you. And I'm sorry but leaving hugs and treats for your other child when dd has gone to bed sounds a bit off. Keep telling yourself how lucky you are and I hope you start to believe it x
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