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Bonding

(21 Posts)
charliefoxtrot Wed 22-Jan-14 13:13:11

Hi, My husband I have just started to think about adoption after finding out we can't have any more biological children. However, I am scared about what would happen if the first time we met the child was after we had been matched, and I wasn't able to form a good bond with him/her. My bond with our son was instant, but I also have a step daughter, and it had been a long hard struggle to build and maintain a good relationship with her.

It is much more difficult when biology isn't on your side? Is this a common worry with prospective adopters?

akuabadoll Wed 22-Jan-14 14:29:40

You can never be sure how it will play out, there are many factors, not just bio/adopted. In my case, (we adopted first and had bio child second) I have found it harder to bond with the second than the first. I think it is a common worry but its not always the case and bonds that develop over time are not inferior, right?

CloserThanYesterday Wed 22-Jan-14 15:55:45

We have just put our application in to adopt and this was one of the main worries we had, you're definitely not alone.

When I first started teaching I was horrified to find that some children were much more difficult to take to than others - of course i'd never let personal feelings get in the way of my job, but I must admit I was thinking 'what if we adopt, and it's one of those children I find it hard to take to?'

In the end, we just have to remember it will be different when it's 'our' child ... even if the bond does take a bit of time and effort. I guess it's a leap of faith.

Buster51 Wed 22-Jan-14 16:08:32

We are 11 weeks into placement with DS, and at times I worried I would never feel a bond towards him! Well not the way a 'mother should' anyway. We are getting there, I enjoy him more and more but there are still up and down days. I am confident once he is more settled we will get there, but I would suspect this is a worry of most adoptive parents.

Thebluedog Wed 22-Jan-14 21:19:12

I don't think you ever know. I have a birth dd (6) and I'm about 12 weeks into placement with dd2 who's almost 2. There have been times I've thought we'll never bond. There have been plenty of tears (mine) and wailing 'oh what have I done'

That said, it gets better each day (note to self listen to mn) and I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. For us it's definitely been a case of 'slowly slowly'. Whereas it's a question I never even thought to ask myself with my birth dd

RabbitRabbit78 Wed 22-Jan-14 21:51:44

Seconding what the two posters above have said (we are 4 months in). Our adoption support worker told us it takes a year before you form a "true" attachment and feel like they are part of you. Some people say they feel an instant bond, for most of us it takes time. "Fake it til you make it" is the best advice I've had in this.

AngelsWithSilverWings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:01:34

I hate an instant bond with DS ( from the moment we saw his photo and a clip of him toddling around at his foster carers) .

With DD it took longer to bond. I don't think there was a particular moment when I realised we had bonded. It just developed over time.

I have no idea why it was different but wonder if it's because DD is and always has been very shy whereas DS is very charming and engaging from the moment you meet him.

It could also have been that I found settling in a new child when we already had a pretty demanding 3 year old quite tough. Looking back I think I was quite down in the dumps in the early days with DD.

Kidsarehardworkbutgoodfun Wed 22-Jan-14 22:18:22

Mine are all birth DCs. But I didn't feel I bonded with my first for ages. I think it was all overwhelming, and I didn't feel I deserved him ( prob my low self esteem).
I found it easier to bond with subsequent children as I relaxed and matured into motherhood. Then I realised I must love the first DS as much as the subsequent DC, and I learned to relax and enjoy my DC.

I think the advice above 'to fake it till you make it' is excellent. Love often grows gradually, don't feel guilty if it's not instant.

Devora Wed 22-Jan-14 23:08:11

Yes, it's a common fear. And, although some adopters say they bonded instantly, I think it's wise not to expect this. About a year for a deep bond to develop sounds about right.

I took months to really bond with dd2 (adopted). But then, I took months to deeply bond with dd1 (birth child) so that helped me feel more relaxed about it! Now, 3 years on, I love them both passionately. I wouldn't say I had the same relationship with them both - but isn't that true in all families? dd1 is so much like me, and dd2 is so different, but that doesn't mean I love her less; actually, I really enjoy having the variety of one who is a bit of a mirror, and one who is fabulously, almost decadently her own person. I couldn't say which I love more.

Is that at all reassuring? smile

roadwalker Thu 23-Jan-14 09:59:30

I didn't even like my DD when I met her
She was very skanky, matted hair, skin dry and cracked and dressed in a very strange way
It seemed like she was nothing at all to do with me
The other strange thing was that everyone knew more about her that me and I remember sitting in FC house thinking, this is going to be my DD and I don't know her
What I did feel was a commitment to her and a great sense of responsibility for her
A SW was teasing her with a dummy and I thought - there is no way that will happen when she is mine!
I have BS and I can honestly say that I love them equally. She has tested us like I would never had imagined possible so our love has been well tested.

Devora Thu 23-Jan-14 10:14:23

Yes, that first sight of your child: you hope and expect a big emotional moment, but I just felt numb. Everything just shut down. And I felt that way for quite awhile: fond, and proud of her, and wanting to do my best, but my love took a while to thaw.

NanaNina Thu 23-Jan-14 14:20:52

Oh what lovely posts on here which I'm sure must be very helpful to you Charlie - and of course the answer to your question is "it all depends" and I think there must always be a period of adjustment when a new child is brought into the family, as everyone else's position changes. I remember feeling I'd done the wrong thing with a new puppy and it took me ages to see the positives!!

I have 2 sons and also had a step daughter who I found very hard to like (let alone love) she didn't live with us, but spent most of her school holidays with us. I have some very unhappy memories of those times, but when she had her own children I bonded with them quite easily. I felt I'd been given a "second chance" because I'd always felt guilty about not being able to like a pretty little girl.

There are no guarantees in adoption but I think you need to remember that if you do go on the journey you are not committing yourself to anything until there is mutual agreement on a particular child being placed with you. Obviously LAs and VOs don't want to waste their time on people who are "just looking" as it were, but it is best to keep an open mind and think really seriously about all the issues that are covered in the preparation groups. Talking to other adoptive parents will help too, although everyone's situation is different.

charliefoxtrot Thu 23-Jan-14 20:09:31

That is very reassuring and has put my mind at ease, thank you everyone. I feel very lucky to have access to instant advice from such experienced people. Hooray for Mumsnet! :-)

Moomoomie Thu 23-Jan-14 20:45:21

I think I was very naive when we went into adoption, I must admit I didn't really think whether I would bond with a child. I worked as a nanny for a few years when I left college, so had experience of loving children not born to me. I remember saying to our SW that I may feel like their nanny when children are first placed.
Fortunately I fell instantly in love with our girls. It helped that dd1 who was 29 months took to me very well from the beginning... Her first words to me were "new mummy" with a huge smile on her face!
I know everyone's experiences are different, mumsnet has certainly opened my eyes to that.grin

Kewcumber Thu 23-Jan-14 21:19:46

I'd always felt guilty about not being able to like a pretty little girl its odd isn't it - DS was the cutest thing you've ever seen and very engaging so I couldn't understand why that didn't make a difference. It was a big shock to me that I felt numb a bit like Moomoomie, I hadn't actually considered that I might not bond instantly with him. I really hadn't spent enough time on MN (or maybe the adoption section wasn't as busy I'm not sure). I'd read too many American blogs all raving about the instant bond and falling in love at first sight with their children.

I was totally unrealistic and I felt like a total failure. Of course the fact that he screamed the place down when he first saw me and wouldn't stop for hours and then spent three weeks trying to avoid eye contact with me didn't help.

It really wasn't how I imagined my mythical meeting with my much desired child!

I felt responsible for him very quickly started to bond after around 5 weeks and it imrpoved pretty much from three month onwards, every week just got better and better.

Hard to know when we were totally bonded but I guess I had that totally besotted in love with him kind of feeling sometime between 6-12 months (it crept up on me and I didn't notice).

charliefoxtrot Fri 24-Jan-14 19:32:24

When I first met my husband I wasn't phased by the fact he had a daughter. She was 2 at the time. I loved kids, and kids loved me. However, she didn't take to me at all. I made a huge effort to spend time with her, but she remained hostile at worst and indifferent at best. It never got better. She's now 17 and has lived with us for the last 4 years. Although things are easier now she's old enough to talk to and reason with, we're still not close. I'm still committed to her, but I don't really like her (that's a very strange emotion). In truth, I would rather she didn't live with us. There's absolutely nothing wrong with her, she's a lovely girl, but I just haven't been able to bond with her. My biggest worry is that we adopt a child and I feel the same way about him/her. In my step-daughters case, time hasn't helped. It's very encouraging to know that other people have had such a range of experiences - there are a lot of positive stories out there and that gives me hope that things could be different if we adopted.

Kewcumber Fri 24-Jan-14 21:51:32

Your step daughter has a mother. You haven't bonded to her as a mother would because (IMVHO) you're not her mother!

There is something valuable (even though its as tough as all hell in the early days) in the total immersion 24/7 care for months. This child will need you (though won;t necessarily want you), they won't have anyone else. In my experience feeling a sense of responsibility comes very quickly then protectiveness and the rest follwoes more slowly.

MrsBW Fri 24-Jan-14 22:01:00

I'm expecting to feel like I'm babysitting someone else's kids for the first 6 years 6 months after our children come home!

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 24-Jan-14 22:03:04

I bonded pretty much straight away with (adopted ) DD, certainly faster than with (birth) DS. Maybe because we had time to prepare for meeting her, whereas DS was both premature and a quick delivery, and I spent the week that he was in SCBU feeling that he wasn't really anything to do with me.

DH didn't have an instant click with DD, for him it took a few months before he started to feel like her dad. But then it grew such that although we both - naturally enough - have a different relationship with each of them both of our children are very much ours

MyBaby1day Fri 07-Feb-14 10:54:52

That is one of my biggest worries about adopting.

Chocomint Fri 07-Feb-14 12:09:10

There were times in the first few months that I wished we hadn't adopted. We had a very hard time with DD, but now 16 months in we have a close bond. It definitely took a year before I began to feel love.

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