Bonding with your Adopted Baby

By Amanda Hammond

“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.”
Valerie Harper- Adoptive parent

Only you know how long you’ve felt this yearning or what it was truly like.  You’ve waited and hoped and waited some more. There is no doubt that you have experienced the same anticipation as a pregnant mother except for far longer.  I’d like to ensure you that you can have the same beautiful bonding experience that a birthmother can with a few helpful suggestions.

Babies bond in a number of ways.  One of the most important comforts you can offer your baby is you!  Limit visitors during your first few weeks with your new baby.  You want her to get acquainted with you and only you for right now. 

Skin to skin contact has been proven very necessary for newborn comfort and development.  They are learning about you via your smell and warmth.  They see you and associate it with the soft warm feeling of your skin.  They learn your smell which will soon be a huge comfort to them.  Skin to skin contact is even shown to reduce pain in infants according to the  American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Bathe with your baby to encourage even more skin-to-skin contact.  It is something you simply can’t do too much of!

Keep your little bundle as close you as possible by baby wearing.  They can hear your heartbeat.  They can smell and feel you.  These are the most ideal sensory experiences for your baby to feel safe with you. 

If you won’t be sharing a family bed with baby try this tip from  Put one of your unwashed tee-shirts over baby’s bassinet mattress so she can enjoy the comfort of your smell.

And- yes- you, as an adoptive mother can breastfeed! In the article “Preparation for Adoptive Nursing” by Darrilyn Starr, I found these suggestions to be the most helpful and easy to follow.

First get a reliable book like Ina May’s Guide to breastfeeding.  You need to do this while you are waiting for  your baby just like a birthmother would do.

 Pumping with a good breast pump and going braless are great ways to stimulate nipples and increase milk supply.

Avoid using soap on your nipple area as it will dry them out. 

Don’t get discouraged if you are only expressing a few drops when pumping.  Your breasts respond much differently to baby’s sucking than  the plastic suction of a breast pump.  You’d be surprised how much milk your baby may get! 

Remember that any breast milk your baby gets is to his benefit!  It is such an amazing source of nourishment      that even a small amount will aid in their development.  Plus it is a great way to encourage bonding and scent recognition.

My final and most important suggestion for bonding with your adopted baby is:  

Don’t try to force this process.  Bonding is a process on both the parents’ and baby’s part and shouldn’t be rushed.  Let this happen naturally and easily by providing them an environment where they feel safe and loved.  The info I’ve provided will aid you in doing this, but go with your parental instincts.  Trust you and your baby will trust you too!


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