Growing Closer: 7 Practical Considerations for Bonding

A family formed by choice inherently comes with questions, fears, and challenges regarding bonding.

Here are 7 things to consider.


1. Keep things simple.

“One of the most powerful parenting strategies we have used with the greatest amount of immediate and visible, long-lasting healing has also been one of the easiest: Holding. Although we naturally did this with our biological son, we intentionally do this with our adopted children. Holding your adopted child is nurturing and gentle, and it’s powerful, because the holding increases and mobilizes development within a child.”
—Amy, adoptive mom and blogger at


2. Remind yourself that you and your child ultimately want many of the same things–love, acceptance, family, familiarity.

“It is not you against this child. It is you and this child against this child’s history.”
—Dr. Karyn Purvis, The Connected Child


3. Acknowledge the loss(es).

“Our children want what they have lost, and so do we. They have lost their blood ties to parents. We have lost our visions of family, the dream of how our lives should be. Still, even though we may not have started in the right place, those of us willing to work through the disillusionment have a chance to grow into a real family unit.”
—Nancy Hanner, adoptive mom


Lifesong family Joshua and Kaylee recently adopted a little boy from India.
4. Say “no” to unnecessary guilt.

For example. If God has called your family to adopt, He will equip your bio kids for the journey, too.

“Expect sibling rivalry, and remind yourself that it is the norm for biological siblings, too. Even if sibling rivalry isn’t an issue, there may be times when the younger child needs or receives more attention, and the older one feels left out. Deputizing your older child as a special helper—having her hold or feed the baby—may let her feel involved rather than ignored.”
—Susan Caughman, publisher of Adoptive Families


5. Give yourself time.

“If you adopt a toddler or older child who is having difficulty with attachment, do not set an artificial timeline of ‘fixed in a year.’ Consider the year marker as the time it takes to really get to know your child — not to iron out every behavioral irregularity.”
—Deborah Gray, clinical social worker & author


6. Don’t be discouraged by ups and downs.

“A strong, lasting attachment develops slowly. It may be a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ dance for a while. Be open to variations.”
—Dee Paddock, counselor & family consultant


7. Remember: God will not give you a task without also giving you the accompanying grace and strength to accomplish it.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9


Read stories from fellow adoptive families.