If you are considering adopting a child, you are probably full of many different emotions. You are excited, maybe a little scared, apprehensive, and overwhelmed. One feeling that many people do not like to admit to is that they may not love their adopted baby. If you are in the early stages of adoption, or perhaps just exploring it as an option, this fear may prevent you from moving forward.
The feeling is a normal one, and many people experience it. Just acknowledging the fear and understanding that others feel the same may be enough to ease your mind. If not, there are some things to think about that can make the situation easier.
Remember, even biological parents struggle!
Many people assume that the second they set eyes on their biological child, they will instantly fall in love. It does happen this way for some people, but not for everyone. Childbirth is overwhelming, and many parents struggle with ambivalent feelings in the days and weeks after birth. Often, societal pressure that makes you believe you should feel a certain way makes your genuine emotions feel shameful and like you are less of a parent. For that reason, these feelings are often not mentioned.
Biological moms who experience postpartum depression can face even bigger issues when bonding with their newborn. For them, the struggle can interfere with the care they give both the baby and themselves. When you understand that struggling with your feelings as a new parent is normal, it can make them easier to accept. Having these feelings does not make you less of a parent.
Loving your adopted baby comes through bonding.
Think about the many people in your life you care about. Some of the ones you are closest to, whether they are a spouse or friends, are not people who you are biologically related to. You may even have a pet that you feel a deep love for. So, what creates love between two people? Bonding.
Regardless of what you feel when you first see your adopted child, as you take over care and comfort, you will develop a bond. While you may not see your efforts reciprocated initially, with time, the bond strengthens. One day you will realize that your concerns over your feelings were misplaced, and you are utterly devoted to your adopted child.
Let go of negative thoughts surrounding adoption.
If you have struggled with infertility, or you are adopting a child from a family member who is unable to raise the child, there may be some emotional baggage that comes along with the adoption.
You will need to separate your feelings about the situation from your feelings about the child. Once you recognize that a tough situation may be influencing your emotions, you will probably find your bond with the baby improving.
Are you fostering or adopting?
Another obstacle that may prevent you from adequate bonding is concern over the adoption process. Whether you are going through private adoption or a foster-to-adopt program, the actual process can be fraught with anxiety. You know that the situation could change at any time, so you may be tempted to hold back emotionally.
You must safeguard your mental health during the adoption process. Once the child is in your home, however, you need to make an effort to put any unpleasant situations to the back of your mind. Focus on being in the present and enjoying each day with your child.
You’re normal. Your love is normal and healthy.
If you are concerned about your ability to love an adopted child as much as you would a biological one, work to include bonding activities in your daily life. Cuddling, reading, feeding, bathing, and other activities will naturally build a bond. You will probably find, however, that once you have the baby in your home, you both settle into a sweet family routine very quickly, and you will wonder why you ever worried about your capacity for love.