Attachment has been defined as the emotional bond between two people with its roots in the maternal infant bond. This bond becomes the template or the internal representation for how the child will form relationships later in life. It is within this primary relationship that your baby learns how to trust others and to be genuinely affectionate with another. Magid & McKelvey (1988) state: “If a child is not attached—does not form a loving bond with the mother—he does not develop an attachment to the rest of mankind. The unattached child does not have a stake in humanity.”
Children who have been given up for adoption often experience feelings of abandonment. These feelings are not readily identifiable since they exist on a preverbal level, that is, before they have developed the ability to express themselves with words. Processed during this early stage of life, this experience impacts on their ability to attach not solely with you as parents but to other people in their lives.
Oftentimes adopted children have experienced a number of interrupted attachments. The effects of these interruptions surface in their detachment from others, their excessive fear of being hurt or abandoned, their excessive dependency upon others, or their excessive need to be around others and shown tremendous love and affection.
This can be very difficult for you as parents. Alongside of the love you feel for your child may be feelings of exhaustion, stress and isolation. It is not uncommon for adopted children to have experienced some form of trauma before they have joined your family. These experiences can result in inconsistent interpersonal, academic and behavioral functioning, which can test your ability to deal with them in a loving and effective manner
Have you been disappointed by failed efforts to conceive a child? Are you looking for a new beginning to your lives and your relationship? Are you considering adoption and wondering what factors around attachment you need to consider? Is your child less cuddly than you had expected? Is he or she demanding or clingy for no apparent reason? Is your teenager’s interpersonal, academic or behavioral functioning inconsistent and a cause of concern?
If you have answered “Yes” to any of the above questions you can benefit from examining your thoughts and feelings on these or related topics. Regardless of the culture, country, time or circumstances when the adoption was finalized, adopted children and their parents can receive assistance through therapy. The adoption process impacts on the life of the family. With greater understanding trust can be strengthened beyond the obvious, bonding and attachments can be enhanced and more effective emotional and verbal communications can be integrated into the family. This growth enhances the success of the family, as well as each member.
I am a therapist on Long Island, call me at (516) 627-1145 for a complimentary consultation to discuss any of these or related topics.
Dr. Maryann B Schaefer
Ph.D. – Counseling, Concentration in Psychology
NYS Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Fellow of American Psychotherapy Association
Phone: (516) 627-1145
5 Travers Street Manhasset, NY 11030
Office Hours: By appointment only.