What if I don’t feel attached to my adopted child?

Attachment Issues

I’m here today to talk about an issue many would rather avoid. It’s taboo to talk about in many ways.

What if you dream about adopting and then after all the paperwork and waiting, it happens. You bring them home and you quickly realize… you don’t feel attached to your child?

Worse yet, what if a year goes by (or more) and you still don’t feel the love you thought or hoped you would?

Maybe you’re comparing the attachment to what you had expected or hoped to feel. Or, maybe you’re comparing it to how you felt about another child.

What do you do? Are you a bad person? Are you doing something wrong?

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Just Breathe

The first thing to remember is to breathe and give yourself time. With a pregnancy, many women grow attached as the baby grows within them. But, even many biological mothers have issues attaching to their child. In both cases, it’s often a process of falling in love over time rather than “love at first sight.” And, that’s OK!

This may sound strange but, in some ways, it’s like dating.  

My Dating Story

I’m going to step out there and use my husband as an example. (You know I love you babe!)  

A long time ago, I was dating my husband’s  best friend. Yes, true story!

Well, his friend left for college and my now husband asked me out. (Don’t worry- The other guy and I weren’t that serious.)

The problem is, I really was not that interested in going out with him. He really wasn’t “my type” and I told him I’d think about it. After some thought, which I later found out was an excruciating wait for him, I decided I had nothing to lose by letting him take me out so I said, “sure, why not?”.

We started dating and for a while he was still just OK. But, overtime, I came to learn that he was the most amazing guy I never knew I wanted. (But, oh how I want him now!)

Now, I cringe to think what I would have missed out on if I had said no and walked away. He is amazing in every way. This year we celebrated 24 years of marriage and I can’t, and wouldn’t want to, imagine my life without him.

Why wouldn’t we give a child the same time?

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Give yourself time

And, why wouldn’t you show yourself some grace too? If you’re telling yourself you must be head over heels in love with your child in a certain amount of time, that is putting so much unnecessary pressure on yourself.

And, if your child is more challenging, that brings a whole additional dynamic.

I’ll tell you from experience. It’s easier to feel love toward a child that barely cries and sleeps through the night at 3 months old than one that still wakes you up multiple times in the middle of the night at over a year old.

But, here is the thing that I am sure of. The child you ended up with, or will end up with, is the child you’re meant to have. Maybe they are in your life to teach you something. Maybe you’re exactly what they need. But, most likely, it’s both.

What does the Bible have to say about adoption?

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

If you dig into the word “visit” you’ll find, like many words in the Bible, it has a much deeper meaning. It means to look after, care for and provide for. There really isn’t a more significant way to care for an orphan than to adopt them as your own, give them your name and make them part of your family. So, if it takes a while to feel the love, that’s OK!

I’m going to give you permission to “fake it til you make it”.

If you’re not “feeling the feelings” yet, don’t worry about the feelings. Just do your best to nurture this little child the best you can. The simple act of taking care for someone that is incapable of caring for themselves will build upon itself over time and create a level of attachment.

And, remember this.

God didn’t put this child in your life by mistake. This child is 100% yours, even if you don’t feel it yet. Look into their eyes, look at their sweet little hands, smell their sweet little head and realize, that by the grace of God, they are yours! Whether you feel it or not, they are yours!

Just keep caring for them the best you can. The rest will come. You waited as long as it took to adopt. Don’t beat yourself up about having to wait to feel attached.

God is faithful to His promises!

He says that “Whoever receives one such child in my name, receives me.” – Matthew 18:5.

You get to choose

The Greek word that is translated as “receive” means “take,” “grasp,” “seize,” “receive” as well as ‘to take to oneself” something or someone. The opposite of receiving something is to reject it.

You have a choice. Your choice is to receive this child God has placed in your life regardless of feeling or to reject them. By receiving them, you are not only honoring God. You are also setting yourself up for the best He has for you. He wouldn’t have called you to adoption and placed this specific child in your life if it wasn’t what He intended for you.

So, even on the hard days, or nights, or both, look into those little eyes and remember that regardless of how you feel, you are their Momma, they love you and you love them too, even if you don’t feel it yet.

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