February 1st, 2008
Posted By:
Categories: Attachment, Bonding

When you are in the process of adopting an older sibling group, you probably have daydreams of shared moments. While shopping you may think, “this will be so fun with the children.” While passing a local attraction you may think, “I can’t wait to take the children there; I know they will love it.” Your daydreams may turn into reality if your adopted children are able to form positive attachments with you. Unfortunately, bonding with older adopted children is a two-way street. If your new children have suffered so much trauma before joining your family that they can’t or won’t attach, you cannot make them form an attachment. I was reminded of this tonight while reading a blog that Nancy wrote over at the reactive attachment blogs.


In an interview, Nancy learns that a boy felt that his foster parents had not made efforts to bond with him during the 10 years they parented him. She reminded us of her painful disappointment over her now adult adopted sibling group’s inability to bond with her. I know, by reading Nancy’s blogs that she made huge efforts to bond with her children and yet it didn’t happen.

I have an adult adopted daughter with whom we do not have a close loving bond. Unlike Nancy, I did not put a huge effort into bonding with her for the entire 11 years she lived with us. I did make a huge effort the first year she was here. We did stay committed to her and her adoption throughout her childhood, despite all the crazy things she did. We made sure that she had every opportunity a child should have to succeed in life.

She took piano lessons for eight years, participated in 4-H for 10 years, she went to Guatemala on a mission’s trip at 16, and I cosigned for a new car for her at 17. We sent her to summer camps for two or three weeks every summer and made sure she never missed church or youth group. For an entire year, I drove her to work and picked her up several times a week, until she was able to get her driver’s license.

Her crazy bazaar behaviors caused many an argument between my husband and me. It was hard work parenting her and many nights found me on my knees asking God to get me through the next day. If you ask her, she will tell you that she wasn’t that bad. She has told many people that I blew it all out of proportion, the feces, animal deaths, hurting siblings, destroying property, stealing, lying. Her latest story is that we kept her too sheltered while she was growing up and that is why she is living the wild life now.

Sometimes, the story sounds a little different, depending on who is telling it.

Photo Credit Roland Feb 2008
Creative commons Flickr

2 Responses to “Bonding With Your Older Adopted Children Is a Two-Way Street to Attachment”

  1. “Sometimes, the story sounds a little different, depending on who is telling it.”

    No truer words have ever been spoken.

  2. lmg1567 says:

    My new mantra is, “It’s always the Mom’s fault”. It doesn’t seem to matter how much you do, how much you sacrifice or how worth it you think it will be in the end. They grow up and you hear about how they never wanted to do this or that – you made them be in this sport or learn to play an instrument, whatever….they’ll think of something you did wrong. They didn’t get to have sleep overs as much as their friends. I’ve heard the “you sheltered us” comment from my oldest and his girlfriend thinks we were pathological because her parents always let her do anything she wanted and we needed information before we made a decision to let him (or not) go somewhere, hang out with certain people. Long story short, we actually parenting our kids and boy are they going to make us pay now!!

    Perspective is a really interesting thing.

    Sorry, I’m feeling a bit cynical right now, I guess that’s what unrequited bonding will do for you.

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