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Most adoptive parents bond more rapidly to infants than older children. That is because part of bonding is physical touch and infants require more touching in the course of their care. When siblings are adopted, some research suggests that parents bond more quickly with the younger child, probably because the younger child needs more care.

Parents bond to older children by performing parent/child activities such as teaching them how to cook and taking them shopping. Adopting parents need to learn to "go slow" until an older child is ready to accept love especially if the child does not respond to affection at first. If an older child had been abused, they may shrink from hugs and kisses.

Studies indicate that parents seem to bond more quickly and with the most lasting bond when they perceive that the adopted child is similar to them in physical appearance, intelligence, temperament, or some other aspect. Adoptive parents tend to respond with embarrassment, confusion, pride or a mix of all of these emotions when strangers point out apparent similarities between the parent and child. The parents may feel compelled to tell them that the child is adopted. This is unnecessary. Strangers often make pleasant conversation and do not need details about the adoption.


1 Adamec, Christine, and Laurie C. Miller, MD, The Encyclopedia of Adoption, Third Edition, New York, Facts On File, Inc., 2007


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