Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cocooning (Aka. Fostering Attachment.)

When you give birth to a child and bring him or her home as a newborn, the bonding and attachment process begins immediately. It's not as simple when you are adopting a child. Often a child comes to their new home with a multiple of caregivers in their background whom they may have become attached to and then lost due to another move, etc.

When we bring our girls home we will be doing what we call cocooning. That is for the first minimal eight weeks we will not be going out much with them. Their siblings will still be attending school, but no one will be going to evening activities, and the Engineer and I will not be attending any meetings. We will be spending much time together as a family doing things at home and establishing new habits and routines with our girls.

The following list is some of the many ways we will be working on fostering attachment with our daughters/sisters:

Meet your child's needs on demand. Eg. if he/she cries at night, respond right away.

Spend more time at home with your child and only gradually bring him/her out to parties and public places where others will be in direct contact with them. Keep travel to a minimum the first few months.

Use a lot of physical contact during mealtimes, play time and even discipline (do not separate the child from yourselves as in time out in her room). Skin to skin contact is important for young children through hugging and touching and rocking. Your child may resist this at the beginning -- take it slowly.

Eye contact is important -- look into his/her eyes when you talk to your child or when you are feeding. Smiling is important , as is a gentle voice.

Promote nurturing by using flannel sheets, playing the radio at night, leaving a bright night light on, tucking the child tightly into bed and at the beginning, staying with your child until he/she is asleep, etc.

Use nurturing exercises, such as feeding each other and sharing ice cream. Also reading to your child, singing songs together, learning to "dance" with your child, and maybe bringing him or her to your bed for 20 minutes or so every morning.

Consistent care taking and nurturing, as well as routines -- for example, having meals at the same time every day, nap time, the same routine for bed time every evening such as reading washing face, etc.

Find ways to reward him/her in public for being close to you. Eg. bring along treats, whisper special things to him/her, etc.

Go to places with your child where he/she would naturally seek your protection or needs to be held. Eg. swimming, rides, etc.

Use relatives, especially grandparents, as models of your closeness, including hugs.

Make the family room less of a TV room and more of a game or "together" room -- play is important as is shared laughter. Show your child how to play with toys -- they may not know how to.

Make a bigger thing than usual out of a small cut or bruise or minor illness as an opportunity to be close.

Make a bigger thing out of comforting at a crying or sad moment.

Share your child's extreme excitement over her achievements.

Defend a child more against an "outside bully". Eg. your friend's child

Stay with your child in the Doctor's or Dentist's office.

Next week, I will explain more about attachment and bonding, how the process works, and a few other items and topics related to the attachment process. Trust me though! I am no expert! We haven't even begun to travel this road.



  1. I'm a new reader of your blog. Thank you for this information. I have passed it on to a couple who are working on receiving their first foster child(ren)...most helpful. What resource did this come from? peace from TX.

  2. Hello, and welcome! We took an international adoption seminar in the beginning stages of our adoption process. This was a loose sheet that came with our booklet. I think it may be by Sofie Stergianis who was our trainer and a certified adoption social worker here in Ontario.


  3. I remember when I babysat a friend's child for a few weeks long ago. My own son, who liked having the little one around, reverted to some habits he had outgrown, and I figured it was because the other child was getting more attention as I got used to his ways. You have 3 new ones coming into your home and as excited as your own children may be at the prospect, don't be too surprised if someone's nose gets out of joint somewhere along the way. I'm sure you will all be a happy family eventually, but it will be a big adjustment for ALL the children, not just the newcomers.

  4. Yabut, you are very right! We have a pretty good idea whose nose is going to be out of joint. On the other hand we might be surprised, and it'll will be one of the two that we least expect it to happen with. Kids are amazing and very resilient, but they do always need to know that they are loved -- especially when there are newcomers.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It was a good reminder for us as a family!


  5. It's interesting to think about times when this advice might apply to my boys--there are definitely periods when children need home, quiet, the sense of someone holding them close.

    I'm very excited for your girls to get here!


  6. Lots of good tips!! We do follow most of them and Rafael appears to be adapting well. We have been going out a bit more lately even though I had initially planned not to go out at all. That is ALOT harder than it sounds. He seems to be dealing well with the outings and actually seems to enjoy the change. He will always stay close to us and comes to us if upset.
    I hope that the girls medicals went well. Let me know when you hear anything!!

  7. Praying for the girls medicals to go well and for travel very soon! I know how nervewracking this time can be (Becky failed her physical because she had chicken pox, and our travel was delayed last minute). Love your new header! It's so springy (right now it's snowing hard here).

    Great advice here on attachment.

  8. This was very interesting reading, even for someone who has no adoption plans. You and your family have big hearts full of love! I'm so excited for you and I like this picture of how you will be spending your first days, weeks and months with your girls, and the commitment your whole family is making.

  9. I would have never thought about this, but after reading I understand why it's so important to take this route and what a positive difference it can make in getting your wee three settled. :)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love to hear from my readers!

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