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Adoption and bonding

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Written by Grace Winterschladen, Close-Knit director and adoptive parent


Bonding before Adoption


Bonding is such an important journey for adoptive families, as a fellow adoptive parent I wanted to write some tips to support with bonding with a child(ren) you’re going to adopt. These tips are based on adopting a child(ren) under the age of 7 who is (are) in local authority care in the UK prior to their adoption.


Bonding before adoption can feel scary as sometimes things don’t feel guaranteed until court orders are in place, speaking to your social worker or therapist about these feelings may be helpful. Although the timescales may be unknown it will be beneficial for you and your future child to think about ways you can bond prior to adoption.




Bonding before matching

The process of waiting to be matched is incredibly varied in length for different adopters. Try use this time however long or short to think about bonding with the child you will adopt. You could

*Attend online or in person trainings about trauma and adoption thinking about the impact of trauma on your future child to help you understand them.

*Prepare a room for your future child whilst picturing them in it

*Have therapy or speak to your social worker about trauma and how your experiences may impact your future parenting.

*Buy children’s books about adoption or not and record yourself reading them whilst thinking about your future child.

*Join online adoption support groups to read about and connect with others on the adoption journey to help you think about your child.

*Read books on Developmental Trauma and Therapeutic Parenting whilst thinking about your future child and the different approach to parenting they will need.


Bonding once Matched

Once you are matched with a child the to do list can feel overwhelming. Lots of the practical steps are crucial for bonding before the child joins your family. Try thinking about bonding whilst doing these.

*Ask as many questions as you can to the social worker and the foster carer about the child.

*Make a picture book of your family, home, local child friendly places to give to your child.

*Choose a cuddly toy and sleep with it in your bed to give to your child to use as part of the transition period. You could talk to the cuddly toy as if they are the child.

*Thoroughly read their Child Permanence Report and reflect on their experience, talk this through with social workers.

* Find out where they like going and what they like doing and practise those things whilst thinking about them.

*Find out what they like to eat and practise making and eating it whilst thinking about them being with you.

*Finish preparing the room whilst being informed of things they find comforting such as a black out blind, night light, rocking chair, sensory items or soft blankets.

*Find out their dislikes and try memorise them.

*Find out their favourite tv show or movie and practise watching it whilst thinking of them.

*Find out if they like photos of themselves and if so putting some around the house.

*Make a short profile about the child and their likes and dislikes to chat about with family members.

* Make a timetable of their routines and think about doing these routines with them.

We hope you found some of these tips helpful and if you are considering adoption, we are excited for your future journey. For further support check out www.adoptionuk.org.uk


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