Adoption Parenting: Newborn and Infant

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This information was taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway

The First Year

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The primary task of a baby is to develop a sense of trust in the world and come to view it as a place that is predictable and reliable. Infants accomplish this through attachment to their caretakers. During their early months, children have an inborn capacity to "bond" to ensure their survival. They express it through sucking, feeding, smiling, and cooing, behaviors which, ideally, stimulate loving responses from their parents (or caretakers). These pleasant interactions and the parent's or parents' consistent attention form the parent-child bond and the foundation for a child's sense of trust.

During this period, a consistently nurturing and tension-free environment makes a child feel secure. The most valuable thing you can do is to show, through attention and affection, that you love your child and that your child can depend on you. If you generally respond to your child's cries, s/he will learn trust. If you hug and smile at your child, s/he will learn to feel content.

Although the need to attach continues for a long time, the process of separation also begins in the first year of a child's life. A milestone is reached when children learn to separate from their parents by crawling and then by walking. At the same time, babies often become fearful of separation. Psychological separation begins too: babies start, non-verbally, to express their own wishes and opinions. Many experts in child development view early childhood as a series of alternating attachment and separation phases that establish the child as an independent person who can relate happily to family members and friends, and be capable of having intimate relationships with others.

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Books for Parents and Professionals Brodzinsky, D. and Schechter, M., eds., The Psychology of Adoption. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

Dorman, M. and Klein D., How to Stay Two When Baby Makes Three. (New York: Ballentine Books, 1985).

Erikson, E.H., Childhood and Society. (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1986).

Fahlberg, V., "Attachment and Separation" from the series, Putting the Pieces Together. (Southfield, MI: Spaulding for Children, 1990).

Fraiberg, S.H., Magic Years: Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early Childhood. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984).

Hoopes, J.L. and Stein, L.M., Identity Formation in the Adopted Adolescent, The Delaware Valley Study. (Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America, 1985).

Jewett, C.L., Adopting The Older Child. (Boston, MA: Harvard Common Press, 1978).

Kirk, D.H., Shared Fate. (New York: Free Press, 1964).

Melina, L.R., Raising Adopted Children: A Manual for Adoptive Parents. (New York: Harper and Row, 1986).

Parens, H., Aggression In Our Children: Coping With It Constructively. (New Jersey: Jason Aronson, Inc. 1987).

Schaeffer, J., and Lindstrom, C., How To Raise An Adopted Child. (New York: Copestone Press, 1989).

Smith, J. and Miroff, F., You're Our Child: The Adoption Experience. (Lanham, MD: Madison Books, 1987).

Winkler, R.C., Brown, D.W., Von Keppel, M., and Blanchard, A., Clinical Practice in Adoption. (New York: Pergamon Press, Inc., 1988).

Articles and Research Reports Aust, P.H., "Using the Life Story Book in Treatment of Children in Placement." Child Welfare, vol. LX no. 8, (September-October 1987) 535-560.

Brodzinsky, D.M., "Adjustment to Adoption: A Psychosocial Perspective" in Clinical Psychology Review. Pergamon Journals Ltd., vol. 7 (1987) 25-37.

Cordell, A.S., Nathan, C., and Krymon, V., "Group Counseling for Children Adopted at Older Ages." Child Welfare, vol. LXIV no. 2, (March-April 1985) 113-124.

Kopp, C.B. "Risk Factors in Development" in Infancy and Developmental Psychology, 4th edition. New York, John Wiley and Sons, (1983) 1081-1088.

Kraft, A.D., Palumbo, J., Mitchell D.L., Woods, P.K., Schmidt, A.W., and Tucker, N.G., "Some Theoretical Considerations on Confidential Adoptions: Part III: The Adopted Child" in Child and Adolescence Social Work Journal, vol. 2, (1985) 139-153.

Lindholm, B.W. and Touliatos, J. "Psychological Adjustment of Adopted and Nonadopted Children." Psychological Reports, vol. 46, (1980) 307-310.

Nickman, S.L. "Losses in Adoption: The Need for Dialogue." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol. 40, (1985) 365-397.

Sants, H.J. "Genealogical Bewilderment in Children With Substitute Parents." British Journal of Medical Psychology, vol. 37, (1964) 133-141.

Schecter, M.D., Carlson, P.V., Simmons, J.Q., III, and Work, H.H., "Emotional Problems in the Adopted Person." Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 10, (1964) 109-118.

Wieder, H. "On Being Told of Adoption." Psychoanalytic Quarterly, (1977) 1-22.