Book Review: Coming to Grips with Attachment

Anyone who has adopted an older child knows that helping the child settle in is rarely automatic and has many challenging moments. Even though our ‘new’ girls have been here 14 months now, we still have tough days, days where the past looks a lot rosier from their point of view than their current life.

Recently a friend raved delightedly me about a book she had found, called “Coming to Grips with Attachment“. One hard thing about older child adoption is that for awhile after homecoming, as kids grieve and test boundaries, kids may not be especially gratifying to parent. If you went into older-child adoption hoping for ego strokes and positive reinforcement from the kid, you will be sadly disappointed.

At first kids tend to just take, take, take, with no real ability to interact in a way that adds energy to the parent. If you’ve only ever parented kids who’ve been in your family since infancy and to whom you are well bonded, it is hard to anticipate how very tiring that non-reciprocal behavior can be on a daily basis.

This book’s focus is on helping our kids be reciprocal– teaching them to interact with their new parents in positive and gratifying ways. Though I don’t agree with the statement in the book that kids should not be asked to do chores til they feel ready, I did find much that was useful otherwise. If you are dealing with a child who is zapping all your energy, you may find this book helpful.


  1. We have no children, by choice at this point, in our new marriage(just past a year), but I love reading about adoption on your blog. It is a very refreshing to hear the reality of it all. Adoption is definitely an option we have talked about and are considering for the future. Thank you again for sharing your story with all of us who are curious.

  2. Thanks so much for this! I hadn’t heard of the book yet. I am linking to this tomorrow as part of my Sunday Links.

  3. Thanks so much for the link. We are parenting an older child that we adopted a few months ago from China. Some days are really tiring so I would appreciate any ideas that I can get. Overall, the experience has been positive but there are those days…

  4. I think it’s same to say that chores aren’t anything a kid will ever volunteer for. Well, at least not older kids. My babies like washing dishes… I swear it.

    I used to have dreams of fostering older kids. We had the room for it once. Not any more. Maybe one day…

    Thanks for all you do.

  5. It is so very true. We have three kids who we have adopted or have guardianship of. Even at the age of 5 our nephew exhibits these very behaviors. I am going to find that book asap. I can always use new ideas.

  6. That would have been a nice book to have years ago. We had a foster son whom we got full guardianship of after he lived with us eight months. He came to live with us when he was twelve, but we didn’t really see all of what you are describing until he hit puberty. It was like night and day. Truly. We had heard that sometimes that happens with children who have been abused, things come out when their bodies change. I thought it was a myth. It really did happen.

  7. I totally agree with you about the chores. Only guests don’t do chores. Family members help—and that’s the goal—to help them feel like a part of the family.

  8. We too have a attachment challenged child who we adopted from Ethiopia a little over three years ago. I took the recommendation on this book and was so glad. It helped put a new prespective on things.

  9. I love The Connected Child by Purvis/Cross. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommended it.

  10. Debbi Busack says:

    Hi Mary, do I have your permission to cut and paste this entry to share with the other 6 families of Summer of Hope that are adopting older kids?