Sleep & the adopted child

Posted: May 17, 2011 in Adoption

I love sleep. And I love when my children sleep through the night. It’s one thing to stay up all night in college studying or hanging out. . .you can catch up on sleep later and it was much easier to bounce back.  But it’s hard for me to function with the sleep deprivation that comes from taking care of a child in the wee hours of the morning, particularly when the pattern of nighttime sleep is disrupted night-after-night.

When we adopted our son from Taiwan in 2009, he was about 10 months old. I expected him to be sleeping through the night by that point. But I learned the orphanage kept all of the  babies on a four-hour feeding schedule, even at night. He was in the habit of receiving bottles at 1am and 5am. I expected jet-lag to cause a few nights of disrupted sleep, but not nighttime feedings. He was over 20 lbs. when we brought him home, a very healthy, chunky baby. Some moms may suggest letting a child that age cry it out. But for us, we wanted to make sure our son bonded with us and developed the proper attachment to us as his new parents. So, night after night, I continued to get up with him and slowly weaned him from those nighttime feedings.

I’m wondering if I could have done something differently – something to nurture the bonding experience but break the nighttime feeding sooner.  Adoption Learning Partners is offering a webinar this week with Dr. Julian Davies on Thursday, May 19 – the topic is on sleep. Dr. Davies is a director at the Center for Adoption Medicine at the University of Washington.We have spoken with Dr. Davies on two or three occasions for his medical expertise in adoption referrals. Each time we have spoken to him, I have learned something new. I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts and insight on sleep issues with adoptive parents and children. And maybe we can figure out this sleep thing a little faster this time.


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