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Nov 09, 2015

In Bethany’s pre-adoption training, parents hear a lot about attachment—what it is and why it’s important for you and your child. It takes time and consistency to build an open, trusting relationship, especially with children who have experienced profound loss and trauma.

Deborah Gray, founder of Nurturing Attachments, is a clinical social worker specializing in the areas of attachment, grief, and trauma. She encourages parents to keep trying to establish a connection, even when children don’t immediately respond to you the way you hope they will.

A variety of factors may contribute to a child’s reluctance to attach to adoptive parents. From experience, they may have found that attachments aren’t permanent. If they’ve been hurt in the past, they may not want to try again. If they are grieving previous attachments (biological parents or other caregivers), they simply may not be ready to attach to someone new.

“It’s not their fault,” Gray said, “but it is their history.”

Kris Faasse, Bethany’s senior vice president of clinical services, spoke with Gray about how adoptive parents can walk with their children through the grieving process and, in doing so, lay a foundation for secure attachment.  

Deborah Gray is the author of several books on attachment including Attaching with Love, Hugs, and Play, and she co-authored Games and Activities for Attaching with Your Child. Learn more at

Read more of Gray’s work about attaching through play in the spring 2015 issue of LifeLines magazine.