The Importance of Belonging: Using Photos to Cement Memories

As of 2017, there were 123,437 kids waiting for adoption in the U.S., as confirmed in a report by the Children’s Bureau. A lot of these children have a history with foster care and come from difficult backgrounds - increasing their need for people with open hearts to take them in. Parents, in general, only ever want the best for the children that they welcome into their lives, no matter if they are birthed, adopted or fostered. Parenting is always challenging, and when new parents want their adopted kids to feel settled, it can be challenging to know what to do. Yet, what they may not realize is that something as simple as a photo can help bridge the gap their new child may feel in belonging.

Photos and Belonging

To cultivate the security that children need to feel, you can tap into the power of cameras and a well-made picture collage. Kids can acclimatize better to a new home when they truly feel that they are a part of it. A family photograph helps send the message that the child belongs in the family unit. Belonging is especially important for children who are still developing their sense of self. It teaches children to value themselves and the family that they are part of.

It isn’t just the act of having photos taken; it’s also about displaying it proudly in the home. This helps the child take in the reality that this now their home a little bit more every day. Photos are personal keepsakes that help showcase the progress of the family and the memories they hold dear. Feelings of belonging can also be emphasized through solo photos of the child. Just be mindful of the child’s comfort. as it should not be something that’s forced; it should come naturally. 

Feelings of Security and Anxiety

Adopted children often struggle with feelings of rejection, low self-esteem and anxiety, as found by Mental Help. The new home environment must seem unfamiliar and scary despite the best intentions of the new parents. Children may also act out or be distant, as they feel it would only be a matter of time before they’re “returned.” This idea may not make sense for parents, but it is a very real concern for children who have lacked security. 

Foster homes and adoption services often emphasize that the children need to feel secure. The feeling of security is quite important and isn’t elusive. Taking time to form memories through simple activities like watching TV, reading a book or playing outside all help to form a bond.

Importance of Positive Memories

People, in general, have a need to feel connected to each other. When children come from complicated histories, they may not have a lot of positive memories with them and end up having difficulty with building relationships. Kids who have an impression that they’ve had happy childhoods grow up with a better sense of self and stronger inclinations to connect with others. 

Children benefit the most when their parents make a conscious effort to form strong positive memories with them. It doesn’t even have to be anything over-the-top. What better way to showcase those positive memories than a menagerie of photos to remind them of events for years to come?

In all things, patience is necessary. New parents shouldn’t expect hanging some photo collages around the home will magically equate to a close relationship. Every child has their own process in dealing with their thoughts, fears, and concerns. In times when they cannot articulate this well, that’s when the parents should step in to help.

Jennifer Dawson