Adoption—Paternal Bonding

“Mother-infant bonding is a common theme in parenting research but infants can and do also create bonds with their fathers. Less is known about paternal bonding that tends to be based on physical and highly stimulating interaction, reflecting an exhilarating and fun-loving experience, different from a protective mother-infant bond. An infant’s facial expressions and emotions towards their father tends to be significantly different from their emotions towards their mothers, even at a very young age. Men are conducive to bonding but don’t like to sit face to face and talk about their feelings.” Judith Land

“There are not many relationships more sacred than that between a father and his son and no relationship will have a bigger impact on what kind of man a boy develops into than his relationship with his father.” Judith Land

This blog is an open invitation to male adoptees and fathers willing to share their opinions, feelings, personal stories and emotions about paternal bonding and what it means to be adopted, open verses closed adoptions, and the value of reunions with biological family members. 

 The public record on adoption is dominated by female voices expressing a variety of emotions that are different from those of male adoptees. Public discourse is dominated with first-hand accounts of reunions between mothers and daughters. Library shelves are filled with research data discussing the importance of maternal bonding and the negative consequences that occur when the primal bonds with the mother are broken or denied. The majority of adoptees that openly express a desire to connect with biological family members are female.

Please provide some of your own thoughts and observations on the differences and similarities between the emotional feelings, responses, and experiences of adoptees interacting with paternal family members and what may happen when this interaction is missing, intentionally withheld, or recovered later in life.

Included below are three examples from my files to stimulate discussion:

  1. Richard was adopted by a plain and uninspiring older couple. He knew nothing about his biological parents. He loved rich food attractively presented on elaborate table settings and candlelight, an experience that contrasted sharply with his domestic situation and lower economic upbringing. His eyes grew as big as saucers whenever he smelled or tasted exceptional recipes. He was overtly animated and inherently creative in the kitchen at an early age. His enthusiasm for well-prepared meals was highly contagious. When the name of his biological father was revealed to him, he learned that his father was a restaurant owner and a famous chef—like father like son.
  1. Robert’s adoptive parents died at an early age when he was a high school senior. He knew absolutely nothing about his biological parents. After his adoptive parents died he received a university scholarship from an unknown source. Robert was athletic and raced on the college ski team for four years. When he walked off the stage following his college graduation ceremony, a stranger extended his hand offering his congratulations, “Hello! I’m proud of you—I’m your father.” Robert stood there motionless, slack-jawed, and frozen in time as the man abruptly turned around and disappeared into the crowd, never to be seen again. 
  1. James was six years old, born in a foreign country, and living in an orphanage when he was adopted. He was naturally outgoing and happy. His adoptive parents were attracted to his beautiful smile and friendly disposition. He loved playing baseball with the other children, and later in life, using the same exceptional hand eye coordination, he evolved into an excellent golfer. After retirement from a career as a police officer, he was contacted by an adult male claiming to be his son. James was caught completely off guard because his former girlfriend had never told him that he had fathered her child. 

What advice do you have for James, Robert and Richard? All three individuals have concerns and questions about what steps to take next? 

Judith Land



About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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