• The Effects of Early Childhood Trauma on Preserving Adoption

    ChildTraumapicA number of years ago, friends of mine adopted a child from an Eastern European country. Tragically, their son had been in an orphanage for seven years. During those years he had experienced horrific trauma, abandonment, deprivation, and abuse.

    My friends, unfortunately, were convinced that love alone would heal all wounds.

    They felt that counseling and therapy were unbiblical, and that the Bible was sufficient for all things. I agree with them. However, I still seek treatment for medical needs, and early childhood trauma is accompanied by a biochemical assault to the body (the brain).

    In the same way that my husband’s love alone cannot heal my multiple sclerosis, a parent’s love alone cannot heal the wounds of a child’s trauma.

    Healing from PTSD is not a matter of obedience to the Bible, determination, or fortitude–especially for a child.

    According to an article by Richard Dymond in the Bradenton Herald, up to 15% of the state’s adoptions end in dissolution, largely because of the effects of early childhood trauma. As an example, one adoptive couple had experienced such emotionally devastating experiences, that they had nothing positive to say about their adoptive child. They had been unprepared for the realities of bringing a traumatized child into their home. He was negatively impacting their other children. He threw things and broke things. He became physically violent and intimidated other kids at school.

    Dymond reports that “after the spike in dissolutions, The Sarasota YMCA — Safe Children Coalition reached out to create a Manatee County program to prevent children from being returned in the future. They are turning to the Manatee County Commission for funding help from the dedicated property tax millage for children’s services for the adoption preservation program, which will help provide counseling to troubled families.

    “Smith said parents often don’t understand how to connect with children who have been traumatized early in life.

    “A child can suffer trauma if it is laying in its crib and there is a violent episode in the next room, Smith said.

    “‘I think the problem in adoptions is these kids have broken connections,’ Smith said. ‘Early trauma is how their brains are wired. They do not operate from a foundation of secure parents who love them.'”

    “A twofold strategy to fix the problem includes helping heal their brains to function effectively and establishing an attachment with the parents, she said.

    “Smith asked the adoptive mother and father of the 7-year-old boy about their parenting style.

    “‘They said they were sending him to his bedroom when he was acting out. I told them: You send him to his bedroom and his little brain says rejection. We need him to connect with you. Smith said. ‘What I would have loved the mother to say to him was: ‘You are having a nice time not being nice to your brother. I want you to hang out with me for awhile so we can figure out how to change that.'”

    “While the Safe Children’s Coalition offers pre-adoption classes to prevent children from being returned, parents don’t always realize they may need continued classes and counseling after the children settle into their homes.”

    If you know someone struggling with the realities of adoption-related trauma, they can learn more from my friend Ellen Stumbo, an adoptive parent who has struggled through these issues. I also suggest they seek help from a professional who understands childhood trauma–Dr. Beth Robinson.

    Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2015/03/22/5706832/adoptions-returned-bradenton.html#storylink=cpy

     

One Responseso far.

  1. Heather Walker says:

    This is a powerful post for me. I too, was an adopted child and many of the experiences I had while in my adoptive family distorted my beliefs about my value as a child. Each time I was sent to my room, I’d crawl back along the hallway and sit at the top of the stairs and listen to my adoptive parents talk about the impulse of taking on the responsibility of someone else’s child. Hearing this, I thought there must have been something wrong with me or I was defective in some way. It distorted my ability to see the world clearly.

    Reading of the acting out behavior of the child in this post, it is sad that most don’t recognize that traumatized children grieve through their behavior often.

    It was decades before I found a team of therapists who helped me grieve never knowing my birth family.

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