Adoption is a life long journey. It is not the totality of a person, but an important aspect that each person experiences in a different way.
Adoption is complex. If you are an adoptive parent, it is important for you to explore and understand those complexities in order to help your child throughout their development.
We often don't want to acknowledge the sad and hard parts of adoption. When we ignore these parts, we are missing the richness of life - that joy and sadness can co-exist and we are better for it.
Children who have experienced orphanage care, foster care, abuse and neglect have also experienced trauma.
Dr. Bruce Perry states, "we need to understand how the brain
responds to threat, how it stores traumatic memories and how it is altered by the traumatic experience. All experience changes the brain – good experiences like piano lessons and bad experiences like living through a tornado as it destroys your home. This is so because the brain is designed to change in response to patterned, repetitive stimulation. And the stimulation associated with fear and trauma changes the brain."
We have learned a great deal about brain development over the past 20 years. We now know that early experiences are extremely important to brain development. Having a greater understanding of this complicated organ and it's connection to the rest of the body can be very helpful to parents, especially those parenting children who have had difficult experiences in their early lives.
Developing a secure attachment is a critical task of infancy and a cornerstone of healthy personality development. When children are abused, neglected and/or experience institutional care (such as in an orphanage), their needs have often gone unnoticed and unmet. This affects their overall development (cognitive, physical, sensory and emotional) and reduces their ability to form satisfying, healthy relationships. Additionally, they develop survival strategies to cope with the confusion, sadness, fear and grief they feel. Once placed in a healthy family environment, the child continues to use their survival skills, setting the stage for ongoing conflict in their new family.
Treatment for these children is most effective when the practitioner understands and utilizes techniques that are based on attachment and trauma research.