Adoption is not the problem. Adoption is a win-win for adoptive parents, children, and birth parents. Adoption is not the problem, but early attachment losses and traumas are enormous problems. These early experiences remain trapped in the emotional regions of the brain and negatively affect emotions and behaviors. Even preverbal trauma leaves a strong imprint in the brain of young children, creating entrenched feelings of rejection, abandonment, hurt, mistrust, fear, and worthlessness. Children wired for rejection will misunderstand normal parenting discipline as attempts to hurt and reject them. Children’s vulnerable feelings are automatically turned into anger and acting in order to keep themselves safe. Mystified parents become angry in return, which triggers children to feel their pain even more intensely.
There is hope – but it requires mindful change on the part of adoptive parents, foster parents, or guardians, and appropriate therapy. Parents must be willing to use strategies at home that may be counter-intuitive to everything they know in order to help their children feel safe enough to open up emotionally and address their painful past. This means attuning to the feelings beneath the behaviors of traumatized children and responding in a way that calms and integrates the brain. Therapists and parents must work together as a team to assist children in healing their trauma through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), address their present-day thoughts and feelings, strengthen attachment security, and learn new emotional and interpersonal skills.