The suffering of too many adoptive children runs deep. It runs deep through the spirit and into the neurology of children traumatized by abuse, neglect, abandonment and loss of primary attachment figures. I am the endlessly proud mother of a beautiful, loving, brilliant adolescent adoptive son who I love so eternally that I often forget that I didn’t give birth to him. However, in the face of uncanny cycles and life’s triggers, I am reminded that as happy and well attached as my son is, no matter how fulfilling and joyful his life is now, the pain of his early history looms near. It is the quality of our support system that determines how well we can weather the storms when they arrive.
In my work with children and families, I am regularly stunned by the glaring deficit in our social service and mental health system’s awareness of the special needs of adoptive children. Family after family wearily recounts to me the nightmare of going through multiple therapists, programs and services only to watch their adoptive children sink deeper into detachment, depression and rage. Frivolous use of psychiatric drugs, superficial diagnoses of “ADHD” and Bipolar Disorder, individual talk therapy, “anger management” and “self esteem” groups, behavioral charts and other misguided “treatments” serve to do little more than stall healing, exhaust the family, deplete hope and increase parent-child disconnection. In some cases, the result is a disrupted or rescinded adoption, a tragedy for the child who has already suffered excruciating abandonment and trauma. […]