Are You Worried About Your Adopted Child?
Adopting a child is a long and stressful process. Maybe you have been trying to have a child for years, but fertility issues kept delaying your plans. Even after starting the road to adoption, the many steps you have to take to get approved can be exhausting. So, it can be especially frustrating and disheartening when you finally get to bring your child home only to face new and unexpected challenges.
For example, perhaps your adopted child is struggling to connect with you, their siblings, or other family members. Or maybe you don’t feel the immediate bond that you expected you would, and now you’re wondering if you are really prepared to raise an adopted child. It might be that your new child is experiencing behavioral problems in school or at home, and you worry that it’s because they don’t feel like they quite fit in or belong in your adoptive family.
You want the best for your child and family, but how can you give them the support they need when you feel lost or even powerless to help? Whatever your situation is, adoption therapy can help provide you with tools and resources to cope with the myriad of unique challenges that often arise parenting an adopted child.
The Adoption Journey Doesn’t End Once You Bring Your Child Home
In addition to the challenges all growing children face, some adopted children may face challenges with attachment and bonding to their new families. Many may experience feelings of grief & loss, of dis-connection to family or friends, and/or they may simply feel restlessness or lack of direction as they grow older. If your adopted child is from a different country or cultural background, they may struggle to cope with all the new changes in their lives and questions about what life could have been like. Making things more difficult, these unique milestones can be extremely difficult to talk about even with close friends and family members. Without a clear support system to talk through these challenges, it can leave your child and family overwhelmed by doubt and uncertainty.
The constant struggle to fit in and feel whole may lead some adopted children to develop unhealthy coping skills. Some may isolate themselves from their friends and adoptive families to avoid talking about their fears or doubts, which can affect their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. Others might go on to develop anxiety, depression, or substance abuse problems as they grow older, making it harder to process and work through intense emotions.
Unfortunately, many adoptive parents lack the skills and training they need to help their adopted child and the rest of the family adapt in a healthy way. You might fear that your adopted child won’t feel as loved as your biological children. Or maybe you are afraid that someday your child will want to find their birth parents—or the birth parents will unexpectedly show up at your door—and it will change the relationship that you’ve worked so hard to grow over the years.
Fortunately, an experienced adoption counselor should be able to help you build and maintain the relationships and connections you want with your child.
Adoption Therapy Can Help Your Child And Family Thrive
Many parents in our society have been told that they should already have all the answers and that asking for help is a sign that they aren’t ready or able to care for their family. But nothing could be further from the truth. Asking for support when you need it shows how much you love your child. And counseling has been shown to be a powerful way to support children and adoptive families as they navigate the challenges that may arise after adoption.
I offer all my clients a safe environment where they can share their story without fear or judgment. If you feel overwhelmed as a parent, adoption therapy can help you learn to acknowledge and address your child’s vulnerabilities so you can open lines of communication and find solutions together. You can gain the awareness, resources, and skills you need to help your child regulate their emotions so that they can start to feel truly safe and integrated in their new family. We can also discuss healthy ways to respond to behavioral issues that address your concerns while showing your child they are loved and supported.
Depending on the comfort level of your child, I may meet with you as a family or with your child independently. If we meet as a family, I will facilitate and encourage everyone’s input so each person feels fully heard and valued. I’ll provide tools and guidance to help you, the parents, better understand your child, their needs, and how you can create a sense of belonging that will unify the family. In this way, you can strengthen your relationships and learn to work together toward solutions.
When meeting with your child, it’s important for your child to feel safe and validated throughout our work together, which is why I devote time to develop a relationship with them. I will start our first session with simple questions—such as what are their favorite foods, movies, or activities. The goal is in time your child will feel comfortable and start sharing their worries, needs, and aspirations.
Whether I meet with you, your child, or your family as a whole, I draw from various scientifically-supported approaches and tailor each to your unique needs and goals. Attachment therapy allows me to observe the connection between adoptive parents and children to help you build trust and form a healthy, supportive relationship with each other. By focusing on each individual’s strengths, you can gain the confidence you need to overcome the challenges that are affecting your child and family. Instead of focusing on the problems affecting your family, you can see the potential for positive growth, knowing that you are capable of finding solutions together.
With my help, you can learn to come together as a family to support your adopted child and create a stronger and healthier relationship and family dynamic.
You may have additional questions or concerns about counseling for adoptive families…
My adopted child or other family members don’t want to participate in therapy.
Ideally, the best practice is for both parents and the child to engage in therapy, but it is not essential that everyone start at once. If one or more family members are reluctant to attend, I invite you to get started on your own. Once your child, spouse, or other family members see the positive changes you are bringing home from each session, they may choose to join you. Just because they don’t want to attend therapy now doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work toward solutions. Take some time to talk to your family about giving therapy a chance, and respect their decision if they don’t want to participate immediately.
Why do we need special therapy for our adopted child? They’re just like any other child in the family.
I’m very happy to hear that your child is included in your family and that you love them so much. But there are certain developmental issues that adopted children face that your other children may not have had to deal with, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging those unique challenges. Working with an adoption counselor who understands those issues can help your child and family work through these concerns.
I don’t feel we need adoption therapy.
Raising a child is difficult, and we can all use a little help sometimes. Adoption brings its own unique set of challenges to parents and families, and therapy can be a useful tool for helping you manage any difficulties that may arise after adoption. With my assistance, you and your child can learn new skills and strategies to create a deeper and healthier emotional bond.
You Can Find Healing And Support For Your Adoptive Family
If you’re ready to work with an experienced adoption counselor, I invite you to call me at 503-927-9194 for a free 15-minutes consultation.