Relationship Stressors

There are many, many relationship stressors that come up in families, but I am going to focus on one today and that is the potential challenges that adoptive families face.

First, I must say that adoption is an amazing gift.  It is a wonderful blessing for parents, siblings and the adoptee on so many levels.  However, there are very specific challenges and stressors that can come up along the way.

Adoptive parents are typically an exceptional bunch.  I have been inspired on many occasions by their level of dedication and devotion to their children.  The path to adoptive parenthood is often littered with losses, struggle and lots of waiting.  Then the journey continues with considerations such as birth families, attachment and bonding, becoming a multi-racial family, and often learning a new culture.

Adoptees, too have their mix of blessing and struggle.  No matter what the age of an adoptive child, they have experienced a loss of a birth mother and possibly a birth family.  This loss affects each individual differently, but there is loss.  Often times, there is also some trauma from multiple caretakers (even if they were good ones), and sometimes from abuse and/or neglect.  This can be true for those adopted domestically and overseas.

The challenge for all persons in an adoptive family is to navigate the loss from the past and move into the future of healthy relationships with one another.  Sometimes this happens without any outside help, but often there are complicated issues that need to be addressed in therapy.  A thorough assessment by a therapist with experience in this area can provide a starting point and direction for what type(s) of therapy to pursue and when.  There are specific interventions that can be done to work though past trauma, develop attachment, treat sensory processing issues, treat mental health issues, work through parenting struggles, process through grief/loss, and address transracial adoption.

The therapeutic approach in these cases is essential. Often things like trauma can look like other disorders such as Anxiety, ADHD, OCD, Depression, etc.  It is also important that any type of therapy utilizes a pro-attachment model.  In most cases, this means that both the child and the parent will be involved in therapy sessions together.  Any assessment of an adoptive child should include several factors, including, brain function, substance exposure in utero, sensory processing, trauma exposure and symptoms, attachment to the adoptive family, grief/loss, racial identity (if applicable), family dynamics, developmental history, and the circle of adoption (all parties involved/affected by the adoption plan).

With some accurate interventions and support, adoptive families and adopted children can THRIVE!!

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