Answering the Call for Special Needs
All Adoption Stories
Why Do I Need a Primary Provider to Adopt My Mexican Relative?
Most of us are aware of the negative effects that abuse, neglect and abandonment have on a child’s developing brain. Any of these unpleasant life experiences can alter the child’s ability to function in society, socially relate to other people and build trusting relationships with others. The trauma these children have experienced leads to grief, loss, shock, depression, interrupted child development, fear, anger, and loss of control, to name a few consequences. With children adopted internationally, in particular, the adoptive parents must begin the bonding and attachment process and help their child learn to trust again once they return home. This can be difficult to do when the family is in transition, tired, overwhelmed, and trying to get to know the needs and wants of their new family member. However, it is crucial to begin the process with them.
Early history will strongly influence their ability to trust. It is important that parents first try to recognize what their child may have experienced prior to joining their family as this has formed the foundation of their understanding of others, feelings, suspicions, ability to comply, loyalties, determinations, and fears. Some children don’t believe that they deserve a family or love or even affection. Their time in an institution, the abandonment by their biological family and the lack of supportive adults in their life may have contributed to low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. Because they do have a biological family, albeit absent, caregivers they have come to know, and potentially siblings they are leaving behind, these children may experience feelings of disloyalty if they connect to you or identify you as their mom and dad. They have lived without much control over their lives, being placed by officials in unfamiliar settings, being told what to do according to a specific daily schedule, and now being told they are going to live in a foreign country far away from the places and smells and people they find familiar. They do not feel they have a voice or an opinion; they see that no one considers their feelings. Since they may have frequently changed orphanages, foster homes, schools, and caregivers, the child really does not have a history of establishing or maintaining healthy relationships with adults and often not with children either. These children have had to learn to survive and in many cases that does not include letting others “inside.” The child will likely be guarded and slow to trust. And finally, the elephant in the room is Fear. Regardless of their chronological age or level of development, they are afraid. Fear of the unknown, fear of new places and people, fear of new surroundings, foods, customs, fear of not fitting in, fear of disappointing someone, fear of being abandoned yet again—-the list goes on and on.
So what can you do to begin to build trust with your newly adopted child? Connections to another human being are rarely immediate. They all take time to develop.
Time is your ally in helping your child build a trusting relationship with you. Your patience and understanding of the process will help you enable your child to develop a necessary life skill and discover what a loving, trusting family can be like.
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