Major issues facing a child who has been abused before adoption

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, explains the various issues that kids who were abused before being adopted can often face
Issues Facing A Child Who Was Abused Before Adoption
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Major issues facing a child who has been abused before adoption

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Many kids today, primarily most kids today, coming into adoptive families have had early childhood abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or neglect. When they come into a new family they don't leave those things behind. Those things are imported into a family that has certainly not experienced these kinds of things, so they're primarily unaware of it. But the child's expectation about the world is based on their prior experiences so they assume that what happened in three other foster homes, or in their birth family will probably happen in this home so that if they've grown up in, let's say, an alcoholic birth family and they're in an adoptive family, and one of the parents gets out a bottle of wine or something, they don't assume that they're going to have a nice little bottle or a couple of glasses of wine. They get triggered that, “Oh, my gosh, here are these drunk people again and I might get sexually abused, or they might hurt me, or they might lock me in my room so they can have these wild parties,” so they respond to the new situation with the historical information and the parents are very, very surprised because they simply were having a glass of wine and they had no intention of anything else going on. And even after children have these new experiences over, and over again it takes a long time for them to trust the fact that if mom gets out the bottle of wine that it's not going to be a wild out of control party at which they're either going to be victimized or locked away so that they're safe. So, it's important for parents to understand that if the child's reacting in a very strange way, what seems strange to them, that they're probably just responding to an internal trigger that says to them, “Uh-oh, here's some alcohol, bad things happen when I smell alcohol, or when I see alcohol therefore I need to do something to protect myself,” so they may have meltdowns, or tantrums, or get really angry. And I think once parents are armed with information they then can anticipate this a bit better and maybe say like, “Your dad and I are going to have a glass of wine tonight and I'm just wondering if that is going to bother you again,” to just bring it up so the child at least knows there's something going on, there's a parental awareness of the situation.

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, explains the various issues that kids who were abused before being adopted can often face

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Gregory Keck, PhD

Founder & Director, Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio

Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio. He is an internationally known psychologist and trainer who addresses the issues of trauma, adoption, and post-adoption challenges. He and his staff provide attachment therapy for adoptive families whose children have experienced serious early childhood maltreatment prior to adoption. In 2012, he received the National Association of Social Workers State of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the parent of two sons who were adopted in adolescence.

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