How shame can affect adopted children

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How shame can affect adopted children

It is important for a parent to understand shame, because shame is that core sense of self and is a feeling that an adopted and/or foster child will feel and believe about themselves. Shame focuses on the self and guilt focuses on the behavior. What shame is is this pervasive feeling that I’m unwanted, I’m unlovable and I’m unworthy and with these kids, they are not able to separate out that from their behavior. So what they see, this is how I explain it to parents, is it’s like they live in a bubble and the bubble has a mirror and in that mirror, they only see that reflection of themselves. And why… where does this come from? Because of that early separation from their birth family. Children are egocentric. They are going to think, “I was separated from my birth mother, because it was my fault. I must have done something wrong.” The question is how could any birth mother give away a good baby? “There must have been something wrong with me.” So that is what the child internalizes and takes personally, “There is something wrong with me.” So really critical for parents to understand that core shame issue that these children are struggling with on a daily basis.

Watch Video: How shame can affect adopted children by Jeanette Yoffe, MA, MFT, ...


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Jeanette Yoffe, MA, MFT

Adoption & Family Therapist

Jeanette Yoffe earned her master's degree in Clinical Psychology, specializing in children, from Antioch University. She treats children with serious psychological problems secondary to histories of abuse, neglect, and or multiple placements. Jeanette's desire to become a child therapist with a special focus on adopted and foster care issues derived from her own experience of being adopted and moving through the foster care system. She runs a monthly support group called Adopt Salon for all members of the adoption triad in Los Angeles.

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