Many adopted children experience problems as a result of not forming organized attachments in the first 3 years of life. These failures may be the result of abuse or neglect or due to repeated changes of caregiver. The children who experience these events will often learn not to trust or form attachments with new caregivers. Through their unsafe or inconsistent relationships they learn that adults are not safe, and they develop strategies that help them survive in these environments. Appropriate treatments can help parents learn to encourage better attachments and cope with the behaviors that result from attachment problems.
Attachment can be viewed as a continuum, with secure attachment at one end and disorganized attachment at the other. While a small percentage of children with attachment problems can be correctly diagnosed as having reactive attachment disorder, many more adopted children display signs of some attachment difficulty, a midpoint along the continuum. Signs of attachment problems can include the inability to seek comfort and reassurance from caregivers when in distress, refusal to accept the authority of caregivers to set limits and rules, overly controlling behavior, lack of cause-and-effect thinking, poor emotional regulation, superficial charm, obvious lying and stealing, indiscriminate affection with strangers, lack of conscience, and cruelty to animals or people.
Therapists with adoption, attachment, and trauma knowledge and experience are best suited to help families determine whether problems are adoption related and to plan effective treatment strategies. Make sure your therapist is a Licensed Florida Adoption Competent Therapist. At a minimum, a therapist must:
Timely intervention by our professionals skilled in adoption, attachment, and trauma issues often can prevent concerns from becoming more serious problems.