Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Opening your home and heart to a child in need often leads to a bond that enriches both the parent and the child’s life.
But sometimes the road to “happily ever after” is paved with potholes. Sometimes adoptive children suffer from attachment issues, which means they have an inability to bond with others. This can even happen in homes where the adoptive parents are very loving and nurturing.
Under ideal conditions, an infant bonds with his or her parent or main caretakers such as a grandparent or foster parent. Much of the necessary attachment required for healthy development happens in the first 6 to 12 months of a child’s life.
When these positive bonding experiences are lacking, or the interactions with caregivers was frightening or traumatic, as is often the case with children coming from broken homes and war-torn nations, stress-related hormones cause significant damage to the limbic system of the brain. This results in significant impairment of the child’s ability to have meaningful human relationships.
Symptoms of Attachment Issues
Children with attachment issues typically display a certain pattern of behaviors:
- Minimal social and emotional responsiveness to others
- Lack of eye contact with others
- Lack of physical contact with others
- Limited positive affect
- Unexplained and often sudden occurrences of irritability, sadness, or fear
- Limited interest in interactive play
How Therapy Can Help
Children who do not receive help for their attachment issues will most likely find it difficult to maintain healthy and intimate relationships later in life. Therapy can greatly benefit these children and their parents as it can help show a child what a healthy relationship looks like while giving them a space to explore ways to form healthy bonds with their adoptive parents.
If you are an adoptive parent that believes your child is suffering from attachment issues and you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. If you are an adult with unresolved attachment issues and you’d like to finally break free, please reach out. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.