Family Therapy: Helping Adoptive Families Confront Trauma

Adoption is a life-changing decision. When you begin adopting a child, you can work with an adoption counselor who helps you and your child adjust to the new life you share. However, adapting to new people, environments, and expectations isn’t easy. You may wonder if you are equipped with the right skills to cope with the various mental and behavioral issues that can present once the adoption is complete.

Stress in Relationships

Children who are adopted can carry emotional trauma, identity, attachment, or behavior issues. For example, some children are coping with the trauma of being separated from their parents or the lack of stability in their lives. To understand how your child feels, you can become acquainted with a few previously mentioned issues.

Identity Issues

Identity traits are essential for a person to grow and develop into an adult. There are certain traits you cannot change, like your race or ethnicity. Other characteristics like gender, religion, and language can change as a person ages. 

The development of identity helps a person find a connection with their environment and sense of self. Children, as they grow, will undergo several changes in their identity. Some changes are challenging, while others follow a natural progression. Trauma, whether it is emotional, physical, or mental, affects how a child sees. 

In some cases, the child will struggle with their identity and experience mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Children can also feel insecure or turn to substances to help them feel better. 

Some concerns related to a crisis of identity include:

  • Codependency: Your child relies on the opinion of others to build their identity
  • Depression: If a child experiences trauma or instability, they can feel hopeless, worthless, or unlovable.

In some cases, your child’s struggle to find their identity results in dangerous behaviors, aggression, or acts of self-harm. You can seek family therapy to help your child work through their past and any mental health issues they attained. 

The Role of Trauma

The aftermath of the life your child lived before you adopted them can carry over to their post-adoption life. Trauma, sexual, physical, or emotional, can attribute to a person feeling incredibly threatened by the people and environment around them. 

The acts of abuse affect everyone differently, so your child may express their emotions in powerful ways. Because their trauma can inflict long-term emotional pain, uncertainty, fear, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you can provide support and guidance through the help of a therapist

Behavioral Disorders

Children will, at one point or another, act out. You may wonder if they are going through a phase or an indicator of a more significant issue. 

Before labeling a child with a disorder, you can talk with a professionally trained therapist. The range of disorders includes oppositional defiant, anxiety, depression, or conduct disorders. 

How do you know if your child is struggling with a behavioral disorder? Some symptoms of the behavioral disorders include: 

  • Oppositional defiant disorder is characterized by angry outbursts many times directed at people in authority. Children view parents as authority figures.
  • A conduct disorder is a severe diagnosis because a child with a conduct disorder may act out with cruelty to people or animals.

Family Therapy

After a child is adopted, there is an opportunity to learn about each other. Part of the learning process includes building trust and a bond with each other. Their previous life is a part of learning and growing with each other. 

The challenges you face building connections and trust are a component of your child’s trauma or instability. Behavioral issues that are severe or dangerous can make you feel you aren’t a good parent or push you to your limit. Don’t feel bad. Your feelings are normal. But, before you give up, there is an answer: family therapy.

A child who experiences any form of trauma can experience mental health disorders or trust issues. Family therapy is a way for you and your child to learn how to talk with each other. You and your child can also begin to relate to each other through non-judgmental conversations. 

When you engage in family therapy, you create a safe space for your family to open up and share feelings. Through the process, you can increase your understanding of your child and their precious life. A greater understanding builds empathy, trust, and a connection with your child.

Adopted children often come from complex backgrounds. The trauma they experienced can overwhelm them and you as well. Family therapy acts as an agent of change. Your therapist can guide you to learn new coping skills that will aid you in helping your child face identity or attachment issues as well as insecurity, trauma, or grief. 

Adoptive families can face challenges that stem from a child’s trauma, mental health, or insecurity. Parents can feel overwhelmed with the behavioral or mental health issues of their children. Throughout the adoption process, parents and children can struggle with the expectations and reactions of each other. There are times when a parent’s coping skills are pushed to the limit, and they may need help. Havenwood Academy works with parents and their children to build trust and a connection to each other. We guide the family through traumatic experiences while encouraging parents and children to understand each other. Our belief is every child is worthy of growth and a trusting relationship. Havenwood Academy fosters a girl’s sense of self as we help them achieve a healthy sense of self. Our program includes cutting-edge therapies, an opportunity to continue their education and grow with their new family. We also offer holistic therapies. Call (435) 586-2500 to learn more about our program. 


Think Havenwood Might Be For You?

We encourage any visitors considering placing their daughter in treatment to fill out our online assessment as soon as possible. This two minute form will give our admissions team all the information needed to determine if your daughter is a good fit for our program.