Adoption, Divorce, Attachment and
Challenges of the Regulatory System
Attachment is formed from the very beginning of life- in utero, in early infancy, through toddlerhood and into the early school years. Our brains are predominantly wired to be in secure attachments from the beginning. When something goes wrong, and there are many possible interruptions in early attachment, developmental play therapy can help repair this wounded foundation that feeds the child, and all of his or her relationships currently and into the future. Some possible disruptions in early attachment may include, but are not limited to: mother's postpartum depression, conflictual marriage, adoption, abuse (relational or physical), divorce, birth & medical trauma. 8-12 sessions is an average for attachment or trauma-related wounds or disruptions although if the wound is more primal, or complex, therapy can often last longer. It is my experience that attempting to skip a phase of repair can lead to more complex and difficult problems down the road once adolescence arrives. Early intervention and treatment is SO very important if a child is given this opportunity.
"Is the World OK?" "Am I OK?"
"How much can I do? " "How well can I do it?"
AND THEN ON TO ADOLESCENCE...."Who am I?" AS ADULTS...."Who am I really?"
('Swiss Cheese Model', Duey Freeman, MA, LPC, Gestalt therapist and trainer)
^note: this model, which I embrace, applies to typically developing children. I assess and work with a child's developmental stage (emotional) in my working model of play therapy. Child Therapy, early intervention and counseling, can help!
The Primal Wound
Understanding the Adopted Child
By Nancy Newton Verrier
This is the best book I have read on the effects of adoption on the adoptee. Verrier challenges the way we think about adoption. In its application of information about pre-and-perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding and loss, this book clarifies so well the effects of separation from the birthmother on adopted children; whether it is minutes, hours, days, months or years between birth and placement in an adoptive family.
The author discusses at length how many, if not most, psychologists and doctors now agree that bonding does not begin at birth, but is a continuum of psysiological, psychological and even spiritual events which begin in utero and continue throughout the postnatal bonding period. "When this natural evolution is interrupted by a postnatal separation from the biological mother, the resultant experience of abandonment and loss is indelibly imprinted upon the unconscious minds of these children, causing what I call the 'primal wound.'"
It is my experience that despite the outward 'thankfulness' and reasonable comfort an adoptee may experience on a cognitive level with his or her adoptive parents, that it is this primal wound, reviewed so masterfully in Nancy Newton Verrier's book, that needs to be fully understood by biological and adoptive parents, the adopted children, and by the therapists that they will likely see in the process of healing. With even the most skilled and loving parents, there will often be reactions to this 'primal wound' that appear on a regular basis in the adopted child's life (from early on into adulthood). Fear of abandonment, mixed sense of self, shame, fear and anger may all be present. I encourage you to read this book, should you be adoptive parents so that you may better understand the deep emotions at the core of your adopted child and can learn ways to thrive. LT