#65 – Two questions, two approaches

April 30, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Adoption differences, adoption issues, Adoptive parenting do's, Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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MP900443519In Heather Forbes seminar she spent much time on how different adoptive parenting is from biological parenting.  When things are not going well, it’s natural to think ‘how can I change my  child’s behavior?’  Wrong.  Instead, she suggests we should think ‘what is driving my child’s behavior?’


Adopted children have a different history than biological children.  Adopted children have experienced trauma.  Ms. Forbes defines trauma as an experience of feeling hopeless, helpless, and powerless. When adopted children were separated from their birth families, they were in a situation of trauma. Children don’t like this feeling and as they grow up, many vow they will never be powerless again.  They struggle to take charge of their lives.  Their behavior is their reaction to this helpless and powerless feeling.


During the nine months these adopted children were developing within their birth mothers, it’s possible that their neurological systems were affected negatively.  Often birth mothers do not want to be pregnant and their actions during this time can affect their child for his life time.  Our job is to work with our children, starting from where they are, from their point of view.  They very well may not view the world as their counterparts do.  We cannot change where they came from, but we can help them deal with where they came from.  Wishing away their past does not make it disappear.  Their past is their past, part of who they are.  They know it, and for us to deal successfully with our children we must honor it for what it is.


Being in our families should be healing for our children. Our families should be a safe place for them to grow and deal with their unique issues.  Stubbornness and bad decision making often appear more in adopted children, but if we see that they are just trying to take control of their lives, it will be easier for us to cope.  Obviously, they are too young to take control, but that is not in their thinking process.  All they know is they want to be in charge of their lives  so never again can anybody do anything to them without their knowing.  They were helpless as babies or young children, but they never want to be helpless again.


If we realize their motivation, our behavior changes.  How can you punish a child for being afraid of being all alone?  Often we punish his behavior without being aware of what his behavior is telling us.  Punishing only adds more stress to the stress he’s already dealing with. He struggles to be self sufficient long before he is capable of it and he exhibits inappropriate behavior.  Going back to the first paragraph, the question is not how to change his behavior, the question is what is driving his behavior.  This is what should be addressed and resolved.










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