#73 Parents NEED to know this!

October 21, 2015 at 11:35 am | Posted in Adoption differences, adoption issues, adoption loss, Adoptive parenting do's, Identity issues, Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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I’ve noticed that one of my blog entries gets a lot of attention – “Common feelings of adoptive parents”.  This is not surprising since we as adoptive parents spend a lot of time wondering what is going on with our children.


I came across a gem the other day.  His name is Robert Hafetz and he is an adoptee, now in his 60’s, who describes what adopted children experience, and he does it clearly and succinctly. He has spent his life studying this. I wish I had this information in the years when our children were young.  It still is not readily available, but it needs to be given to all adoptive parents.



Go to   independent.academia.edu/RobertHafetz    and read the articles listed under Robert Hafetz’s name.  They will change how you parent and change your lives and your children’s lives.



What adoptive parents are dealing with  – and have no concept of – is a child who has an emotional memory of loss, but not a memory of it happening.  When a newborn is removed from its warm, soothing, comfortable home of 9 months, never to feel or hear that same rhythmic heartbeat again, its limbic system clicks in.  This is a primitive system we all have.  It registers emotion and feelings, but it can’t be verbalized. The child then and in later years feels that loss, but doesn’t understand its source.  He is as mystified as his adoptive parents are. When offered love and comfort again (which should be a good thing), some children go back to that feeling when they felt comfort before and it ended in the trauma of separation.  They are hesitant to repeat that pain.  Attachment issues come to the forefront.


The adopted child can be helped through and out of this dilemma only by actions, not with words.  You cannot deal with a nonverbal, feeling part of the brain with words.  It must be done by changing the child’s feelings. This needs to be done when the child is aware of these awful feelings and acting out as a way of trying to cope.   The situation is changed with touch, hugs, and a warm attitude coming from the parent.  Ironically, this is asked of the parent at a time when he is annoyed or angry with his child for exhibiting bad behavior and wants to punish him.  Punishing will only enforce his fear of being unloved and abandoned. This is the exact time he needs reassurance to end his feeling of being alone and abandoned……..which is what caused his bad behavior.  Change his feeling and emotions and you change his behavior.


Bad behavior is the result of the child’s discomfort, even fear, of not being loved, being abandoned again, etc.  The child does NOT understand this.  He just knows that he feels awful and he acts out.  Parents typically react to the acting out and not the source of the acting out, which is the child’s fear of not being loved and safe.  Something has triggered that non-verbal primitive memory of being abandoned.


This is a very simple explanation, but if you go to Robert Hafetz’s site, you will be enlightened.  I strongly recommend you go to his site and read his expert explanation of this. He has 7 papers listed. Read them all. They are brief and powerful.   You will finally understand your child and you will change how you parent!




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