There is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to dealing with issues that can come up for adopted children. Each child has different life experiences which can play a role in their development in adolescence. And while adoption has both positive and negative effects on a child, here we will focus on the effects of trauma and how parents can best support their adopted children.
Adoption and Trauma
Every adoption involves some sort of loss for the adoptee. Whether they were adopted as an infant or an older child, an adoptee undergoes a separation from biological parents that will impact the rest of their life. Exactly how much will vary from person to person. When this trauma is not grieved or processed properly, issues for the adoptee can emerge. There can be a sense of loss that can be triggered and manifest in many different ways. For some, it can be a feeling of depression, for others, it can be acting out or showing aggression.
Teens who have experienced trauma may also experience a heightened level of emotional dysregulation at a higher frequency than their peers. This may lead to seeking any number of unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to gain relief from their dysregulated state.
The Benefits of a Residential Program
Teens who are struggling with trauma surrounding their adoption may benefit from a structured and supportive environment, such as a residential program. A residential program will allow them to work with a therapist both individually, in a group with peers who have similar issues, and with their family to create healthier relationships. It is important for adopted teens to address the feelings that come up around the trauma of adoption. Maybe they feel abandoned or unworthy of love. Instead of hiding or suppressing those feelings, a therapeutic program gives them the space to begin to process those feelings.
A well-known and empirically supported approach to regulation is mindfulness. Mindfulness involves an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and environment. When we are mindful, we pay attention to our experiences and practice a non-judgmental acceptance of them. Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective way to regulate thoughts and emotions, and therefore behaviors.
Adopted teens may also work through their trauma by learning more about their adoption story. Sometimes adoptive parents feel uncomfortable speaking to their children about their adoption story, or they may feel threatened that their child will want to seek out their biological parents. Adoptive parents can help their child work through the trauma and loss by being open to answering questions and being open about their adoption story. A clinician in a residential program can help facilitate these conversations to make sure that everyone in the family is feeling secure and understood.
Solstice East Can Help
As one of the leading trauma treatment programs for girls, programming is designed around a relationship-based approach to healing from trauma. While your daughter is attending Solstice East she will build relationships with peers and staff members. We have found that these relationships are essential to helping your daughter heal from her trauma and build a strong and empowered identity.