Last week in class, we had a fantastic speaker, Bonnie from Deaconess Adoption Services. Bonnie leads the counseling center at Deaconess. We asked her the question that many of us wonder, "At what point do we seek out counseling for our child or family?"
Here is the answer from Bonnie:
*Here are a few common issues where counseling may be helpful:
- Struggles with the relationship between the child’s birth family and adoptive family.
- Problems with bullying or with relationships at school or with friends.
- Emotional outbursts or instability.
- Problems with trust or emotional attachment.
- Handling past mistreatment, abuse, or neglect.
- Problems with anxiety or depression.
- Difficulty with social interaction.
Dr. Karyn Purvis (our favorite expert in this field) points to 6 different risk factors for our children that we need to know:
1. Prenatal Stress
2. A difficult or prolonged labor
3. Medical trauma or hospitalization early in life
It's clear that many children- not just ones who are adopted- fall into one or more of these categories. Since our children came to us through foster care or adoption, we know that our child also has loss. It is well known that many children with a history of loss will grapple with the pain and grief of losing their biological family. When we can see clearly the ways that our child's past has affected them, we can offer more compassion and understand the struggle behind their behaviors. But sometimes we need help.
THERE IS HOPE.
In "The Connected Child," we read that "The past affects the future...but DOES NOT HAVE TO DETERMINE IT." Helping our children process big feelings and creating a safe environment for them to heal is one of our primary duties as their parents. And to be quite honest, it is a honor to watch a child from hard places blossom into all that God intends them to be. We're the lucky ones who get a front row seat to the miracles that unfold in their life. But we can't always do it on our own. And that's okay.
The bottom line is:
Are you seeing behaviors in your adopted/foster child that you're confused about? Seek help.
Are your biological children struggling with the change in the house? Seek help.
Is your marriage being affected by the weight? Seek help.
I would urge you, beg you, plead with you to find Adoption-Competent Counselors like the ones at Deaconess. Adoption and foster care present very unique challenges that can best be helped with ones who understand these challenges and have the tools and resources to help your family in the best ways possible.
*from the Deaconess Website