- She is a 14-year-old adopted daughter. She came to me because she demanded to move in, to a new school in KL. But her demand was unpredicted. She demanded the whole family to move in and get her a new school.
- What’s wrong with that? The problem is: the place she suggested is totally new to the family, where and when, the adopted parents have to start a new life.
- More often than not, the unrealistic demand originated from grudges and animosities dated back from the childhood days. These feelings displaced the fact that the parents have done a tremendous amount of works to raise her up.
- The parents’ willingness to sacrifice was amazing but they were indecisive about it. That was the reason why they wanted to seek my opinion.
- How could this happen? I believe as an adopted child, at some point in his development, the disagreements with the adopted parents have made her feel deprived of the primitive relationship with her own biological parents. This ‘trauma’ and the ‘severing of the ties’ have in a way affect the ego; that made her exploring to all the unrealistic demands made upon the adopted parents, in order to compensate for the wound left by the loss of the biological parents.
- These early relational traumas may lead to a disorder of attachment that may affect the quality of emotional relationship with the caregiver. The disturbed behaviors place great demands on the parenting capacities of the adoptive parents.
- There is no easy solution. First and foremost, there is a need for a wider degree of adoption openness. Studies have shown that openness is significantly related to satisfaction with adoption process among adoptive parents and birth mothers. Similarly, openness was associated with their greater satisfaction with the adoption process and better post-adoption adjustment (1). In short, it affects the mental wellness of the adoptive parents and later adjustment in raising the child.
- Parents have to create conditions of security and trustworthiness for the child. They have to foster attachment by nurturing the trust, securing place safe for the child. It has to to be a home-based.
- Since there is no way parents can avoid disagreement, they must know how to set limits in order to initiates repair as soon as the child indicates a desire for reconnection. This has to be done without trying to jeopardize the effort to strengthens the child’s feeling of safety within the relationship. If the child is angry or pouting, the caretaker must show that they understand their feelings, but remains firm. Relatively soon the child will give up because they need to reconnect. Attuned foster parents will then respond positively and immediately.
- Dr. Daniel Siegel in his book Mindsight explained that in order to repair our attachment ability and develop more inner security as adults, parents must be willing to create a “coherent narrative” of our experience. It is to discover how we made sense of our past i.e. how our minds have shaped our memories of the past to explain who we are in the present. He believes if we can face our history and make sense of our narrative, we can actually change the course of our lives, our relationships, and the attachment patterns we pass on to our kids (2).
- It is also important to have a partner with a secure attachment style. Latest in line is a development of psychotherapy called The Adult Attachment Repair Model (AARM) which simulates reparative childhood attachment experience, desensitizes distinct-event trauma and creates deeply embedded feelings of security (3).