Powerpoint pre parented children adoption& foster care 2013

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Common interpersonal dynamics that impact attachment, family relationships and parenting in adoptive families.

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Powerpoint pre parented children adoption& foster care 2013

  1. 1. Adoption& Foster Care: The Dynamics of Pre- Parented Children By Brenda McCreight Ph.D.
  2. 2. “ ” The Twisted Trio Abandonment, Inducement, & Transference
  3. 3. Abandonment
  4. 4. Grief & loss, trauma, attachment, identity etc are all actors on the stage and abandonment is the director
  5. 5. Abandonment • The common and repeated reality of all children who are moved from birth parents to foster parents to adoptive parents is ---- abandonment • Children experience the initial abandonment when they are psychologically or physically deserted by the parents who were biologically determined to provide for their safety, see to their needs, love them, and always, always, be present • Brenda McCreight Ph.D workshop series
  6. 6. • Children lose the smell, the touch, the sounds that they had linked to in utero and lived with until the point at which they were first removed from the genetic mother. • They are then placed in foster homes, generally with caring and well meaning people, but these are people for whom this is a job and whose care and home were never meant to be permanent. Yet, the child doesn‟t know this. • The child instinctively sends out attachment signals. These signals may be under or over developed, they may be confusing, they may be fearful, they may be rage based. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series Abandonment, Inducement, & Transference
  7. 7. • Each move, each change of caregivers, is another form of abandonment. It isn‟t as severe as the primary abandonment experience, but it becomes another layer of the repeating experience. • This negative repeated experience becomes entrenched in the brain and results in feelings that are fearful and unpleasant and almost impossible for the child to integrate into her cognitive understanding/narrative of life. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D.workshop series
  8. 8. • Often, the process of abandonment begins at an early age when the child is unable to link words with feelings – and the brain doesn‟t like that so it begins to mal-adapt • This leaves the child with feelings and fears that have no outlet and without any form of healthy expression. • Even when the child gets to a developmental stage where he could articulate the feelings, no one will give him the words. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D.workshop series
  9. 9. • The adults talk about the child and around the child, in the belief that not using the strong words like abandonment directly with the child, is a way of protecting him. • We tell him that his birth parents loved him very much but just couldn‟t parent him because (fill in the blank). • It‟s true that many, if not most, birth parents loved their children, but that doesn‟t alter or erase the experience of abandonment. • Denying children the capacity to acknowledge and integrate their abandonment experience simply denies what they already know and denies how the experience has constructed their view of the world. • And….that leads to acting out, to attachment challenges, and more. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  10. 10. • Unfortunately, foster care and adoption don‟t cure abandonment • The process creates a living situation where there will be love and care and stability, but it doesn‟t erase the damage from the original experience and so the negative coping mechanisms the child used to present his feelings to the world will continue. • In fact – they might even increase as the child „s brain starts to develop further and the need to express, rather repress, feelings starts to become overwhelming and impossible to contain. • We call that *acting out*! • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  11. 11. • Post –adoption, the child‟s brain continues to have the neuronal constructs of experiencing a silent terror of being abandoned again. • And, the child experiences this in silence as the adults to describe the experience that so drastically altered this child‟s life and subsequently altered the lives of the family into which she has been fostered or adopted. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  12. 12. What does an abandoned person feel? • He feels alone, he feels angry, he feels frustrated, and he feels scared. But most of all, he feels crazy. • He has experienced something that no one else seems to have experienced; he hears no words to describe what he has experienced. • This is the most Intense experience anyone can undergo; and, everyone acts as though nothing much has happened. • The contradiction between what is known and experienced internally and what is reflected back to her from the external world has to be resolved. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  13. 13. • Adoption, and the potential for permanency that it offers, provides the first opportunity to resolve the abandonment. • Using the words, acknowledging the experience, and giving the child or youth the ability to link the words to the feelings, provides the tools for the first steps toward resolution. • But…these are steps toward healing ….healing takes time….lots and lots of time. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  14. 14. Inducement
  15. 15. INDUCEMENT • Pretty well everyone induces, or causes, feelings in the person with whom they are interacting. • If I‟m in a good mood I‟m likely to make others around me feel good. • If I‟m in a crabby mood, I‟m likely to speak and behave in a way that makes everyone around me feel irritated. • Children who are living with the abandonment experience, or who have experienced hurt and harm from those who were supposed to be protectors, inducement is what they do to make you , the adult, feel what they feel. • After all, they don‟t have the words! • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  16. 16. Inducement isn‟t fun for anyone… • It‟s the child‟s method of trying to help you understand her reality and it‟s her only method of involving you in her life. • It may feel like hell on earth to you, but again, that‟s what it feels like to be an abandoned child. • Inducement means that when your child is angry, she will behave in a way that makes you angry. • If your child is sad, she will behave in a way that makes you sad (even if it means breaking or harming something you love – such as the child herself). • When she is grieving, she will make sure you lose something you care about. • Get the idea?
  17. 17. • This isn‟t done on a conscious level • It isn‟t planned by the child • It isn‟t about hurting you • It‟s about trying to survive the feelings by pushing them out – or handing them on to someone else • It is about trying to connect with the pain
  18. 18. How abandonment and inducement are related… • You may not perceive that your child was abandoned because she may have regular visits with birth family members, including birth parents, but that does not heal the original abandonment wound. • In fact, it can exacerbate the feeling so that after each connection with birth family the child has to make sure you feel as bad and confused as she does. • And most children are very skilled at making the new parents feel badly.
  19. 19. Social workers involved in adoption placement are often surprised when a child who was well behaved in foster care begins to severely act out in the adoption placement. Generally, it‟s assumed that the adoptive parents are doing something wrong, and a heavy duty focus is put on attachment based therapy to *cure* the problem.
  20. 20. • In fact, the acting out behavior should be expected once the child starts to think that this placement might be something different than foster care. • The child will begin to experience her own feelings but without the capacity to link the feelings to memories or to appropriate words and so presents her emotional landscape to the adoptive family in the only form she has – her behaviors. • And, as the inducing process proceeds, the child experiences negative responses from the adoptive parents (understandably) and so begins a vicious and self -defeating cycle in which the child tries to induce her negative feelings in the parents and the parents begin to emotionally withdraw – creating yet another abandonment experience for the child and a feeling of failure in the adoptive parents.
  21. 21. How should the parents respond? • The child does not do this consciously. It isn‟t a choice. • The child is simply feeling pain and reaching out in the only way he can. • It‟s up to the adults to grasp what is going on and respond appropriately. • Often, it feels to adoptive parents that they are being asked to learn a Master‟s degree of knowledge and training in order to parent their child effectively. • And, it can feel to the adoptive parents that they have to behave in an artificial manner around their child, in their own home, and that that the work involved in doing it right is just too much and too hard.
  22. 22. Well, there is some truth in this. And if parents are going to do it right in responding to inducement, here are some tips. • Notice what feelings the child is most often inducing in you. This is a clue to your weak spot, the area of your life that still needs some work. Do you still have issues about your parents? Are you still harboring pain about being bullied as a child? Do you still have body image issues? Is your self- esteem low? • The child will sense this and will target your weaknesses. When you figure out what he is after, get some help to reduce or resolve your issues.
  23. 23. • When the child is actively inducing, sit down, or at least try to lower your body‟s position. Standing over the child, or building up the size of your own body, will escalate the child‟s response to you. • Lower your voice. Use the quietest voice you can without whispering. • Take deep breaths so that the oxygen can get to the reasoning part of your brain and let you actually do some thinking rather than simply reacting. • Have a plan for how you will respond to different forms of inducement and stick to it.
  24. 24. Be in the moment… • Use your words with yourself as a reminder that this how your child is feeling too. • At the moment, your job is to soothe your child, not punish him. • Consequences may be necessary when you have both calmed down, but in the meantime, don‟t threaten, don‟t worry about letting him get away with it remember that this has nothing to do with teaching your child how to behave, it‟s all about filling in the hole left in her soul from the abandonment. • Focus on using this as an opportunity to do what the original parents should have done when the baby cried – soothe, calm, and de-escalate. It‟s very difficult to soothe when a 10 year old is yelling obscenities at you and waving a knife in your face – but you can take deep breathes, remind yourself to calm… calm.. calm.
  25. 25. • If it‟s totally unsafe to walk away, keep deep breathing and remain calm, and see if you can get your spouse to help you de-escalate the situation. Remember, you should have already worked out a plan for this type of situation and this is the time to follow it. • If you have to use a consequence, keep it short and simple and don‟t come up with something that will re-trigger the entire episode. • When everything is calm, talk to your child about how you felt, and ask if she felt the same way. She may say no, she may tell you to shut up, she may actually engage in a meaningful dialogue with you, but no matter what, give her words for the feelings and open the door to healing.
  26. 26. TRANSFERENCE
  27. 27. • Younger children know how badly they feel about life and about themselves, and because they are concrete thinkers, their logic tells them that if something hurts then > somebody caused the hurt and > you are the parent who hasn‟t fixed the hurt so >the hurt must be your fault. • If nothing more, they have a sense that you didn‟t protect them from being hurt in the first place, even if it happened before you knew them.
  28. 28. • Prior to adolescence, children see the parents as all powerful and they don‟t have enough memory or understanding of their own life so they can‟t perceive the gaps and flaws in their logic. • If they were prenatally exposed to alcohol or other toxins then their brains may have developed in a way that doesn‟t allow them to link anyone‟s behaviors with consequences nor does it allow them to grasp time concepts ie past, present, future. • The amygdala, which is the part of the brain that holds the trauma, doesn‟t have a sense of past or future, only the present. So just because they were hurt in a past that didn‟t include you, the amygdala experiences the original hurt as if it were happening now, in a time frame that includes you.
  29. 29. • There are some positives in this line of thought because in order for it to occur, the child must be at a point where he‟s beginning to want the adoptive parent to protect him. • He must also be at a point where he thinks the adoptive can and should help him. • Of course, this is all going on in an immature brain and it‟s happening at the same time as the inducement process so the parents are at a real disadvantage. • Brenda McCreight workshop series
  30. 30. Another vicious cycle… • This is a prime trigger for adoption breakdown because again, professionals will ignore and misunderstand this behavior and will focus instead on attachment. • The adoptive parents begin to wear down from being the constant targets of the child‟s anger and rejection and take this on as having failed at parenting. • From the parents may start an emotional withdrawal process– and you all know where that leads – it leads to the child going full circle back to abandonment.
  31. 31. What can you do about transference? Here are some tips: • Realize what is going on and name it. When you speak with adoption workers or with therapists – talk about the transference process. • Talk about it with the child – for example “I wish I had always been with you to protect you and care for you.” Or, “It makes me sad that I couldn‟t protect you when you were a baby, but I‟m happy that I can protect you now.” • Don‟t say these things when the child is angry, it won‟t make sense to the child in the context of the moment and you won‟t feel like saying it then either. The point is to introduce the concept of past and present and to give the child some words for the un- named feelings that swirl around in her head. • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  32. 32. If you adopt a child from the foster care system that child will have most likely have experienced : • a) prenatal exposure to drugs, alcohol, and maternal stress hormones • b) pre and post natal exposure to violence and to behaviors that are not appropriate for a child to witness or hear • c) neglect • d) abuse • e) poor and chaotic caregiving • f) lack of nurturing • d) changing caregivers • e) poor nutrition • e) abandonment • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  33. 33. • You may think you know all that happened to your child, but you probably don‟t. Social workers aren‟t there at 4 a.m. to document some of the worst things that happen to a child, and the child may block to memory to survive, or he may be too ashamed to ever tell anyone no matter how much love or therapy comes along later. • Children from the foster care system, or from orphanages, are hurting far beyond the comprehension of others. • Have faith on your child & have faith in yourself • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  34. 34. You can check out other services and products at these sites: http://www.lifespancounselling.com http://www.theadoptioncounselor.com http://www.hazardousparenting.com The Hazardous Parenting facebook site Udemy.com (search under Brenda McCreight) Slideshare.com (search under Brenda McCreight) Amazon.com (search under Brenda McCreight) brendamccreight@gmail.com Brenda provides counselling and parent coaching worldwide via skype, telephone, and email – please contact her by email if you would like to book an appointment. Thank you for sharing this time with me.

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