What to Do When You Adopt a Child Who Was Neglected in an Orphanage
When you adopt a child who has spent most of his or her life in an orphanage, the risk that the child was neglected or not properly cared for can be significant. Some orphanages simply have more children than they can adequately care for. Some children will be perceived as problem babies and avoided as much as possible by staff, only making the situation worse. Often, these children develop attachment disorders, making it difficult for them to bond with you. In addition, the shame, anger, resentment and sense of isolation they experienced as infants may cause them to act out as they grow up, engaging in behaviors intentionally designed to elicit negative emotions from you.
Dealing with Attachment Disorder
Attachment disorders can often (but not always) be healed, but they are deep-rooted. You must have reasonable expectations, a lot of patience and a willingness to take comfort in small steps forward. Remember that your child does not have any experience with someone not leaving them. Deep down, they have significant trust issues, and likely expect that you will leave them, too. This may cause them to devalue themselves, to assume that no one would want to stay in relationship with them permanently.
The best way to counteract an attachment disorder is to provide stable, consistent and genuine love and affection. You have to expect that it may not be enthusiastically received, or received at all. But you have to keep doing it. And as much as possible, share joy and laughter with your child. The more positive emotional experiences your child has, the more they come to understand that joy and fulfillment can be tied to attachment.
Dealing with a Child Who is Acting Out
Even though it may be difficult for you, it’s important to understand that a child who is acting out is taking positive steps forward. When your child acts out, it’s really their attempt to tell you about emotions they are feeling by getting you to experience the same emotions. If they are angry, they will try to get you to feel angry. If they are sad, they will engage in behavior that they believe will make you sad. It’s generally a good sign, because it indicates that they are trying to deal with the emotion, to get over it.
It’s also important to understand that acting out, especially in an adopted child, is in part an attempt to determine your level of commitment to them. They are essentially asking, “when are you going to abandon me?”
Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey
At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests.
Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.