Overcoming Attachment Issues in Adopted Children

When you adopt a child, your hope is always that the child will fully integrate with your family, bonding and becoming one of your own. Unfortunately, many adopted children experience problems with attachment, often as a result of not having the opportunity to bond with a stable and significant caregiver.

Some of the Characteristics of Attachment Disorder

Though every child manifests attachment disorder in different ways, there are some common types of behaviors that are typically indicative of an attachment problem:

  • With younger children, destructive acts may signal a lack of attachment. Your child may see no cause and effect between the destruction of a toy and the loss of a toy. A small child may not understand the components of a healthy relationship, such as hugs, acts of kindness or compassion, or sharing. A child may be unwilling to make eye contact, or may be demanding or clingy.
  • As children with attachment issues age, they tend to develop behaviors that benefit them at the expense of meaningful relationships. They may engage in stealing or lying, or may develop the ability to turn a charm off and on. They may also start to exhibit controlling or manipulative behavior with siblings or playmates. They seldom show remorse for their actions, and tend to make the same mistakes over and over. Additionally, they rarely, if ever, seek comfort when they have been hurt or are afraid.

Some Strategies for Parenting a Child with Attachment Issues

The most important thing to understand when living with and parenting a child with attachment issues is that there are no short-term solutions, no quick fixes. You need to have realistic expectations, and you need to expect that it will take a long time for the bond to develop, if it ever does. In most instances, with time, patience and hard work, attachment disorders can be healed. There will be times when it feels like no progress is being made. Those are the times you have to maintain a positive focus and keep moving forward.

  • Love is key—With small children, who don’t have verbal skills, hug them and physically express love and affection as often as possible, even if there’s little or no response or the response is negative.
  • Use humor and express joy as much as possible—Laughter is good medicine, and it’s always beneficial to show your child what it’s like to be joyful. In addition to injecting joy and laughter into your work with your child, find external sources of joy and laughter, so that you can stay emotionally and physically healthy.
  • Be patient and find ways to minimize your stress—Your child will demand a lot of your time. Give up other activities if they only serve to increase your stress level.
  • Seek support whenever you need it—Build a network of friends, family members and professionals who can guide you through the difficult times.

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.

Dealing with an Adopted Child Who Was Neglected in an Orphanage

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.

Attachment Issues and Adopted Children

Attachment Issues in Adopted Children

We all strive for a deep connection with our children. When they are adopted, though, that can be difficult. Many adopted children, especially those who have spent time in orphanages, develop attachment disorders, mostly as a result of not having a stable and significant person with whom they could bond during formative periods.

The Causes of Attachment Issues

Attachment disorders typically stem from repeated instances of abandonment, isolation, or neglect. Though children in orphanages may have greater susceptibility to these behaviors, any child can develop attachments issues. Here are some of the common causes:

  • The parent of a child may have mental health issues or substance abuse problems, preventing the parent from being available to the child during the first few months or years of life.
  • A child may be physically abused, leading a child to associate attachment with harm
  • A child may be hungry, wet or cry for any reason, and receive no attention for extended periods of time
  • Parents may be inconsistent in their care of the child, vacillating between periods of neglect and periods of doting
  • The child may have had too many caregivers, making it difficult or impossible to bond to one

The Telltale Signs of Attachment Disorder

In most instances, the sooner you recognize and respond to potential attachment issues, the greater the likelihood of overcoming them. Here are some of the classic symptoms of attachment disorder:

  • Your child continually cries and cannot be consoled
  • Your child does not try to verbalize or make sounds
  • There’s no eye contact, and your child’s attention does not change when you move
  • Your child shows no interest in playing with toys, and does not engage in any play with you
  • Your child does not seek or demand to be picked up or to have contact with you
  • Your child does not smile

Some general behaviors characteristic of attachment disorder include:

  • Lack of care and compassion in play or in interactions with others
  • Absence of remorse, guilt or learning from mistakes
  • Aggressive behavior toward others
  • Attempts to control others and to challenge authority
  • An unwillingness to be touched or to show physical affection

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.

General Adoption Ethics

Ethical Concerns in an Adoption Proceeding

Doing the Right Thing When You Adopt a Child

In many ways, adoption is big business. Adoptive parents will spend a lot of money to get the child they want. Unfortunately, when there’s a lot of money involved, the best interests of everyone involved can be forgotten or ignored. Adoption is more than creating a happy new family by the addition of a child. The birth parents can be easily exploited and feel a tremendous sense of loss. Adopted children can feel abandoned and develop attachment issues. The needs and concerns of all three parties—birthparents, adoptive parents and the adoptee—need to be considered. Here are some ethical guidelines for adoption.

The Birthparents

Birthparents who consider adoption and seek information on adoption are generally under a great deal of stress. Adoption professionals need to be very clear about all the options available, carefully and honestly describing the advantages and disadvantages of each option. If the birthparent opts to place the child up for adoption, the adoption professional should make certain they understand the different types of adoptions—public and private, open and closed. Before making a final decision, a birthparent should know whether they will know who the adoptive parents are and where they live, as well as whether there will be any continuing contact with the child.

Birthparents should also be educated about the potential emotional consequences of putting a child up for adoption. Birthparent may experience a broad spectrum of emotions, from loss and grief to guilt, shame or low self-esteem. Adoption professionals should make certain that birthparents have information about support groups, counseling and other resources to deal with post-adoption challenges.

The Child

In all adoptions, the primary goal and the focal point should be the best interests of the child. Adoption professionals should clearly determine the needs of the child, and work to implement an adoption that will best meet the child’s needs.

Studies indicate that the best interests of the child are best-served in a permanent home, where the child will receive consistent and loving care. If that can be done in the birthparents’ home, adoption professionals should support keeping a child with birthparents, particularly if there are siblings with whom the child has established a bond. If it’s clear that staying with birthparents is not in the child’s best interests, the adoption professional should seek a permanent placement as soon as possible, to minimize the potential negative impact on the emotional growth of the child. In addition, if the child has siblings, all efforts should be made to keep siblings together.

The Adopting Parent(s)

Adopting parents can just as easily be exploited, as the desire to have a child can blind them to the realities of the situation. Adoption professionals should clearly explain the different types of adoption proceedings, making certain that adoptive parents know that they can use different agencies, or can adopt without the assistance of an agency. All potential costs should be disclosed up front, and adoptive parents should clearly understand if there will be any communication or contact with the birthparent after the adoption is finalized. Adoptive parents should also be educated about potential emotional challenges the child may face, including acting out and attachment disorders.

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.

The Alarming Decrease in International Adoptions and What Can Be Done about It

Several years ago United States citizens adopted about 22,000 children from foreign countries in the space of one year. That number has been decreasing at a very rapid rate and in 2013 there were over 7,000 international adoptions.

There are a number of reasons this has occurred. One involves the participation of the United States in the Hague Treaty involving international adoption. Many of the safeguards that have been put into place to prevent child trafficking have actually made it more difficult to adopt children who are available for adoption and are languishing in orphanages in foreign countries. In fact, many U.S. adoption organizations as well as the American Academy of Adoptions Attorneys had written Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to take whatever steps were needed to improve the processing of these adoptions so as to advance the best interest of these children.

Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has been instrumental in the drafting of a bi-partisan bill known as CHIFF (Children in Families First) which may help remedy this problem and streamline the processing of international adoptions, while nevertheless making sure that everything is being done as per all international and US law.

Because of the decrease in foreign placements, many families that are looking to form their families through adoption and had been considering international adoption, have now focused on domestic placements. Anyone who is considering adopting would be well served by dealing either with a reputable licensed local adoption agency and/or an experienced adoption attorney such as one of the Fellows of our academy, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

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.

Grandparent Guardianship: What to Watch Out For

Taking Care of Your Grandchildren: Custody, Adoption and Guardianship

If your adult children don’t have the capacity to care for their minor children, you may be contemplating asking the court to give you legal responsibility and rights to raise your grandchildren.

One option is to seek custody of your grandchildren, so that they will legally reside with you. You can obtain custody if the parents voluntarily grant it, or you can petition the court to give you custody. In custody arrangements, the child’s parents still retain some rights regarding the child, including a right to visitation. In addition, grandparents can ask the court to order payment of child support.

Another option is adoption. To legally adopt your grandchildren, you must obtain voluntary or involuntary termination of all parental rights from both parents. The parents will have no right to visitation, but you will not be able to seek child support either.

A third option is guardianship. Guardianship is closer to custody than adoption, and is typically granted when the court determines that the existing parent or legal guardian lacks capacity to take care of and provide for the child. As the guardian of your grandchild, you are charged with providing adequate care, and may also have responsibility for managing any assets of the child. With a guardianship, even though the parents have relinquished most rights, they may still have the right to see their children. In most instances, a guardianship does not allow you to seek child support.

To become the legal guardian of your grandchild, you must file a petition with the court seeking to be appointed guardian. As a general rule, you must state the specific reasons why the parents are not capable of meeting the child’s needs. Ideally, the parents will recognize their inability to care for their children and acknowledge such to the court. If they don’t, you may have to participate in hearings to determine the fitness of the parents.

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.

Factors to Consider Before You Adopt-Part One

Is Adoption Right for You? Factors to Consider Before You Adopt

You may be considering adopting a child for any of a number of reasons. Perhaps you are unable to have children of your own. Maybe you already have a family and want to provide a home for a child in need. Adoption can be an extremely rewarding experience or it can be fraught with challenges. Here are some things to consider before you file for adoption.

Your Reasons for Adopting

There are other reasons than simply wanting a child. If you can’t have children biologically, adoption can give you the family you want. But some things you want to consider. First, have you taken the time to grieve your inability to have biological children? Do you view adoption as “the next best alternative”? If so, you may (consciously or subconsciously) view your child as less than what you really wanted. And how strong is your relationship with your spouse or partner? Are you looking at adoption as a way to improve that relationship? Sadly, that never really works.

The Time and Financial Commitments of Parenthood (and Adopting)

It will probably cost you at least $25,000 to complete an adoption. Estimates indicate that it can cost between $10,000 and $20,000 annually to raise a child. In addition, the time commitment is huge and unrelenting. Kids don’t live life on a schedule. You may be up all night with a sick kid and still have to go to work in the morning.

The Different Types of Adoptions

You can adopt a child domestically (within the United States) or internationally. With an international adoption, there is less likelihood of an ongoing relationship with the birth parent, and less likelihood that your adopted child will try to seek out their birthparent. The costs of an international adoption are typically a little higher than a domestic adoption.

Adoption may be open (you and/or your child maintain an ongoing relationship with the birthparent) or closed. With an open adoption, there can be an ongoing sense that the child has two families. For some adoptive parents, this can make it feel like the child is little more than a visitor. But many adoptive parents believe it is best in the long term that the child knows his or her heritage.

An adoption may be private or through an agency. With a private adoption, there can be less red tape, but it can also be more difficult to find a child that needs to be adopted.

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.

Single Parent Adoption in New Jersey

Can You Adopt as a Single Parent in New Jersey?

Maybe you haven’t found that someone special or you just prefer to remain single, but you want to experience the joy of being a parent. So you’ve considered filing for adoption, but are uncertain whether your unmarried status will prevent you from adopting. In New Jersey, that’s generally not a barrier to adoption.

New Jersey has a well-deserved reputation nationally as an “adoption-friendly” state. While some other states look at marital status or sexual orientation as one of the factors in determining your fitness to adopt, New Jersey has no such restrictions.

Just because New Jersey does not prohibit single parent adoptions, however, does not mean that you won’t run into obstacles as a single person trying to adopt. Often, adoption agencies will give preferential treatment to married couples seeking to adopt, or a birth parent may be reluctant or unwilling to consider a single parent in a private adoption. The laws in New Jersey, while allowing single parent adoptions, do not provide the authority to compel an agency or a birth parent to give a child in adoption to a single parent. If you are a single person seeking to adopt a child, your best approach is to work directly with an agency that specializes in or supports single parent adoptions.

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.

Re-Homing

There have been several articles in the newspapers and on television lately about something which has been given the name of “Re-Homing.”

Re-Homing is the placement of a child previously adopted by a family, with another family. The news articles dealt primarily with adoptive placements of children from foreign countries. Adopting families on some occasions have found that the child has significant issues, whether they are physical disabilities, developmental delays, or neurological and/or emotional problems, such that the family is not equipped to care for the child. Those families often find that any attempt to obtain aid or assistance from the state or federal government is rejected. With no where to turn yet being concerned about the best interest of the child, the families will sometimes post their situation on the internet, and invite other families to consider caring for the child.

In many cases the child ends up with a loving family who is able to deal with the issues presented, and the second family often adopts the child. What has been reported are the very few cases where the second family may not be an appropriate placement. The second family may not have had a home study performed and there is concern that the child may end up being abused.

Rather than dealing with this in a measured way, one state has passed legislation specifically banning this practice. This type of legislation does not solve the problems that these families face or that these children face. Rather, programs need to be developed to assist these families that sometimes are in crisis because of the condition of these children. Turning our backs on these families and children and preventing them from attempting to find other substitute families is far from the best solution.

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.

Avoiding Adoptions Scams

There have been a number of articles lately relating to people who are taken advantage of or being scammed with regard to adoptions. While this is a relatively rare occurrence, nevertheless this is what makes headlines.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from those unscrupulous individuals who prey on families who are looking to adopt is to make sure that you deal with either a reputable licensed local adoption agency and/or an experienced adoption attorney such as one of the Fellows of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. By doing this many of the “red flags” that pop up and which could be indicative of a scam may be recognized by these professionals so that you may be protected. Further, the mere fact that you are working with an experienced adoption professional may dissuade someone who is seeking to take advantage of you from even dealing with you.

Prospective adoptive parents are extremely vulnerable and should always seek the help of an experience professional when contemplating adoption.

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.

gform.initializeOnLoaded( function() { jQuery(document).on('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 1) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }jQuery('#input_1_2').mask('(999) 999-9999').bind('keypress', function(e){if(e.which == 13){jQuery(this).blur();} } );} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} ) } );