Children who are adopted later in life often experience emotional pains and may exhibit adverse behaviors. Some of these children may feel abandoned and do not understand the process fully. When these children’s emotions become too much to handle, they often will lash out at others and it can become overbearing for their adoptive parents to handle. As a child who was adopted at age 8, I experienced feelings of anger and behavior which was not acceptable to my adoptive parents. After a while, they began to become over-burdened to the point where they felt they had no options left. Here are a few things an adoptive parent can do to make dealing with a high risk child’s behavior easier to cope with.
Arrange for respite care
As a young child, I had problems controlling my anger. I would lash out at just about anyone who was part of the family. Looking back, I could see how my parents could have used a break from me. Taking some time to refuel does not hurt. Too many times, parents feel like they are abandoning their child if they are not with them. If it’s just one weekend a month, it could be beneficial to the parents, the child, and others in the household.
You might be able to arrange for an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend to provide one weekend a month of respite care. Sometimes you may be able to find contacts through the county social services departments and arrange for a certain amount of respite care per year. When the child returns from the respite, you may find yourself rejuvenated and the child may seem to do better.
Allowing your child to speak to someone who is a professional may provide an insight into what your child is going through. Often children are more reluctant to talk about their feelings to a parent for fear of rejection, thus counseling would be an added benefit to understanding why your child is feels and behaves in a particular manner. Counseling will help you identify areas which your parenting style may need some changing.
When searching for a counselor, often it is best to find someone who specializes in child psychology. It also helps to find a counselor who specializes with attachment disorders and possible abuse. Having an individual who knows how to relate to your child will help your child become comfortable and open up.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools
Therapeutic boarding schools are a great option if you are committed to being involved with your child’s recovery. I was placed into two different boarding schools which were not much help due to the lack of involvement my parents had with me. It is important to make regular contact with your child to let them know someone cares. It also takes away the fear of abandonment.
When choosing a boarding school, try to figure out which would be the most benefit to your child. If your child enjoys sports, try to find a school which has competitive sports teams. If your child enjoys music, try to find a school with a music program. Having your child away from home is difficult for the parent and the child but if there are some things of interest to the child intertwined with the program it can help tremendously.
Ask the state to intervene
This is the last option and I would suggest utilizing this option as a last resort. If you find your child is not making progress and you have tried all possible options, this might be something you need to do. I was placed into the state’s custody at age 15 and remained there until I left for the Army. I look at it as my chance to make things right and it was more of a blessing for me than it was disappointment.
Sometimes when children are placed with an adoptive family it may not be a good fit. In my case, I was placed with my adoptive family who had adopted 11 children ahead of me and that was entirely too many people for me to be around. Being in a foster home with two other children was more comfortable to me. I no longer had to prove myself to others and was not being blamed for things constantly.
If you feel your child is not benefiting from remaining in your household, ask the state if there’s a way your child could be placed temporarily or indefinitely in a foster care program. Reassure your child you are doing this because you love them and only want the best for them. Make sure to visit and call regularly as this can give your child a sense of security while in an environment in which s/he feels most comfortable in.
The bottom line is to never give up on your child. Children learn by the actions of their parents. If a parent is constantly making negative comments about their child or to their child, that child will grow up with poor self-esteem and other problems. Also, never cut your child out of your life, regardless of the stress you have gone through. Be as involved as you can and watch your child grow.