Jul 27, 2011

Mental Health issues of Adopted Children

The National Institutes of Health released a report this week stating “adopted children have higher rates of mental health problems than all other children.”

For those of us in the adoption world, the report — the 15th in a series issued since 1997 by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics – may state the obvious. But it is also throws a gauntlet at the feet of social service agencies and policy makers.

During the past twenty years, the adoption landscape has been radically transformed. From the secretive adoption of babies born to unwed and predominantly white mothers, the norm today is arranged, open adoption of newborns, children from foster care or children from institutions and orphanages in far flung parts of the world.

Recent statistics help put this shift into perspective. Out of the approximately 135,000 children adopted in the U.S. last year, 11,000 (most between the ages of one and two) were internationally adopted. Here in the U.S. just over 52,000 children were adopted into non-family member homes from foster care.

Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and author of Adoption Nation (Basic Books, Perseus Book Group, 2000) said in an interview that, “many adopted kids today enter their new families with pre-adoption lives. For them, this means they’ve experienced abuse, neglect, or [if from an inter-country placement] institutionalization.”

Older parents who can’t have their own children are a key factor driving the demand for more international and foster care adoptions. Not only are these new adoptive families not genetically linked, many parents, like myself, don’t even know the genetic history of the children we end up calling our own.

The upside to this expanded adoption domain has been a tremendous surge in diversity. Parents don’t try and adopt children that look like them nor do they demand infants. The linear homogenous family model is out and the crazy quilt is in. The downside, though, is inadequate support to help parents understand the history of their child or to help prepare these families for potential difficulties, both behavioral and cognitive. In their giddy rush to form a family, na├»ve parents can be blindsided when confronted by the reality of their adopted child’s extreme needs. To help theses parents cope, an industry of medical, cultural and emotional support services have emerged.

Nothing could underscore the point more clearly than the return in April 2010 of adoptee Artyom Savalyev to his native Russia. His single mother, Torry Hansen, allegedly overwhelmed by seven-year old Atryom’s unpredictable and unstable behavior, determined she could no longer parent him. Instead, Hansen sent her son back on a plane to Russia, by himself, with a note pinned inside his jacket. Artyom remains in Russia at an undisclosed location while the case against Hansen languishes in limbo.

Dr. Lisa Albers Prock, a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston, and a leading advocate of ‘adoption medicine,’ says she tries to prepare parents for what to expect, but it’s hard, she says, for anxious new parents to grasp the complexities of “kids that have been fully programmed and have to be reprogrammed” in a new setting.

The new NIH report highlights some of the realities on the ground. Of the families surveyed, almost 30 percent of adopted children had moderate to severe health problems and foster care children were the most susceptible. In addition to health problems, many of these children also had an assortment of cognitive deficits such as learning disabilities, ADD and ADHD, or behavior and conduct disorders. Exposure to alcohol or drugs during pregnancy is often thought to be the culprit behind these deficits, as is infant trauma, which can have serious and long-lasting implications later in life.

While this data is distressing, Pertman says reports like this are “helpful and a good wake-up call.” To Pertman, these findings demand that policy makers take notice. The once mandatory emphasis on placement should now shift, he says, “to looking at how to help these kids and families succeed.” The NIH findings also coincide with his Institute’s most recent policy and practice report on the need for post-adoption services.

The NIH report demonstrates families feel challenged. But instead of retreating or giving up, these parents are demanding help. Despite the old Beatles refrain, “Love is all you need,” sometimes you also need a safety net.

Jul 22, 2011

ATTACh seeks Executive Director

ATTACh, the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children, an international coalition of professionals and families dedicated to helping those with attachment difficulties by sharing our knowledge, talents and resources is seeking a dynamic leader to serve as it's Executive Director. Our vision is to be an international leader in creating public awareness and education regarding attachment and the critical role it plays in human development. We provide an annual conference, educational programs, advocacy, community building, a membership directory, and other benefits to our members and the public. We are seeking an experienced professional to work in a collaborative community environment, building relationships and serving as a leader of a diverse team of professionals and parents. Experience in community organization, fundraising, business development ,budget planning, administration, and personnel management is required. Knowledge of information systems, research and legal issues is highly desirable. Experience in attachment, trauma, or related fields is strongly preferred. This position requires strong analytical, creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. A balance of assertiveness and diplomacy is critical, as well as effective listening skills and excellent verbal and written communications skills. Experience with MS Office (Word, Excel and Access) is essential.

Master's Degree in Human Services, Business, Social Services or related degree is required, with a minimum of five years of progressively responsible combined experience in first line and/or second line management/administration of a non-profit organization.

Geographic location of position within USA is negotiable. Please send cover letter, salary requirements and resume to search committee at email listed above.

Compensation: salary negotiable
Telecommuting is ok.
This is at a non-profit organization.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

The email for this is Dynamicleaderforattach@gmail.com.

Jul 14, 2011

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy: Video on Attachment Focused Therapy

The Association for the Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children has a wonderful new video about Attachment Focused Therapy. You can view it here. This video is a must see for parents and professionals. It describes the latest information on evidence-based, effective, and empirically validated treatments for Complex Trauma, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and other disorders of attachment. The speakers and presenters are internationally recognized experts in the evaluation and treatment of these conditions.

See the video here.

Jul 13, 2011

Exciting new video by ATTACh

The Association for the Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children, had an exciting video about the diagnosis and treatment of attachment disorders. This organization's highly respected and followed publications, such as the Therapeutic Practice Manual and Parent Manual are now enhanced by this video.

The video presents the most up to date material for parents and professionals regarding the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of attachment and has such highly internationally respected professionals on it as Dr. Michael Trout and Dr. Richard Kagan.

Go to the video here.