Attachment in Adoptees

attachment in adoptees blog_Creative Arts Therapy Source | New York and New Jersey_Creative Arts Therapy Source | New York and New Jersey

No matter what age or developmental stage an adopted child comes to a family, they arrive with latent memories of grief, a fear of attachment and emotional memories of pre verbal loss. 

Understanding Attachment

Attachment is a term that refers to a psychological and biological event. It is the affectional bond that develops between a primary caregiver, usually the mother, and her infant. The process of attachment often begins in utero when the mother feels affection for her developing baby and looks forward to the baby’s birth. 

Developing a secure attachment to a primary caregiver is extremely important as the child’s mental representations of intimate relationships and the foundation trust often carry over into adulthood, affecting future adult relationships.

An Alteration in the Attachment Process

The beginning years of the adoptive family are often picture perfect, hypnotizing the parents into a false sense of security. It’s not until around age 6 that the adopted child begins to mature in their cognition and begins to try and make sense of their complex emotions created by the adoption. The deep sense of loss that a child remembers begins to emerge into the child’s conscious mind. 

At this point in development, some adoptive children may withdraw or isolate themselves while others may have more intensified behavioral outbursts. Children have a limited ability to express emotions and will either misbehave or repress their feelings and be compliant.

The attachment process is altered with the transfer from one mother to another which makes the creation of a secure attachment the central problem in the adoptive family. The core issue struggling within the adoptee is the disconnect between their emotions and their ability to identify them. 

Helping Adoptees Express Preverbal Memories

The memories that an infant experienced become a part of their emotional experience. However, adoptees may have troubling memories that they can not identify in words. This is known as a per verbal memory. 

Art Therapy is a positive way for an adoptee to begin to express their preverbal memories. Using colors, symbols and imagery, an adoptee can begin to give shape and form to the foggy memories that they have buried in their psyche.

If you are an adoptee overwhelmed with grief and you would like to start healing your wounds through therapy, let’s connect. If you are ready to make a change in your life, I can help. 

I offer in person and virtual therapy sessions- let’s do what’s best for you. If you are interested in speaking to me to see if we would be a good fit, please reach out. Contact me to schedule a complementary 15 minute phone consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.