Where to turn for help when facing challenges parenting your adopted child

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Where to turn for help when facing challenges parenting your adopted child

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Many parents reach a level of frustration that leads them to believe and to know that they need outside help. There are a number of things they can do. We find many parents who get a lot of support from other adoptive parents with similar problems, and because they can talk about these details and people don’t blame them, and people don’t judge them, so I think adoptive parent support groups are really very good resources. They can ask those parents, “Have you found a therapist that is adoption sensitive? Have you found a therapist that knows something about trauma and attachment problems?” and get a name from them. It’s probably best to talk with people who kind of are this inside group of people who know about adoption and attachment as opposed to just going to the school and getting the name of a generic therapist who’s a very good therapist for certain kinds of problems, but may not know anything about this specific kind of problem. Certainly the agency, the adoption agency or Social Services, should seek guidance from them. Who have you had experience with that can really be helpful. Some families find using Respite is very helpful and that just means that you’d plan a weekend for the kid to spend time with either a family member, another adoptive parent, a friend, and it doesn't have to be punitive at all. It can be just what all families do like, “Why don’t you go spend the weekend at grandma or grandpa’s house and we’re going to go on a little mini-vacation, and we’ll see you.” So sometimes getting a break…I don’t really like regular planned Respite because I think it’s too contrived, but people need to not get isolated and we see families, we see couples that say, “We have not been out alone for five years because we can’t find a babysitter who will come back. We can’t find a relative who will let him stay there for the evening.” So they get very isolated and people go to their typical support groups like their faith groups, their school groups, and the people don’t understand it so they don’t get the kind of support they need. Since they really can’t control what the kid does I think getting support is critically important because you feel somewhat validated like, “Oh, my gosh.” When we have a parent support group in our office the parents leave thinking like, “Oh, my kid doesn't even have many problems at all. You know, that kid has this, and this kid…” so it kind of is a balancing thing. Even the parents who have kids that are very disturbed, they often end thinking like, “Oh, at least I don’t have that issue.” So I think it’s important for adoptive parents to talk to other adoptive parents.

Watch Gregory Keck, PhD's video on Where to turn for help when facing challenges parenting your adopted child...

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Gregory Keck, PhD

Founder & Director, Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio

Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio. He is an internationally known psychologist and trainer who addresses the issues of trauma, adoption, and post-adoption challenges. He and his staff provide attachment therapy for adoptive families whose children have experienced serious early childhood maltreatment prior to adoption. In 2012, he received the National Association of Social Workers State of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the parent of two sons who were adopted in adolescence.

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