Kathy Mackechney, LCSW
A couple of years ago, I had a bike accident that damaged my front teeth. One day during an exam after the accident, my dentist said in response to a question I asked, “Traumatized teeth don’t play by the rules.” I immediately thought, “Traumatized people don't either.”
Rules don’t necessarily work with adopted kids, because the rules didn’t apply to them: Getting relinquished by or removed from your parents is not the way it’s supposed to go. And when that happens, you learn that what applies to everyone else doesn’t apply to you.
Raising adopted children is hard. The things that work with biological children don’t work with adopted children and can, in fact, make things worse. Without realizing it, you can inadvertently cause the very behaviors you don't want. Examining your own expectations and reactions is important. But it's not going to be about what you’re doing wrong—about which you’ve probably heard plenty. You need compassion too. The more we attune to and connect with what comes up for you in relation to your child, the more attuned and connected to your child you’ll be and the more you’ll get the behaviors you want. In the meantime, I’ll also work with your child—both with and without you—to help them with those relinquishment- and adoption-related issues that result in those survival responses that brought you to therapy.
You may have heard the term "adoption-competent therapist" for professionals who are specially trained in adoption issues. I became adoption-competent by growing up adopted and then receiving professional training to apply to my personal experience.
For more information, visit the For Adoptees page.