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Question
Posted by: Kate | 2012/01/11

Adoption Psychologists

I have an almost 8 year old adopted son. He knows he is adopted and we are very positive when talking about his adoption. He has behavioural issues such as ODD (apparently outgrown this now) and possibly ADHD but teachers are not convinced and therefore not on medication.

He also has sensory processing disorder for which he is going to OT.

I would really like to find a psychologist that could assist in helping him deal with his adoption and behavioural issues. But I want someone who is known to have had a positive impact with adopted people. I am not happy with the psychiatrist we have seen as I don''t think she relates to his situation or understands it very well. And is very quick to assume ''all'' is related to him being adopted. He was an infant when he was adopted so we have always been his parents.

I know it is not typical to give out referrals on this forum so I am hoping either a reader could mention someone or maybe you could guide in the right direction.Thx Doc.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

OK, from your description, your boy has some developmental problems which should respond well to treatment, and which are NOT related to being adopted. He sounds well-adjusted to knowing he was adopted, and maybe doesn't need help dealing with that as such, unless he is showing some convincing signs of being concerned about that. Similar as regards the developmental problems - does all this worry him ? Have you simply calmly discussed these matters with him, to see what he feels about it ?
I fully understand that the psychiatrist you have seen may have been unhelpful and may not partticularly usefully understand these issues or how to help with them. Especially if, as you wisely observe, she seems too eager to blame any maters on the fact of adoption, which need not be causing any problems at all.
Apart from issues of recommending specific docs, unless by chance one knows someone, its really hard to know whether any particular shrink has experience in any defined field, let alone whether they're good at dealing with it. I wonder whether, if you called and spoke with some of the adoption agencies, social workers who help with and assist in the adoption process, and so on, ythey might be in a better position to know of particular docs in your area with successful eperience in these fields.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Kate | 2012/01/11

I did post a few things on the adoption forum but it is not very active at all.

I also couldn''t find it this time.

We have met a few families that have adopted but my son doesn''t seem that interested or bothered by the whole thing to be honest. I just would like him to have someone to talk to when he does have insecure times in the coming years.

Reply to Kate
Posted by: Maria | 2012/01/11

Kate, maybe see if you can find a support group for adoptive families? It might help your boy if he can see there are other families who look like yours. Trans-cultural adoption adds an extra layer of complexity that we don''t have to deal with.

Under the Peer/Community forums there is an Adoption forum. It''s not very active at the moment but I check it fairly regularly, so you''re welcome to post there if you just want to chat!

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Kate | 2012/01/11

Thx Doc and Maria.

Good idea Doc regarding contacting the adoption agencies. Will give that a shot.

Maria, thanks, it helps to chat to someone who ''gets it''. I too get frustrated when people raise their eyebrows at our son''s behaviour and I can almost hear their thoughts. My son is black and I am white so it is obvious that he is adopted and yet people still ask. They already know the answer, can you imagine if I said, no, he is my biological child, or no, he is my maid''s child etc. They would feel awkward, so they ask the ''safe'' yet very unnecessary answer simply to pry. And then they ask ''why?'' why did I adopt? Like it is any concern of theirs!

I try to always tell myself to educate rather than get irate.

I do believe many of my son''s behavioural issues are link to genes (OCC, ADHD) and possibly to his adoption and the possible confusion that it may cause. He seems very comfortable with his situation but I do think it is hard for a young mind to grasp the enormity of being given away and brought up by another family - especially if it is so ''in your face'' (with us being white and him being black). He can never get away from that.

I think that the sensory processing disorder may be linked to either preg/birth or being abandoned. I don''t know but this does affect him quite a bit.

Every now an then he goes through stages of feeling insecure about his adoption and I spend a lot of tie talking to him, drawing pictures of what he thinks his biological family would look like etc. I allow him to have an idea of them, and as we don''t have any information I feel like his image of them can never be dashed. I try to let him know that we are not threatened by talk of them or his feelings towards them, he is allowed to have those. And we are always positive.

It is a struggle, he is not the easiest boy but so loving, so nice (when he wants to be), he is so handsome, so popular and I just hoped every day that it will all work out okay, that what we are doing and how we are doing it is the best thing for him.

Thanks for the chat.

Reply to Kate
Posted by: Maria | 2012/01/11

Just to clarify, do you think his behavioural issues are in some ways related to the fact that he is adopted?

I want to tell you about two issues that have affected me as a parent, and sometimes still does. Our daughter was a adopted as a toddler and we have contact with biological family, which makes the situation a bit different. But it has taken me 6 years to get to the point where I don''t always feel I must " confess"  that my child is adopted should a situation arise where it might be relevant. I can finally smile and nod, and trust my 9 year old to share her story with people as and when she feels comfortable doing so.

The second things is that it drives me mad when people imply, or come say straight out, that any behavioural problems are the result of " genes"  and maybe we would have had an easier time with an " own child" . Grrrr.... Yes there are genetic components to a lot of problems but there is no way what you are going to get, genetic inheritance is a lottery. The way in which nature and nurture interact is complex, and cannot really be predicted accurately.

Sorry for the thesis, hope that helps you a little!

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Maria | 2012/01/11

It would be helpful if you tell us where you live.

As an adoptive parent myself I understand your concerns regarding all problems being related to adoption. Fact is, adopted kids experience their adoption and the effect on their later lives in a myriad different ways, and you have to deal with the child as an individual.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/01/11

OK, from your description, your boy has some developmental problems which should respond well to treatment, and which are NOT related to being adopted. He sounds well-adjusted to knowing he was adopted, and maybe doesn't need help dealing with that as such, unless he is showing some convincing signs of being concerned about that. Similar as regards the developmental problems - does all this worry him ? Have you simply calmly discussed these matters with him, to see what he feels about it ?
I fully understand that the psychiatrist you have seen may have been unhelpful and may not partticularly usefully understand these issues or how to help with them. Especially if, as you wisely observe, she seems too eager to blame any maters on the fact of adoption, which need not be causing any problems at all.
Apart from issues of recommending specific docs, unless by chance one knows someone, its really hard to know whether any particular shrink has experience in any defined field, let alone whether they're good at dealing with it. I wonder whether, if you called and spoke with some of the adoption agencies, social workers who help with and assist in the adoption process, and so on, ythey might be in a better position to know of particular docs in your area with successful eperience in these fields.

Reply to cybershrink

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