trauma

But I adopted my child at birth. What do you mean trauma?

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-adopted-my-child-birth-what-do-you-mean-trauma-alex-stavros/

But I adopted my child at birth. What do you mean trauma?

Published on June 10, 2015

Alex Stavros
CEO, Embark Behavioral Health // Creating Joy // Business As a Force for Good

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

It is not uncommon for adoptive parents to come to us feeling out of options for their difficult child and overwhelmed about what could have created all of these DSM diagnoses and intense feelings and behaviors.  Especially if the child was adopted at or near birth.  “We adopted our son at birth. We brought him home from the hospital ourselves and have done nothing but love him.”

Does this sound too familiar?

If so, then why are you now being told that all of that had something to do with the issues today?

First and foremost, it is important not to be too hard on ourselves or even our child’s birth parents. At this time, it is most important to find our child the help that they need. Understanding the diagnosis and its origins may help one decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.  Quality and traditional parenting techniques may no longer be a solution our child’s condition will likely require trauma sensitive interventions to heal.

Fetal Trauma

First we need to understand there are many developmental milestones for your child that occur prior to birth.  Your child began feeling and learning in the womb. According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother well before birth[1] a voice that was not yours. In the case of adoption this connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.

Paula Thomson writes for Birth Psychology, “Early pre- and post-natal experiences, including early trauma, are encoded in the implicit memory of the fetus, located in the subcortical and deep limbic regions of the maturing brain. These memories will travel with us into our early days of infancy and beyond and more importantly, these early experiences set our ongoing physiological and psychological regulatory baselines.”[2]

Clearly, chaos outside of the womb, for example, may affect children in utero. This includes arguments, a chaotic home environment or an abusive spouse, and other rambunctious noise that may seem harmless to the fetus.  If the mother drinks or smokes, or is generally unhealthy, this also impacts in-utero development, including the sense of safety and self-worth for the child.  Critical brain development is also stunted.   Mothers that end up placing their child with adoptive parents are also likely to feel increased stress during their pregnancies.  Many are very young, have many other children or are emotionally or financially unable to support a child.  Each of these stressors could expose unborn babies to cortisol, making them also stressed.  The baby is then born anxious.  Surprisingly, babies are also able to sense a disconnection or lack of acceptance from their mother while in the womb leading to attachment issues and developmental trauma down the road.

Genetic Memory

Beyond these connection concerns, trauma can also be an inherited condition.  Recent studies indicate that trauma resides in the DNA, allowing mental disease and behavioral disorders to be passed down for generations.  In the end, adoption itself is a form of trauma.  Without the biological connection to their mother, even newborns can feel that something is wrong and be difficult to sooth as a result. This effect has the potential to grow over time even in the most loving and supportive adoptive homes.

Summary: Humans, and the brain, develop through experience.  Adverse experiences stunt this development.  And development starts way before birth even before conception.

[1] http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/06/29/emotional-trauma-in-the-womb/

[2] https://birthpsychology.com/journals/volume-19-issue-1/impact-trauma-embryo-and-fetus-application-diathesis-stress-model-and-neu

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

About Calo

Calo (“kay-low”) is a behavioral and mental health provider that specializes in healing the effects of complex developmental trauma. Calo is comprised of Calo Teens (www.caloteens.com), Calo Preteens (www.calopreteens.com) both residential programs predominately serving adoptive families – and New Vision Wilderness (www.newvisionwilderness.com “NVW”).

NVW is a wilderness therapy program based in the North Woods of Wisconsin and the Mountain Desert of Oregon. NVW offers one of the most clinically intensive models in the country specializing in a Trauma Informed model.

The Calo programs implement a unique and truly relational treatment model based on evidence-based attachment treatment research. Calo’s proprietary treatment model is pervasive throughout the programs. The unique model facilitates establishing, deepening and maintaining healthy and safe relationships that ultimately lead to co-regulation and Joy.

The clinical modalities across the programs include, but are not limited to, Brainspotting, HeartMath, EMDR, Neurofeedback, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Transferable Attachment Canine Therapy, Adventure Therapy, Play and Sand Therapy, and Sensory/Occupational Therapies.
Published on June 10, 2015

Alex Stavros
CEO, Embark Behavioral Health // Creating Joy // Business As a Force for Good

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

IBY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

It is not uncommon for adoptive parents to come to us feeling out of options for their difficult child and overwhelmed about what could have created all of these DSM diagnoses and intense feelings and behaviors.  Especially if the child was adopted at or near birth.  “We adopted our son at birth. We brought him home from the hospital ourselves and have done nothing but love him.”

Does this sound too familiar?

If so, then why are you now being told that all of that had something to do with the issues today?

First and foremost, it is important not to be too hard on ourselves or even our child’s birth parents. At this time, it is most important to find our child the help that they need. Understanding the diagnosis and its origins may help one decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.  Quality and traditional parenting techniques may no longer be a solution our child’s condition will likely require trauma sensitive interventions to heal.

Fetal Trauma

First we need to understand there are many developmental milestones for your child that occur prior to birth.  Your child began feeling and learning in the womb. According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother well before birth[1] a voice that was not yours. In the case of adoption this connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.

Paula Thomson writes for Birth Psychology, “Early pre- and post-natal experiences, including early trauma, are encoded in the implicit memory of the fetus, located in the subcortical and deep limbic regions of the maturing brain. These memories will travel with us into our early days of infancy and beyond and more importantly, these early experiences set our ongoing physiological and psychological regulatory baselines.”[2]

Clearly, chaos outside of the womb, for example, may affect children in utero. This includes arguments, a chaotic home environment or an abusive spouse, and other rambunctious noise that may seem harmless to the fetus.  If the mother drinks or smokes, or is generally unhealthy, this also impacts in-utero development, including the sense of safety and self-worth for the child.  Critical brain development is also stunted.   Mothers that end up placing their child with adoptive parents are also likely to feel increased stress during their pregnancies.  Many are very young, have many other children or are emotionally or financially unable to support a child.  Each of these stressors could expose unborn babies to cortisol, making them also stressed.  The baby is then born anxious.  Surprisingly, babies are also able to sense a disconnection or lack of acceptance from their mother while in the womb leading to attachment issues and developmental trauma down the road.

Genetic Memory

Beyond these connection concerns, trauma can also be an inherited condition.  Recent studies indicate that trauma resides in the DNA, allowing mental disease and behavioral disorders to be passed down for generations.  In the end, adoption itself is a form of trauma.  Without the biological connection to their mother, even newborns can feel that something is wrong and be difficult to sooth as a result. This effect has the potential to grow over time even in the most loving and supportive adoptive homes.

Summary: Humans, and the brain, develop through experience.  Adverse experiences stunt this development.  And development starts way before birth even before conception.

[1] http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/06/29/emotional-trauma-in-the-womb/

[2] https://birthpsychology.com/journals/volume-19-issue-1/impact-trauma-embryo-and-fetus-application-diathesis-stress-model-and-neu

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

About Calo

Calo (“kay-low”) is a behavioral and mental health provider that specializes in healing the effects of complex developmental trauma. Calo is comprised of Calo Teens (www.caloteens.com), Calo Preteens (www.calopreteens.com) both residential programs predominately serving adoptive families – and New Vision Wilderness (www.newvisionwilderness.com “NVW”).

NVW is a wilderness therapy program based in the North Woods of Wisconsin and the Mountain Desert of Oregon. NVW offers one of the most clinically intensive models in the country specializing in a Trauma Informed model.

The Calo programs implement a unique and truly relational treatment model based on evidence-based attachment treatment research. Calo’s proprietary treatment model is pervasive throughout the programs. The unique model facilitates establishing, deepening and maintaining healthy and safe relationships that ultimately lead to co-regulation and Joy.

The clinical modalities across the programs include, but are not limited to, Brainspotting, HeartMath, EMDR, Neurofeedback, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Transferable Attachment Canine Therapy, Adventure Therapy, Play and Sand Therapy, and Sensory/Occupational Therapies.

So tired ……

I don’t make a point of blogging like I used to ask I feel ‘all talked out’ over how adoption affects me on a daily basis.  My son will be 40 in August and I will be 60 in November yet I’ve only had 5 years of contact in my life with him.  That includes him living with us for almost 2 1/5 years which wasn’t enough time to truly heal and my heart was ripped to shreds a second time.

I cannot explain to family how hard it’s been over the past forty years as none of them have had a child adopted out let alone against their will.  The closest I could get to explaining was back in 2019 when one of my niece’s and husband lost their second child toEdward’s Syndrome.  They, their son and close family members had a day with her before she passed on.  It will never take the pain away and I am just thankful they could have that time together with their beautiful angel.  I would have loved to met my great niece but we didn’t know if we would get to the hospital in time as we live about 250 miles away.  She is still with the family in spirit and has been included in the family tree with a picture as she will always be part of our family.

When my sister and I talked before and after about her beautiful granddaughter I had no problems saying I couldn’t begin to understand what my niece / her daughter was going through.  My son didn’t die.  Yet a piece of me died after he was born as I knew I was losing the battle to keep him even though I was quite capable of raising him.

I became severely depressed but thought it was post natal depression.  I emotionally shut down as it was the only way I could cope and to the world I moved on.  That couldn’t be further from the truth but I couldn’t cope with my emotions so it was a battle to stay alive.  I’ve lost count of the times I have overdosed but only went to hospitalised once which was because I was unconscious.  The following day I refused to talk about it and wanted to go home and the doctor couldn’t force me to stay or talk.  Instead I continued with my daily battle to carry on pretending nothing was wrong.

Even with me finding my son within days after his 23 rd birthday didn’t help kickstart real heaing.  Don’t get me wrong I will be eternally thankful that we reconnected so I know he is alive and well but …. I didn’t get my baby back, I found an adult.  I never stopped loving him and never will but I can’t make him like me.  In the time we had contact he learned the reality I had wanted to raise him, that I had wanted contact if he was willing.  Instead he believed I hadn’t wanted him, that he had to accept I ‘didn’t want to be found’ – I have seen the proof in the form of a letter from a family member.  My finding him crumbled his world around him as he learned the truth I had always wanted him and as I had been denied that right so reconnecting was the next best thing.

I couldn’t even have that as I should have done as the same family member couldn’t understand why my son wanted to know.  His only family was his adoptive family and I was nothing to him according to the family member.  That attitude is cold hearted and yet that person would never have said that had they gone through the same experience of an invisible amputation.

July 2021
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