• Adoption, Attachment, and PTSD in Children by Jolene Philo


    The following guest post was written by friend and colleague Jolene Philo, author of a soon-to-be-released book on childhood PTSD. Jolene is also the author of A Different Dream for My Child and Different Dream Parenting


    A post at the Adoptive Families Circle confirmed a link that surfaced among adoption, attachment, and PTSD in children while I conducted research for my upcoming book about PTSD in children. Adoption is a wonderful and crucial gift to give to children and families. But sometimes, no matter the age children are at the time of adoption, they need extra care and support to transition from biological families to forever families.

    Adoption and Attachment

    In her post, Danielle Pennel describes the quirks that eventually made her suspect her son, adopted at birth, was developing attachment disorder:

    He always had to know where my husband, Paul, and I were in the house or else he’d have an anxiety attack. He would collect items from us, like a sock or a bracelet, and keep them hidden in his room. He would hide food underneath his bed, and we constantly found wrappers in his drawers. Also, he refused to fall asleep unless we stood next to his crib/bed.
    His behavior escalated in elementary school after he experienced some bullying. Thankfully, Pennel and her husband found a counselor who treated both the trauma of bullying and the attachment issues stemming from adoption. Two years later, their son is doing better though he still needs extra hugs and reassurance. To read the whole story, visit In Denial About My Son’s Attachment Struggles.

    Adoption and Attachment and PTSD

    Pennel’s excellent article left out the latest thinking of mental health care professionals about attachment issues in children. They believe the behaviors associated with attachment disorders such as RAD (reactive attachment disorder) are symptoms of childhood trauma, or PTSD as it’s commonly called. Therefore attachment issues are most effectively dealt with by treating children for trauma.

    Your Experience?

    You’ll be reading more about PTSD in children and attachment disorders as I write my [Jolene’s] book on PTSD in kids. But your experiences with adoption, attachment disorders, and PTSD are of great interest, too. You can share them in the comment box on my blog. Thanks!

    Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici at

One Responseso far.

  1. Rachael Martin says:

    My 12 year old daughter, adopted at 6 days old is falling to rock bottom at present. She was self sufficient and a risk taker as a toddler/preschooler. By age 5 she devoted severe anger, accompanied by a cross country move.
    She is brilliant. Bring a homeschooler she has been a grade or 2 ahead and will graduate high school by 15. In her dance studio she was promoted to “senior” level, while she should be s junior ( junior teen senior ore pro are the designations. In swimming she was third best in the city. Amazing artist. BUT. does not recognize any value in herself. Will happily quit and spend her days alone drawing. Her anger turned to violence ( broke my foot, cut open my head, threatened with knives). And next to depression, suicidel ideations. No self care. And refusal to leave bed. Also does not sleep at night. Sees “spirits” in her room. Positive of abandonment issues & PTSD. No adequate treatment is available where we live. I am a nutrition therapist. Both an RD & trained in art therapy, and gestalt techniques. She doesn’t trust speaking to any adults. Speaks to her 17 year old sister’s friend.
    She seems to be a “classic” case. My husband scoffs at this concept. So NO help from him. And much resistance to exploring her psyche.
    She takes only Wellbutrin. Im thinking of asking to add something for anxiety and also medication for ptsd. I believe with all fiber of my best my in healing through prayer. I wanted to share my story. For comment encouragement or any reason

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