• Trauma Impacts Children

    by Dr. Beth Robinson

    Building a relationship with a traumatized child will require a great investment of love and time.

    Frequently foster parents and adoptive parents believe that they can bring children into their home and erase the impact of their previous lives and trauma.  The overwhelming majority of foster and adoptive children have experienced trauma.

    Today we know more about the impact of trauma than ever before.  We know that children are impacted emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually by the trauma they experience.

    traumatized children


    The impact of the trauma follows the children into the homes of foster parents and adoptive parents and frequently overwhelms their families.

    As a foster or adoptive parent, you need to be realistic about what you can and can’t do for children who have experienced trauma.  By setting realistic expectations, you will be better equipped to help the children who come into your lives.  First, you need to recognize that no matter how much you love a child, it will never be enough to erase the effects of everything bad that happened before the child came into your life.  Your child needs professional assistance  to help him or her learn how to cope with previous trauma.

    Second, you need to recognize that the children you bring into your home will not immediately be grateful and love you as much as you love them.  Keep in mind that birth children are frequently ungrateful and unkind to parents.

    Traumatized children may have great difficulty trusting you and learning how to reciprocate your love.  Building a relationship with a traumatized child will require a great investment of love and time.

    Third, your child may resent you because he or she may blame you for not being able to live with an abusive parent.  As a general rule, children are loyal to their abusive parents and love them unconditionally.  Keep in mind that your child recognizes that he or she is connected to their abusive parent genetically.  If a birth parent is “bad,” a child will frequently believe that he or she must also be “bad.”

    Be very careful what you say about a birth parent. Your child needs permission to love a parent who could not keep him or her safe.

    Your child will not just move on and forget past painful experiences.  Your child has to face his or her trauma and work through the impact of that trauma to be able to heal and love you.


     source: www.KidsCallMeDoc.com

2 Responsesso far.

  1. Amy Viets says:

    This is an important post, and certainly well-grounded in reality. As the Director of Children’s Ministry for our church, I work with a young lady who was adopted from foster care by a family in our church, after shocking abuse from her birth mother. The effects of her trauma have been a serious challenge for her new family from day one. I’ve been amazed by this family’s ability to deal with her residual trauma and multiple diagnoses (they’ve tons of experience with fostering), but I also know it’s been extremely difficult for them. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with them in providing appropriate and comfortable situations for their daughter while she’s in our church for Children’s Ministry programming and worship. -Amy

    • admin says:

      Thank you for sharing, Amy. Sometimes we’re reluctant to discuss the challenges that can come with adoption. Trauma can be one of them. Even if the adoption was a domestic adoption, children can suffer from the trauma of separation decades later. Adoption-related trauma should be talked about, the church should be helping families find resources. For additional reading on the topic, check out kidscallmedoc.com for the wisdom of Dr. Beth Robinson, an authority on foster parenting, adoption, and trauma.

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