Adopted children prone to reactive attachment disorder

Adopted children prone to reactive attachment disorder

Adoption is a sensitive issue. Although considered as a noble deed, adopting a child is not as simple as it appears to be. Many consider it more challenging than giving birth to one’s own baby. The dark side of adoption is the lack of bonding between the parents and the kids. At times, even biological parents find bonding with their children quite complicated; however, when it comes to adoption, attachment takes time, with many parents struggling for months and years to establish a bond with the newly adopted children.

Attachment plays an important role in ensuring healthy development of a child. Previous studies have shown that the attachment developed during infancy is associated with emotional regulation, social relatedness, access to autobiographical memory and the development of self-reflection and narrative during later years. However, in case of adopted children, adverse experiences like neglect, a history of physical or sexual abuse and an unfavorable attitude of caregivers can lead to attachment disorders such as reactive attachment disorder (RAD) or disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) in children.

What is attachment disorder?

The lack of proper emotional and social support during first few years of a child’s life can cause serious issues, which often reflect on the bond they share with their parents. Previously considered as a single diagnosis, attachment disorders have now been classified as RAD and DSED, as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). While RAD is described as “a consistent pattern of inhibited, emotionally withdrawn behavior toward adult caregivers and a persistent social and emotional disturbance,” DSED is defined as “a pattern of behavior in which a child actively approaches and interacts with unfamiliar adults in an impulsive, incautious and overfamiliar way.”

Therefore, an adopted child with RAD tends to reciprocate negatively to the warmth and care shown by parents, whereas a child with DSED demonstrates a lack of inhibition while interacting with unfamiliar adults and seeks comfort from strangers, rather than known individuals.

Interestingly, both conditions generally result from trauma of separation or disruption of attachment due to factors such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect and/or rapid changes in caregivers during the initial years of a child’s life.

In case of adopted children, additional factors such as poor conditions of orphanage or stressful conditions like living in refugee camps or abuse by foster parents can trigger the development of RAD. Additionally, frequent changes in foster homes can also cause attachment disorders in such kids.

Dealing with attachment disorder

While most mental disorders can be effectively treated using therapies and medications, attachment disorders in adopted children can be managed through special attention on them. It is important for the new parents to provide an affectionate environment to the adopted child. Moreover, adoptive parents should not over burden the child with long lists of expectation, but should shower love and care on the child from time to time. In case the child is still facing serious adjustment problems, it is better to consult mental health specialists as soon as possible. There are some reputed mental health centers across the United States that are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to help someone fighting serious mental ailments.

Mental disorders can seriously impact a person’s quality of life. It is crucial for such individuals to get immediate help. If you or a loved one is suffering from any kind of mental disorder, contact the Colorado Mental Health Help representatives who can guide you with information on a wide range of mental health treatment centers in Colorado offering evidence-based treatment. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 or chat online for advice on the best mental health rehab in Colorado.