Adoption And Reactive Attachment Disorder In Teens
Last week I took a visiting parent into our girls’ classroom to introduce her to our students at Wolf Creek Academy. The girls were warm and friendly to her and were eager to answer all of her questions regarding her fears about placement of her 14-year old daughter who has dual-diagnosis including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder. The mother was quite surprised at the insights of the students regarding her own daughter’s issues. Many of the girls in the classroom openly expressed their own issues relating to their own diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder. At the end of the visit, I asked the girls how many of them were adopted, and much to the visiting parent’s surprise again, fourteen out of the eighteen students in the classroom lifted their hands.
It is quite evident that many adopted children may suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder, whether formally diagnosed or not. It is also possible that many adolescents have been misdiagnosed with other behavior disorders that are very similar in nature to Reactive Attachment Disorder. The symptoms may include many of the same traits found in several other behavioral disorders. However, adoptees are not the only individual who can form attachment issues. Anyone who has suffered early abuse, neglect, or frequent change of their primary caregiver may also suffer from attachment disorder. The caregiver’s lack of responsiveness to the child may serve to promote such insecurity and later leading to attachment disorders.
As children get older and enter their teen years, you may begin to see the traits widen and manifest in various ways. Rebellion, disrespect, lying and stealing, lack of remorse for their actions, an inability to properly engage with the family, as well as anti-social behaviors seen outside the home, may become the “norm” for the teen. The teen will have difficulty forming healthy, long-term relationships with friends or family members and be content to move from one friend to the other once they have “burned those bridges”.
At Wolf Creek Academy, we work with the families to help bring about reunification for the family while helping their child to learn how to cope with the insecurities that have been instilled within their innermost being. We treat the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of the child to help create a feeling of “belonging” and “wholeness” in the child. Wolf Creek Academy currently works with adolescents from around the US and is now available for placement.
Dr. Patricia Jones