Friday, December 21, 2007

I recently ran across the story of Peggy Hilt, an adoptive mom who beat her daughter, causing the child to die.

Here is the link:

I have two domestically adopted children and one bio daughter, and with Rocky I was THIS CLOSE to where Peggy Hilt was. And I do mean THIS CLOSE—I had something in my hand and was heading toward him, enraged beyond anything I had ever experienced before. And Rocky, at two, stood there and laughed at me. Luckily, I was able to detach enough to leave him in his room, lock the door, and call someone to come help me before I crossed that line.

Attachment disorder is hard for many people to understand because it totally contradicts the conventional belief that "all they need is love." When a child has not had the basic needs met of crying for a caregiver and having that caregiver come, they don't need love in the traditional sense--they need a therapeutic form of loving and parenting. New parents will take a child who has been surrendered, thinking that THEY can do what the previous parents did not.

What I think people fail to realize is that some adopted children, because of the trauma they experience, are driven by fear, so they are constantly fighting to maintain control of their environment. These kids honestly believe they are fighting for their lives because they could not depend on caregivers in the past, and their interactions with parents, especially moms, have been described as abuse. Much like other forms of abuse, it is subtle and gradual, and the parents feel isolated and are afraid they will be judged or blamed.

To make matters worse, the child is so outwardly charming to everyone else, the parents appear to be unbalanced.

Plus, it is hard to admit "I feel like killing this child" because people do not understand the complexity of the situation--they read an article or see an episode of Law and Order and think they understand this disorder. Also, many kids, both foreign and domestic, suffer from other disorders--fetal alcohol exposure, drug exposure, mental illness, lead exposure, autistic spectrum, and even physical illnesses; this makes the treatment each kid receives complex and different.

Parents who are interested in adopting should educate themselves about issues experienced by children who are in the system. It may take years to find an answer or a treatment which works. Also, they should be prepared to love fully and totally and perhaps not be able to reach this child. Some of the absolute best parents I know would traditionally viewed as failures because their children can no longer remain in the home, but to me, they are the real heroes, the true parents, as they have shown a damaged child what a family feels like.

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