Building the Bonds of Attachment with Adopted Children


By Dawn Davenport


Attachment is vital to emotional development. What can adoptive parents do to build the bonds of attachment with their adopted children? Join guest Dr. Dan Hughes, a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of children with attachment issues. He is the author of five books including Building the Bonds of Attachment and Attachment-Focused Parenting.

Highlights of the show

  • How much of an issue is attachment in different types of adoption (domestic, international, older child, etc.)?
  • How does the inter-uterine environment affect a child?
  • How does fetal alcohol syndrome affect attachment?
  • Tips on building attachment with young children
  • How can parents transition an adopted child to a daycare program without ruining attachment bonds?
  • How can parents help their children work through attachment issues?
  • How important is it for parents to make sure they are taking care of themselves?
  • What can parents do when they feel like they do not love their adopted child as much as their biological child?
  • How long is normal before parents feel attached to their children?
  • Why do some children have an easy attachment process and other children have a difficult attachment process?
  • Attachment issues in biological children.
  • Unevenness in attachment
  • Can attachment issues appear later in life?
  • How can parents find a good attachment councilor for their children?
  • Attachment issues with trans-racial adoptions

Click here to listen to the podcast.


This beautiful child, orphan no more…

12900990_10100258181484761_1123416002041417476_o This beautiful child, orphan no more… one year ago today! Thanks to our Hopscotch family, the Janes – pretty awesome!

Read more.

NEW WEBINAR: Attending to Needs, Connecting for Life: Dr. Purvis on Attachment

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 7:00 PM CT


Join us as Dr. Karyn Purvis discusses her latest research surrounding attachment and connecting with children who have experienced a tough beginning in life.

With her naturally warm style, Dr. Purvis will share insights to help us better understand and connect with each other.

She will provide practical tips to building a foundation of love, support and security to help your family thrive.

Specific topics include:

  • Connecting principles for attachment needs
  • Techniques to connect with your child at different developmental stages
  • Correcting principles to disarm fear-based behaviors

Click here to register now.

New Webinar! Expert Advice on Your Top 5 Attachment Concerns

February 25, 2014 
7:00 PM Central
Q&A: 8:00 PM

Expert Advice on Your Top 5 Attachment Concerns

Attachment is a process that can take time. Adoption often poses challenges to that process, leaving parents with concerns and questions.

If you’re concerned about your child’s attachment process with parents, siblings, or peers there are practical steps and ideas you can try at home right away. Or maybe you just want to know what’s typical and what’s adoption related.

Join Regina Kupecky as she discusses the Top 5 attachment concerns and what to do about them!

Practical ideas for the top 5 concerns she hears from parents including bonding to siblings, parents and peers as well as what’s typical and what’s not

Expert insights into attachment and attunement

Advice on connecting with your child throughout their development

Register Here!

Joint Council | (703) 535-8045 | |
117 South Saint Asaph Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Help Wanted: Study for Mothers of Children With Special Needs


Study Volunteers Needed: Bonding of Mothers to Children With Special Needs

School of Psychology, Fielding Graduate University

Volunteers Needed For Research Study About How Adoptive Mothers Create Their Emotional Bond With Their Child Who Has Special Health Care Needs.

70c5f341250c24734a47d2431dba50fd I am a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University and am seeking volunteers to participate in my research study:

  • Mothers need to be 25 years of age and older, in an intact heterosexual marriage, with an adopted child with special health care needs who is between 3 and 8 years of age and who will have lived in the adoptive home at least one year.
  • Special health care needs: Developmental disabilities (such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and/or chronic health conditions (such as congenital heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma).
  • The study cannot include, unfortunately, adoptive mothers of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders or reactive attachment disorder.
    The time commitment would be approximately ninety minutes and the meeting would be arranged at the convenience of the participant. The volunteer’s confidentiality will be assured. The principal researcher of this study is April Fallon, Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University.

This research study has been reviewed and approved by the Fielding Graduate University Institutional Review Board. If you have any questions about the Fielding Institutional Review Board or Research Ethics review at Fielding, please contact Mike Meraz, Administrator, Institutional Review Board of Fielding Graduate University: or (805) 898-4033.

Interested mothers can contact Ileana Lindstrom, MA:

(410) 810-3916 or (410) 699-1161, or

So What Do You Look For? A List for Recognizing Trauma & Attachment Issues

Reposted from:

Posted by Trauma Mama T

The following list of often-experienced behaviors of traumatized adopted children was developed by Dr. Arthur Becker Weidman, Ph.d.  He has studied attachment and complex trauma especially in children who were adopted after the age of 18 months.  If you are an adoptive parent and you can check off more than a few of the characteristics on this list, you may have a child with attachment and/or complex trauma issues.

1. My child acts cute or charms others to get others to do what my child wants.

2. My child often does not make eye contact when adults want to make eye contact with my child.

3. My child is overly friendly with strangers.

4. My child pushes me away or becomes stiff when I try to hug, unless my child wants something from me.

5. My child argues for long periods of time, often about ridiculous things.

6. My child has a tremendous need to have control over everything, becoming very upset if things don’t go my child’s way.

7. My child acts amazingly innocent, or pretends that things aren’t that bad when caught doing something wrong.

8. My child does very dangerous things, ignoring that my child may be hurt.

9. My child deliberately breaks or ruins things.

10. My child doesn’t seem to feel age-appropriate guilt when my child does something wrong.

11. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to other children.

12. My child seems unable to stop from doing things on impulse.

13. My child steals, or shows up with things that belong to others with unusual or suspicious reasons for how my child got these things.

14. My child demands things, instead of asking for them.

15. My child doesn’t seem to learn from mistakes and misbehavior (no matter what the consequence, the child continues the behavior).

16. My child tries to get sympathy from others by telling them that I abuse, don’t feed, or don’t provide the basic life necessities.

17. My child "shakes off" pain when hurt, refusing to let anyone provide comfort.

18. My child likes to sneak things without permission, even though my child could have had these things if my child had asked.

19. My child lies, often about obvious or ridiculous things, or when it would have been easier to tell the truth.

20. My child is very bossy with other children and adults.

21. My child hoards or sneaks food, or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, raw flour, package mixes, baker’s chocolate, etc. )

22. My child can’t keep friends for more than a week.

23. My child throws temper tantrums that last for hours.

24. My child chatters non-stop, asks repeated questions about things that make no sense, mutters, or is hard to understand when talking.

25. My child is accident-prone (gets hurt a lot), or complains a lot about every little ache and pain (needs constant band aids).

26. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to animals.

27. My child doesn’t do as well in school as my child could with even a little more effort.

28. My child has set fires, or is preoccupied with fire.

29. My child prefers to watch violent cartoons and/or TV shows or horror movie (regardless of whether or not you allow your child to do this).

30. My child was abused/neglected during the first year of life, or had several changes of primary caretaker during the first several years of life.

31. My child was in an orphanage for more than the first year of life.

32. My child was adopted after the age of eighteen months.

My own children have exhibited most every one of the behaviors listed above, including #28.  (Yes, that was a scary, scary time.)  Depending upon which of my two traumatized children we’re talking about, they continue to exhibit many of these even after being home for nearly six years.  It is exhausting for all family members and most of all for the children affected by trauma and their mama. The behaviors that are most pervasive for my kids seem to be those that are also pervasive in other families with traumatized older adopted children.  Numbers 1-7 are pretty much a given, no matter what family I know.  Likewise, #15-19 dominate the life of many traumatized children/teens.  In fact, many of us parenting trauma have learned to EXPECT lies and demands and while we’ve learned to redirect our children, we are very weary from having to do so all the time.  Another behavior I have seen in nearly all the traumatized children/teens I know is #29.  My kids love blood, gore and violence.  They love dark stories with depraved characters, evil and black magic.  It doesn’t matter that these are things we avoid in our Christian home.  Even though they profess to be Christians themselves, they are still drawn like a moth to the flame.  It is NOT a spiritual deficiency.  It is how their brains have been wired by trauma.  It’s what makes them feel “normal” and not anxious.  Yet, it is also what makes them act out in big ways with big feelings.  They will sneak around to read books and view YouTube videos as well as watch movies we don’t allow whenever they get the chance.

Now, please understand, I am NOT saying that all adopted children exhibit all the behaviors listed.  Please remember, too, that I have parented four neuro-typical children prior to adopting my two from hurt backgrounds.  I know any child can exhibit any of these behaviors.  However, I also know neuro-typical (NT) kids don’t exhibit them on a regular basis, nor do they exhibit multiple behaviors at the same time on a regular basis.  This is NOT “normal” kid stuff.  (Most parents of traumatized kids that I know are especially tired of hearing from those not walking this road that it is.)

I am saying, however, that ALL children I know who were adopted after the age of 18 months or so do indeed deal with trauma.  They deal with attachment issues.  They may not have full-blown RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), but they struggle with attachment on some level due to trauma.  That may make a reader or two bristle, but I stick by my experience.  Getting adopted is traumatic and it does not happen without profound loss.
However, I am also not saying that adoption is a negative thing.  It is not!  It is wonderful and it is a blessing, even as it is a challenge.  I am saying you’d better make darned sure you are called to adopt before you do it.  It is HARD to knit a child to your heart who has experienced the loss that is involved in adoption.  Do not expect your child to love you back or be grateful for the time, love and things you give him or her.  Ask tough questions from people who live this life before you ever fill out an agency application.  Make sure those people are brutally honest with you.  Pray hard.  Learn more than the social workers require of you.  Read everything you can about trauma and attachment before you ever complete your home study.

If you’re already an adoptive parent dealing with this kind of stuff and you need some connection with people who "get it”,  let me know.  I know some people and I have some resources to share with you.  If you’re anyone else, thanks for reading!  If you want to know more because you want to help a family you care about, let me know that, too.  I also have some resources to share with you.

Realistic Expectations The First Year Home

Congratulations! Welcome to the journey of being an adoptive parent. As you get to know your child, you will realize what you don’t know! But not to worry, you aren’t alone. Take time to learn the skills to parent YOUR child. Connect with others who have similar experiences. Make time for yourself. The following articles were complied as a great starting point for your education as a new adoptive parent

  • A Different Perspective By Cynthia Hockman-Chupp
  • Strategies for Building Attachment By Karleen Gribble, BRurSc, PhD,
  • Top Ten Tips for Successful First Year Parenting By Deborah Gray, MSW, MPA
  • Why Grandma Can’t Pick Up the Baby By Sheena Macrae and Karleen Gribble
  • What is This Thing You Call Sleep? By Dr Julian Davies, MD
  • Transitional Feeding Difficulties By Dr Julian Davies, MD
  • Alone No More…Recognizing Post Adoption Depression By Heatherly Bucher
  • Adding The Oldest By Terra Trevor
  • Creating a Fit By Carrie Kitze
  • “When Do You Tell a Child he was Adopted?” And Other Secrets We Shouldn’t Keep By Adam Pertman
  • Unexpected Special Needs By Nancy Hemenway
  • Positive Outcome: How Can You Combat the Effects of an Orphanage  By Mary Beth Williams, PhD, LCSW, CTS
  • The Impact of Trauma on the Adopted Child By B. Bryan Post
  • Ten Keys to Healing Trauma in the Adopted Child By B. Bryan Post
  • How to Find a Therapist Experienced in Attachment and/or Trauma tips from the Attachment & Trauma Network
  • Sensory Integration And the Internationally Adopted Child By Barbara Elleman, MHS, OTR/L, BCP
  • Facts About Parenting a Child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder By Teressa Kellerman
  • How to Avoid the Syndrome of Parent Burn-Out by Harriet McCarthy
  • Being an Ally to Families Raising Children with Challenges By Ellin Frank
  • Help Your Child Ward Off a Mad Attack by Lynne Namke, EdD
  • Being with Your Child in Public Places by Patty Wipfler
  • Strategies to Deal with Anger and Power Struggles By Christopher J. Alexander, PhD
  • When Adoptions Fail By Kim Phagan-Hansel

New Webinar: Building Bonds of Attachment

Building Bonds of Attachment: Practical, Expert Advice

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 –  7:00PM-8:00PM  Central Time –  Q&A: 8:00PM

Secure parent-child attachments are essential for children. Often, adoption can pose challenges to the attachment process. Circumstances prior to adoption, either in utero, in an orphanage or in foster care, can create serious barriers to attachment.

Join us for a webinar with Deborah Gray, an adoption therapist specializing in attachment, grief and trauma issues in children.  Deborah will provide practical steps that move parents toward secure attachments with their child.

-Recognize behaviors that are common in adopted children who have experienced trauma
-Learn bonding activities that result in healthy relationships in the short term and throughout childhood
-Maintain relationships with children already in the home

Last Chance To Register! Expectations vs.Realities: Parenting an adopted child with special needs

Thursday, January 17, 2013  – 7:00PM – 8:00PM Central Time – Q&A: 8:00PM

Is your child emotionally acting much younger than their age? Have special needs you weren’t expecting? Behaviors that resemble ADHD?

You are not alone. These challenges are common for post- institutionalized children. Finding help, however, can be difficult.

Join us for a webinar featuring Martha Osborne, adopted person, adoptive mom and founder of the largest special needs adoption advocacy website, Martha will lead an “in the trenches” discussion on how parents can get connected and supported.

-Learn how to build a plan to manage undiagnosed special needs
-Consider new, outside the box suggestions on how to address unexpected cognitive and emotional delays
-Understand how proactive parenting can help!

Announcement of Conscious Discipline Session in Greensboro, NC all day on Saturday, October 13, 2012 — Conscious Discipline Infant & Toddler Workshop: Baby Doll Circle Time FREE with Paid Tuition!

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