The American Psychological Association (APA) has a guide to help foster and adoptive families cope with trauma. The free guide makes it clear that one should begin with the premise that all foster and adopted children have had trauma in their lives. At a minimum they have suffered a great loss, at a maximum they have been abused or neglected.
The APA hopes the guide will help strengthen the abilities of pediatricians to:
1) identify traumatized children, 2) educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and 3) empower families to respond to their child’s behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress.
Most adoptive parents will acknowledge that there is an adjustment period where children act out in a variety of ways. According to the guide “this is due to a variety of factors, including that children who have experienced maltreatment often have developed different ways of perceiving and reacting to their world, ways that often prove maladaptive in a more normal environment. Foster and adoptive parents who do not understand these differences risk frustration and may feel resentment as they struggle to understand and raise their children.”
Learning how to cope with this trauma can help parents help their children heal.