Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

How a Parent's History with Attachment and Trauma Impacts Adoption and Fostering

February 05, 2021 Creating a Family Season 15 Episode 6
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
How a Parent's History with Attachment and Trauma Impacts Adoption and Fostering
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Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
How a Parent's History with Attachment and Trauma Impacts Adoption and Fostering
Feb 05, 2021 Season 15 Episode 6
Creating a Family

Have you ever wondered why a specific behavior by your child drives you crazy? What do we as parents bring to the relationship that could be part of the problem? We talk about how a parent's history with attachment and trauma impacts our parenting with Dr. Patrice Berry, a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in adoption and foster care and over 15 years of clinical experience.

In this episode, we cover:
·      Research has shown that our attachment style with our own parents is the biggest predictor of the attachment style we’ll have with our child.

·      What do we mean by attachment style? Attachment style refers to the internal “working models” we develop of how relationships function. They influence the way we relate to important people in our lives. The attachments we form in our early relationships with parents or caretakers can have an impact on our feelings of insecurity, anxiety, fear, avoidance, and satisfaction in our closest relationships throughout our lives.

·      A detailed tool has been developed to determine our attachment styles. Adult-Attachment Inventory (AAI). In the inventory, done by a professional with specific training, adults are asked to describe their childhoods, and it is in the telling of their stories that attachment styles are assessed.

·      What are the types of attachment styles that have been identified in adults?

·      Are our attachment styles fixed in childhood by how we were parented or can they change through growth and work on our part? 

·      To further complicate the parenting picture, it’s important to remember that foster and adopted children come to us having experienced some degree of trauma and a set of experiences from their own family of origin or previous care settings that did not develop in the family system of their adoptive family and may contrast sharply.

·      All parents are susceptible to being “triggered” by things in their past and, consciously or unconsciously, having this shape their behavior. A child’s behavior can certainly be such a trigger.

·      Examples of situations where a parent’s past trauma and attachment style may interfere with their being the best parent to their child.

·      How can we move toward a more secure attachment style?

This podcast is produced  by www.CreatingaFamily.org. We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:
·         Weekly podcasts
·         Weekly articles/blog posts
·        Resource pages on all aspects of family building

Creating a Family also has an active presence on many social media platforms. Please like or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Support the show (https://creatingafamily.org/donation/)

Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered why a specific behavior by your child drives you crazy? What do we as parents bring to the relationship that could be part of the problem? We talk about how a parent's history with attachment and trauma impacts our parenting with Dr. Patrice Berry, a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in adoption and foster care and over 15 years of clinical experience.

In this episode, we cover:
·      Research has shown that our attachment style with our own parents is the biggest predictor of the attachment style we’ll have with our child.

·      What do we mean by attachment style? Attachment style refers to the internal “working models” we develop of how relationships function. They influence the way we relate to important people in our lives. The attachments we form in our early relationships with parents or caretakers can have an impact on our feelings of insecurity, anxiety, fear, avoidance, and satisfaction in our closest relationships throughout our lives.

·      A detailed tool has been developed to determine our attachment styles. Adult-Attachment Inventory (AAI). In the inventory, done by a professional with specific training, adults are asked to describe their childhoods, and it is in the telling of their stories that attachment styles are assessed.

·      What are the types of attachment styles that have been identified in adults?

·      Are our attachment styles fixed in childhood by how we were parented or can they change through growth and work on our part? 

·      To further complicate the parenting picture, it’s important to remember that foster and adopted children come to us having experienced some degree of trauma and a set of experiences from their own family of origin or previous care settings that did not develop in the family system of their adoptive family and may contrast sharply.

·      All parents are susceptible to being “triggered” by things in their past and, consciously or unconsciously, having this shape their behavior. A child’s behavior can certainly be such a trigger.

·      Examples of situations where a parent’s past trauma and attachment style may interfere with their being the best parent to their child.

·      How can we move toward a more secure attachment style?

This podcast is produced  by www.CreatingaFamily.org. We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:
·         Weekly podcasts
·         Weekly articles/blog posts
·        Resource pages on all aspects of family building

Creating a Family also has an active presence on many social media platforms. Please like or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Support the show (https://creatingafamily.org/donation/)

0:00  
Welcome, everybody to Creating a Family Talk about Adoption and Foster Care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I'm your host as well as the director of Creating a Family. You can get more info about our organization at our website, creating a family.org. Today we're going to be talking about how a parent's history with attachment and trauma impacts adoption and fostering. We're gonna be talking with Dr. Patrice Berry. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 15 years of clinical experience working with children, teens and families and adults within the adoption kinship network. She is an adoption competent therapist, and she has a passion for helping individuals and families impacted by adoption and fostering welcome Dr. Berry to creating a family.

0:48  
Thank you so much for the invitation.

0:50  
All right, we're gonna start by saying, you know, honestly, in the world of adoption and fostering, we tend to focus more on the child's attachment and the child's trauma. But the reality is that as my grandmother would say, it takes two to tango. So in any relationship, including the parent child relationship, if there's a problem or an issue, or we hit rough patches, we need to look at all the parties involved. The attachment and trauma history of the parents are equally as important as the attachment and trauma history of the child. And this can sometimes be uncomfortable because it's easier to look outside of ourselves. When looking for a solution. It's much easier to take the fix the child and everything will be okay approach. But it makes sense that all of who we are as parents comes to bear on how we parent, and that would logically include any past traumas, and how we were parented. At the outset, I want to say that you should not use the information you're going to hear today to diagnose the attachment status of either you or your child. rather use it to empower you to learn more about your own history with trauma, and your own attachment style, and how that might be influencing how you respond to your child. And why your child's behavior, particularly if you find it particularly frustrating or triggering. As most adoptive parents are aware, a secure attachment is key to a child's healthy development. And one way to look at attachment is a child's bond to a caregiver based on the parent or the caregiver sensitivity and attunement to the child. So today, we're going to be focusing on what influences the parents sensitivity and attunement to the child. And research has shown that our attachment style with our own parents, is the biggest predictor of the attachment style we will have with our child. It's both empowering and kind of quite frankly, scary. So let's start by talking about what we mean by attachment style, Dr. Barry, for people who are not in the world of psychology, that that that phrase may seem unusual. So what do we mean by that attachment style.

2:56  
And really, with with attachment, they started looking at how children attached to their parents. And it's that connection that we have with the child and the parent. And within attachment within that, that connection. If someone has a secure attachment, then they are okay when the parent isn't there. But then there's some other attachment style, where for the child and also for the parent, that that they can be triggered, where they may have certain feelings that may come up, where they might be triggered by feelings of rejection, abandonment, and as you said, a lot of this comes from our own experiences with our parents and how responsive our caregivers were. And temperament can play a role in that as well.

3:53  
Sure, and you know, yeah, definitely, temperament Absolutely. We all come hardwired with a certain temperament and, and honestly, in our nature and nurture, and our nurture also influences that, you know, it makes sense that the way that we were parented and the way that we attached to our parents set kind of sets up the working model for how we're going to interrelate with other people important people in our lives. And that would include our spouses, but it certainly would also include our children. Those are that if we have spouses or partners, or some of our most important our children in our partners, our most important relationships so it makes really good sense that there are early attachments will influence and relate to how we, how we relate to others as well. There has been a tool and let me mention that because some people may have heard of it. That's used by trained psychologist to do a detailed assessment of your attachment style and the title of that is the adult attachment inventory and sometimes go by AI So what we're not doing that today that is used only with a trained psychologist, but you will get a feel today on what we mean by attachment styles. So what are the types of attachment styles that have been identified in it through this through this tool as well as others work, you just mentioned one secure, what do you mean by a secure our autonomous attachment style.

5:29  
And so a secure attachment is where the person knows that when they're the person that they're attached to, when they aren't in their presence, that there is still a connection there, they know that they're coming back. This is a caregiver that's very responsive to the needs of of their child. And it's an adult, that when they were a child that their needs were appropriately met, when so that's where if a if a child cries, that you meet the needs of of that child, and consistently, that that consistently those needs were met, and they know that adults are safe people, adults are people that if you need help, you're able to get that help and support when when you need it.

6:18  
So I guess you could say that for for those of us who have a secure attachment style, our parents were able to make us feel safe, Sue's sane, secure, those are the four S's that we often hear about good attachment. And our parents were able to do that for us. So what's another attachment style that has been identified?

6:40  
Right, and so another attachment style is an avoidant dismissing attachment style. And within that style, the parent typically met the child's needs, but it might have been inconsistent, and maybe not meeting their emotional needs. So this is a parent that possibly met the physical needs of the child, but not the the emotional needs. And the child might have felt alone, that if they were upset, maybe they felt that those needs couldn't be met fully within that relationship with with their parent. And they this is somebody that struggles with seeking support. And how I often see this is when they are upset, they go, and now it's it's normal for people to go and want to be by themselves and then to come back with others. But this is somebody that is really struggles, accepting help and support from from others. This is the person that feels like they're on an island. And they really, it's more of a lack of trust, they don't really trust the other people can or will meet their needs. And they have to do it all themselves.

7:56  
It's a lonely place to be. All right, what about what's another attachment style, there are four as I understand it, so what's another one.

8:05  
And so another attachment style is a preoccupied or an anxious attachment style. And that's where once again, that was that's where the parent might have been inconsistent as well, and sometimes been available sometimes not been available. As a parent myself, I have a three year old and I have to be careful with my phone, and my son has started putting my phone in timeout, sometimes he's like, Mommy, I'm gonna put your phone in timeout. And as someone that is a child and adolescent therapists, because you do you want to make sure that your child that you are meeting meeting their needs. But sometimes when I've been out, I have seen people on their phones all the time, and then the child starts to try to seek attention and support possibly by exhibiting some behaviors, or they may like start to seek attention from strangers. And this can really develop a bit of a confused relationship with adults, where the person may try to seek support, but but may not go to the appropriate people and may not truly trust that those needs will will be met.

9:19  
Does this also include times where the parents would look to their we see this sometimes where parents look to their kids to meet their needs instead of the other way around it kind of too much of a friend relationship, not a parenting relationship is with that be inclusive of this.

9:38  
And I think where this can come in and we may get into this a little bit more later, especially within adoptive parent, because sometimes people get to adoption out of some hurt and pain and this child is feeling a void and that's where if there is this anxious attachment style from a parent's role, that's where how I've seen this in practice is if the child says, You're not my real parent, that this truly triggers the parent, and they respond not out of love and care, but they may respond out of their own pain and say something like, well, then I'll send you back to where you are. And there may be things that then further damage that that relationship. And so I definitely have seen that that happen within practice, where the parent is looking to the child to meet their needs, or that's where sometimes people will come to me and say, doesn't this child see how his behaviors affect me? Why doesn't he want me to be happy, and it's like, wait a minute, like, like children, we have to set up this emotional boundary, where you know, you're responsible for your emotions, and then you can help and support them, then that's a more healthy structure. Because as a parent, we want to take our child's emotions away. And as a child, they don't want to see their their parent in pain. I've seen this sometimes with parents that are struggling with their own mental health issues, and really having to set up some really good boundaries where the child knows that they're not responsible for making the parent Okay, or that, that the relationship is built on that love and trust. I love those, those four S's that this can be a safe, soothing, and my brain can't remember the other.

11:32  
Say, Susan, let's say I have to go back safe, soothing. scene and secure. Yes, yeah. Okay, cool. All right. And then there's one last one, we've talked about the three and the three would be the secure attachment, the preoccupied or anxious attachment, the avoidant dismissing attachment. And then the last one, what is that one.

11:55  
And the last one is a disorganized attachment. And that is where there might have been some type of potentially abuse where the child It was a frightening relationship, the child was frightened of the parent. And I've seen this in practice where a child that was just being a child, and then discipline possibly went went too far. And within within that, that relationship, it was not a safe relationship. And the child did not know what what the parent was, was was going to do. Sometimes, I've also seen this when there's a parent that's abusing substances as well. And where the child sometimes feels like they're walking on eggshells, and they're trying to not set the parent off, and then that's where they may sometimes be anxious, there may be some preoccupied like, it's just really it's not a consistent pattern with how they may respond. If the caregiver is not available, or within their trusting, loving relationships, there isn't a consistent there's that they don't really fit within any of those other three categories.

13:12  
So our attachment styles fixed in childhood by how we were parented, I mean, so we had a parent who was dismissive and, and we've developed a dismissive, avoidant attachment style, are we just stuck with it for life?

13:29  
I'm so glad that we're not

13:32  
me, to me to the

13:35  
earlier you intervene, the better because patterns can be very difficult to break, the longer that we've been doing them. And there are times that some of these attachment styles and patterns, they may have helped somebody survive a difficult situation, a difficult childhood. That's the way I look at it, I look at it as the parent might have been doing the best they could with the resources and tools they had, the child is just coping and adjusting. And then we work to help mitigate that. And so adults can work on making changes and adjustments. And I think a little later, we'll get into some ways of how people can do that. But if you have a disorganized attachment, now you don't have to be stuck with that attachment style forever. There are things that we can do to move towards a more secure relationship.

14:28  
Okay, and as I mentioned at the beginning, it really is beyond the scope and our capabilities today to diagnose anyone's attachment style. However, we can explore how our past and how our relationships with our parents and our past trauma can impact our parenting and our motivations to adopt or Foster and perhaps even most important are expectations of what the parenting or fostering experience will be like. And on that line, I think it we have to acknowledge that it's Further complicating the parenting pictures further complicated by the fact that our foster and adopted kids come to us having experienced some degree of trauma and a set of experiences from their own family of origin or previous care settings that did not develop in the family system of their adoptive parents, and may contrast sharply that our kids the that as they come to us have their own attachment issues, and that it melds with our attachment issues, or our attachment style, I should say. And that can also cause issues. So all parents are susceptible to being triggered by things in their past and consciously or unconsciously having to shape our behavior in our parenting. And let's be honest, a child's behavior can certainly be one such trigger, let's give some examples now of of how a child's behavior can trigger our own issues that result from our attachment styles or our past trauma. So let's Can you think of some examples of of how there could be a mismatch of the child's the child's attachment style and the child's behavior, from the child's past trauma, and our attachment styles and our own trauma.

16:16  
And I have seen this happen, where a so sometimes children that have their own grief and loss, they will sometimes attack verbally, emotionally, like they may start even physically, sometimes, they may take that out on the people, they love the most the people that they care about the most. And I've also seen a lot of kids engage in self sabotage, where they've had adults leave. And sometimes they're trying to just like, I'ma show you the worst of me and seeing what what happens with this with this relationship. But a parent that grew up with a with where their parent was physically aggressive towards them, and now the child is being physically aggressive towards them, I have had parents come to me and ask, don't they see that they are really traumatizing me. And then that's where I work with them on getting their own treatment and support. Because often they want to tell the child you are hurting me, and to have that stop the behavior. But sometimes that that just makes it to where it makes it puts it on the child and not the adult to help to do that work of managing those emotions and to be in a space where they can respond versus reacting to behaviors when they are triggered. Because our brains, I love that the hand model of the brain where our emotions can get activated, and we made react versus responding, especially if we're feeling fearful. adolescence is typically a time when a lot of adoptive children access therapy at higher numbers than children that hadn't previously been been adopted. And I also like to clarify that even if somebody adopted an infant, they may still with a where the parent willingly. It was a open adoption. And, and even if that parent has had that child since day one, they may still experience some issues within adolescence. Because I think sometimes the parent is very confused, like wait a minute, I laid the groundwork for this, but it can trigger a lot of those of those spaces. And I also I learned this through trust based relational intervention that certain parents have triggers where it's like stealing is like a major trigger that is going to send them over the roof and make them think like there are certain behaviors that and that may trigger them.

18:51  
Mine was lying. Lying, just ticks me off. I shouldn't have used the past tense note I said mine was lying. That is such that's such a lie. Mine is lying. I just it just irritates the over love anatomy. Go ahead.

19:09  
And and I and I've heard adoptive parents talk about, I heard one adoptive parents share their story about how when they were a child, they were forced to live for their parents, and that it created a sense of unsafety for them. And that lying was a trigger for them. Because of that, because of that childhood experience. And so that's where I think a lot of things that we experienced in childhood, we do bring that into our parenting. So I was I was spanked as a child, not to the point where, but I fully believe in not using corporal punishment, I had to learn new ways to parent, our child. And I had to learn positive discipline, because those strategies weren't weren't given to me. And that's where I think empathy is really big. Because I think sometimes People think the child is doing it on purpose, you are intentionally, I really don't like the word manipulative, because I feel like everybody tries to get their needs met in a certain way. And I'm because if I think my child is manipulating me, I'm going to be mad about that. Yeah. But if I think my child is attempting to get their needs met in an inappropriate way, then I'm seeing it as a needs as Oh, they need something, they're just not communicating it to me in the right way. I'm not going to get nearly as upset about that.

20:32  
You know, okay, and let's talk a little about, if you mentioned this earlier, the in when we say your past trauma, I think sometimes we think of trauma, like with a capital T, meaning that I was abused, or something really bad in my past happened, but some traumas can be maybe little t traumas. And I think so often that that, well, a number of parents, especially domestic infant, parents come to adoption, out of infertility, and that may be a big T or a little t trauma, but it is certainly traumatic, particularly if it is something that you had wanted and had worked that very hard, and, and other parents come to fostering or adoption, perhaps not consciously with the Savior attitude, because we really work with people to not, no child deserves to be the object of somebody else's saving here. But they do come with the, with the desire or the need to help others, or they think that they are doing the right thing. How do these, these needs that we come to fostering or adoption? How does that influence our parenting our expectations for going forward.

21:53  
And so I think a lot of times, and I'm so glad that I completed that adoption competency through the center for adoption, support and education, it was a free training, I hadn't thought about the loss and grief that birth families experience that adoptive families experience. Especially so adoptive siblings. And just like the whole network that everybody had always looked at it from because normally the client has been the adoptive child. For me, that was typically the main person that I was working with. And but thinking about the the journey. And after doing that training, I started to ask more questions during assessment with the adoptive parents about their journey to adoption, because some people choose it out of just get, we can have our own biological children, but we want to do this. Those motivations, those things that that motivate us, I think it can come out of a place of pain. And if that place of pain hasn't been mended, we can inadvertently hurt people, because hurting people hurt people. And I don't think that's ever anyone's intention. I don't think people get into it to maliciously do that. I've seen it happen, especially where if things are getting to the point where we're looking at long term placements for mental health, or if we're looking at some of these things that are going to further impact that the relationship that that that the families have, I try to avoid long term placements, if we can, if we can stabilize things within the home, there are times that we can't, and additional resources have to be secured. But I think those those motivations because sometimes that parent, a parent that goes into it thinking I want to help, and then it ends up being more than they were expecting, it ends up being it wasn't what they thought they were signing up for,

23:53  
for I'm helping and the kid isn't being helped, I'm helping, the kid isn't getting better, I'm doing all the right things, and this kid is resisting my

24:02  
efforts. And that and that can trigger shame, and really a lot of guilt and shame for that parent. And they can start to feel inept, that can trigger their own emotion, you know, anxiety, depression. And so, and I don't think that we always are as open and we don't always talk about these things. And I love that you have this platform where you can prepare people that are considering adoption, or that are that are adoptive parents, just so that people can fully count the cost and fully know. Alright, so I do need to work on that hurting place. And that and that it's not a one time thing. So just because we did therapy before the adoption. Yeah. When these triggers come up, I may need to go back for my own treatment.

24:51  
You know, and I think, let's see another example would be a parent who had a dismissive avoidant parent But temperamentally that the child needed more, and it was always seeking closeness with someone. And that was one of their motivations in adulthood for wanting children. And let's say they did go through infertility and were unsuccessful. So they became a foster parent or, or maybe just leave the infertility out, let's just say that part of their need for feeling closeness was they they wanted to foster or they wanted to have a child, there are many reasons we want to have children are to foster but one of them was that and then you have a child who doesn't meet that need is is not is replicating a you're they're avoiding you, as was your as was your mother? How does that complicate it from a parent's standpoint,

25:44  
I've seen that situation where then the child becomes the main issue. And they might that parent might have that dismissive perspective with with that child, where then the child is just sent to another relative to to raise them, because children are very aware, and kids that are, that have been through difficult things that have been through difficult places, sometimes they are, they can pick up on the emotions of others, and being able to still meet that child's need, and know that it's about the child. So that's where I'm saying separate your own, you know, deal with dealing with that pain, because that pain is real. And I want to validate that, I want to validate that, yes, this triggering a dismissive situation that the person had with their parent. But what can sometimes happen is that parent can inadvertently do the same thing again. And that's where we have generational trauma, where now that, you know, grandmother was dismissive to mom, and now mom is dismissive to this child. And then this child may then, you know, be dismissive to there. And now we just have this cycle, if we don't break it by learning new skills, learning something different, and changing some of those behaviors.

27:16  
And the first step towards that is recognizing that I am being triggered at something inside myself, perhaps it was a way I was parented, perhaps it was a trauma that I experienced. And my reaction is based in part on my past experience, not just the child's behavior.

27:35  
And that's why during quarantine, during COVID, I have switched to working more with adults. Because my saying my thing is that kids, most a lot of kids are okay if the parents are okay. And if the parents aren't okay? The kids are not going to be okay. Because people bring their kids to me, like, hey, fix my kid, and I can work with them 40 minutes to an hour, and I can get things we can improve things in 45 minutes to an hour. And then that parent can do one look, half a second to a second can undo that 45 minutes. And we can be back back where where we started. And so I really see it as as a system. I see this as something I'm something that can also come up is when if the child wants to begin to reunify, you know, the if they want to explore finding their their birth parents, and so that adoptive parent doesn't have a secure attachment because that can sometimes threaten where they're like, why am I not enough? Like it can really trigger a lot of things for for for adoptive parents. And that's where I work with them to validate that I've had situations where us giving the child valid information about their birth family, versus all being a mystery, and actually help that child connect with their adoptive parent. Sure, because they had they we form stories in our minds. And in in a child's mind, they might be forming that Oh, my, you know, this is they have this fantasy of what they think is happening or they think happened. And sometimes giving them age and developmentally appropriate information can be extremely helpful. But that parent has to be in a secure place where they then aren't going where they're going also going to be able to handle if there is an escalation in behaviors or if there is something that happens once the information is shared.

29:30  
If you are interested in the topic of today's show, I think you will really like and get a lot out of an online course we have on helping adopted children heal from past trauma and loss. We interview Carol Lozier, she is a one of my favorite In fact, she is a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years of experience counseling adopted and foster kids, as well as teams and she has published four books including the adopt And foster parents guide which is a true resource that I love. You can find this course at our adopted Online Education Center at adoption ed.org all one word ad, O p t i o n e d.org. know of another, another example of how we as parents bring our own past history. And it's sometimes to the advantage and sometimes to the disadvantage of our current parenting. Let's say that a child had a father who was just volatile. And so that child coped with that by going into his room, and he was just going to, he knew the best thing to do is just to avoid the situation. But then he brings to his parenting, the idea that when things get loud, when things get volatile, the best way is to simply remove yourself. But that doesn't necessarily lead to healthy parenting, a child who is acting out, cope and being paired with a parent who then goes to their room or goes to their computer or goes out for a run, or to avoid the the child's emotions, that's an unhealthy situation that we're setting up because the child at that point, most likely needs the parent to step in. And parent set limits, set boundaries, create a sense of security for a child, find out what the needs are trying to get them met all of that, and that can't be done when you're avoiding the situation.

31:40  
I totally agree. And that's where because I know within circle of security, they have that language of a time in versus a time out where you may but then that's where the parent is doing their own work. Because if my child has escalated, if I have a three year old, and when he has escalated, I am having to do my own breathing, I am having to manage my own behaviors, my own emotions, so that I can appropriately attune and respond to to his needs. And I like to give that information because I think sometimes people think why you know that they feel bad about being triggered, or because triggers aren't good or bad. Emotions aren't good or bad. We have to acknowledge when we have them and then do something to cope and manage them.

32:26  
Okay. All right. Can you think of another example I know of parents who say, strong emotions just simply were not allowed in our house, you know, that was unacceptable. disagreements weren't allowed. You can talk to people who say, you know, my parents, we didn't disagree in my house, we all got along, we just didn't disagree. Well, humans disagree. we all we all just in our very nature will disagree. So if you have a if you come from a family of origin, where strong emotions were not acceptable, and you have your fostering a child who is all strong emotions, then then you've got you're setting yourself up for from you as a parent will then think this there is something bizarrely wrong with this kid, when in fact, there's some there issues on both sides. That kid Yes, may be a little more over the top with their emotions, but you're really uncomfortable with any expression of emotions. So what's a parent to do then to have to they need to focus inward, but but how do they recognize that,

33:25  
I think that's where the parent being able to ground that emotion. But once again, they would have to be in a, in a good space to be able to do that. And that's where they may have to do their their own work about their own thoughts and feelings about appropriate expression of of emotion. Because if you're raising a family where emotions were not acceptable, I think that's at one end. And so I talk about this with people where the parent is at one end, and the child is at the polar opposite end. And can we meet somewhere in the middle? can we can we find some sort of middle ground because this child, their emotions are that like this child was just removed from their, from their family or just transferred from a different foster family, like there's an understandable reason why the child is having these emotions, and one week of therapy or even 10 weeks of therapy, it's not going to make those emotions go away. And that really, trauma is healed within our relationships with other people and the adoptive family, the foster family, they are a part of that they can be a part of that healing. If they're in a safe and secure place. They can sometimes further wound the child and like not, often not intentionally, if they are not coming from a secure attached place,

34:54  
most often not intentionally. I've I don't think I've ever met someone who went into Paris. thinking they were going to do a bad job. We all think we're going to be you know, when we were armchair parents before we had kids, we were perfect. And we all go into it, if thinking it's not perfect, we think we're going to do a better job than we that was done to us, or most of us think we're going to do a better job, or at least as good if we think we were we had great parenting. So you're right, it's, this is not intentional, we, we just have to acknowledge that we bring, we come as a package just as our child comes to us as a package. And we've got to acknowledge what we're bringing to the equation.

35:33  
And that's where I like talking about them being a part of, of the healing, because many people want to bring their child to me and be like, fix them.

35:41  
And it's like,

35:42  
wait a minute, you may need some fixing, too. And I say that very like respectful and very, were validating their experience validating their their emotions, and you want to find somebody that's not judgmental, because as as an adoptive parent, where you where you can say, so I appreciate because sometimes, so I have a three year old, there are times, I was home with him for the two weeks for the two every day, he's I was home with him every day, there are times that you may not like your child, there are times that your child gets on your nerves, do you need a space where you can talk about that? I've had meetings just with parents, when when a child is having a lot of emotions and a lot of behaviors. And I'm like, I need just like one day with you where we just talk. And you can kind of get your emotions and feelings out. And so that's where having safe spaces to do that where you're not judged. But then you also get resources to better respond when things do come up. I think I think that can be helpful. Because if nobody knows, because often people keep things in their head, because they're like, people are gonna think I'm the worst. If I admit that this child gets on my nerves. Sometimes it's like no, like, we're all going to understand, like, they're doing triggering things, sometimes like to think often kids from foster care, especially two years and up, they can be a little prickly. They can where you go to hug them. And they may, they may kind of poke back. But they they need that love. And they need somebody that is going to no matter what if you're going to choose to do this. And that's where I really give people information. So often parents will threaten if you don't get your behavior together. I don't know if we can continue to do this. Well, that statement, triggers insecure attachment triggers one of those three. And and, and I have never had that improve the child's behavior for longer than a month or two. Like Normally, it might change it for a week. But it has never done any long term work. Because it often triggers the Okay, you're not my forever family, there is something I could do, where you may send me away. And so that's where I think people truly addressing their own attachment wounds is so important. So that so that they can be that safe space. Mm hmm.

38:08  
This show as well as all the many resources provided by creating a family and our website, creating a family.org could not and would not happen without the generous support of our partners, who not only believe in our mission of providing unbiased education and support to pre and post adoptive Foster and kinship families. But they believe in that mission so much they're willing to put their money where their mouth is. One such partner is VISTA Del Mar. They are a licensed nonprofit adoption agency with over 65 years of experience helping to create families. They offer home study only services as well as full service, infant adoption, international adoption, home studies, and post adoption and foster to adopt programs. You can find them and get more information about them at VISTA del mar.org. So how can we move towards a more secure attachment style? As adults, we can't go back and change the past it is what it is. But what can we do as adults that will improve our attachment make it more secure.

39:20  
There are lots of great tools. There are lots of great resources. I love how you started with the adult attachment inventory, being able to do an assessment of where where are you because that that helps give you information for what is my attachment style. And then there are lots of books there are lots of self help books. One of my new favorites is the connected parent by Karen Purvis. There's also the connected child I love the connected parent that it focuses on. That parent has to have their own work done in order to be that that that safe space and then therapy meeting with a parent coach doing some some therapy if there are some attachment wounds from the parent side if they need to deal and work with some of those things, because that child will never heal that a broken parent, it's very difficult for a broken parent to produce a healed child if they don't do their own work. Because we're all we're all broken a little. And we all have our own work. And I like to normalize, going to therapy, talking with somebody, nobody would be upset if I said, Oh, I'm going for my yearly checkup. Nobody would think anything about that. But when talking about going for a, you know, going to talk with a therapist, we went, Oh, what do you need to do that for? I like to normalize that. And being able, because every parent is triggered at times. And if we don't have the tools to address it, being able to partner with somebody to get some new tools, I think that can be extremely helpful.

41:02  
Mm hmm. It can. And one of the reasons that and I totally agree with you on therapy, to work not on fixing our kid but and not really to work on fixing ourselves per se. But to come to a greater understanding of what we're bringing to the parenting, the parent child equation, what we're bringing to the, to the table. It's one of the reasons that also I am a big supporter of support groups, be they online support groups through a platform such as Facebook, be they just smaller support groups, either in person or online, they're one of the things that as foster or adoptive parents we find is that, you know, that that ability to share and not be judged, is hard to find. Because a lot of times our kids are not behaving in a way that that our parents are, let's say that, that you go to your your parents and say, What did you do when you know, when we did this, or your aunt are going to friends and they say, you know, I can the little hides what I do, or, or whatever they're telling us in oftentimes, that's not effective with our kids, because our kids bring, most of us are parenting kids who have come in some degree of trauma. And that includes a major trauma, even the prenatal exposure, that type of trauma that even if we're adopting an infant. So I do think that looking for a parent support group, although that doesn't necessarily that that gives you a sounding board that allows you to vent. But it's not the same thing as as therapy. Because therapy is more directed at helping you grow specifically in the areas that you need to grow. And support groups don't always do that, I don't think

42:51  
because sometimes it can just be like, I think support groups let you not feel alone, yes. And then he helps give you tools to help address it. And then also with with that therapy, somebody that is going to respect your family that isn't going to judge you. I like to talk you know, if you found the right therapist within the first two to three sessions at the most. Because if you get a kind of a bad feeling the first few times, this person might not be the best fit, you can ask them, you can talk with them. You also want to ask about their experience working with adoptive families, if this isn't somebody because some people are skilled in trauma, and they may be skilled in attachment, but they might not be skilled and working with an adoptive family and using language. So that's why I use language like birth family, because there are words that can be triggering for for adoptive families. So being able that to make sure that you're partnering with somebody that can really help you. You know,

43:48  
I would also say though, that if you if after listening to this, you think you know what, I can look back in my past and see that, you know, I had a really avoidant parent and that I have developed that same style of attaching I can see it in other relationships in my life. I can see it in romantic relationships, I can see it in friendships, and I am seeing it now in this parenting role in my parenting relationship. I think you can seek out a therapist that is that specializes in attachment or trauma, or let's say that you experienced some trauma and you and it doesn't have to be adoption competent for because you're working on yourself. I am a huge believer and we preach it all the time of you know, seek out a therapist, that's adoption competent. But if you're going to be focusing on yourself, which is what we're talking about today, don't let that be a hindrance because I think you will find more therapists that are qualified to help with attachment issues and for you as an adult and trauma coping with past trauma then you then adoption competent therapist are harder to come by. I agree. Yeah. You know, I read a really interesting Research and I it was a summary of the research that I was reading that said that a strong marriage is the strongest predictor of healthy attachment between a parent and a child. Have you seen that as well,

45:12  
I was raised by a single parent. And I think a single parent can definitely produce a securely attached child, I do think child is witnessing problematic things happening within so if two people are adopting a child, and they are partners, and there is conflict and their issues between them, then I think, because that's the model that child is going to have for relationships, they see that from the relationships that that they see their, their their parents have. And so I do think that a child definitely does learn a lot from what they observe and witness within their parents marriage, friendships, within their their relationships, I should have should have said, marriage or partnership or relationships, because I agree with you. I think that single parents, and certainly there are some children who even do do better in single parent households.

46:12  
So yeah, I know, I was I don't, I didn't read the full research. So I don't think it was probably implying that

46:19  
and, and they were probably researching marriage specific. The only reason why I mentioned because there are a lot of single women or single men that are interested in in adoption. And that because years ago, maybe 30 years ago, they adoption agencies would prioritize a married couple over single person. So yep, there because I just I don't want people to think, Oh, I have to have a partner in order to adopt a child. Because I think what that research was likely pointing to, is that children in homes that have a lot of conflict, they are they are likely to have some attachment issues, just because they're they're witnessing adults maybe not not manage conflict the right way. They're they're kind of witnessing problematic things within the home.

47:10  
You know, how about the the power of our adult relationships, whether they be a marriage relationship, a partner relationship, or a deep friendship? How about the power of those intense relationships in our adulthood, being able to help us heal and grow towards a more secure attachment style? Is that possible.

47:36  
So I think how you relate to your friends, how you relate to your parents, your family, your, your, your partner, all of those things definitely influenced you like your attachment style can be seen in each one of those of those relationships. Now, often, an intimate relationship, like a marriage or a partnership, you're often triggered a little bit more, because with a friend, if you get mad at them, you can just leave and not talk. Like it's different with somebody that you're living with, or that you see a lot, or that you're intimately connected to. That's where those attachment wounds really come up. And within family, a lot of those attachment things come up. One of my best friends lives in Florida, and we both are securely attached, where we may not talk to each other for like, a month. But we both know that we still love each other. Like it's not like she mad at me. Because often what we do with that space, so if if you send a text to somebody, and you're immediately thinking after I do something wrong, I say something wrong. Sometimes those can be some little signs that, okay, I may need to take a breath, I may need to breathe, and that might just be underlying anxiety, but often, our interactions within relationships, we can see our attachment style.

48:55  
Mm hmm. Yeah. And we can also see and I think we can also heal through our adult relationships. And I hear your point that there are intimate relationships be a marriage or partnerships are probably a better source for that. Because that friendships, some friendships, clearly, can also because of the time spent together. But I can't say that the more time and the inability to disengage when things get tough, would be a better environment for working in healing. First recognizing as you point out, but then also working in healing. Hopefully we choose partners that don't replicate the problems that we had with our parents. Yes, sadly, sometimes we do. But, but then recognizing that as well and then working on the marriage would be we'd be helpful. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Patrice berry for being with us today to talk about how a parent's history with attachment and trauma impacts our adoption and fostering journey. Let me mention as we usually do that the views expressed in the show are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of creating a family, our partners or underwriters. Also, keep in mind that the information given this interview is general advice to understand how it applies to your specific situation. You need to work with your adoption or foster care or mental health professional. Okay, guys, now it's the time that I get to ask you for a favor, as you know, or at least I hope, you know, creating a family is a nonprofit. No, I'm not going to ask you for money. Although I do hope. If you like this show that you will contribute to our special needs parenting scholarship fund at the URL, creating a family.org slash scholarship. But that's not the favor I'm asking you for today. Today, it's easier. In fact, it could be easier. All I want you to do is tell your friends about this podcast. Most people find out about podcasts by word of mouth. And we would really, really appreciate your sharing with your friends both in person and online about this podcast, they can subscribe on whatever device they listen to podcasts on. So please share the news about this podcast that is dedicated to providing unbiased, expert based information for your adoption and foster care journey. Thank you so much for joining us today and I will see you next week.

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