EBD In Adopted Children

Children in our classrooms come from many different family make-ups. One structure in particular is adoption. There are quite a few students in my school who live with their adopted parents and I find it unsettling that adoption and the affects it may have on the child are not taken into consideration as often as other issues are. It is very important to know as much about a child as you can in order to meet him on his emotional and behavioral level. If a child is removed from his biological parents for abuse or is some how traumatized, he may react to what he feels are threatening situations. This affects his behavioral, emotional, physiological and cognitive functioning. There are many factors to be considered.

Dr. Povl W. Toussieng. M.D.
Dr Toussieng was a child psychiatrist at The Menninger Clinic Topeka, Kansas.
Dr Toussieng suggests that adopted children seem more prone to emotional disturbances than non-adopted children; he concludes that their conflicts are caused by their adoptive parent’s unresolved resistance to parenthood.
He says that in spite of careful screening of adopted children and their prospective parents prior to adoption, a disproportionately large percentage of these children eventually come to psychiatric or other professional attention because of emotional, educational or social problems.
The fact that sixty one percent of the first and only child in an adopting family were particularly prone to disturbances suggested that they should look elsewhere than in the children themselves for the factors contributing to later disturbances. The children presented at the Childrens Service tended to present many severe difficulties.
Toussieng also acknowledges that severe emotional disturbances and personality disorders are over-represented among adopted children and that they may have severe emotional difficulties that may never come to the attention of professionals.
He points out that on reaching adulthood some children become obsessed with finding their real mother because they had revealed a feeling of never having been really attached to their adoptive family and never had the feeling of real belonging.
Toussieng refers to Deutsh (1945) where she discusses the influences of unconscious attitudes and conflicts on the abilities of the adoptive mother to be motherly toward their adopted children. She believes that an adoptive mothers failure to develop motherliness is the major cause of later disturbances in the child. They (the mothers) view the adopted child as narcissistic injury, as evidence that they themselves are damaged. The child in trying to identify with such parents may well acquire shaky and defective introjects.
Toussieng summarises by stating "children who have been adopted at an early age and/or who have not been exposed to psychological traumatization before adoption seem to be more prone to emotional disturbances than non-adopted children.

Michael Humphrey and Christopher Ounsted.
Michael Humphrey, M.A. B.Sc Principal Clinical Psychologist. Warneford and Park Hospitals.
Christopher Ounsted. D.M.,D.C.H., D.P.M., Consultant-in Charge Park Hospital for Children.
In a control group of 41 early age adoptees they distinguished the following symptoms. Emotional reactions (tantrums, negativism, jealousy). Enuresis, anxiety, disturbed social behaviour, aggression, withdrawl, stealing, cruelty, destructiveness, lying and encopresis.
They were impressed with finding out that one in two children adopted late had been stealing as compared to one in four children adopted at an early age. The action appeared in several cases to be expressly directed at the adoptive mother, either from a sense of rejection (in some cases well founded) or as an appeal for more individual attention. Sometimes the money would be spent on presents for friends in the hope of gaining popularity. Some of these children have stolen compulsively over a long period with no sign of remorse.
They found the adopted children suffered from varying degrees of parental deprivation, neglect, parental rejection or at the opposite extreme, over-indulgence, mental or physical illness sufficient to impair the quality of parental love, and jealously of a sibling born before or too soon after the adoption.

Schechter.M. Carlson.P.V. Simmons. J.Q. and Work. H.H.
In a paper submitted to the Childrens Bureau, US Department of Health Aug 1963.
The factor of adoption played a consistently important role in the genesis and perpetuation of the given symptom picture. Two major hypotheses were suggested for the higher incidence of psychological disturbances in the adoptee. Firstly the adoptee may intra-physically continue a split between good and bad in his infantile object relations, since in reality he has two sets of parents. Secondly, the adoptive parent is often confused in his or her role due to unconscious guilts and hostilities and tends to project this disturbance backward into the heredity of the child i.e. the natural parents.
Phipps(1953) mentioned the tendency of parents to speak about the heredity of the child as the major causative factor in behavioural difficulties.
Lemon E.M. (1959) referred to the difficulty that the adopted individual has in dealing with communication concerning his adopted status with a resulting tendency to weave factual material together with much fantasied material in his thoughts as he seeks his natural parents.
They went on to say that these patients perceived their adoptive parents as inadequate especially with the setting of limits and viewed their natural parents as their adequate set of parents.
Livermore J. B (1961) suggests that the adoptees have specific problems in identification, since the adoptive mother constantly reactivates primitive unconscious fears that her own insides have been destroyed.
They summarised by saying. "We feel that we have offered substantial evidence from many sources that the non-relative adopted child may be more prone to emotional difficulties".

Footnotes: Toussieng, P., Humphrey, M., Ounsted, C . (1962). Infant Adoption - What
They Knew and Didn't Tell Us. In Adoption Crossroads. Retrieved July 27, 2007, from http://www.adoptioncrossroads.org/what_they_knew_&_didn't_tell_us.html.

Contributed by Shakima Bates