Attachment in Adoptive, Fostering, & Blended Families by David Bourne MS, LPC

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Recently I am seeing more created families coming into my office in the form of adoption and fostering as well as blended families. Families are beautiful expressions of love.

That being said, families can require lots of work to help them flow smoothly. One frequent issue I see with blended families, adoptive families, and foster families is attachment. Attachment problems take two primary forms, Reactive Attachment Disorder, RAD, and the lack of attachment.

An easy concept of attachment is to think of attachment as an emotional anchor for a boat. The anchor lets the boat move move around the anchor point but remain grounded, connected and feel safe. The child that is not attached will often appear adrift, anxious, easily angered and moody.

Reactive Attachment Disorder often appears in situations that have allowed a child to form an attachment to a caregiver then have that relationship end. This may be from removal from home, foster care, or another traumatic event. This child may show reluctance, anxiety or even an explosive reaction if they feel a bond begin to get uncomfortably close. While on the surface this appears to make no sense , just imagine how much pain it would be to lose everything and how much easier to simply not form an attachment. These children may form superficially close relationships but will lack a depth to the connection.

The good news is both problem areas is that there is hope. Working with an experienced therapist can help both individuals and families process the contributing factors and develop a functional plan to help provide a cohesive and structured system to work through the behaviors and the emotions to transform toward the families we dream of.

If you and your family are going through a transitioning period and dealing with indications of attachment or RAD, please contact me. It would be an honor to walk with you and your family through this time of change.

Read more about Reactive Attachment Disorder here:

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