Ok

En poursuivant votre navigation sur ce site, vous acceptez l'utilisation de cookies. Ces derniers assurent le bon fonctionnement de nos services. En savoir plus.

26/09/2010

Boris Cyrulnik, Neuropsychiatre et éthologue. Débats sur l'adoption, l'attachement et la résilience.

 

Boris Cyrulnik.jpgVéronique : Il y a vingt ans, j’ai adopté une petite fille venue de Roumanie. Elle avait 18 mois. J’ai eu beaucoup de mal à créer un lien d’attachement avec elle. Et quand je lisais dans vos livres que l’amour permet de tout rattraper, je vous en voulais. Parce que cela me faisait culpabiliser de ne pas y arriver. J’avais honte de me sentir une mère incapable… 

B.C. : Votre critique me touche et j’entends combien elle sonne juste. L’adoption est le prototype de la résilience : tous les enfants adoptés n’ont pas été maltraités, mais tous les enfants adoptés ont changé de bras, changé de culture, et parfois même leur famille a changé de couleur. Quand j’ai commencé à travailler sur la résilience, je voulais démontrer que c’était possible de « récupérer » ces enfants que l’on abandonnait. C’est vrai que dans nos premiers travaux, nous avons donné une impression d’optimisme forcené, car on récupère beaucoup de ces enfants. Mais pas tous… La résilience neuronale est plus facile à provoquer que la résilience psychologique. Les enfants abandonnés manifestent tous un retard de taille et de poids. Mais dès qu’ils sont adoptés, ils rattrapent ce retard. Voilà pourquoi je dis toujours qu’il est plus facile de changer un métabolisme que de détruire un préjugé. Les études montrent que pendant trois ans, 80 % des enfants adoptés manifestent ce que l’on appelle un attachement « évitant », par peur d’être aimé. Ils ont peur d’être aimés, cela ne veut pas dire qu’ils ne veulent pas l’être ! Nous n’avons pas su expliquer que ces enfants-là, il faut leur apprendre à aimer. J’ai eu tort de ne pas l’avoir dit assez fort. Mais, moi aussi, j’étais un débutant…

 

Véronique : Est-ce qu’il arrive un âge où il n’est plus possible de développer un attachement ?

B.C. : Il y a cinq ans, nous avons fait une étude à Toulon. Nous avons suivi des enfants qui étaient ce que j’appelle des « mal partis de l’existence », mal partis parce qu’ils ont une maladie, ou parce que leurs parents sont en difficulté, ou qu’ils sont maltraités, ou parce qu’ils vivent dans des conditions précaires qui font que la vie quotidienne est une agression constante. Nous les avons suivis et nous les avons revus régulièrement entre 15 et 20 ans. Notre conclusion est claire : les attachements qui ont été décrits par les psychologues ou les neuro logues n’indiquent que des tendances, ce ne sont jamais des fatalités. Presque tous les attachements sont flexibles : on voit beaucoup d’attachements indifférents se réchauffer, à condition qu’il y ait un lien stable, à condition qu’il y ait une autre manière d’aimer à l’intérieur de la famille. Ce que nous avons constaté, c’est que la stabilité affective se met en place après le premier amour, moment clé où les gens apprennent à aimer. À partir de là, leur score d’attachement « sécure » grimpe très vite. Ce qui signifie qu’une fois que l’on a appris à mieux aimer, on se répare. Et pour moi, c’est vrai jusqu’à l’âge de 120 ans. Après, c’est moins vrai… [Rires.]

 

Catherine : Alors c’est ça le pouvoir de l’amour ? 

B.C. : Moi, j’appelle ça le pouvoir de l’attachement. L’attachement est différent de l’amour. Je vis avec lui, avec elle, tous les jours, et je l’aime alors que chaque matin, il faut que j’attende un quart d’heure qu’il ou elle ait pris son café pour commencer à sourire… Je vis avec lui, avec elle, je suis attaché à lui, à elle. C’est très différent de l’amour.

 

Élizabeth : Je suis directrice de crèche et je m’interroge sur la garde alternée. Quels sont les risques pour ces enfants qui changent de maison une semaine sur deux de développer des troubles de l’attachement ? 

B.C. : La stabilité affective de la première année crée des attachements « sécures ». La stabilité affective, statistiquement, vient de la mère, mais elle peut également venir du père – si la mère est morte, malade ou en difficulté – ou d’une autre figure adulte. En effet, l’important réside dans la « niche sensorielle » construite autour du bébé. C’est-à-dire la façon dont l’enfant est touché, toiletté, nourri, la façon dont on lui parle. Si la mère est malheureuse, elle ne fait pas une niche sensorielle chaleureuse autour de son bébé : elle pense à autre chose quand elle le change ou le nourrit… Alors la niche sensorielle est pauvre, toutes les stimulations biologiques sont pauvres, et les bébés apprennent mal. Mais les enfants qui ont connu une stabilité affective et dont la niche sensorielle a été forte pendant leur première année apprennent à aimer.

Source : Psychologies.com

 

- Dossier troubles de l'attachement
Johanne Lemieux et d'autres textes.

 

- Dossier résilience
Psychasoc, Collectifs d'auteurs, Joseph Rouzel

 

 

13/07/2010

France. Quand l'adoption tourne à l'enfer.

Marianne2.jpgEnviron 4 000 enfants sont adoptés chaque année en France.
Des milliers de belles histoires d'amour familial, confortées par une poignée de people exhibant leurs tribus Benetton.
Pourtant, dans bien des cas la greffe ne prend pas et le lien finit par casser dans des drames insoutenables. Enqûete sur un tabou.


Un article paru dans Marianne n° 688 | 26 juin au 2 juillet 2010 | Pages 70 à 77.

 

Pages  1 |  234 |  56 | 7 |

 

Ils en parlent aussi

- Blog de Jean-Vital de Monléon.
- Forum Racines coréennes
- Forum de la CADCO

 

Les enfants adoptés sont-ils plus fragiles que les autres ?

Si la plupart vont bien, l'étude "The Mental Health of US Adolescents Adopted in Infancy" met en évidence un peu plus de troubles du comportement, d'anxiété et de dépression que chez les non-adoptés.
Archives Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Vol. 162 No. 5, May 2008

 

En septembre 2004. la Direction générale à l'action sociale (DGAS) et le Ministère de la Santé avaient décidés de "quantifier" les échecs de l'adoption.  Une étude avait été commandée à la psychosociologue Catherine Sellenet. Pour X et Y raisons, cette recherche a été suspendue. 
Néanmoins, en 2009, Catherine Sellenet publiait son ouvrage "Souffrances dans l'adoption".

 

Quelques livres-témoignages

- L'adoption et sa face cachée, par Christian Demortier
- Dis merci ! Tu ne connais pas ta chance d'avoir été adoptée, par Barbara Monestier
- Une question d'âge, par Evelyne Pisier
- L'enfant adopté. Comprendre la blessure primitive, par Nancy Newton-Verrier

 

 

 

 

 

 

01/07/2010

Le mythe de la famille-pour-toujours

Brain Child.jpgThe Myth of the Forever Family.

When Adoption Falls Apart

 

When we adopted our daughter, Madison, six years ago, the judge was clear. Legally, adoption bound our daughter to our family as if she had been born to us. She would have the same rights as our biological son. We owed her the same level of commitment. A few weeks later, Madison’s amended birth certificate would arrive, with my name as her birth mother and my husband’s name as her birth father. All of her original birth records would be locked up, sealed away, inaccessible. At the end of the brief ceremony, the judge banged his gavel and officially pronounced us—in the language of the mainstream adoption community—“a forever family.”

 

That ceremony lawfully inducted us into the myth that adoptive families are expected to live by. Our families are supposed to be “just like” biological families. That’s why we adoptive parents roll our eyes when celebrity magazines talk about Angelina Jolie’s “adopted children” instead of just calling them her kids and we swear up and down that we are the “real parents.” Some hopeful adoptive parents even wear T-shirts that announce that they are “Paper Pregnant,” as if they feel the need to validate their way of building a family by equating adoption with a fundamental physical experience.

 

In many ways these adoption myths serve us and our kids well. Children should not face discrimination for how they arrive to a family. They should have inheritance rights. Adoptive parents should never question their obligation to the children they commit to parenting.

 

But in other ways, adoption myths betray our children by giving lie to their origins. They are not born to us. We do not create them. They arrive to our families with histories that precede their lives with us. Embracing our children means embracing their stories even when they are difficult to hear.
The hard truth is that adoption is not just like giving birth. It is rarely as straightforward. And as much as we would like to think otherwise, not all forever families are forever.

 

 

Like many adoptive parents, Carol fell in love with a picture first. Henry was a chubby-cheeked, brown-skinned boy with a crooked grin and closely cropped hair. In the photo he is sitting on some sort of a wooden bench wearing a striped polo shirt and khaki pants. He is undeniably adorable. While Carol knew very little about him, there was nothing in his orphanage record that made her feel concerned. She knew that he lived at the orphanage with both an older and younger biological sibling and she knew that for some reason he was the target of teasing by the other orphans. Her heart went out to him.

 

Carol and her husband, already parents to a six-year-old biological child, knew what conditions in his Caribbean orphanage were like because they were already in the process of adopting a special-needs child from the same program, a toddler girl named Lily. Gazing at Henry’s picture online in the photo listings for the orphanage, Carol felt led. Despite their small house, modest lifestyle, and single income, she felt like God was calling her to be Henry’s mother, too.

 

“The orphanage was so overcrowded,” Carol says, recalling her visit to complete the adoption of Lily. “The children there are so starved for affection and you think, my house is so big! I could afford to take care of more children.”

 

That’s how she found herself back in less than two years, bringing home five-year-old Henry and his siblings, Isobel and Matthew.

 

Carol told me that all of her adopted children have histories of trauma. Her newest children raged and fought and struggled to learn how to live in a family. Henry was easier. He was a good kid, anxious for approval and able to show affection. She wasn’t worried about him. Not when her time was taken up in helping the other children who were having a much more difficult time adjusting. Then, one month into their new family configuration, things changed.

 

“We caught him sexually acting out,” Carol says simply. She and her husband reacted by establishing house rules. Supervision got tighter. No child could be in the bathroom with another child. They talked good touch and bad touch in the children’s native language and stopped having sleepovers. They looked into getting Henry counseling. He didn’t speak English yet, however, so they did their best to create a safe environment for all of the kids. They thought it was working until one of the older children caught Henry in another child’s room and his story didn’t quite add up. Carol sat him down and asked, “Hey buddy, do you have a secret?”

 

Henry had lots of secrets. He told her that he had been molesting his siblings for the past year. He described his behavior in detail and then told her about the orphanage, about the way he and his crib mate used to play this way. He told her about incidents that happened when she was in the room, when her back was turned. He told her how he got the other children to give in.

 

“It was extensive,” Carol says. “It was stuff I didn’t even know that a six-year-old was capable of.”

 

Carol called her state’s child protective services (CPS) department. They told her that unless the children were more than two years apart, it wasn’t considered abuse. At first she was relieved because she had been afraid that CPS would take her children away. She and her husband put the house on lockdown and kept Henry in their line of sight at all times. That is when he became “the angriest boy alive,” Carol says. Without the psychological outlet of the sexual abuse, her son became increasingly violent, raging two to four hours a day and threatening to kill the other children. They hid the knives and bought locks for all the doors. The behavior continued to escalate. Henry would threaten to force Carol to crash the car. He said he would bash her head in with a rock. The other children were terrified. Henry was scared, too. He knew he was out of control but didn’t know how to stop.

 

Carol looked for services to help Henry stay in their home and took him to experts in adoption and attachment across the state. Her days were taken up with phone calls, paperwork, and more phone calls. She worked their insurance for referrals, begged the school for resources and read up online. She took Henry to see a leading child neuropsychologist specializing in treating adopted children with severe issues. The consensus was that in order to get the long-term treatment he needed, Henry would have to leave.

 

Carol went back to working the phones until she found a residential treatment center with the ability to work with a six-year-old sex offender. A year and a half ago, Henry went to live at the facility, two thousand miles away. He will likely be there for at least another nine months. No one has told Henry this yet (his therapists say it’s not the right time to explain), but when he’s ready to leave the center, he won’t get to come home. Instead Carol has found another family who will take him, who will adopt him. He will become their son. “He can’t come home again,” Carol says.

 

As a mom both biologically and by adoption, I know that adoption is different. It isn’t less than, it isn’t second best, but it’s different. Although we brought our daughter home when she was just three days old, falling in love with her was not the same as falling in love with our son. When the doctor handed my son to me for the first time, there was an immediate recognition that he was of me and that I was of him. With Madison, on the other hand, I felt like a fraud for her first month of life. It took more time to get to know her, and it took more time to trust myself to know how to be her mother.

 

It’s not something I like to admit; I am still a little ashamed of our challenged beginning. Part of the adoption myth is that you see your baby and you fall in love. Other adoptive mothers tell this story; it led me to wonder what was wrong with me. I went through the motions, staring at her face while I fed her, carrying her everywhere in the sling. Then one day I woke up and she felt like a part of me. It had taken longer but eventually it clicked, just the way it did with my son.

 

Jean Mercer is a psychologist and president of the New Jersey Association for Infant Mental Health, as well as an author of several books on attachment. Healthy infants are hard-wired to encourage their parents to attach to them, she said in an e-mail interview. This is why falling in love with Madison was nearly inevitable. A healthy mother and a healthy child are primed to bond to each other.

 

“When babies show obvious responses—crying or not crying, taking the nipple enthusiastically, calming when soothed—parents feel that personal communications and responses have been made,” she says. “This encourages the parents to do more caregiving and playing.”

 

But many children raised in orphanages stop responding to adult attention because they learn that their efforts don’t work. Overwhelmed caregivers may not have time to make eye contact or talk to their charges. Locked into survival mode, the children do not always know how to connect with their new adoptive parents. “We like people who like us,” explains Mercer. “If children don’t look at us much we figure they don’t like us so maybe we don’t like them.”

 

This is why it can be harder to build attachment with children who are adopted past early infancy. It’s certainly not impossible, of course; most parents are able to get past the bumpy beginnings and forge bonds with their children.

 

Sometimes things go horribly awry, however. Children who have experienced very difficult beginnings—drug or alcohol exposure in utero, abuse or neglect, a multitude of caregivers—sometimes develop reactive attachment disorder (RAD), which is a daunting diagnosis. Kids with RAD seem to have no conscience and are unable to appreciate the consequences of their harmful behavior. Because they struggle to trust that other people will care for them, they live in a permanent state of fight or flight. Many of these children constantly lash out at caregivers and rage violently at perceived threats. Their deprived beginnings and need for control can cause them to gorge on food until they vomit, go on campaigns of destruction where they destroy entire rooms, and physically attack other members of the family.

 

Kids with RAD can be hard to like, let alone love. Caring for them is exhausting and demoralizing. Parents tell me that their children with RAD have more energy than the rest of the family combined and need very little sleep. Raising them is counterintuitive; open affection can feel terrifying for such children and can set off a large-scale tantrum. Most of the parents I spoke with have a story that involves waking up and finding their child standing over them, sometimes with a knife. This is one reason many of them install locks on all the doors and alarms on all of the windows.

 

Paradoxically, sometimes the safer they feel, the more the children act out. Parents sometimes have a honeymoon period during the first trial visit or at the beginning of a placement. These quiet times can last a day or a year, but if the child has underlying issues, the behavior problems will eventually surface.

 

Patty, who recently adopted an eight-year-old boy and a ten-year-old girl from Columbia with her husband, Wyatt, met her children through an agency that sponsors summer foster-care programs. Children come to the United States and are placed in potential adoptive homes for five weeks. Patty and Wyatt’s experience with the kids was such a good one that Patty went to their country to start the adoption process. The children came home right around Christmas; in hindsight, Patty says, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

 

“We thought they wouldn’t be here until January or February,” she says. “We were totally unprepared, but our friends set up their rooms and there were tons of presents. In retrospect it was not ideal because it was just too much for the kids to handle.”

 

The children spiraled out of control, and the house felt under siege. The children were too angry, too violent. After one attack, Patty had a black eye and scratches on her throat. The police had to be called when one of the children came at her with a belt. Desperate, Patty called the agency that had done their home study to tell them they had to end the placement, meaning that she wanted to legally disrupt the adoption (disruption is the term for ending an adoption before it is finalized; dissolution is the term for an adoption that is terminated after finalization). They would need to send the children back to their orphanage. During the call, however, Patty learned that the program had an adoption preservation counselor on staff. The counselor came over the next day and set them up with a “family preservation team.”

 

“They said these kids might not have it in them [to be adopted] because they were just that crazy,” Patty said. To qualify for services, Patty and Wyatt had to check off a list of problem behaviors such as lighting fires in the home and wielding knives. “We could check off every single one with our kids.”

 

The family preservation team spent every waking moment for the first week with Patty, Wyatt, and the children, watching their interactions and interviewing the parents and the kids. In order to help the children be successful in the family, Patty and Wyatt needed to radically change their parenting plans and expectations, the team leader said. Patty used to picture cozy family reading times and romps in the park, but the kids aren’t ready for that level of intimacy. Even a recent quick game of soccer between Patty and her son had to be cut short since the children desperately need her to be the authority figure. They are unable to handle her presence as a playmate.

 

“I had to grieve—I’m still grieving—the family that I pictured three months ago [when the children first arrived],” she says. “I mean, you think you’re supposed to attach to these people and they have real feelings and real personalities and some parts you’re going to love and some parts you’re not going to love so much. But the objective thing is that I committed to do this, and I wouldn’t give up until I’ve tried everything because that wouldn’t be fair to them. It wouldn’t be right.”

 

Patty is clear that without the family preservation team’s guidance, she would not be able to parent her kids. Their support is what allowed her children to stay home.

 

Adoption termination is the industry’s dirty little secret. It’s especially secretive in international adoption. Studies of adoption termination, as reported by the Child Welfare Information Gateway report, “Adoption Disruption and Dissolution” (2004), usually focus on foster-care cases. This research, done by child welfare academics and advocates, estimates that ten percent to twenty-five percent of all adoptions terminate either before finalization (disruption) or after (dissolution). It’s hard to say whether or not the numbers in international adoptions are similar, but the kinds of challenges that terminate domestic adoptions are certainly present in many international ones. According to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, in their 2004 research review, “Adoption Stability & Termination,” adoptions fall apart when kids have behavioral and emotional problems that overwhelm parents and when appropriate supports and services are not accessible. There are specific indicators of an adoption that runs a higher risk of failure, such as those in which children have been in foster care for more than three years, have experienced sexual abuse, arrive in a sibling group or have had prenatal drug or alcohol exposure.

 

Katie Valentino, a licensed professional clinical counselor, worked as an adoption preservation specialist for a federally sponsored program until it lost funding. She is now in private practice in Bloomingdale, Illinois.

 

“People think it can’t be the child’s fault; it has to be the parent’s fault,” Valentino said. “But I think the commonalities [in adoption terminations] are more the lack of support and the extreme nature of the child’s background. Social workers have to really identify and speak the truth about how difficult these kids might be. If we have the supports in place, these families and these kids could do so much better.”

 

The other challenge is fitting the right kids to the right parents. Matching families is an elusive art, and hard-pressed social workers in the foster-care system don’t always have the time or the ability to focus on choosing the best placements.

 

In international adoptions, the matching process varies. Parents may get placed with the child at the top of a list. Other programs match kids to parents who orphanage program administrators think resemble them. Then, too, parents often fall in love with photo listings, like Carol did with Henry’s. It’s one reason agencies use such photos. In many international adoptions, there is little to no history on any given child, yet parents are expected to commit to a specific boy or girl based on a picture (one that’s sometimes months or even years old) and scanty records that are often poorly translated.

 

“With a lot of kids, especially the foreign adoptions, parents fall in love with a videotape,” says Valentino. “They don’t know they’re falling in love with a child who has been horribly sexually abused.”

 

Carol says the agency she worked with is a typical “do-gooder” agency whose best intentions for the child sometimes run roughshod over the families who adopt them.  She understands their imperative to get families for needy kids.

 

“[The agency] thinks it’s better to get the child out of the country and then you can deal with whatever the child’s problems are. But they are so unrealistic,” she says. “You get the child, but you can’t get services for the child. I know of at least five disruptions that have happened from this agency in a three-year time span because the kids are traumatized and the orphanage is crap. But the agency doesn’t care. Their intention is good, but they don’t have any idea what they’re doing.”

 

In many international adoptions, the legal adoption happens in the child’s country of origin. By the time the new family gets on the plane, they are irrevocably tied to each other. Valentino said many parents who wind up in trouble have doubts in the orphanage,, but they don’t speak up because they have already come so far. They have already been through the home study, written the checks, waited for their referral, and now they are here. They are told this is their child. How could they back out now?

 

Troll online adoption support groups, and you’ll find the stories. Alongside more benign message boards where adoptive parents chat about creating “lifebooks” (adoption-centric baby books) and answering their kids’ questions, there are websites of home-study-ready families willing to take in children who have already failed with one family. The website CHASK.org (Christian Homes and Special Kids) has a page on their site with photo listings and short descriptions of children whose parents no longer feel they can care for them. On the day I checked, there were two children listed, both with severe issues. One was a foster-to-adopt placement whose parents had split up, and the other was an international adoption from an Eastern European country. The text of that one reads, in part:

 

The main reason we have decided to find a new home for Nick is that he is an expert liar and manipulator, and he acts out. He tells lies about us to others (hurtful) and is very convincing. He is also hostile toward me (Mom). His therapists believe he has RAD, and maybe ADHD.  He needs constant supervision when he is around young children. This has been traumatic to us and combined with his acting out, is more then we can handle.

When I read that paragraph, I wondered about the details the mother is not sharing. I wondered about her frustration and disappointment. I wondered what dreams she had about motherhood that this child could not fulfill. Valentino notes that in families struggling with attachment issues, mothers are usually the targets of their children’s anger and abuse. They are also usually the ones to give up their jobs and social lives to make parenting their troubled children their full-time occupation.

 

Laura (not her real name) is a licensed professional counselor in the Midwest working with a legal practice that specializes in adoption. The practice gets a lot of criticism, Laura says, because their services include helping parents terminate adoptions and supervise “re-placements”; she asked that I not use her real name or identify the practice.

 

While Laura and her husband make their living in part because some adoptive families fall apart, she is sharply critical of the parents who use their services. Laura told me in an e-mail interview, “There should be nothing a child does that would cause a parent to ‘get rid of them.’ There are millions of biological kids out there making bad choices and their parents never get rid of them.”

 

Laura is making the same assumptions that most of us laypeople make. In fact, some parents do “get rid of” their biological children and for the same reasons that they send their adopted kids away. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (the GAO is the investigative arm of Congress), in 2001, more than 12,700 children were deliberately placed in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Most of them have a diagnosed mental illness. While the GAO report didn’t differentiate between adopted kids and kids living with their biological parents, it’s clear that parents who can’t help their children sometimes give them away to someone that they hope will. Addressing the report, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a grass-roots advocacy organization based in Arlington, Virginia, wrote that families are forced to give up custody of their children when they cannot handle their behavior and when they have run out of resources.

 

While Laura is critical of families who seek her practice’s services, she does agree that support and education is vital for success. “Sadly, love and commitment can be conditional with adoptive parents,” she says. “Many of the families were not prepared properly, or did not receive accurate information about the child to make an educated decision to adopt. Also, they may not have had the right motivations to adopt or they do not have realistic expectations of the child.”

 

Arleta James, a professional clinical counselor, is on staff at the Attachment and Bonding Center, a therapy center in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of Brothers and Sisters in Adoption (2009) and has done research about disruption.

 

“Expectations seem to be endless in adoption,” she says. “And psychological fit plays a role in disruption and dissolution. The parents just can’t seem to connect to the child in any way.”

 

James describes one family who planned to adopt a little girl from an Eastern European country. “They had all girl’s clothing, decorated the bedroom for a girl,” but after arriving at the orphanage discovered they had been matched with a boy.

 

“They never seemed to recover from their expectation of a girl,” she says. Within two years the family split. The parents divorced, and the family discovered that their son had many sexual and aggressive behaviors. James helped the family through the dissolution process. Eventually, the family placed the child in an open adoption, where his behavior is improving. “The mom now views herself as the vehicle through which the child arrived in this country,” James notes. “So as time goes on, you can see the healing.”

 

James said that having one parent who feels more committed to the adoption than the other is not uncommon, but in already challenging adoptions, this difference in dedication can be too much.

 

“I had a case in which the child was adopted ten years ago,” she recalls. “One of the first things the dad said at the assessment was that he never wanted his daughter in the first place but his wife wanted to adopt. The wife has taken this child to more therapy and evaluations than can be counted. She was so tired that she also wanted the child out of the home. The assessment at our office was the first time this dad had gone to any of his child’s services and he was very angry at our office that his presence was required. Ultimately he left the room to talk on his cell phone.”

 

It’s easy to condemn this man. But then I think about how many women I know who wanted a baby more than their partners did. My own husband let me lead the way when it came to our family planning, both for our biological son and our adoptive daughter. I’m sure that this woman had the same faith I did—that her spouse would fall in love eventually. That worked for us, but whose fault is it when that doesn’t happen? And how do we best serve the kids when it all falls apart?

 

“From one point of view, I’d say that if a parent has seriously considered disrupting the adoption of a young child, perhaps she ought to go ahead and do it,” says Mercer, the psychologist who specializes in infant attachment. “A disengaged adoptive parent is probably not giving the child what he or she needs. I don’t mean to suggest rushing out to disrupt the minute you feel things are going badly.”

 

Mercer goes on to say that families considering disruption need to be sure that they have exhausted all of their resources and sought professional help.

 

She admits that help can be hard to find. “Most parenting coaches and LMFTs [Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists] working with families have had little or no useful training in this area and although they may want very much to help they may not have the skills to do so,” she says. “The mere fact that a practitioner has a professional license does not necessarily mean that they have the right training.”

 

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway website—a project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—some of the same factors that put a family at risk for adoption termination also put children at risk for abuse, such as the presence of physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities in a child. In their report “A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice” the HHS Office on Child Abuse and Neglect says that  “parents who maltreat their children report experiencing greater isolation, more loneliness, and less social support.”

 

“Is it really realistic to think that every adoption will work out?” asks James, of the Attachment and Bonding Center. “People go to a foreign country and come home with a virtual stranger. And, on the child’s part, they are moved so abruptly from one country to another. There are going to be cases in which the parents or the adoptee simply cannot adjust.”

 

In April of this year, Torry Hansen, of Shelbyville, Tennessee, put her unaccompanied seven-year old son, Artyem Savelyev, on a plane back to his native country of Russia. She sent him with a note saying she was returning him because he was mentally unstable and she was not prepared to parent him any longer. Russian officials cited the incident as just the latest in a series of adoption tragedies for Russian children. They put the United States’ adoption program on hold.

 

This is not the first time an official has proposed ceasing American adoptions. After Nanette and Michael Craver were accused of killing their adopted seven-year-old, Nathaniel in 2009, a senator in Russia argued for a ban on foreign adoptions. Speaking to the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Patriot-News, Andrei Sitov, bureau chief for Russia’s ITAR-TASS wire service said, “Obviously, the biggest concern here is that it keeps happening. The latest figures we’ve seen is fifteen or sixteen [children killed] in the last several years.”

 

Artyem’s plight brought disruption to the forefront of the media. While officials pointed fingers, Hansen was alternately vilified and celebrated in comments on blogs and news reports. While her decision to put Artyem on the plane alone is inarguably indefensible, adoption activists debate who is ultimately responsible. Is it the Russian government for failing to provide adequate care in the orphanages? American agencies for doing a poor job of screening prospective families and supervising them once the children are home? Is it the adoptive parents who expect things to be easy? Or are the children themselves too damaged to parent? Most importantly, how can we make sure that it doesn’t happen again?

 

Jae Ran Kim is a social worker in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was born in Taegu, South Korea, and was adopted by her family in 1971. She has worked in child welfare for several years and is working toward a doctoral degree in social work with a focus on adoption at the University of Minnesota. Her blog, Harlow’s Monkey, takes a critical look at adoption practices and adoptee rights. She says that Artyem’s case highlights the weaknesses in the adoption process, particularly the subjectivity of home studies and the dearth of services.

 

“I am in no way at all condoning what [Torry Hansen] did,” says Kim. “There were a million better options, but I think that she felt that she was desperate.”
The agency Hansen worked with, World Association of Children and Parents (WACAP), based in Renton, Washington, has posted a document on their website answering some of the questions they’re fielding from the media and worried waiting families.

 

According to the document, only one percent of adoptions managed by the agency end in dissolution. According to the document—titled “Child Returned to Russia FAQ’s—only one percent of adoptions managed by the agency end in dissolution. The document further states that the agency does provide “older child training opportunities” for families waiting to adopt, maintains an online chat board monitored by a social worker, facilitates post-placement visits (as required by Russia), and is willing to come out for additional visits if requested. In the case of out-of-state adoptions like Artyem’s, these visits, training opportunities and follow-up may be subcontracted through a partnering agency.

 

“[WACAP] weren’t at her home doing the interview; the agency was entrusting another local agency to do the legwork for them,” says Kim. “My guess was that there was miscommunication, missteps and mistakes. Standards among different agencies can be very different.”

 

I asked Karen Valentino if she thought of her at-risk families when she read stories about abusive parents who abandon or kill their adoptive children.

 

“Oh yes, of course,” she says. “We had one case where the adoptive parents actually locked two of their children in a shed outside. No food, no water, no bathroom. They had no idea what to do with the kids. This family had something like nineteen adopted children and they needed help. But they never called DCFS to come in because they were so afraid the other children would be removed. Those siblings had such severe trauma [before the adoption], the worst trauma I’ve ever heard about, and they had no idea how to function in a family, and the family had no idea to handle them.”

 

In other words, sometimes disruption is better than the alternative. The more I talked to the families and the counselors that work with families at risk, the more I began to see disruption as a parenting decision rather than an abdication. Sometimes, perhaps, being a good parent means knowing that you can no longer be this particular child’s parent.

Tiruba and her family are a success story. The pseudonymous blogger at Tubaville, Tiruba, is mom to three children who have all been through disrupted adoptions. Her oldest daughter’s blog name is TTops. TTops, who just turned fifteen, was born drug- and alcohol-affected, and was placed in the foster-care system at birth. She is developmentally delayed and has been diagnosed with RAD.

 

Tiruba and her husband fell in love with TTops at her therapeutic foster home when the girl was ten years old. They were at the home to visit another child, but TTops charmed them. Like many children with attachment disorders, she was indiscriminately affectionate, climbing into Tiruba’s lap and offering hugs right away. When the adoption of the other child fell through, Tiruba and her husband started the paperwork to adopt TTops.

 

“We were head over heels in love with her from the second we saw her. It was like love at first sight,” Tiruba tells me. “She’s got this spark in her personality that just sucks you in. You couldn’t see that shining light in her paperwork. If anyone had read it before meeting her, she wouldn’t have had a chance really.”

 

For six months, Tiruba and her husband visited TTops in the foster home. Before they brought her home, they knew about her rages and her inability to understand the consequences of her behavior. But living with her was different. Six months into their lives together, Tiruba found TTops trying to strangle one of their dogs.

 

“We went into this with no parenting experience and so we had no expectations. We were completely enamored with our daughter and we just rolled with it,” Tiruba says. “We were really nice to her at first and she would scream for four to five hours at a time. At mealtime she would swallow her food halfway and then vomit it up because family food time was too stressful.

 

“I thought I’d be all hung up on education and sending my kids to college and doing all that fun stuff that you see on TV,” she says. “I’ve had to readjust my own expectations on a daily basis, and I’ve had to deal with a lot of guilt and feelings that I’m a failure as a parent. I have to remind myself that I didn’t cause this. I didn’t make her what she is. It’s maternal alcohol consumption and brain damage and cognitive disability.”

 

The family celebrates TTops’s progress even though change sometimes seems glacially slow.

 

“She has come so far in the last four years that we’ve had her, and for me that’s so satisfying,” says Tiruba. “She’ll never be completely there and it’s been a journey for us to learn how to accept that she’ll never be completely attached to us. But she actually says she misses us when she’s away, and there’s a glimmer. That’s what’s satisfying.”

 

James, from the Attachment and Bonding Center, sees this ability to find joy in small steps in other successful families, too. “These parents are able to see the ‘good child’ behind all the behavior. They strive to bring that ‘good child,’ as they say, out more often. They enjoy small positive moments and appreciate small gains. They can reflect backwards and see the progress they have made, rather than always looking at how far they have to go.”

 

Tiruba says she does not condemn the people who tried to parent her daughter and two sons first, who brought them home and then gave them back to the system. For one thing, she says, if she didn’t have the health benefits they do, then they wouldn’t be able to afford to parent them in part because of the medications the children need.

 

TTop’s first parents had no support and quickly became overwhelmed by her behavior. Three months into the placement, they were already done. They disrupted the placement the day the social worker arrived at their house to start the adoption paperwork.

 

Tiruba, on the other hand, quickly worked to put together a team of people to help her parent TTops and TTops’s younger adoptive brothers. The team consists of a disability worker, who helps them connect with community resources; a school support team, including a full-time aide and school psychologist who helps with TTops’s individualized education plan; and in-home family services workers, who give them respite care and everyday parenting support. In addition, one or two weekends a month, TTops goes to a therapeutic foster home so that her parents can focus on the boys.

 

“If you haven’t lived with an attachment disordered kid, how can you judge anyone who can’t do it?” she says. “I don’t judge the people who couldn’t take care of my kids before me. I honestly believe that they didn’t get what they needed for the kids. It’s not always there and it would be impossible to do this without it.”

 

I asked Tiruba if she grieves for the people her children might have been if their histories had been different.

 

“Of course I do,” she says. “TTops grieves, too, for the person she could have been. She wonders what her brain would have been like if her mom hadn’t been drinking when she was pregnant. It’s a lifelong struggle for her.”

 

TTops will never be able to live independently. Tiruba’s goal had been to keep TTops at home until she turned sixteen, when she would need to find a group home. As she’s gotten older and stronger, however, it has become harder to keep her younger brothers protected from her violent outbursts so she will likely move earlier than her mother would like. Tiruba and her husband found a group home that’s nearby, close to their weekly routines so they can visit often and pick up TTops to join them when they’re running errands.

It’s easy to pathologize children who have experienced trauma and loss, to focus on the stories of Russian children gone bad and foster-care kids who become violent. Social worker Kim, however, says it’s vital to understand that a deprived environment shapes children. Like Tiruba, the parents who are able to successfully parent challenging kids can see the person behind the behaviors and are able to adjust their expectations.

 

“We do have to recognize that for most kids who have had multiple placements there is tremendous loss and there are tremendous survival skills that these children have developed. They wouldn’t have survived without these,” she says. “Unfortunately when we try to place them in an adoptive home and their parents have this expectation that they can relax and be normal, well, we need to reconceptualize this idea of what a normal child is.”

 

Citing her work with parents adopting from foster care, Kim says that parents need to be given a “safety plan” before their children come home detailing who they will call if they need help and what services exist in their area. She also recommends that parents connect with a knowledgeable therapist ahead of time so they aren’t searching for an appropriate counselor post-placement when they may already be overwhelmed.

 

Astrid Dabbeni is the executive director of Adoption Mosaic, an adoption education organization in Portland, Oregon. She is also an adult adoptee who came to her family from Columbia along with her biological sister when she was four years old. She agrees with Kim about the need for parents to let go of their fantasies about what their families “ought” to look like.

 

We need to be looking at adoption through the lens of the child. It is a normal human reaction to have some serious attachment issues when you are taken from your birth mother and placed in an orphanage,” says Dabbeni. “We need to honor and recognize that adoption is different and not a replacement for birth children we never had. Not until then can we really embrace how adoption really is different and how we need to go about parenting differently. Social workers have to speak the truth about that.”

Through her networks, Henry’s mother, Carol, found a family who has experience working with boys with histories and behaviors that mirror his. He will be the youngest in the family by several years so there are not other children to prey on. Carol said they will have an open adoption. They will continue contact with Henry, in part because his biological siblings remain in Carol’s home and also because they love him and remain committed to him.

 

“It sucks, it really does,” Carol says. “There is no other way around it. I don’t see one; I really do not. Nobody worked harder for their kid than we did. But in some ways bringing him home would be like asking an alcoholic to live in a bar. It would not be healthy to ask him to live here.”

 

Her husband did not want to disrupt the adoption. The experience has been hard on their marriage but they—and their other kids—are healing. Carol told me that recently she pulled out video from the couple’s visit to Henry’s orphanage and this time she saw the scene differently.

 

“We walked into this room, and there were ten cribs with two babies in each crib. It was mealtime, and about half of the babies were screaming and the other half were totally silent,” she recalls. “The babies that were screaming, they were also rocking, self-soothing and you could see that they were kind of tuning out, you know, dissociating. My husband, he was running the video camera and you see him caressing one baby’s head, a baby that was not crying, and the baby didn’t react. I remember thinking, oh the nannies must be in the back room getting the food ready. What was I thinking? There was no back room. Those babies were hungry. They were hungry every single day.”

 

Carol is silent a moment.

 

“How did I not see it? I didn’t see that it was a disaster waiting to happen, a whole brewing ground for attachment disorder waiting to happen.”

As I worked on this piece I became increasingly frustrated and saddened by the lack of information and support both for pre-adoptive and post-adoptive families. Adoption agency websites usually have glowing stories of new families and pictures of adorable children cradled in their new parents’ arms, but very few have concrete information about preparing for children who have suffered the tremendous loss and trauma that most of these kids suffer. I feel like we’re setting families up. Adoption can be a wonderful thing but unless prospective parents go into it with their eyes open and post-adoption services at the ready, how can we blame those families that fall apart?

Finally I want to thank the mothers who trusted me enough to speak with me. Their stories are difficult, and they are used to condemnation. Trust me, no one is harder on Carol than she is on herself. While I was editing this piece, I discovered that Carol is known for sending gift baskets to other RAD families who she knows are having a hard time. She’s a pretty amazing person.

Source : Brain Child Magazine

Discuss the essay on the blog

06/06/2010

Le trouble de l’attachement chez la clientèle adolescente du Centre jeunesse de Montréal : comparaison entre jeunes ayant différents types d’attachement

Universite Montreal Papyrus.jpgCe rapport a comme objectif général d’observer et d’identifier l’évolution comportementale, affective, physique, sociale et sexuelle de jeunes ayant un trouble de l’attachement à l’adolescence, afin de se pencher sur les pistes d’intervention à favoriser auprès de cette clientèle. Le suivi et l’histoire de cas de deux jeunes ayant des styles d’attachement insécures différents et des problèmes de comportement sont analysés. Différents instruments méthodologiques ont été retenus afin de recueillir des données : entrevues, observations et questionnaires. Les résultats, obtenus à l’occasion d’un stage en intervention à titre d’agent de relations humaines au bureau Saint-Denis (CJM–IU), démontrent que ces deux jeunes ont des besoins différents, selon l’évolution de leurs problématiques, et que des interventions personnalisées sont essentielles pour aider ces jeunes. De plus, le trouble de l’attachement à l’adolescence semble se cristalliser et accentue le développement de différentes problématiques (problèmes de comportement, lacunes au niveau des habiletés sociales, déficits sur les sphères comportementales, affectives, physiques, sociales et sexuelles). Finalement, la principale piste d’intervention à favoriser auprès d’adolescents ayant un trouble de l’attachement est d’offrir un soutien visant une stabilisation des sphères de sa vie (personnel, familial, école, amis, etc.).




Conclusions



Le trouble de l’attachement à l’adolescence est un sujet peu exploré dans la littérature. Plusieurs chercheurs ont travaillé sur les causes du problème (à partir de la naissance) et des conséquences (à court et à long termes) durant l’enfance. Toutefois, peu de recherches se sont intéressées à comprendre les conséquences du trouble de l’attachement chez les adolescents. Et donc, peu d’études se sont concentrées sur l’élaboration d’interventions efficaces pour ces jeunes.



En fait, spécifiquement sur cette problématique, l’intervention privilégiée dans la littérature est la thérapie individuelle. Toutefois, dans un contexte de suivi en Centre jeunesse, les intervenants doivent développer des stratégies efficaces pour adapter leurs interventions aux besoins de ces jeunes. En effet, il est important de bien cerner les caractéristiques présentes chez ces jeunes afin de personnaliser les interventions.



De plus, le trouble de l’attachement peut être utilisé à outrance si les concepts sont mal saisis. En fait, le trouble de l’attachement s’apparente à plusieurs problématiques (tel que vue dans la littérature). La concomitance de problématique est fréquente chez les jeunes recevant des services par les Centres jeunesse. Ainsi, d’autres problématiques peuvent être confondues avec un trouble de l’attachement (difficultés relationnelles, TDAH, problèmes de comportement, etc.).



Par ailleurs, ce rapport de stage a démontré que le trouble de l’attachement semble se développer à l’enfance et que les problématiques se cristallisent à l’adolescence. Tel que le mentionne le DSM-IV révisé et la majorité de la littérature sur ce sujet, l’attachement se développe à la petite enfance et si ce lien ne se crée pas de manière adéquate, ces enfants risquent de développer un trouble de l’attachement.

 

De plus, travailler avec cette clientèle peut s’avérer ardu. En effet, le développement d’un lien de confiance entre l’intervenant et l’adolescent peut être long à créer. Comme le mentionnait Steinhauer (1999), ces jeunes ne peuvent être forcés à créer un lien d’attachement, il faut aller à leur rythme. En fait, il faut être en mesure de bien planifier ses interventions, prendre plus de temps pour expliquer au jeune la possibilité de changement dans sa vie et créer un lien positif avec ce jeune pour éviter qu’il ne se désorganise. Aussi, un environnement stable est favorable puisque ces jeunes vivent de grandes angoisses à la séparation d’avec des figures d’attachement et des lieux significatifs (Lemay, 1993). Ainsi, dans le contexte d’un suivi social avec un agent de relations humaines, il s’avère fréquent que ces jeunes connaissent de nombreux changements d’intervenants au cour de leur suivi. Bien que ce facteur soit difficile à contrôler, il est essentiel que ces jeunes aient des repères stables.


Pour ce faire, plusieurs moyens peuvent être utilisés : favoriser la stabilité à la maison (pas de changement fréquent de logement, de conjoint (si les parents sont séparés), ne pas impliquer plusieurs adultes dans la vie de l’enfant), la stabilité à l’école (avoir une personne contact, rester le plus longtemps possible dans la même école), établir une routine stable (chaque jour se ressemble, discipline et règles claires, etc.) et développer une relation positive avec une personne significative (le plus possible les parents) en favorisant des contacts positifs (activités, moments privilégiés, renforcement positif, etc.).



Ce rapport de stage a également démontré qu’il existe des caractéristiques semblables et distinctes entre les problématiques du trouble de l’attachement et des problèmes de comportement sérieux. Ainsi, il est important de prendre le temps de bien comprendre ces différences et ces ressemblances pour permettre l’élaboration d’un plan d’intervention pertinent aux besoins de ces jeunes (Lemay, 1993). En fait, un adolescent ayant un trouble de l’attachement a avant tout besoin de stabilité. Les techniques cognitivo-comportementales et celles proposées par Lemelin et Laviolette (2008) et Doucet (2008) semblent avoir permis de stabiliser ce jeune durant sa désorganisation.



Le plan d’intervention doit ainsi répondre à ce besoin. En fait, l’intervention n’est pas la même pour un jeune ayant un attachement évitant (comme Paul). Dans ce cas, l’intervention doit se centrer sur sa faible estime de soi et sur le respect des règles à la maison. Ainsi, bien que ces jeunes avaient des caractéristiques semblables, leurs besoins n’étaient pas les mêmes. Par ailleurs, il reste à démontrer si ces techniques apportent des améliorations sur le comportement et les attitudes à plus long terme.



Par ailleurs, ce rapport de stage présente plusieurs limites. Tout d’abord, le nombre restreint de jeunes ayant un trouble de l’attachement ne permet pas de généraliser les résultats trouvés. Toutefois, il s’avère difficile de trouver des jeunes ayant cette problématique pour deux raisons : les intervenants ne veulent pas confier leur dossier à de nouveaux intervenants car la création d’un lien thérapeutique a pris plusieurs mois et les jeunes ayant un trouble de l’attachement semblent plus se retrouver avec un suivi en centre de réadaptation. De plus, les interventions avec ces jeunes sont sommaires. En fait, dans les deux cas, l’intervenant fut continuellement appelé à gérer des crises et donc, n’a pas eu la chance d’intervenir directement sur la problématique centrale de ces jeunes.



En ce qui concerne les outils utilisés pour cibler les différentes caractéristiques du trouble de l’attachement, la grille pour identifier les comportements, raisonnements et attentes des adolescents ayant un trouble réactionnel de l’attachement s’avère très inclusive. En fait, elle est si inclusive que même des adolescents n’ayant pas un trouble de l’attachement peuvent s’y retrouver. Néanmoins, elle permet d’observer des comportements à identifier chez les jeunes en difficulté et de mieux cibler les pistes d’interventions à privilégier.



Cette recherche a permis de mieux cerner la problématique du trouble de l’attachement à l’adolescence et de comprendre les caractéristiques de ces jeunes afin de proposer des interventions plus adaptées à cette clientèle. D’autres recherches, avec un plus grand échantillon, devraient s’intéresser au développement d’un plan d’intervention basé sur les besoins de cette clientèle afin de permettre le développement d’habiletés sociales favorisant l’instauration de relations interpersonnelles saines.



Source : Rapport de stage d'Amélie Filiatrault-Charron présenté à la Faculté des études supérieures en vue de l’obtention du grade de Maître en criminologie option stage en intervention.
Université de Montréal. Date publication juin 2010.

 

 

En savoir plus sur les troubles de l'attachement.

 

 

 

20/04/2010

Je n'ai pas aimé mon enfant adopté. La douloureuse vérité de l'adoption.

Logo Slate.fr.jpgI Did Not Love My Adopted Child. The painful truth about adoption.
By KJ Dell'Antonia.

 


«Je ne désire plus être la mère de cet enfant.» Ces mots ne sont pas moi. Ils ont été écrits par Torry Hansen, infirmière du Tennessee de 33 ans, dans une lettre qu'elle a envoyée par avion en Russie avec le fils de 7 ans qu'elle avait adopté en septembre dernier. Pourtant, cet été, quand nous avons ramené de Chine notre petite de 3 ans fraîchement adoptée, j'aurais très bien pu les écrire. Cette phrase incarne parfaitement l'état dans lequel j'étais au cours des semaines qui ont suivi notre retour de ce voyage d'adoption (bien que ma version aurait contenu davantage de gros mots). Je n'aimais pas cette enfant. Et cette enfant ne m'aimait pas -même si, lorsqu'elle ne me hurlait pas dessus, elle s'agrippait à moi comme si j'avais été le dernier arbre debout au milieu d'une tornade. Je ne voulais pas être la mère de cette enfant, et je doutais de jamais y parvenir.

 

Évidemment, j'ai fini par y arriver, car sinon la tempête qui fait rage autour de Torry Hansen se déchaînerait aujourd'hui contre moi. Mais sans mettre en doute, en aucune manière, la souffrance de son fils adoptif, je comprends, du fond de mes tripes, ce par quoi Torry Hansen est passée quand elle a fait l'impasse sur toutes les autres solutions d'urgence et mis cet enfant dans un avion. De même que les femmes qui ont connu la dépression post-partum comprennent celles qui se tuent avec leurs bébés, je le comprends. Rendons Grâce à [remplir avec la divinité de votre choix], j'y ai échappé. Mais cela aurait pu être moi.

 

Tout comme moi, Hansen a dû se dire qu'elle était prête. Elle a été passée au crible, questionnée et évaluée. Elle a assisté aux cours obligatoires «d'éducation à l'adoption» sur les enfants en orphelinat, décrivant toutes sortes de sévices, sexuels et autres, les colères violentes et les retards procéduraux imprévisibles. Elle a rempli des formulaires, elle a été évaluée par des assistantes sociales, et, à cause des conditions strictes des voyages en Russie, elle s'y est rendue à deux reprises -la première pour rencontrer l'enfant qu'elle allait adopter, et puis de nouveau, après une période d'attente, pour confirmer sa volonté de devenir sa mère et d'officialiser leur relation. Mais les parents désireux d'adopter sont soit d'incorrigibles optimistes (moi par exemple), soit des gens à la foi profonde et inconditionnelle, et la plupart d'entre eux ne se rendent compte que les choses peuvent mal tourner -mais vraiment très mal- que lorsqu'il est trop tard.


D'autres enfants ont déjà été renvoyés

L'histoire de Torry Hansen n'est pas la première à se terminer ainsi. Elle n'est même pas la première mère à renvoyer son enfant en Russie, un couple de Géorgiens a ramené une fillette de 9 ans en 2000, en disant qu'ils n'arrivaient pas à l'aider. La Russie est connue pour avoir des enfants adoptifs difficiles -son système d'assistance publique est plus rigide que celui d'autres pays et offre souvent moins d'opportunités aux jeunes enfants de nouer des liens avec un adulte référent, ce qui est considéré comme crucial pour pouvoir, plus tard, transférer sa confiance et son affection à un parent adoptif. Mais il existe des histoires d'adoption tragiques dans toutes les régions du monde. Une femme de Floride a abandonné le petit Guatémaltèque de moins de 6 ans à l'aéroport juste après l'avoir ramené au États-Unis (il est resté dans une famille d'accueil jusqu'à ce qu'elle réclame, et obtienne à nouveau, sa garde seize mois plus tard). Tous les cas difficiles ne s'achèvent pas sur une tragédie ou un rejet, mais de nombreux parents adoptants (y compris certains de mes plus proches amis) s'accrochent à un quelconque «plan B» pour survivre aux premiers mois à la maison avec celui ou celle qui n'est finalement qu'un étranger, un étranger perturbé et en colère que vous avez promis d'aimer sans conditions jusqu'à la fin de vos jours.

 

Hansen a adopté un petit garçon de 7 ans, qui vient d'un pays marqué par une longue histoire de difficiles adoptions d'enfants en orphelinat. Moi, j'ai adopté une enfant de 3 ans élevée dans les meilleures conditions imaginables pour une petite fille abandonnée bébé en Chine -une famille d'accueil, avec un couple aimant qu'elle appelait Maman et Baba, et qui s'était occupé d'elle depuis qu'elle avait 2 mois. Grâce à leur aide, elle nous a été confiée avec le maximum de soins et de tendresse permis par le gouvernement chinois. Et pourtant, nous avons eu du mal. Ma fille a hurlé pendant des heures en réclamant sa Maman, et nous savions toutes les deux que je n'étais pas la mère qu'elle voulait. Elle donnait des coups de pied, criait et me désobéissait; elle frappait comme une brute ses nouveaux frères et sœurs quand ils essayaient, toujours au pire moment possible, de lui faire un câlin. Elle nous disait qu'elle ne nous aimait pas; elle suppliait qu'on la renvoie à Baba Mike. Le puits sans fond de ses besoins signifiait qu'il me fallait souvent négliger l'un de mes trois autres enfants. J'étais certaine que j'avais mis toutes nos vies en l'air, pour toujours.


Recoller les morceaux

Ça s'est arrangé, et ça continue de s'améliorer; nous œuvrons quotidiennement pour notre happy ending. Bien intentionné est une expression facile à critiquer, mais il est évident qu'Hansen (tout comme moi) avait de bonnes intentions. À quelques folles exceptions près, peu de parents adoptants s'infligent ces procédures dans l'idée de faire le mal. Le problème est que le mal est déjà fait. Même le meilleur parent adoptant ne peut jamais faire mieux que de recoller les morceaux.


Les enfants qui ne sont plus des bébés et qui attendent d'être adoptés aux États-Unis ou ailleurs ont déjà été abandonnés ou victimes de sévices. Les parents désireux d'adopter sont prévenus, mais il existe aussi une mythologie parallèle qui a émergé autour de l'adoption, que l'on peut rapprocher de celle de l'accouchement avant qu'Anne Lamott et ses héritiers spirituels ne fassent exploser la bulle. Les histoires que les agences d'adoption intègrent à leur matériel, les livres, les blogs -même les signatures des parents sur les forums d'adoption («heureuse maman de DD Mei Mei, à la maison depuis 2007») évoquent tous une expérience censément merveilleuse. Votre enfant est «à la maison», sa vie d'orphelin est révolue, vos voyages respectifs sont terminés, et vous êtes unis pour la vie dans une grande et belle famille. Même la terminologie politiquement correcte de l'adoption insiste sur le fait qu'une fois que c'est officiel, c'est bon-votre enfant «a été» adopté (et non pas «est adopté»), maintenant vous êtes sa mère, amen. Nous refusons que l'adoption soit un processus; nous voulons qu'elle soit une destination, ce qui ne fait qu'aggraver notre colère quand les choses ne tournent pas comme prévu. Torry Hansen a trahi son fils, et elle a trahi notre système de croyances. Pour nous, il était son enfant, mais pas pour elle, ce qui fait d'elle la méchante de l'histoire.

 

En réalité, ce n'est la faute de personne. Les humains semblent éprouver un besoin écrasant d'entendre des histoires bien proprettes, besoin qui, dans le cas de l'adoption, vient presque toujours se heurter à une réalité bien plus laide. La loi le comprend et c'est pourquoi, si moralement inacceptable que puisse nous paraître le geste de cette femme, avoir mis son fils adoptif dans un avion pour le renvoyer en Russie n'est pas illégal. Irréfléchi, d'accord, et moche, mais pas contraire à la loi. La loi reconnaît encore qu'adopter des enfants d'un certain âge n'est pas la même chose que d'être des parents biologiques. Il nous revient maintenant, à nous les parents adoptants, éreintés mais expérimentés et aux professionnels de l'adoption qui nous entourent (souvent des adoptants eux-mêmes) de cesser de nous reposer sur la pédagogie de l'adoption et sur les assistantes sociales pour parler des réalités plus sombres des troubles de l'attachement, des retards administratifs, de la dépression post-adoption et de commencer à en parler nous-mêmes.


Préparer différemment l'adoption

Tant que nous persisterons à faire croire que l'histoire de l'adoption est celle d'une famille qui rentre à la maison du bonheur et devant qui se déroule un avenir rose bonbon, les affaires comme celle de Hansen donneront du grain à moudre aux alarmistes qui ne démordent pas de leur théorie selon laquelle tous les parents adoptants sont naïfs et mal préparés. La menace de la Russie de suspendre temporairement toutes les adoptions américaines paraîtra mesurée plutôt que vengeresse. Mais c'est une réaction primaire qui aura pour conséquence de faire attendre des centaines d'enfants, dont beaucoup ont déjà rencontré les familles qui projettent de les adopter, pendant des mois ou même des années dans des institutions pendant que des «précautions supplémentaires» (qui n'affecteront sans doute que très peu d'adoptions) seront mises en place. Cette famille attend à Saint-Pétersbourg de finaliser son adoption. Celle-ci vient juste d'y parvenir. Le geste de Hansen -ou plutôt, la réaction disproportionnée de la Russie- risque de mettre en péril leurs adoptions, en admettant qu'elles y parviennent: plus un enfant est resté longtemps dans un orphelinat ou plus il est âgé au moment de l'adoption, plus l'adaptation sera difficile à la fois pour l'enfant et pour la famille.

 

Pour notre famille, l'adoption n'a pas été parfaite, et de loin, même si pour le moment elle semble mieux se dérouler que celle de Torry Hansen. Évidemment, nous ne savons pas encore comment elle se terminera. Même si ma fille adoptive finit par aller bien, il faut prendre en compte mes autres enfants -mon fils biologique de 3 ans passera peut-être des années sur le divan pour avoir été supplanté par ma fille; mon fils ou ma fille aînés rechercheront peut-être l'affection perdue cette année dans une secte ou en se jetant dans une série de relations sans lendemain destructrices. On ne peut pas savoir tant que ça n'est pas arrivé (et nous ne saurons jamais ce qui aurait pu être différent).

 

Étant donné le battage autour de son retour, le fils adoptif de Hansen sera sûrement recueilli par une famille russe, et quoi qu'on en dira, sa vie alors n'aura rien d'un long fleuve tranquille. Il est fort probable que rien ne se déroulera comme prévu. D'ailleurs, par définition, c'est déjà ce qu'il s'est passé. Dans un monde idéal, chaque enfant recevrait les soins dont il a besoin de sa mère biologique. Mais nous ne vivons pas dans ce monde-là. Une histoire d'adoption «réussie» est celle où vous pouvez vous dire que la situation est meilleure que si l'autre solution avait été adoptée. Il faut s'en contenter.

 

Article original  "I Did Not Love My Adopted ChildThe painful truth about adoption" by KJ Dell'Antonia

KJ Dell'Antonia un auteur vivant dans le New Hampshire. Elle rédige la chronique EcoLiving du magazine Kiwi et est co-auteur de Reading With Babies, Toddlers and Twos: Choosing, Reading and Loving Books Together.


Source : Slate | 19 avril 2010.

 

I'm tired of adoptive parent confessionals
...
Where is the acknowledgment of the adoptee's perspective? Why do these articles merely continue to pathologize adopted children without really recognizing the trauma of the adoption experience itself? Lots of attention seems to be spent on the pre-adoption trauma - the triple bad boys of pre-adoption experiences (abandonment, institutional life, pre-abandonment abuse or neglect). What about the trauma of ripping a child away from the only people this child knew and placing them in a foreign country? What would Dell'Antonia have wanted for her biological son if he had to have been taken away from her and sent to China to an adoptive family who wanted to "grow their family?" Would she have recognized the trauma her son would have felt in that scenario? My guess is yes. My guess is she never recognized that the fact her adopted child was so attached to her foster parents was in many ways a good thing - it meant her daughter had the capacity to love someone. My guess is that it didn't really matter. It was more about her daughter's lack of attachment to her. Which is ridiculous, right? I mean, you don't expect to go on a first date with someone and immediately fall in love. Why would you expect that from a child?
Harlow's Monkey | 16 avril 2010

 

Consumer warning labels
Warning: Hand made. Each one is different, therefore no two will be alike. Actual product may differ from the one shown in advertisement. NO RETURNS.
Harlow's Monkey | 13 avril 2010

 

- - -

 

En France, la Direction générale à l'action sociale (DGAS) et le Ministère de la Santé avaient décidés en septembre 2004 de "quantifier" les échecs de l'adoption. Une étude avait été commandée à la psychosociologue Catherine Sellenet.
Pour x et y raisons, cette recherche a été suspendue. Néanmoins, en 2009, Catherine Sellenet publiait son ouvrage "Souffrances dans l'adoption"
Lire aussi ce billet sur le blog de Kakrine.

 

 

 

 

14/04/2010

Troubles de l'attachement et états limites

[Via Blogosapiens]

blogosapiens_isabelle_de_penfentenyo.jpg

 

Dans le cadre de la spécialisation de ma pratique de thérapeute vers l'accompagnement de l'adoption, je suis plongée dans un livre très intéressant sur les troubles de l'attachement des enfants abandonnés. Par ailleurs, je traduisais récemment un document sur les personnalités borderline.

 

La lecture de ces textes montrent clairement le lien entre troubles de l'attachement et structure borderline (états limites). Cela paraît évident a priori, pourtant c'est une piste extrêmement intéressante en termes d'accompagnement car ce qui est préconisé pour l'enfant peut relativement facilement s'adapter à l'adulte.

 

La personne ayant une structure borderline a souffert d'un attachement insécurisant: manque d'attention, de contact, violence y compris sexuelle. L'enfant, au moment où il commence son processus d'individuation au travers de ses premiers pas vers l'autonomie se retrouve face à un ou des parents qui ne répondent que par leur propre problème de symbiose/autonomie non résolu (à moins que l'origine du trouble ne soit dans une difficulté physiologique de l'enfant à entrer en contact, ce qui pourrait aussi poser question en termes transgénérationnels). Comme quoi, si accompagner un enfant est très important, l'accompagnement des parents l'est au moins autant.

 

La difficulté avec une personne ayant une structure borderline est de pouvoir entrer dans une relation authentique avec elle. L'enfant souffrant de troubles de l'attachement ne connaît pas cette relation authentique et a besoin, plus que tout, que le contact avec l'adulte, le parent, la mère au sens archétypal, reprenne sa place. Le fil du contact doit être repris en douceur, avec beaucoup de patience, en laissant la plupart du temps l'initiative à l'enfant. Il en est de même avec l'adulte qui fera lui aussi des allers et retours dans la relation thérapeutique.

 

Le point où je veux en venir est que plutôt que de regarder une personne uniquement au travers du filtre d'une dite structure borderline, qui revient à poser une étiquette, il semble plus thérapeutique de s'intéresser à ses troubles de l'attachement.


Source : Blogosapiens | 12.04.2010

10/04/2010

Adoption internationale en Russie. Retour à l'expéditeur

Russian Boy Artiom Savaliev.jpgLa Russie souhaite geler l'adoption d'enfants russes par des citoyens américains après qu'une famille du Tennessee eut renvoyé à Moscou par avion l'enfant qu'elle avait adopté.
Le petit Russe de 7 ans est arrivé à Moscou tout seul, avec une lettre qui aurait été écrite par sa mère adoptive.




Le jeune garçon de 7 ans, Artiom Saveliev, appelé Justin Artyom Hansen aux États-Unis, est arrivé dans la capitale russe, tout seul, avec une lettre qui aurait été écrite par sa mère adoptive, ont rapporté les médias russes. La missive est signée Torry Hansen.



L'enfant est mentalement instable. Il est violent et souffre de problèmes psychotiques sévères. L'orphelinat russe m'a menti et trompée. [...] Après avoir donné le meilleur de moi-même à cet enfant, je suis désolée de dire que pour la sécurité de ma famille, de mes amis et la mienne, je ne veux plus m'en occuper.

— Torry Hansen, mère adoptive américaine



Les autorités russes ont indiqué qu'un homme avait conduit le garçonnet au ministère de l'Éducation. Peu après son arrivée, l'enfant a été emmené à l'hôpital pour être examiné. Selon la Commission russe des droits des enfants, il a soutenu que sa mère adoptive était « méchante » et qu'elle « ne l'aimait pas ». Il avait été adopté à l'orphelinat de Partizansk, dans l'est de la Russie en septembre, selon diverses agences.



L'affaire, largement traitée dans les médias russes, a scandalisé la population et les autorités. « La façon dont il a été traité est immorale », a déclaré le ministre russe des Affaires étrangères, Serguëi Lavrov.



Les adoptions sur la glace


Le ministre Lavrov a précisé que son ministère prônait la suspension des adoptions par des Américains jusqu'à ce que les deux pays concluent un accord, qui établirait « les conditions sous lesquelles l'adoption peut avoir lieu » et « les engagements » des familles adoptives.



Washington a déjà refusé de négocier une entente en ce sens auparavant, mais cet événement est « la goutte qui fait déborder le vase », a ajouté le ministre Lavrov.



Le porte-parole du département américain d'État, Philip Crowley, a admis que cette affaire était « troublante ». « Nous aimerions voir ces adoptions se poursuivre, mais nous comprenons les inquiétudes de la Russie, et nous continuerons à travailler avec la Russie pour résoudre ces problèmes », a déclaré M. Crowley.



Les autorités américaines ont assuré qu'elles collaboreraient avec leurs homologues russes et avec les agences d'adoption internationale pour mieux protéger les enfants adoptés.



Moscou a dit vérifier si des lois avaient été brisées. Un porte-parole du ministère russe de l'Éducation a en outre indiqué à l'agence RIA Novosti que le gouvernement avait suspendu la licence de l'agence américaine World Association for Children and Parents, qui avait aidé à l'adoption du garçon.



Le shérif du comté de Bedford, au Tennessee, a de son côté indiqué Torry Hansen fait par ailleurs l'objet d'une enquête.



Selon Associated Press, c'est la grand-mère adoptive, Nancy Hansen, qui a conduit le garçon à l'aéroport de Washington. Elle a nié qu'il ait été abandonné, disant qu'un agent de bord s'en était occupé jusqu'à son arrivée en Russie. La famille a en outre versé 200 $ à un homme en Russie pour qu'il vienne l'accueillir à l'aéroport.



Elle a affirmé que son petit-fils avait des problèmes de comportement, qu'il donnait des coups de pied et de poing et qu'il proférait des menaces.



La Russie a resserré son processus d'adoption après la mort d'enfants russes, tués par leurs parents adoptifs américains.

* En 2006, une femme de Virginie a été condamnée à une peine d'emprisonnement pour avoir battu à mort sa fillette de 2 ans, adoptée en Sibérie quelques mois plus tôt.
* Deux ans plus tard, une femme de l'Utah était condamnée à purger une peine d'emprisonnement de 15 ans pour avoir tué un enfant russe qu'elle gardait.
* Plus tôt cette année, un couple de Pennsylvanie a été accusé d'avoir tué le garçon russe de 7 ans qu'il avait adopté.



Quelques chiffres

- En 2009, 1586 enfants russes ont été adoptés par des Américains. (Source : National Council for Adoption)

- En tout, les Américains ont adopté plus de 60 000 enfants originaires de Russie. (National Council for Adoption)

- La Russie occupe le 3e rang des pays où des citoyens américains adoptent des enfants. (Département d'État américain)

- 740 000 enfants sont sans autorité parentale en Russie, c'est-à-dire orphelins ou confiés à des organismes par des parents qui ne veulent ou ne peuvent pas les élever (UNICEF)

- Le problème de l'alcoolisme foetal de plusieurs enfants russes, notamment ceux confiés en adoption, est un phénomène connu. En 2003, le pédiatre Jean-François Chicoine, l'infirmière Patricia germain et la travailleuse sociale Johanne Lemieux, spécialisée en adoption internationale, écrivaient dans le livre L'enfant adopté dans le monde en quinze chapitres et demi: « À titre de comparaison, on diagnostiquera environ 20 syndromes d'alcoolisation foetale aux États-Unis pour 10 000 naissances, et on en repérera en Russie, 1000 à 2000 pour 10 000 naissances. Pas surprenant avec de tels chiffres que s'y compliquent donc et l'avenir de leur progéniture et celui de plusieurs enfants qui y sont adoptés. »



Source: Radio Canada | 10 avril 2009



US Mother Returns Adopted Russian Boy like Pair of Shoes


A seven-year-old boy arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on April 8 in the morning. The skinny boy had no luggage with him – he was only holding a letter in his hands.


“I am Artyom,” he only said.

He did not have any adults with him. He was wandering over the airport alone until customs officers paid attention to the exhausted child. The boy could not explain anything properly. He only handed them a letter. Employees of the airport were shocked when the letter was translated from English into Russian. Torry Hansen, a US citizen, wrote in the letter that she adopted the child on September 29, 2009. The woman wrote that she did not like the boy, he did not fit her, and she decided to return him like a pair of shoes. The woman sent the child back to Russia.

Custody officers picked the boy from the airport and took him to a police station in the Moscow center.

“The boy had a Russian passport with the US visa and a birth certificate. He also had a boarding ticket. He arrived on board a plane of United Airlines. The boarding ticket said that the child was not accompanied by adults,” Pavel Astakhov, the Kremlin’s commissioner for children’s rights said.

One may only guess how the boy managed to pass through customs in the USA and board the plane without adults. However, as soon as the boy found himself at the police station, officials of the US embassy showed up very quickly.

Russia Today: American parents send adopted boy back to Russia by himself

“They wanted to take the child away, and we had to take quite an effort to leave him here. US officials were trying to assure us that he was a US citizen, but the boy had the Russian passport with a visa. They said that it would be much better for the boy to go to the US embassy,” Astakhov said.

The boy was later hospitalized with exhaustion. Afterwards, he will be accommodated in a Moscow orphanage.

The saddest thing in this story is the fact that the adoption agency, which was in charge of the questions of Artyom’s living in the US foster family, said two weeks before that the boy was doing just fine. Photographs of the happy family and the happy boy were attached to the report, officials of the Russian ministry for education and science said.

The boy could hardly speak after he arrived in Moscow. The people who worked with him in Moscow said that he had so much sorrow and sadness in his eyes. Artyom said that he had not been eating anything for several days. He only had several sweets.

 

Source : Pravda.

 

UPDATES: Atryem/Artyom Savilliev and his Abandoner Torry Hansen
Family Preservation Advocate | 10 avril 2010

 

- La Russie bannit 113 agences d'adoption...
régions russes d'accepter les demandes d'adoption transmises par 113 organisations américaines non accréditées en Russie, [...] Les personnes ayant adopté un enfant en Russie doivent envoyer des rapports cinq, 11, 23 et 26 mois après l [...]
Lire la suite

 

- Les sénateurs de Russie appellent à suspendre...
suspendre l'adoption d'enfants russes par des [...] La Russie renforce les règles de l'adoption pour les Etats-Unis suite à l'acquitement de Harrison. [...] Suite à cet acquittement, la Russie a décidé de renforcer les règles d'adoption pour les [...]
Lire la suite


- L'adoption internationale se plie de plus en...
En Russie par exemple, il existe des « facilitateurs » qui font payer des honoraires parfois exorbitants pour mettre en relation une famille avec un [...] on est en train de créer un appel d'air et d'inciter les familles à l'abandon.
Lire la suite