Impact Of Traumatic Stress Experienced By The Parents Of Adoptive Children?

Impact of traumatic stress experienced by the parents of adoptive children?

By: Dr. Mark Lerner

As I have indicated previously, a significant number of adoptive children have been exposed to traumatic events including, but not limited to, neglect, physical and sexual abuse and various degrees of abandonment. I have emphasized the importance of recognizing and addressing traumatic stress early—potentially preventing acute stress reactions from becoming chronic stress disorders. Your question is a good one. It reflects an appreciation of the stress associated with the entire adoption process.

The reality is, when we look closely at adoption, we realize that traumatic stress is pervasive—often impacting several, if not all, of the parties involved. Unfortunately, this traumatic stress is generally not recognized and its impact is misunderstood.

Traumatic stress refers to the feelings, thoughts, actions and physical reactions of individuals who are exposed to, or who witness, specific events that overwhelm their coping and problem-solving abilities. This experience is not limited to the adoptive child, nor is it limited to the adoption process per se.

When considering traumatic stress experienced by parents of adoptive children, we must realize that there is pre-adoption stress, stress associated with the acquisition of an adoptive child, and post-adoption stress. Adoptive parents often bring to the table a history of traumatic stress.

For example, pre-adoption stressors may include fertility problems, losses and significant relationship conflicts. Once engaged in the adoption process, there are often serious medical concerns, “misunderstandings,” and heartbreaking disappointments.

After adopting a child, additional traumatic stressors come into play, centering around the realization of a dream, tremendous life changes with new responsibilities, and a future marked by uncertainty and fear

. Once parents recognize and understand the potential of traumatic stress impacting their own lives before, during and after adopting a child, they may begin to address the host of feelings that may negatively color a truly priceless opportunity.

Written by Dr. Mark Lerner, President of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress The information and advice provided is intended to be general information, NOT as advice on how to deal with a particular child’s situation and or problem.

If your child has a specific problem you need to ask your pediatrician about it – only after a careful history and physical exam can a medical diagnosis and/or treatment plan be made. This Web site does not constitute a physician-patient relationship.

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Dr. Mark Lerner is a Clinical Psychologist and Traumatic Stress Consultant who focuses on helping people during and in the aftermath of traumatic events. He is the President of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress ( and the originator of the Acute Traumatic Stress Management intervention model (

Dr. Lerner wrote and produced the newly released audio book, Surviving and Thriving: Living Through a Traumatic Experience ( . Dr. Lerner consults regularly with individuals, schools and organizations—where he specializes in the education, training and implementation of Acute Traumatic Stress Management and the development of organizational and school-based crisis management teams.

Dr. Lerner has conducted numerous interviews, including CNN Headline News, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Self Magazine, Stars u0026amp; Stripes, Reuters, the Associated Press and U.S. News u0026amp; World Report. Most recently, he appeared on Dateline NBC. Dr. Lerner also collaborates with the physicians of , an innovative International Adoption Private Practice dedicated to helping parents and adoption agencies with the complex Adoption related  medical and psychological concerns.

This portal has become the GO TO place for  Adoption related medical, psychological and social  issues. All medical interactions are performed via, e-mail, express mail, telephone and fax. There is no need to make a live appointment or travel outside of you hometown. Blind referral and support services now available during your trip. Never feel like you are abandoned while you are overseas. is just a computer click away.