Four Reasons Adoption May Have Been Traumatic for Your Teen


Adoption is a wonderful thing, a path, a choice that isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s only the special that reach out to a child and say, “You are mine. I may not have given birth to you, but you are my daughter, my love, forever.” It takes someone special to invite someone new into your home and into their heart. It’s a tough decision for most parents, but a truly rewarding one.

Still, the process does come with its challenges, for both the parents and the child. No matter what age the child is when brought into the family, adopted children are twice as likely to develop mental health issues like oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD or depression, according to a 2008 study.

In addition, the actual act of adoption can be traumatic for children, even those adopted as infants. Here’s why.

Absence of Her Mother’s Biochemical Connection

Mothers have a certain bond with their children. Babies are programmed to have a biochemical and neurological connection with their birth mother. Upon separation from their biological mother, they can experience actual trauma that can result in changes to their development. There are even some experts that refer to this type of trauma as developmental PTSD.

Trauma From Past Abuse

Some children are older when they are adopted, and these children may suffer from PTSD due to the abuse or neglect they have suffered in the past. These experiences can occur in their original homes, in foster care, or both. Abuse may include neglect, physical, mental, verbal or sexual abuse.

Trauma From Past Domestic Violence

Many children who end up in foster care are the victims of domestic violence. Some may have been exposed to violence and witnessed it, while others may have been direct victims. No matter what the actual circumstance, the trauma from violence often causes lasting effects.


Abandonment is one of the many core issues for teen girls who have been adopted. They have a perception that they were abandoned by their birth mother and father in the past, which has created early attachment trauma. Because of this, the teen often imagines that everyone in her life will eventually leave her, maybe without reason or warning. She braces for that abandonment and has trouble creating real, healthy relationships.

Adoption Trauma and Our All-girls Boarding School

At Greenbrier Academy, we understand the types of trauma children who are adopted often experience, and we are prepared to offer help for troubled teens. Our boarding school for girls uses the concept of Strong Relationality to help girls understand the trauma of their past and their perceptions of what happened during the trauma. We then help them change these perceptions. Doing so lets them change the way they experience the present and the future. In addition, we help them learn how to develop healthy relationships with themselves and with others.

Want to learn more about how our program can help your adopted daughter heal and ultimately live a happier, more fulfilled life? Contact our office today or explore our website for more information.

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