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BEHAVIORAL AND MENTAL DISORDERS


MENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS AT ADOPTION
Aggression

In the orphanage
Some children may display aggressive, violent behaviors when first encountered in the orphanage. In poorly supervised environments, normal childhood aggression may not be controlled. Some children may hit, bite, scratch, and push as a matter of course in order to have access to food, water, toys, and caregivers. In some situations, extreme corporal punishment may be used.

After adoption
Aggression appears after adoption for several reasons. In some children, violent behavior has been a way of life, and no other ways to interact or solve problems have ever been explored. In other children, fear provokes aggressive acts. The child may not understand the realities of adoption (leaving behind friends, caregivers, all that is familiar) for a complete change in environment, culture, and language. Others may fear that they have now been removed beyond the reach of birth family, and that misbehavior is necessary so that they can return "home." For some children from abusive backgrounds, placement in an adoptive family creates anxiety that the abuse will recur, whereas in the orphanage, some sense of safety was garnered from the presence of the other children. Inability to communicate, fright, fantasy and poor preparation for adoption may all contribute to aggressive behaviors. Severe aggression may signal reactive attachment disorder discussed elsewhere in this training.

 

From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.

 

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