Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review of The Connected Child

This was a book that came recommended to me by the Adoption and Foster Care Group that we belong to at church.  Two of the authors, Karyn Purvis and David Cross, are research psychologists at Texas Christian University.  Because of this, they deal with the neurological, biochemical, emotional, and psychological aspects of adopting a child who is suffering the “invisible scars” or “early neglect or abuse” from being in foster care or an orphanage.  They write in one section of the book about how they surveyed a group of 86 families that had adopted internationally.  What they found from this survey were that these “. . . parents reported that 23% of these at-risk children had been sexually abused before adoption, 47% were physically abused, and more than half were neglected by early care takers.”  Because of this, these children lack the attachment skills a child raised in a loving home would have.  In fact, neurologists have show that children who grow up in orphanages have a higher level of cortisol, which are a stress hormone that one usually finds in soldiers who are suffering from shell-shock.  It is with all of this in mind, that the authors approach how to help an adopted child integrate into their new family.  

The parenting advice this book offers is extremely beneficial for anyone who has a child that is struggling with attachment or behavioral issues.  What I found reading the book is that the “normal” forms of discipline (sending a child to their room or to “time out”) one would use with a child do not work for these children (they would view both as more rejection).  Providing detailed and practical techniques parents can use to see beyond the child’s misbehavior to finding out what the child is really saying and what they really need.  It shows how the parent’s role is to guide the child into feeling relaxed, secure, loved, and for building trust.  This is no easy task with children who have suffered abandonment, loss, grief, cognitive impairments, fear, anger, shame, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression.  They provide not only examples of what parents should do but also success stories.

This book is a book I highly recommend for anyone who is considering adopting or fostering a child, as well as for therapists and social workers.

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