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Mental Health Mondays:
Supporting Your Adopted Child through Covid-19

by Josie Sawyer, LCSW
Executive and Clinical Director
Lucy Daniels Center

Families all over the world are adjusting to Covid-19, but families of adopted children may face unique challenges, as well as opportunities, during this time.

Whether a child is adopted at birth or at an older age, these children have experienced some form of loss. During Covid-19, that sense of loss may get stirred up as children have been forced to separate from teachers, friends, and relatives. While every child is experiencing this disruption, children can sometimes project their earliest experiences onto current circumstances, making these particular losses feel especially scary or overwhelming to an adopted child.

Parents can support their child by acknowledging and validating the strong feelings involved in these separations. By recognizing that their child may be grappling with a deeper sense of grief connected to their early history, parents can better understand and respond to the scale of their child’s feelings.  Some ways parents can help their child include providing plenty of reassurance that they are safe and will be with their parents during this crisis; creating opportunities for the child to see the important people in their life via Facetime or Zoom; and putting language to the worries the child might have. This might sound like: “You have been asking what time your Zoom call is with grandma many times today. I wonder if you’re worried she won’t be there, or that I will forget you need to see her.” This sort of comment lets the child know you understand their internal world, and also helps the child reflect on their own thoughts and feelings.

Staying at home during this pandemic may also provide families of adopted children with an important opportunity to connect without the disruptions of normal life. Many adoptive families miss out on the very earliest newborn stage, when new parents are usually forced to focus almost entirely on their new baby due to the infant’s high physical needs. While no one would have chosen a pandemic to make this happen, some adoptive parents might find there are opportunities to “nest” with their adoptive child in a way they have never before experienced. Families may have opportunities to focus on each other during times normally spent commuting to school or work, and without the harried pace of extracurriculars and events. While there are sure to be moments when parents and children alike are longing for routine, the chance to invest in attachment and relationships could be a silver lining to an otherwise difficult season.

Lucy Daniels Center is currently operating via telehealth services due to Covid-19. If you would like to request a consultation with a mental health clinician, please click here:https://tinyurl.com/slx79fe

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