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RAD

The Impact Adoption Can Have On Your Teen’s Mental Health

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 27, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Teen Help

Adoption and Your Teen’s Mental Health

Help Your Teens UnSplashSadTeen-198x300 The Impact Adoption Can Have On Your Teen's Mental Health The impact adoption can have on your teen’s mental health is huge. Even teens adopted by the right family with the best conditions for healthy development will still go through some form of personality changes and/or behaviors because of the transition.

You need to understand their transition and be willing to work with your teen’s individual needs. Adopting a teenager can be difficult because it is hard for them to trust, so it is important the entire family understands how they feel.

The transition to adopting a teenager might make the teen feel like an outsider because they don’t fit in with their parents, siblings, or even themselves (because teenagers try to fit in but can’t). It is important that teens are loved unconditionally and that parents should not expect too much from them until they have settled into the new family.

Learn all that you can

Since your teen is well past childhood, they will have had more than a decade of life experience under their belt. They will have their likes and dislikes, things that annoy them, and certain preferences like food choices. They will also have an entire history in regards to previous homes they might have lived, potential medical concerns, and education experience.

It’s best to try and learn everything you can about your teenager, with respect to their privacy. They are coming into the family as an outsider, so things will feel awkward at first. You should try to get to know as much as you can about your teen prior to adoption and onwards.

It helps to get acquainted with important documents like medical files and vaccination records. You should also see if you can get your teen’s adoption records. Those files will give a great insight into your teen’s original birth parents and where your teen was born.

Respect boundaries

Your teen may seem standoffish or unwilling to work with you, but they are just testing the boundaries in order to see how much trust they can put in their new parents.

During this period, it is important that parents understand when the teen needs space and when they’re just hiding in their room because they don’t know how to deal with the change. Adoption creates a whirlwind of change in addition to the crazy hormonal changes. Their mental health might struggle due to all their changes, but it’s important to not intrude on your teen’s life constantly. You need to build up trust and let them gradually open up to you if anything’s wrong.

Parents should be wary about giving too much freedom to their adopted teenagers, though. Teens still need stability and structure more than pure freedom at this point in their lives.

Don’t force them to fit in

It is also important that parents do not put too much pressure on their teens to fit in or be part of the family right away.

Trying to force your teen into their new family unit may increase their desire for independence, act defiantly, and make it harder to adjust to new feelings about themselves. This could also lead to an emotional imbalance, which can lead to a wide range of behaviors such as cutting, depression, self-harm, suicide, etc.

Parents need to understand this desire for independence is something teens work through on their own and is not resolved overnight but slowly over time. It can take years before the teen adjusts completely, especially if they’ve experienced trauma in the past.

Overall, adopting a teenager has its ups and downs, just like parenting any other child, but you can help your teen adjust to their new family over time.

It’s not easy, though. However, as a parent to an adopted teen, you owe it to them to help them get assimilated into the family for the sake of your teen’s mental health and the wellbeing of your family.

Read more about a one parent’s experience, The Ballad of an Adopted Child.

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Internet Addiction and Adopted Teens (RAD)

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 20, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

Adopted Teens (RAD) and Internet Addiction

Help Your Teens InternetAddiction6-300x226 Internet Addiction and Adopted Teens (RAD)

Are there more risks with Internet addiction for teens that are struggling with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

The internet is an incredible resource for information and entertainment, but it does have drawbacks. Besides creating an avenue for dangerous child predators to flourish, the internet has also caused a recent and misunderstood sickness to sweep across the nation. This dangerous new disease is known as Teenage Internet Addiction.

The idea of “internet addiction” began in the 1990’s to explain an unhealthy reliance on the internet that parents noticed their teens developing. Since then, the internet’s popularity explosion and use of sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr have ushered in a new age of teenage internet addiction.

Parent advocates realize the danger of teenage internet addiction, and adopted teens are highly susceptible because they often experience Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD. RAD develops when a teen is unable to attach trust and development in interpersonal relationships. RAD is caused by the confusion and pain of a child’s separation from their birth mother. Even a child adopted early in life can experience dramatic RAD separation anxiety in their teenage years.

It’s been found that internet addiction increases feelings of anti-social tendencies and the inability to interact with others, much like RAD. Adoptive teens struggle to overcome RAD increases their vulnerability to internet addiction.

Help Your Teens InternetAddiction_5-300x221 Internet Addiction and Adopted Teens (RAD) Teenagers should not be fearful of the internet, it is an attractive and exciting way to gather information and communicate with others, but parents must be aware of their adopted teen’s internet usage levels. Parents should never spy on their kids; instead they should focus on maintaining open lines of communication, much like they would when dealing with Primal Wound or other adopted teen issues.

Parents should ask their kids about their internet habits and ask to look at their Facebook (if their not friends with them online) or other profile sites. Parent should never look at teenage pages or pursue web history behind teen’s backs (unless you believe they are in danger, or suspect something is wrong); this can alienate your teenager even more, amplifying feelings of anxiety or RAD.

There are some signs of teenage addiction associated with internet use that parents should be especially aware of. Some of these warning signs are very closely related to teenage depression, another condition that many adopted teens face.

When exploring the possibility of internet addiction, check if your adopted teen experiences powerful euphoric feelings while on the internet and extreme anxiety while away from it. Also check if the teen has intense cravings for the internet, always wanting to return to it.

Other warning sings include adopted teens lying about their internet usage and withdrawing from past activities in favor of increased internet usage. Internet addiction’s physical effects include dry eyes, drastic changes in eating habits, increased headache or backaches from focusing on the screen, as well as sleeping problems.

Placing the family computer in an easily monitored area is a good way to prevent internet misuse. Never ban the internet, but work on a time schedule that will be fair for both you and your adopted teen. Also work to encourage non internet activity, which means forcing other family members to reduce internet usage while encouraging outdoor activities.

Adopted teens are at a high risk for internet addiction because of their problems with RAD, but if parents foster healthy family communication practices, do an honest job of trying to understand their teenagers internet needs, and let their teens know they are ready to help them if they need it, than internet addiction and its side effects can be prevented.

If you feel your teen is in need of help, and you have exhausted all your local resources, please contact us for information on residential therapy. This has been helpful for many other families.

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