Parkview Health Logo

Adoption and trauma: Getting the support you need

Last Modified: November 02, 2023

Healthy Mind, Family Medicine


This post was written by Ann Bastin, BSW, wraparound facilitator, and Melinda Knoblauch, BS, Parkview Behavioral Health Institute - Park Center.

There are thousands of children in Indiana who want a forever home. Sadly, some of these children have already experienced childhood trauma, even as early as in utero. Families wanting to be matched with a child are not always equipped to handle this trauma. Raising awareness and providing better support for these families can lead to better outcomes for all.

Why adoptions fail

At Parkview Behavioral Health Institute – Park Center, we see failed adoptions. Not because the adopting family wants to fail, but rather the exact opposite, they want to begin or add to their family. These families often do not know or understand how to manage the trauma or even know that there is trauma, especially when adopting an infant. Trauma can have many faces. In children, we often see difficulties with attachment, hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety, as well as other symptoms.

Looking at the trends, there are several factors that lead to failed adoptions. First, adoption agencies are not always transparent about the needs of the child prior to adoption and often don’t mention behaviors they have seen with the child. Additionally, there is a lack of education, resources and training on trauma for families. We assume the lack of focus on these topics is to not scare a potential family. Finally, it can be difficult for families to understand how to integrate a child into an adoptive home and that integration looks different for each child and each family.

Additional adoption support

We can do better. Families need more post-adoptive support throughout our communities. Parenting education and support groups are just the tip of the iceberg of ways that we can rally around these families and give them a foundation to work from. Families should be offered on-going mental health services, such as family therapy. Children need a sense of belonging, not just from their new families but also their community, where they can find activities and outside support.

How you can help

Unfortunately, trauma is very much a part of human lives. It is how we as individuals and communities handle it that makes a difference. How can the community help make adoption more successful? We can assist by being educated on the topic and getting the word out that more support for trauma is needed. Success is possible and there is nothing that can’t be overcome. Let’s help families have their happily ever after.

Adoption resources

If you or someone you know needs support around post-adoption, please see the resources and numbers below.

Let us help

If you need to explore offerings for youth or adult services, call the HelpLine at 260-471-9440 or 800-284-8439, anytime 24 hours a day. Experienced specialists are available to guide you to the appropriate level of care or resources.

Related Blog Posts

View all posts