The layers of trauma in adoption are complex and multiplied.
The need for adoption begins with trauma, usually intergenerational trauma that our biological families experience that result in us being relinquished / abandoned. As adoptees, our primary trauma begins at relinquishment / abandonment, being stolen or lost and illicitly/illegally adopted. Then we live the loss of identity (family, kin, culture, country, language, race) when plenary adoption severs us permanently from our origins and via intercountry adoption, relocates us to a completely new country/culture/people/language.
Secondary trauma can then occur after the adoption itself, whether that be through abuse, neglect, living an adoption breakdown, being re-homed, not being granted citizenship, being deported back to our birth country, etc.
Recommended Resources to understand the Trauma in Adoption
Karyn Purvis: The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family (book), an article about her work Helping Children Heal from Trauma, Lessons from Karyn Purvis, and the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development
Paul Sunderland: Relinquishment and Adoption – Understanding the impact of an early psychological wound (video)
Chaitra Wirta-Leiker: Understanding and Responding to Adoption Trauma Behaviours (video series)
Sara Easterly, Lori Holden, Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard: Adoption Unfiltered: Revelations from Adoptees, Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents and Allies (book)
Nancy Verrier: The Primal Wound (book)
Dr Gina Samuels: Trauma and Transracial Adoption Podcast
Mari Dolfi: Relinquishment Trauma – The Forgotten Trauma
OLLIE Foundation: The Unacknowledged Grief of Adoption (online presentation)
Paul Sunderland: Adoption & Addiction (video)
Jigsaw QLD: Grief & Loss in Adoption
Sarah Nish: Therapeutic Parenting : Strategies and Solutions (podcast)
Beacon House: Repair of Early Trauma – A Bottom Up Approach
Harvard University: The Science of Neglect
Gabor Mate: The Wisdom of Trauma (documentary)
Bessel van den Kolk: The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma (book)
Bruce Perry: Trauma Informed Teaching and the Brain
ROAR – a book and guide for carers looking after young children in alternative care to help them understand their complex emotions
Secondary Trauma in Adoption
ICAV blogs about the less-spoken about trauma of abuse from within adoptive homes:
Another adoptee led resource on abuse in adoption: Adapted (Podcast): Kaomi Lee (her own experience).
Interview with Peter Möller on the Korean adoptees who have been abused in their homes and the investigation of these by the Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission 2022 (listen to the last 7 mins of the interview).
ICAV has created a webinar in November 2021 to educate people on the impacts of living an illicit / illegal intercountry adoption:
See also our Perspective Paper in English or French on what we want authorities and governments to do in response to our illicit / illegal intercountry adoptions.
An adoptee led org in the USA, Also-Known-As created a webinar in November 2021 to educate people of the lived experience of deportation, being sent back to their birth country after being intercountry adopted and raised in an adoptive land for over 40 years – because of a lack of proper process being followed to enable citizenship and permanence in the USA.