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 (or being stolen or lost). 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, etc.

Artwork by CS Massey aka YooNett: Tears of Trauma

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)

Nancy Verrier: The Primal Wound (book)

Rebecca Sansom: Reckoning with The Primal Wound (documentary)

Mari Dolfi’s Adverse Relinquishment and Adoption Experiences (ARAEs) Assessment

The Unacknowledged Grief of Adoption (online presentation by the OLLIE Foundation)

Paul Sunderland: Adoption & Addiction (video)

Jigsaw QLD: Grief & Loss in Adoption

Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families (book)

Beacon House: Repair of Early Trauma – A Bottom Up Approach

Harvard University: The Science of Neglect

Intergenerational Trauma Animation (video)

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)

Blue Knot Foundation: Talking About Trauma – Guide to Conversations and Screening by Health and Other Service Providers

In Utero: The Documentary

Secondary Trauma in Adoption

ICAV blogs about the less-spoken about trauma of abuse from within adoptive homes.

Other adoptee led resources:

Adapted (Podcast): Kaomi Lee