5 Things to Know About Adopted Children From Hard Places

5 Things to Know About Adopted Children from Hard Places

  1. Lack of healthy affection creates confusion and fear surrounding touch.  It may feel invasive or threatening. As adoptive parents build new paths to trust by faithfully loving on their children through gentle touch, children begin developing new brain connections, helping them to positively experience relationships.
  2. Children with inconsistent care, learned they couldn’t depend on others to keep them safe.  Often, if care did come, it was unpredictable, and from multiple people.  In adoption, parents are establishing themselves as reliable primary caregivers and working to distinguish their role separate from other roles. Thus, they need reinforcement of these relationship boundaries from friends and extended family. This can be done by redirecting the child to the parent to have their needs met, even in situations that may seem natural and normal to help.
  3. It’s important to understand that due to the issues discussed above, children may behave differently for their adoptive family than they do for others.  This can end up being one of the top reasons families go into isolation.  Well meaning, positive comments can have the opposite effect on parents.  Adoptive parents long to have safe places to talk about the real things going on at home.
  4. In general, a child’s developmental age can be less than half their chronological age. For example an 8-year-old child may realistically operate emotionally and socially like a four year old.  Physically, they are often smaller in stature, and learning disabilities are prevalent.   It is important to keep this in mind as you interact, and not have expectations based on their age.
  5.   Applying traditional discipline methods to these children can actually be harmful.  Common discipline methods are based on the assumption that the child is operating with a typical brain consistent with the abilities of their chronological age. Relating to them with an understanding of this and the other factors listed here will help create a stronger bond and better affect change.

“You are the God who sees me”…   Genesis 16:13



  1. Great post. You wisely point out that using common methods of “raising” a child from a hard place usually don’t work and often make things worse. Every day, we plead with the Lord for mercy and wisdom. Some days we go to bed feeling okay about how things have gone. Some days we hit the bed feeling like complete failures and like horrible parents. So glad that mercy is new each morning!

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