The Adoption of Abused Children
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Some children who are placed for adoption may have been subjected to physical or sexual abuse at some time in their lives. The sexual abuse of children now receives considerable media attention but despite this coverage the topic often remains a taboo subject.
Adopters of children who have previously been abused should always be offered information and advice, and if appropriate, given training opportunities to prepare them for some of the issues and problems which might arise from the child's experience of abuse.
Adopters of sexually abused children may have to deal with a variety of problems related to the child's experiences. Many suggest that adopters should not take a judgmental attitude towards the parents of a sexually abused child even if one or both parents were the abusers.
How you would deal with this matter will depend upon the child's understanding but the 'mistaken kind of love' solution may be appropriate. In this explanation the abusers actions are explained as them having shown the 'wrong kind of love' to the child. In this explanation the abusers actions are considered to have been committed through their confusion or as simply a mistake on their part.
Abused children can still be very angry about their separation from their parents, they may view this separation as their fault or even the fault of those who have adopted them.
Children who have been sexually abused may demonstrate inappropriate and highly sexualised behaviour towards their adopters or other members of the family which many find quite difficult to cope with.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges in looking after a young person who has been sexually abused is the way in which it can affect the physical cuddles and hugs within the adoptive family. Where children seek physical affection and demonstrate highly sexualised behaviour families may become much more guarded about the innocent and instinctive physical contact they once enjoyed.
It really pays to read about this subject in a bit of depth and you should visit the BAAF website for details of their publications or visit your local library if there is any prospect that you might adopt an abused child or children. If you are currently in contact with an adoption agency they may also be able to provide you with some literature. Preparing for any eventuality is much better than reacting to what happens. In the case of the abuse of children our "natural reactions" may not help the child overcome or to cope with their bad experiences.