PTSD and Internationally Adopted Children


After an intense 11 months and 13 days spent in Ukraine, completing the international adoption of my son, Jake, I arrived home to waiting friends and family…and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I struggled, officially un-diagnosed, for months. A retired physician and fellow church member was the first to approach me and speak very candidly to me regarding his personal PTSD experience. Dr. Joe was the first to encourage me to seek help. I explained our destitute financial situation after such an ordeal. Then, I proceeded to explain how my children were showing symptoms of stress related issues, and how they would receive help before I would. He smiled warmly, suggested coping mechanisms and gave examples of PTSD treatments available.
After we recovered somewhat financially, the children were both able to receive testing and treatment. This year, I too was able to receive treatment. What a difference! It started me thinking…if I needed PTSD treatment after a 1 year stay in a foreign country (however stressful), what about all the beautiful children being adopted?! I can laugh again, sing again, am more myself again. What about those who remain un-treated?
You can imagine my relief (and great encouragement) upon reading about Oxford research currently underway on AIDS orphans (click here to read more). When I read they found “evidence of PTSD” to be 117% more likely in the orphans being studied, I felt vindicated in my original response to my own journey through this often temporary, but sanity-challenging disorder.
Have you adopted internationally? Have you ever considered any kind of psychiatric testing for your adopted child(ren)? I’d love to hear from you.


2 Responses to “PTSD and Internationally Adopted Children”

  1. Terri says:

    Well it’s been a difficult journey but I cope with God’s help, taking One day at a time. Blogs and prayers help me understand that I’m not alone. Years of counseling, unconditional love, therapy and talking to others seem to just get us by. No one has answers to PTSD. No one fully gets it! Oh except the mother who sees it in action daily. Others say, you aren’t doing this or that. Maybe if you love her more! Maybe if you discipline more strictly. Maybe she needs more counseling. (Although she just says what she knows they want to hear). I’m facing a principals comment that she needs a behavioral school but is in an IEP program type school now. Her outgoing personality is exhausting but her verbal comments are what gets her into trouble. She reacts to a look, comment, or action. She thinks it’s all about her if someone is having a bad day. What can be a next step? She’s 17 and gets average grades. Homeschool was the option for 4th-6th grades. She is a junior and I’m not sure how much I can do to get her through to graduation. There is life beyond school but life is about social interactions. What’s next?

    • Dear Terri, A GREAT therapist (for at least both of you, if not family) is necessary. The therapist must be experienced in the trauma and PTSD experience most international adoptees experience and their treatment. I would check with your adoption agency. They should be able to direct you for your area. Ask for references. ~ Kim

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