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Old 02-24-2012, 03:46 PM
alyssa&avery's Avatar
alyssa&avery alyssa&avery is offline
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Question Separation Anxiety Question

First, a little background information. My son was adopted from Guatemala and we brought him home at 7 months old. He was separated from birth mom and placed in an orphanage the same day that he was born. I have no idea where he was for the first two months of his life. He was in the orphanage and then with a very loving foster family for about 8 weeks before we picked him up. It is possible that he was with two other foster families, but I haven't been able to confirm this. From a very early age he showed signs of separation anxiety. For example, about six weeks after being home with him we went on vacation. We were staying in a place where we were able to bring his crib, sheets and other personal items. The whole week we were there he slept poorly, did not eat normally, cried, fussed and had explosive diapers. As soon as we were home everything went back to normal. Looking back it should have been my first clue.

He is now 8 and still struggles when he is separated from me (mom) or when we travel somewhere new. I think that the trauma of being separated from his mother so soon after birth, multiple moves at such an early age and then coming to whole new country so early in life has affected him. Any time that I mention it to a doctor or psychologist they sort of dismiss my theory and say that he was too young for it to affect him. His OT has been the only one who agrees with me.

He very rarely sleeps through the night because he wakes looking for me. Most nights he ends up in bed with us. If he is in bed with us, he sleeps soundly through the night, but has to be constantly touching one of us. On vacation it takes him a day or two to settle in and feel comfortable. When he is away from me he will constantly ask his caregiver where I am, what I'm doing and when I'm coming back. He does well at school, but is anxious if there is a substitute. When my husband travels for work he is anxious and grouchy until he is back.

So, I guess my question is have any adoptees ever experienced this when you were younger or even now as an adult? He knows his adoption story, asks age appropriate questions and seems comfortable with it. Any suggestions for how I can help him deal with his feelings?

Thank you.

Last edited by alyssa&avery : 02-24-2012 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 02-24-2012, 04:59 PM
Dickons Dickons is offline

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I have never had separation anxiety but that does not say your son's adoption did not affect him this way.

There are two different types of memories - explicit and implicit - look into that because it might help explain things. Basically it comes down implicit being the body remembers things we not consciously remember.

I have a friend who as an adult went through an incredible trauma that left her with severe anxiety - she tried tapping therapy or EFT. She said it helped alot. Who knows - it might help your son and I think you can use the tool afterwards - she only needed a couple of sessions.

Kind regards,
“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Old 02-24-2012, 06:28 PM
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urban urban is offline
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seperation anxiety is common in a lot of children, adoptive or not.

However, I do disagree with your pedi. I believe that it does matter getting shipped from place to place when they were a baby.

I personally did not experience it to that extreme, but I didnt want my parents out of my site. Looking back on it know, I guess you could say i was worried they would disappear.

I do remember night time was a big issue. I hated to go to sleep. I wasnt sure when I woke up if I was going to be moved out.

SO, I dont know if it was seperation anxiety, or more fearful that my parents were going to leave. (as everyone else had)
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:04 PM
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EZ2Luv EZ2Luv is offline
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My son is not an adoptee but you just described his behaviors to a T. Some children just do not do well with change and need that extra reassurance. I was a wreck when my son showed these behaviors. My other 2 never did , it was just him. I mean I couldn't even take a shower without him going into a panic.
Forget about summer camp he was not having it even though hs 2 other brothers went. Finally at about 9 yrs old we convinced hm to try summer day camp where he went horseback riding. After that he asked about overnight camp and has been going every summer.

It helps to talk about it. My son feared that something would happen to my husband or I and he had to be there to make sure we were alright. I am not sure where those thoughts came from but they were his and enough to frighten him. Plenty of reassurance and encouragement is what worked for us.

I am also an adoptee and had a little separation anxiety but for me I was an only child for so long and was really attached to my Momma. Once she let me know that it was OK for me to make friends and that she would always come back for me I was OK.

In Rememberance of my 3 Brothers in Heaven, who went to live with Jesus before I was born.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:46 PM
Dajori Dajori is offline
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I know there isn't incontrovertible proof of implicit memory or how it works, but I agree that it is an important consideration. More to the point, I don't think it's at all unusual for a child adopted at 7 months, after multiple placements or otherwise, to have heightened separation anxiety. It could just be regular kid stuff. But my son developed sudden separation anxiety at age six and I'm pretty sure it's related to his pre-adoption history, his conscious anxieties about having been abandoned, or both. I've responded by systematically upping the physical affection, being close to him at night if he needs it, respecting his loss of independence (e.g., going with him to the bathroom if it's dark or not at home), and frequently reiterating that even if we became separated (e.g., the subway) I would immediately look for him, the police would help, and we would not stop until we found him. I have to keep telling him that I would never, ever, ever leave him anywhere because he's my son, I will always be his mom, and not being able to be with one of my kids would be the most terrible thing ever. I try to attack it from both angles - wanting to protect him and stressing how completely necessary it is for ME to have him around. I don't know if that helps, but I'd definitely err on the side of extra TLC and ignore your doctor. They are notoriously bad at these things.
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:40 AM
sunshinelil sunshinelil is offline
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OH YES you are so RIGHT is knowing that it is separation anxiety and it is a known fact that it is from being adopted. I am an adult adoptee and have struggled with this all of my life. It took 36 years for me to realize that I need help with this. As a child I would run after my parents car if they went out without me, as an adult I have struggled in relationships and my my second marriage because I fear my husband will leave and when he leaves I feel he is not coming back....I have had extensive therapy to deal with this feeling...the feeling will NEVER go away but I will learn to cope with it.....PLEASE research this ...there is a book called PRIMAL FEAR that you should get and read...I cannot recall the author at this moment...I think it is Joe Soll.....he has two other books as well.....he is a psychologist who deals with adoption. family doctors are not educated enough on the affects of adoption on the adoptee and the long term affects of it. Gosh there are so many feelings..anxiety, fear, anger, grief, the list goes on.....if you help yourself understand you can begin to help your son understand as he gets older....right now he is young and cannot come to terms with all his feelings and why he is feeling those things....but it all has to do with being separated by birth and then going to two other places before being placed in your arms.....he has dealt with so much grief and loss, the feeling is unbearable...I live it and have lived it as many adoptees do.......Please research this topic and follow your are right in knowing it is separation anxiety from being adopted......
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