Nearly 58,000 children across the globe are adopted, 51,000 of those 58,000 being children from America (Every Child, 2000). Approximately 80 % of adoptions are carried through and seen successful, with a slight chance of ten percent for the process to be interrupted or cut off (Pappas, 2010). Adoption can play a key role in a healthy environment for children to develop in. To ensure a child’s development, they need a steady home or guardian guide them as they grow and develop themselves and who they are, and adoption allows this to happen for those who do not have parents or guardians.
Adoptive Child Syndrome finds itself rooted in the process of failed adoptions. This disorder is defined as a disorder found in adopted kids that is a result of emotional and psychological issues they may face during the adoptive process (B. , n. d. ). Some of these actions can be lying, disobedient to authority, aggressive, and issues with bonding and attachment to others. Most adoptions that do not get finalized, fail due to ‘disruption. ’ Adoptions involving 3 years of age or older, fall out at a rate of 10 to 16 percent due to disruption, and teens experience a much higher rate of disruption, being closer to a quarter of adoptions failing (T. , 2012). If one was to take the effects of adoptions on the brain into consideration, the number of disruptions could drop.
The Amygdala is “the structure in the limbic system involved in our experience of emotion and tying emotional meaning to memories” (Spielman, 2014). The amygdala directly deals with fear and threats. There are four stages in the development of a child, two of which the amygdala can drastically affect. The failure or disruption of an adoption process may hinder these two stages from proper development. The Concrete Operational stage, children of ages seven to eleven create a sense of empathy and consideration of other feelings and thoughts. From age eleven through adulthood, during the Formal Operational stage, this sparks the ability of children to use logic, and an idea of their own future (4 Cognitive Stages, n. d. ). These stages are important for the child to develop an awareness of others, and their own actions. However, if a child is affected by the stages of adoption, they can feel a sense of abandonment, detachment, worthlessness, and loneliness. These feelings may halt the development by causing the amygdala to kick into action. If a child begins to feel worthless and abandoned at a young age, their amygdala may react and begin to defend themselves from any more pain and loss. This can lead to the violence and inability to form a bond, that in which is one of the leading cause of adoption failures and disruptions. In patients with schizophrenia, it can be observed that the patient is in a constant state of fear and anxiety. Damage to the amygdala can lead to this disorder, causing someone to never get out of the stage of fear they once got stuck in. In the year 2008, a man named Kit, climbed onto the ledge of a bridge, and proceeded to jump to his death at the young age of 23. He was a schizophrenic, due to damage to his amygdala caused. He wrote in his journal that even the birds chirped at him in disgust and insulted his very being (Pagliaro, 2013). One can look at this story and see the importance of one’s brain, as it can be fragile.
The Prefrontal Cortex is the “area in the frontal lobe responsible for higher level cognitive thinking” (Spielman, 2014). This part of your brain plays a major role in your personality and behavior. It has been developing since a young age yet will not finish developing until around the age of 25. With failed adoptions being so prevalent in the pre-teen and teenage years, this can put a lot of stress on a young child. Loads of stress can severely, and quickly, damage the prefrontal cortex. At first the stress begins to take away the ability to do cognitive abilities developed by the prefrontal cortex After time, too much stress can begin to alter the dendrites on the end of the prefrontal neurons (Arnsten, 2009). This can prohibit a child’s ability to process important cognitive functions such as planning, balancing behavior, decision making, or the ability to feel empathy. (Siddiqui, Chatterjee, Kumar, Siddiqui, Goyal, 2008). The famous story of Phineas Gage is the epitome of what happens when the prefrontal cortex is damaged. Gage was a railroad construction foreman in Vermont, in 1848. As they were doing their job an explosion occurred sending a metal rod through clean through the eye socket and front of Gage’s head, severing his frontal lobe from the rest of his brain. This led to Gage losing his personality, as his friends proceed to report that he was not himself ever again, rude, and said what came to mind. The severing of the frontal lobe disconnected the prefrontal cortex, and that part of his brain essentially died, leaving him to never be himself again. This incident shows the tragic circumstances that are endured when the prefrontal cortex is damaged (Phineas Gage, 2010).
The Hippocampus is a “structure in the temporal lobe associated with learning and memory” (Spielman, 2014). The hippocampus is a huge storage place for our memories and controls our learning also. As a child grows up and their brain is continuing to develop, the hippocampus plays a very important role in keeping one’s memories intact. However, if this gets damaged, it prevents the brain from making essential memories. The adoption process can be a traumatic experience for a child of a young age, and can cause them to be psychologically and emotionally scarred, causing them to be constantly reminded of the horrible experience of the failed adoption process, which causes damage to the hippocampus by a disorder called ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. ’ This severe damage and stress can lead to a disease known as anterograde amnesia, in which one may remember everything before the damage to hippocampus, but very little to none after. This amnesia hinders the brain from making new memories, leaving old ones safe (Tull, n. d. ). In 1953, a 27-year-old patient by the name of Henry Molaison suffered from epileptic seizures. He agreed to have a surgery to try and fix his seizures, that resulted in a damaged hippocampus. From that day forward Molaison forgot normal experiences as quickly as they occurred in his life and lacked the innate ability to create memories. The consequences Molaison experienced from damaging the hippocampus in his brain led to the research found on the importance of it in the brain (Brain Case Study, n. d. ).
By looking at the connection between the horrendous experiences during child adoption, and the impact these experiences have on the brain, one can observe the importance of successful child adoption process. A child in a foster home’s violent roots and constant separation can be drawn back to the amygdala, which can be rooted in the child’s fear of being abandoned. This can help a couple have a better point of approaching the issues the child their adopting may experience, and to give a different approach on how to create a relationship with the child. A couple looking to adopt can see the impacts of stress on the prefrontal cortex development within a child’s brain, and the impact it may have on that child’s personality and social behavior. Observing this may help the couple to be surer when they decide to start the adoption process, being careful not to jump in to quickly just to back out and have the disruption process cause a child so much stress that who they are becomes lost in the pain they experience. The hippocampus, having the biggest impact on a child’s early development and memory, may be considered during the adoption process. The adopters may take a safer approach to the adoption process and not engage on one child too quickly, to prevent having a child create a bond, memories, and an idea of the future with them only to be shot down and experience this trauma. This can prevent children from experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder at a young age and ensure the proper development of their brain to be able to create memories and learn new information. While seeing the severe consequences a failed adoption may have on a child’s brain and its development, this can help raise the numbers for successful adoptions, creating better lives for these children, and assuring proper development at a young age. B. (n. d. ).