Marie-Claude Gavard

When Adoption Becomes a Nightmare Publication date : June 4, 2009

Doctor Marie-Claude Gavard, a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, has practised in Paris for more than twenty years. She specialises in couple therapy.

A little girl in a Mexican orphanage in adopted, and at the age of five she leaves her country for France. Shortly afterwards, she becomes very aggressive toward her adoptive mother, rebuffing all her signs of affection. The relationship becomes one of intense conflict — and continues so for fifteen years. Ideally, an adoption is a tale of love and generosity, of a child that is saved from a miserable fate. But not always.
Based on one case of adoption, a psychiatrist, with great experience working with future adoptive parents, examines the questions that should be asked before embarking on adoption:
What are the difficulties in establishing emotional attachment in adoption? What about the adopted child’s past? What should he or she be told about that past? What can be done to prepare for the child’s new life? What are the chances of failure? Adopting or fostering: which is more appropriate in a given situation?
This lucid examination of the actual difficulties of adoption is aimed at anyone concerned by the subject — parents, prospective adoptive parents, professionals — and offers them the tools they need to help an adopted child.

Defying the dominant view on adoption, the author lays bare the psychological difficulties involved.
Only 2 % of all adoptions are labelled “difficult” and 73% of such cases concern children over the age of five.
Because adoption has become commonplace we tend to forget that adopting a child is rarely simple. To avoid painful experiences, prospective adoptive parents should know about, and prepare for, the various problems that may arise — before it is too late.