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Hodges, J. Berger, M. Melzak, S. Oldeschulte, R. Rabb, S. Salo, F. (1984). Two Crucial Questions: Adopted Children in Psychoanalytic Treatment. J. Child Psychother., 10(1):47-56.

(1984). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 10(1):47-56

Two Crucial Questions: Adopted Children in Psychoanalytic Treatment

Jill Hodges, in collaboration with Maria Berger, Sheila Melzak, Rudolph Oldeschulte, Sarah Rabb and Frances Salo

Adopted children face a particular set of difficulties in their development; that of coming to terms with the awareness that they were born to, and relinquished by, their first parents. Often, of course, the subject of adoption and the first parents is one which is very difficult for the child, and the adoptive parents, to talk about. So one has tended to lack very much idea of the way in which children privately try to make sense of what is often a very confusing situation for them as well as an emotionally complex one. They may actually have very little information, and they may be reluctant to ask for more — perhaps sensing parental unease with the subject. So, rather as with their theories about sex and childbirth, children arrive at their own version of events — a version which may seem bizarre indeed to adults but is very important for the child. However, children do not often publicly disclose their thoughts about such matters, or at least not in any elaborated way. It is here that we feel that the more detailed information which psychoanalytic treatment makes available, can help to shed some light on an area which is often obscure.

We recognise, of course; that our cases by no means represent a “normal” group of adopted children. All had been referred to the Clinic with emotional difficulties, ranging in severity from mainly neurotic disturbances to those arising from distorted personality development. Their disturbances consisted of behaviour problems of varying severity; difficult relationships with parents and others, and, in the case of the older children, learning difficulties.

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