Life is full of challenges. If a foundation is stable and secure, individuals face adversity with hope, using whatever skills they have, knowing that they have the support and help of family and friends. When a foundation is shaky, the world seems a dangerous place where survival of the fittest is the rule. In 1995, realising the need to rebuild the foundations of these individuals, we began using stories to challenge mistaken beliefs and restructure the working model in order to help parents and children live a connected life. We called this process Family Attachment Narrative Therapy…From the Introduction to the book.
The stories of the children in this book allow the reader to look at their world prior to adoption or ‘salvation’ when they are taken from a place of danger, vulnerability and cruelty and placed in a secure, stable environment whether to be a permanent family member or a long-term foster child.
The case studies demonstrate the time and care that is required to help build the trust between a bewildered, protected child and their new permanent parents. The story of Robert threads through the book and offers insight into how the adoptive parents discover details about his previous life and how this becomes the text of different narratives designed to allow thinking and feelings to surface gradually with space for regression where necessary.
There are other stories and other methodologies of supporting these damaged children. There are models which help make sense of the chaos that some children are born into and why and how they struggle to attach to anyone. The first demonstrates the link between attachment – or not, life events or trauma and development and how this may be interpreted by a small child as they struggle to survive in a world they cannot control.
It is an effective book for prospective parents of older children - those who have a conscious or unconscious history of living a different life. It demonstrates how exceedingly difficult it is for these children to learn how to become attached in a normal way to other adults when they have been so badly betrayed in the past. The theories of Bowlby* are foremost in the texts when addressing attachment.
The final chapters offer more narratives and stories to help children move over the barriers they have imposed on themselves and their new families.
This is a good book to have on the shelf if you are an adoptive parent of foster carers. It is invaluable for professionals who work with such damaged children especially when they also run out of ideas as they offer support and counselling to the families.
* John Bowlby 1907-1990- looked at attachment and its implications especially for children raised outside of their birth families
Lacher, Denise B., Nichols, Todd, Nichols, Melissa and May, Joanne C. (2012) Connecting with Kids Through Stories – Using Narratives to Facilitate Attachment in Adopted Children
Jessica Kingsley Publishing