What is Trauma?

According to current and reliable research, there are six primary risk factors that lead to “children from hard places” (other authors use the term “Children of Trauma”). The presence of any one of these can result in lifelong repercussions (and foster/adoptive children almost always have several of these risk factors). These risk factors are:

  • prenatal stress, difficult or traumatic labor or birth, medical trauma early in life,
  • abuse, neglect, and other forms of trauma and profound loss.

Based on this list, it 01810is clear that the term, “children from hard places,” accurately describes many more children than just those who were institutionalized or adopted later in life. Further, it is well established that children impacted by adoption or foster care have all experienced some degree of loss and, as a result, are more likely to encounter a variety of questions and wrestle with different issues relating to that loss and the grief and pain that flow from it.

Trauma as defined by the DSM – 5 has the following characteristics:

  • An experience which has either the direct threat or perceived threat of death or serious injury and must include the experience of all of the following..
    • Intense fear
    • Helplessness
    • Horror
    • Mental disorganization/agitation
  • Trauma is the reason why so many foster/adoptive  children react/respond the way they do!  It is through NO fault of their own that they come into care…whether they be an infant or an almost aged out teen.



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