“We Are On Our Own In This”

“We Are On Our Own In This”

Last weekend I received a call from adoptive mom, Brenna, who was desperately searching for help for her family. She and her husband, John, had adopted a sibling group of three many years ago.

The children are now in their teen years. Brenna states, “We have never been in any therapy and they’re now taking acting out to a new level.” Unfortunately, over the past week John has confessed he can not take any more, and is planning to leave the family.

sadfamily_fullsizeIn session I asked Brenna about their community, “Well, we’re in an active group in our community, but they are looking to us for answers. We’re the veterans, so I can’t confide in them about our problems. My family lives out of state, and John’s family can’t handle the kids. We’re on our own in this.”

This family had quite a few overwhelming issues on their plate: John’s level of distress, the children’s acting out, and a lack of encouragement from their family, friends, and community. Brenna’s family situation can improve, and they need others to help and champion for them. Life’s challenges are less frightening if you have others walking alongside you.

Let’s Build a Community

It is imperative that adoptive and foster families offer connection, support, and strength to one another. Life’s biggest problems feel a little less burdensome when we have people who truly “get us”. This felt sense of safety is most palpable when we engage with someone in the same situation or “boat” as ourself. There are many ways to accomplish divorce-family-picturebuilding a community, and some ideas may include the following:

When you meet a new adoptive or foster family or run into a fellow adoptive parent, ask them how they are doing. And ask with your full attention —be mindful and respectful, fully engaged only in the conversation with the other person. So many times adoptive and foster parents feel alone . . . when you are fully present with them, it helps them to feel heard and connected to you.

Refrain from judging anyone. This is a big one! So many families feel judgment all around them: at their child’s school, daycare, Sunday school class, at family functions, in the neighborhood. Be the non-judgmental ear others are seeking.

Do not assume that other families are doing okay if the parents are smiling or do not complain. Many families are suffering in silence.

Be honest with yourself and others about your current situation. The fact is— all families go through times of burdens as well as times of blessings. The more honest you are and voice what you or your family needs, the more it enables others to be available for you.

If you meet a adoptive or foster parent who is not involved in a group, invite them to join your group. Share your resources and wisdom.sad mom

If your family is having a hard time, ask other families for resources. Accept any help they may propose, from several hours of respite to a cooked meal

Give one another hope and strength. If your family is in a good place, reach out to another family. Share your hope, your comfort, your story, and any other need you can fulfill for them.

Don’t forget to click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to get updated posts and information on upcoming groups for kids, teens, and parents!

book-pictureCarol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.

Selecting A Therapist for Your Foster or Adopted Child

Selecting A Therapist for Your Foster or Adopted Child

Many parents begin to seek counseling as soon as their child comes home while other families may not see a need arise until a later time, such as adolescence. (I would strongly suggest finding a therapist before there is a critical need for one.) For most families, finding a therapist can be a challenging task especially if there are not trauma informed therapists nearby. This post hopes to give parents some direction on choosing a counselor for their family.

therapist,righttimeThere are many factors to consider from insurance and office location, to the therapist’s degree and training. All of this may seem confusing coupled with the many academic degrees that therapists may hold. Most clinicians will be happy to answer parent’s questions as they go about finding the best fit for their child and family.

Below is a list questions parents can ask the prospective therapist:

1. Do you have a Masters degree (or above) in a counseling related field? Counseling related fields can include but are not limited to: psychology, social work, and marriage and family therapy. It is imperative that your therapist hold at least a masters degree in their field. (By the way, the terms “counselor” and “therapist” are interchangeable and generic ,and do not indicate a particular educational background. The term “social worker” does indicate the person holds a degree in social work but this is not always the case, and therefore, I would encourage you to ask what degree they have received.)

2. Do you have a license to practice independently? Each state and degree has different requirements but a license indicates the therapist passed state boards which indicates experience and competency in their degree.

3. When did you complete your counseling degree? It is preferable for the therapist to have graduated more than five years ago. Of course, counseling is an art and the more years of experience the therapist has, the more likely they are to be adept in their profession.

4. Are you in network with my insurance? If a therapist is IN Network with your insurance, that indicates he or she has a contract to provide services at a particular rate agreed upon with the insurance company. In this case, you would only be responsible for your portion as indicated by your health care policy. To be on the safe side, talk to your insurance therapist.child2company prior to your appointment and find out your benefits, ie: deductible, copays, coinsuance, and out of pocket max. Also, double check with the therapist to ensure they are still in network with the company. I’ve had a difficult time getting my name off panels that I haven’t been on for over 10 years . . . just because the providers name is on the list, doesn’t ensure they’re still on the panel.

If the therapist is OUT of network, you are responsible to pay their fee in full. The payment still can be applied to your out of network deductible and that can be a benefit as the year progresses. Again, call your insurance company to determine your benefits. You also will want to ask the provider if they will file the claim for you or if you will have to file it yourself.

5. How many years have you worked with foster and adoption children? An effective counselor will have at least two to three years expertise in the area of foster care or adoption. And ideally, 30% to 50% of the therapist’s practice should be with foster or adopted children. For some reason, many therapists do not recognize this as an area of specialization, but it most definitely is! You can go to a general child therapist if there are no specialists in your area, but request that they receive supervision from an experienced practitioner in the area of adoption and foster care.

6. What is the location of your practice? This can be an influential factor for some families especially if there are several choices of therapists in your area, and you take your child or children to multiple specialist appointments in a week.

7. As the parent, will I stay in the room during my child’s sessions? Most therapists are not trained to keep a parent in the therapy room, but I strongly believe this is the best practice. There are several reasons this is the most helpful strategy for adopted and foster families as it offers the parent a chance to see the therapist role model behavior and ways to discuss issues with their child. It also provides healthy attachment opportunities for the parent and child . . . if the parent is not in the room as the therapist is discussing emotional issues, then the therapist is in a position to offer comfort to the child (in lieu of the parent) or they have to leave the session to fetch you and the opportune moment is lost by the time you return.

8. How were you trained to work with adopted and foster kids? There are many acceptable therapist.childtreatment models and some options are: Theraplay, Narrative therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and Dyadic Developmental Therapy. Research whichever model the therapist uses so that you are familiar with the process and know what to expect in sessions.

9. What additional training do you have that augments your chosen model? It is suggested that therapists have additional training in: individual therapy with children and adults, family therapy, child development, trauma work, Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) just to name a few.

10. Will we meet alone with you in the first session or do we bring our child? A general rule of thumb is parents attend the first session alone unless the child is an adolescent, then the teen may accompany the parents. It is especially important for the child to remain out of the first session so that the parents may inform the therapist of the child’s trauma history. The child does not need to sit and listen to their trauma, as that would be further traumatizing. If the patient is a teen, it’s important that they build a rapport with the therapist from the start and feel the therapist is willing to see “their side” of things and not just their parents “side.”

These last questions are for the family to ask themselves after the first visit or two:

11. Do we feel this therapist is a positive and comfortable fit for our family? In order to discuss emotionally laden subjects, the family must feel comfortable but also be aware of your own difficulties in this area and give the therapist time to get to know you. . . around three to five sessions. If after that time, you’re still not feeling comfortable with the therapist, it’s probably not a good fit.

12. Is the counselor open to our questions about the therapy process? This is hopefully a resounding, “Yes.” A therapist needs to be open to you asking questions about the process as you spend time together.

Don’t forget to click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to get updated posts and information on upcoming groups for kids, teens, and parents!

book-pictureCarol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.


Is This behavior Normal Or Is It Adoption Related?

Is This Behavior Normal Or Is It Adoption Related?
Jodi, mother of 5 year old Sasha, voices a common concern, “I am a parent who wonders if some of the ‘issues’  I see in my child are normal or adoption related; I wonder if therapy would help her? I am a wholehearted believer in the benefits of therapy, but I would love to know whether she would benefit from it or not.”

oneyearoldIn order to distinguish a behavior as “normal” or related to a child’s history parents first must know and define average child behavior. Unless you studied child development in school, it’s helpful to have a resource on hand. One resource I refer to are the books written by child psychologist, Dr. Louise Bates Ames. Dr. Ames was a pioneer in the studies of child development and co-wrote the series, Your One Year Old. Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old“>The books begin with age one and end with a book that includes ages ten through fourteen. Each of the books provide information about general characteristics, relationships, routines, tensional outlets and abilities for the age.

childbehaviorDr. Ames also co-authored, Child Behavior; this book points out that every child goes through smooth and bumpy times throughout childhood. In bumpy times children seem distracted, easily upset and fussy, and increasingly negative in their outlook. In smoother times, they seem easy-going, positive, focused and overall easier to get along with in relationships.

So, how do you tell if a behavior is adoption related? In therapy, I am looking for negative beliefs the child holds about him or her self that seem to connect back to a history of abandonment, neglect, or trauma. Some common examples of negative cognitions adopted and foster children hold are:

I’m not safe trusting adults
I’m not going to be taken care of (so i must do it myself)
I am not going to have enough . . . food, clothes, toys, etc.
I am not important
I don’t have a voice or I am not heard by others
I am not loveable, likeable
I am also noticing any behavior that is out of range for normalcy in time and duration particularly for the child and his or her development. For example, if a 5 year old child is having temper tantrums lasting longer than 10 minutes or happening more than once a day, they would be out of the expected average range.

Another sign of adoption, foster, trauma related behavior is a child who appears to be recreating their past. As an example, if the child makes comments that don’t fit with his or her current life, or the child makes comments to you that seem to belong to another person, then those comments may be related to events that occurred before he or she came home. When a child’s remarks are related to his or her adoption, history in foster care, or past trauma, then it is adoption related.

boyandmomLet’s look at an example from Samantha and her 6 year old son, Arthur. Samantha adopted Arthur from a Koran orphanage at 13 months old. They decided to decorate cookies as a Christmas gift for Arthur’s teachers. Because of their busy schedule Samantha waited until the morning before school to decorate them. Arthur asked his mom to promise to decorate the cookies “neatly” and unfortunately, Samantha made that impossible promise. With the slight slip of hand, Samantha messed up the lime green icing on the cookie.

Arthur screamed, “You messed it up; it’s not perfect.” Crying, he turned to his mom and said, “I can’t count on you.” Samantha is a patient and giving mother but doubts herself and her part in this mishap. Blaming herself for Arthur’s upset she confesses, “I shouldn’t have waited right before school; I was rushed. I was trying to make it perfect for her but I went outside the lines.”

Overlooking Arthur’s ghosts from the past, Samantha quickly blames herself for Arthur’s emotional upset, “I’m going to have to make it up to him. I try but I just can’t be perfect.” Undoubtedly, Arthur’s upset is not about the cookies, about his mom being perfect, or whether he can count on her. Clearly, this emotional upset is an issue from the past that needs to be uncovered and addressed in therapy.

**Names have been changed for confidentiality.

Read more on this subject in The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide at Amazon.com.

Click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to get updated posts and information on upcoming groups for kids, teens, and parents!


Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.

Is It Secure or Insecure? The Four Attachment Styles

Is It Secure or Insecure? The Four Attachment Styles

Cathy adopted 15 year old, Rachel, from foster care at eight months. Cathy shares in session, “Rachel is on the dance team at school. This week they performed in front of the whole school; Rachel was nervous about it. I saw her come into the gym, and I was worried she wouldn’t find me. I waited while she looked around the room. Finally, our eyes met, and at the same time we pointed at each other. I gave her a thumbs up, and I could see her relax.”

zeditorial-parent-childCathy’s story tells a lot about their secure attachment –Rachel looks to her mom for comfort and safety. In a healthy attachment the child feels safe, emotionally secure and protected; a securely attached child seeks their parent for emotional and physical connection when they are frightened, hurt or if they become separated.

Secure vs. Insecure Attachment: The Four Styles of Attachment

Secure (healthy) attachments develop from available, consistent, and sensitive caregiving while unavailable, inconsistent or insensitive caregiving promotes insecure attachments. Attachment forms from repeated interactions between the child and caregiver. Let’s look at the four attachment styles, along with a story, to demonstrate the insecure styles.

Secure attachment: Secure

Secure attachment develops when a caregiver provides consistent caregiving. In a secure relationship, the child seeks comfort from her caregiver and prefers her over strangers.

stressed-parent-in-front-of-crying-child-on-couch-017a-depressive-symptoms-in-parentsInsecure Attachment: Ambivalent, Avoidant, Disorganized

Ambivalent attachment develops when a caregiver shifts between adequate and preoccupied caregiving. Children in an ambivalent relationship are clingy, and (directly or indirectly) aggressive toward their caregiver often pushing them away and then immediately wanting closeness again.

Avoidant attachment develops when a caregiver is neglectful and rejects the child. Children in an avoidant relationship avoid their caregiver (i.e.: ignore them, refuse touch) and may show a preference to strangers.

Disorganized attachment develops when an inconsistent caregiver wavers between frightening and comforting the child. In a disorganized relationship, children try to control or attempt to be a caretaker to their parent.

Stories to Demonstrate Insecure Styles

Ambivalent Attachment: The Davis Family

Wade and Kimberly, are concerned about their three year old son, Luis. In a therapy session, Kimberly says, “We brought Luis home from Colombia when he was sixteen months old. We thought he had a good foster home; now, we’re not so sure.”

Wade and Kimberly explain Luis’ behaviors, “If I get upset with Luis he says, ‘Mom, your hair looks nice. I like you very much.’ It makes me wonder if he’s manipulating me.” Wade adds, “Another thing we’ve worried about is he runs into his room, hides and screams, ‘Don’t touch me!’ Then, he yells for one of us and as soon as we get there, he says, ‘Get out! Leave me alone!‘

A Child with Avoidant Behaviors: Joe’s Story

Joe is thirteen years old. From birth to age three, he lived with his birth mother, Charlene, who neglected him. Frequently, Charlene left Joe alone in a dirty home and when she was there, she rarely paid attention to him. Joe was removed from her care when Child Protective Services found Joe in the home with a drunken man who was passed out on the floor.

Joe was placed in foster care until age five when he was adopted by Chris and Mandi. Chris and Mandi want to hear Joe’s thoughts and feelings, but by the time he came to their home he had already lost his voice. Unfortunately, Joe keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself.

A Child With Disorganized Behaviors: Alee’s Story

Alee is four years old. Her birth parents, Brandon and Marcy, were both young and mentally ill. They could not remember how to mix her formula, dress her appropriately or manage her illnesses. Furthermore, Brandon would become aggressive when she cried. Marcy confesses that Brandon spanked Alee when he was irritated with her bouts of crying. Finally, Child Protective Services removed Alee from their home.

After two foster placements, Alee was adopted by her paternal aunt and uncle, Ellen and James, at the age of two and a half. Alee is both punitive and caretaking with her mom and dad. When Alee becomes punitive she hits, kicks, spits at her parents and says, “You’re just a stupid mom” and “Get away from me!”

Sometimes, Ellen is tearful which triggers Alee’s caretaking behavior. She scoots over to mom, gently puts her hand on mom’s shoulder and in a encouraging voice says, “Don’t worry, mom. I’ll do better.”

Read more information on attachment styles in The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guidat Amazon.com.

Click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to follow and get updated posts!


Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.

Upcoming DBT Group for Moms

happinessA parent once told me, “I can only be as happy as my least functioning child.” Trauma creates pain and chaos in a family; parents have to remain sturdy even when the tornado like winds threaten to tip them over.

Stay tuned…the Lord has been giving me a new skill set that I’m going to be teaching you! I am going to be hosting online DBT groups and education for moms.  So you no longer have to be in Louisville Kentucky to be in my group!

On this page, click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL (Right side of the page or Bottom of the page on mobile app) to be on the list of those first notified of  the online group! 

For those of you who don’t know, DBT is a set of skills to teach Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness (staying calm in the moment), and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

book-pictureCarol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY

Happy Valentines Day <3

Happy Valentines Day, Trauma Mamas and Dads!! 


In celebration of Valentines Day I am giving a copy of my devotional, Devotions of Comfort and Hope for Adoptive & Foster Moms to the hardest, most loving mommas out there! It will be FREE on Amazon starting tomorrow, Wednesday, February 15 through Thursday, February 16th.  Love to you all!! Share with your friends!!!

Don’t forget to click on the the words, “FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL” on the right side of the page to get my updates! 🙂

Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.



It’s extremely important to find the right therapist for your child. Of course, the hard part is finding a therapist who has experience and training to work with trauma, and children and teens from hard places.

This post will be one of many intended to educate therapists on the specialization of adopted and foster children and teens. A therapist in this specialization typically has many years of experience, and I’d like to stream line that for those who already have solid counseling skills.

Additionally, if your family is working with a therapist and you have great rapport, direct them to this website and my books to learn additional ways to help your child!

In my opinion, the most effective therapists in this specialization have training and lifelong-adoption-issueknowledge in the areas of:
The Lifelong Issues of Adoption
Child behavior
Individual and family therapy

Let’s take a brief look at each of these; in the near future I will post detailed articles on each of these topics.

1. THE SEVEN CORE ISSUES OF ADOPTION: Deborah Silverstein and Sharon Roszia identified the Seven Core Issues of Adoption. As therapists, we need to consider these challenges as a child grows and matures. The lifelong issues of adoption include: rejection, grief, control, intimacy, guilt and shame, loss and identity.

2. ATTACHMENT: There are two types of attachment: Secure and Insecure. Under the Insecure attachment, exist three types: Ambivalent, Avoidant, and Disorganized. It is crucial for therapists to understand and be able to identify these styles in the child’s relationships, and within the family during therapy sessions. Read more about attachment styles in The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide: How to Heal Your Child’s Trauma and Loss.

3. TRAUMA: Most adopted and foster children/teens have a level of trauma due to their early abandonment. Others may have significant levels of trauma from physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, and multiple placement moves. The child’s trauma has to be addressed in order for the child to heal and in turn, their behavior improve. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR is one effective method to resolve past trauma. Learn specific techniques and strategies to heal a child’s trauma in The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide: How to Heal Your Child’s Trauma and Loss.

4. CHILD BEHAVIOR: An adoption therapist must be acquainted with child behavior to determine age appropriate behaviors and useful behavior management strategies. Traditional parenting strategies are not beneficial for kids with early deprivation or abandonment; it usually doesn’t work. Instead, parents need to discipline from a therapeutic parenting model. For example, time-outs in a distant room trigger abandonment issues for children whereas time-ins next to mom or dad create a consequence without erupting feelings of loss.

5. INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY THERAPY: In traditional therapy, the therapist meets alone with a child, and then at a separate time with the parents. In session with an adoptive or foster family, the therapist utilizes a family therapy approach and meets with parents and child together.

Additionally, if the family is not in session together, the therapist is likely to miss the small dynamics in the parent-child attachment. This can influence the therapist to see the child’s behavior within the average range, and mistakenly blame the parents for the child’s behavior problems. Unfortunately, this is a common error and leaves parents feeling misunderstood, criticized and powerless to receive the help their family needs.

Come back for the detailed articles on each of these topics. I’ll be posting them soon!!

I’d love your feedback, questions, or comments. Please leave them in the comment box below.


Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.

First Blog Post!


“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.”

–Audre Lorde

When I initially meet and evaluate a child, I am first looking at their a ability to identify and express emotion. The skill of communicating feelings is the foundation for any healthy attachment; and in healing past loss, abandonment or trauma.

Anytime your child shares his or her feelings, you are a participant in his/her inner world, and in those moments they are allowing you to understand their joys, sorrows, fears, and frustrations. Those are often prime times to build secure (healthy) attachment.

There are many reasons why children have limited emotional skills: a past history of neglect or abuse; a parent who believes the child is too young to learn emotional language; the child may not like to share feelings; or the parents themselves may not be gifted in this area. No matter the cause, you and your child can learn steps to improve emotional expression. This is an area of practice and anyone can improve these skills. Let me share some specific strategies:

5-tips1. Teach your child the primary feeling words: happy, sad, mad, scared and loving. Write each feeling word on a piece of paper, and go over them with your child. (For elementary age and younger, draw a feeling face picture next to the corresponding feeling word.) Post the paper in an eye-catching spot in your home like the fridge or the back of a door.

2. Help your child learn which facial expression matches each feeling word. For example, on your face show your child a smile and raised eyebrows display happy feelings whereas a furrowed brow and tight mouth display mad feelings. Make it a game! Take turns showing a feeling face; allow the other person to guess which feeling face is demonstrated. To keep your child’s attention, keep score and award a small prize or treat to the winner.

3. Encourage your child to express his or her feelings. Include verbal and nonverbal forms of communication. Some nonverbal ways to share feelings include: writing, painting, or drawing. Many families implement a special alone time with their child to talk about feelings. As you begin the practice, ask your child to complete a sentence, such as: Today I feel happy/sad/mad/scared because . . .

4. Ask your child to communicate his feelings in the moment. When you notice your child experiencing feelings ask, “How are you feeling?” or simply, “What’s going on? It seems like something’s bothering you?” If he or she is unsure point it out to him/her, ie: “I see your big smile, are you happy?”

5. Give Positive reinforcement for sharing. Even if your child isn’t accurate at first, recognize his or her attempts with praise. Remember, just like any new skill, time and practice improve performance.

I discuss these skills more in depth as well as additional strategies in chapter 9 of my book, The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide: How to Heal Your Child’s Trauma and Loss.

I’d love to hear your comments, questions, or requests for new blog posts!


Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.