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Facing the Long-Term Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect

July 18, 1996

Re "Full of Woe" by Lynn Smith (July 12):

I really don't know what it will finally take to convince people that if they bring children into this world and treat them with abuse or neglect, nothing good can come of it.

I imagine the list of behavioral disorders that can result from being neglected or abused is quite long, and attachment disorder is just one.

So long as we as parents give our children reasons to develop defense mechanisms to cope with the nonsense we throw at them day in and day out, we will also have their grief to deal with, and ultimately our own. I know, because I am a parent, and I can see exactly how my mood and behavior elicits specific responses from my kids. It's not a joke, being a parent.

In our near-manic pursuit for material wealth, our Western techno culture has valued wrongly and diminished our ability to truly enjoy the real fruits of our labor--the happiness of our children.




No amount of therapy will heal the growing numbers of abused, neglected and abandoned children this country is producing. These children have been scarred so badly they will always be emotionally damaged.

The solution does not lie in a new "quickie" therapy, but in preventing unfit parents from continuing to have more children year after year.

Our governmental policies encourage irresponsible childbearing. We must change these policies so that healthy families are promoted and dysfunctional adults are discouraged from having children.




When Lynn Smith begins her article by saying that the only reason Barbara Nolin did not "give back her adopted children was because no one would take them," the writer is perpetuating two terrible myths: 1) that children who join their parents by adoption are society's castoffs, damaged goods, and 2) that people who become parents through adoption do not really feel connected and committed to these children.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Most infant adoptions in the United States occur because a young pregnant woman acknowledges that she is not able to raise a child at this time in her life and wants to choose parents for her unborn baby. And most parents who become attached to their children by adoption rather than by shared genes, like good parents everywhere, wholeheartedly accept the long, hard job of protecting, nurturing, teaching and guiding their sons and daughters into adulthood.

However, as Smith points out, sometimes things do go very wrong. A child may be so emotionally disturbed that it is almost impossible to develop a normal, loving parent-child relationship.


Executive Director

Adoption Research Center

Sherman Oaks

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