Adoptive Parents ARE Biological Parents
by: Julie Beem
I had the incredible honor to interview Dr. Dan Siegel a couple of days ago in a webinar that will soon be released on ATN’s Learning Center. We did this in conjunction with Echo Parenting and Education from California. If you have not had the privilege to hear Dr. Siegel speak or read his books, you really must make this a priority. His expertise is interpersonal neurobiology. His work focuses on the impact that parenting has on children’s brain development.
Integration is the cornerstone of healthy brain development – both the ability to internally integrate within the brain as well as relational integration between people. Neuroscience research shows that fostering this relational integration (attachment) helps the brains of the people in these relationships to actually integrate and grow neural connections—i.e. cultivate resilience. His point is that high nurture, parental presence and attuned communication are environmental ways to chance a child’s brain biology for the better.
At the end of the presentation, I was able to ask Dr. Siegel questions. My main question was what adoptive/foster parents can do to really help their traumatized children. He graciously gave several ideas and acknowledged the incredibly challenging situation traumatized children and their parents face. But then he said this:
“Adoptive parents most certainly are biological parents. The people actively parenting the child are indeed biological because your parenting and the relationship you are working on building with your child biologically changes your child’s brain.”