Even under the best circumstances, creating a new family through adoption is a big adjustment.
When Tom Jones and his wife became adoptive parents, they lived on the family farm in North Dakota and Tom spent most of his career as an agronomist—a crop scientist. When they adopted two teenagers from Columbia, all of their lives changed dramatically. He learned quickly about the role of developmental trauma and attachment in a child’s development, and through his extensive research, Tom also found the Association for Training on Trauma and Attachment in Children (ATTACh).
“The kids went from living in a big city of 7 million to a small town of 600,” Tom recalls. “We didn’t know any Spanish and they didn’t know any English.”
The teens, who are biological siblings, also struggled with the effects of childhood attachment issues. Tom’s “self-care” during those challenging years revolved around studying and learning about attachment. The more he educated himself on attachment, the more he saw the need for trauma- and attachment-focused training for professionals. His family struggled to find therapists who could help with the teens’ developmental trauma and attachment issues. At one point, two therapists even told him, “You know more than we do about this.”
Tom is currently a member of the ATTACh Board of Directors. He’s not a therapist or childhood trauma specialist, but on the board, he serves as Parent Advocate. He relishes his role among clinicians and leaders who operate residential treatment facilities, and says serving on the Board gives him a huge respect for the professionals he refers and shares with other parents.
“Clinicians need the parent perspective, and parents need to understand the constraints of clinicians,” he says. “It goes both ways.”
Tom believes in ATTACh because it’s an organization that offers evidence-based training programs that work, information that is well-vetted, and an executive director, Mary McGowan, who lives it and knows what parents are going through.
“Everything from Mary and from ATTACh comes from the heart,” says Tom. “We, as parents, want the fix now, but it can take years. It’s a journey. The attachment brain WILL heal with the right education and supports. My first ATTACh Conference started the healing process in our family.”
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