It was a pleasure to sit down with Dr. Jennifer Cain for an insightful interview. Learning about her practices and passion for helping bring positive resources to the adoption community was truly inspiring. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.

Meet Dr. Jennifer Cain, 

Dr. Jennifer Cain is a master diagnostician with specialized training in attachment and trauma. Her passion lies in understanding each child and family she works with ensuring that every child receives the support they need to thrive. With a holistic approach, Dr. Cain focuses on strengthening the parent-child bond and enhancing parenting skills to create positive outcomes for families.

Dr. Cain’s passion for her work stems from her desire to empower parents with the knowledge and skills they need to support their children effectively. By teaching parents what to do, how to do it, and why, Dr. Cain helps families build strong, loving relationships and navigate the challenges of parenting with confidence.

Dr. Cain’s work began with her innate love for working with children. She observed that some children from challenging backgrounds struggled—especially with behavior problems and attachment, and she found she had an innate ability to help them bond which, in turn, improved their behavior in other relationships. 

This realization led her to focus her academic pursuits on understanding trauma and attachment which culminated in her Master’s thesis on PTSD in children and a Doctoral dissertation on trauma and attachment. Her extensive training includes a 2,000-hour internship at a center for young children and families. This internship was specifically focused on trauma and attachment. Other training included a focus on psychotherapy, neuropsychology, and other testing. Altogether, she acquired 7,000 hours of supervised experience before becoming licensed in late 2015.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care is an approach that recognizes and responds to the effects of trauma on individuals. Dr. Cain integrates trauma-informed principles into her practice by offering compassionate and effective support for children who have experienced trauma and their families.

Dr. Cain explains the challenges adoptive parents face in not always knowing the traumas their children have experienced. When their children also struggle to articulate their experiences or assume the parent already knows, the parents are left feeling uncertain about how to support those children: “The intense emotional needs and/or challenging behaviors can take a toll on even the most dedicated parent.” This lack of understanding can lead to feelings of helplessness and demoralization among parents—something Dr. Cain works to repair for the benefit of the child, parent, and the collective family at large.

Dr. Cain’s work is particularly important for adoptive parents and adoptees, as many children who have experienced trauma may struggle with attachment issues and behavioral challenges. Through her expertise in trauma and attachment, Dr. Cain helps families understand and address these challenges, creating a nurturing and supportive environment for adopted children to thrive.

How Do Trauma and Attachment Issues Present Itself in Adoptees?

Trauma and attachment issues can manifest in various ways in adoptees, including difficulty trusting others, challenges forming secure attachments, and behavioral issues such as aggression or withdrawal. Dr. Cain helps families recognize and address these signs, providing strategies to support healthy attachment and emotional development.

Dr. Cain emphasizes that adoptees may experience split loyalty, feeling a sense of allegiance to their birth parents, which can hinder communication. Some adoptees have experienced multiple placements, including disrupted adoptive placements—each life event adds another layer of complexity to the challenges they face in attachment making it “more difficult for those children to let down their guard and trust their parent.”

How Does Dr. Jennifer Cain Help Prepare Adoptive Parents for Life After Placement?

In response to the feelings many adoptive parents have in experiencing overwhelm or uncertainty about their ability to support their child’s needs, Dr. Cain reassures these parents that seeking the right support can make a significant difference. She encourages parents to start the process of seeking support early and emphasizes the value of proactive parenting education before adopting.

Dr. Cain plays a crucial role in preparing adoptive parents for life after placement by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the unique challenges of adoption by providing personalized support and solutions tailored to each family’s needs, Dr. Cain helps parents feel confident and prepared to meet their child’s needs and build a strong, loving bond.“I would also suggest learning how to promote and develop secure attachment”

Dr. Cain advises adoptive parents to understand their own attachment style and history, as it significantly impacts their parenting. She emphasizes the need for flexibility in rearranging aspects of daily life to accommodate the needs of the adopted child, including promoting the development of secure attachment and understanding alternative strategies for addressing trauma reactions.

When asked how she tailors her approach to meet the specific needs of each family, she stresses the importance of recognizing the uniqueness of each child and parent, including their cultural backgrounds and individual needs. She listens attentively to parents, acknowledging their perspective: “I’m an expert on what can help families, but parents are the experts on what the family dynamic looks like on a day-to-day basis, so I listen and integrate what parents tell me with the things I believe will help them.” She then collaborates with them to develop personalized strategies for addressing their challenges.

The Importance of Adoption Resources and Support Services

Dr. Cain underscores the significance of support services and resources in assisting adoptive families, emphasizing the importance of rest, respite, and shared experiences with other adoptive families. She highlights the importance of seeking a variety of support systems to meet the diverse needs of adopted children and their families. She urges adoptive parents to seek specialized professional help rather than relying solely on general resources.

Dr. Cain emphasizes the importance of beginning the process before adoption, comparing it to pre-marital therapy. Addressing potential challenges early equips parents with the necessary tools to navigate the complexities of adoption effectively: when they know what to look for, they can see it when it happens. She says, “Small problems become bigger over time—especially when parents become stressed and they don’t know what to do.”

When asked for her advice to adoptive and hopeful adoptive parents, Dr. Cain urged prospective adoptive parents to proactively seek parenting education before adoption speaking on the benefits of advanced preparation: ““When you’re prepared, you’re not taken by surprise.” She stressed the value of working with experts who can provide personalized support tailored to the unique needs of each family.

Start the Process

Families in Ohio and New York seeking support for their adopted children can benefit from Dr. Cain’s expertise and compassionate care. With her extensive experience and personalized approach, Dr. Cain is dedicated to helping families navigate the complexities of adoption and create loving, supportive environments where children can thrive.

Dr. Jennifer Cain’s approach to trauma-informed care is invaluable for adoptive families, providing them with the support and guidance needed to navigate the challenges of adoption and create nurturing environments where children can thrive.

More Work from Dr. Jennifer Cain 

Dr. Cain has also been involved in advocacy work. One of those projects was collecting guidelines for reporting on cases involving child trauma such as sexual assault of children. She compiled guidelines for journalists reporting about child trauma and crimes against children. She emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about trauma and attachment issues in the most productive and healthy ways for the child. 

Read more about her efforts and her interview with Natalie Yahr at The Center for Journalism Ethics

Purchase her book, Help! My Child Doesn’t Listen: Helping Your Child Listen to You and Behave Better, where she “explores the reasons why children do not listen and what can be done about it. In her clear, engaging style, she explains each stage of the process, and describes a number of other important factors that affect how well children listen.”

Explore Dr. Jennifer Cain’s website for more detailed information on her services, methods, and specialties.