The field of adoption has changed over the past years from one where there were babies available for many adoptive couples to one where increasingly the children who are needing adoption are those who have already suffered deprivations and difficulties in their families of origin, with disrupted attachments and a consequent traumatising effect of their early history on their internal worlds. Professionals working with these children, who have in effect been ‘dropped’, face the difficult task not only of placing them appropriately but of supporting their adoptive families. With the new experience of a secure base the original trauma may be reworked, and the new framework tested by these damaged and consequently often damaging children as they replay their feelings of being unwanted and unwantable. In describing once-weekly work with a six-year-old adopted boy, I suggest that the primary disillusion of his neonatal experience caused an internal catastrophe that was then reworked in his adoptive placement. This child did not experience what Winnicott (1971) called ‘gradual disillusion’ in terms of his belief that he creates the needed breast, and thus integration of love and hate of the primary object, but remained in a state of hyper-vigilance because of the deficits in his internal world. These deficits have been able partially to be addressed in psycho - therapy treatment.