Emotional Issues of Adopting
This page and its links explain some of the emotional effects that adoption can have on a child. Being aware of these issues will allow you to better help your child.
Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons
Every child goes through periods of adjustment and development issues as he or she grows. In addition to the normal development issues, a child that has been adopted, as opposed to being born into the family, faces unique issues and concerns. These issues often center around feelings of loss, grief, abandonment, self-esteem, and identity.
Regarding feelings of loss and grief, many adopted children feel loss and grief related to not being raised by their biological parent(s) and feeling abandoned. The child may grieve for the loss that they feel. Adopted persons, especially those adopted when they were older or were adopted from foster care, may also have to deal with the loss of siblings, grandparents, and other significant people who were, or might have been, part of their life.
Self-esteem is how a person feels about themselves, their sense of value, worth and purpose. Many studies have found that adopted persons often score lower on measures of self-esteem and self-confidence than their non-adopted counterparts.
The development of identity is important throughout childhood but typically becomes more focused during adolescence. Identity development can be more complicated for an adopted child since questions come up about why they were placed for adoption, who are their biological parents, what do these biological parents do, what do they look like, what genetic or other behavior problems do they have. The adolescent may also focus on the question of who really are they and where do they really belong.
The adopted child and the adoptive parents may need help resolving feelings about the adoptee not growing up with their birth parents and about their feelings of loss and lack of clear identity. Needing outside help is common and many adoptive families seek post adoption assistance for themselves and the adopted child. Some of the approaches to therapy are discussed in the links Adoption Therapy and More Therapeutic Help.
You may also find the link Emotional
Issues and Adoption and the Child Welfare Information Gateway fact sheet Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons.
Families who have adopted a child from the foster may experience some special problems. A good summary and a good source of helpful information is the Child Welfare Information Gateway article Helping a Foster Child Transition to Your Adopted Child.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway article Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents looks at adoption and emotional issues from the standpoint of the birth parents. This information can help you more fully understand the adoption process and its emotional ramifications for the birth mother and birth father.