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Common Psychological Issues of Adopted Children Part I

Common Psychological Issues of Adopted Children Part I
November 1, 2013 LS_admin

More often than not, adopted children may seem to be “fine” in their new environment. However, a large amount of research shows that many adoptees become guarded, building walls around themselves to prevent others from getting too close. There is a tendency for adopted children to hide behind ideas of perfectionism, over emphasizing achievement and success, as well as self-sufficiency and independence. They do so while resisting what they need and desire most of all—the security of love and trust from close familial relationships. Oftentimes, adopted children intentionally disregard their thoughts and feelings about their birth parents out of fear their adoptive parents will feel unappreciated or rejected. For example, on an adoptees’ birthday, if the child seems quiet and distant, and later asked what they are thinking about, they may say nothing in response when in fact the child was thinking about his or her birth parents.  It is not uncommon for adoptees to externalize their grief through their behavior, which can be quite challenging for the family to handle and address. In certain unfortunate circumstances, after years of struggle, some adoptive parents conclude that parenthood is not for them, leaving the adopted child, once again to experience feelings of insecurity and rejection.

So why is it that adoptees choose to ignore discussions about their grief? In large part, this is due to the fear of initial rejection when being placed with a new family, desiring to appear as issue-free and burden-free as possible. The worry stems from others potentially knowing how needy or hurt they are inside, and not wanting to be rejected all over again.   Adding additional emotional stress and confusion, adopted children also fear hurting their adoptive parents’ feelings. This may be the case even with the best adoptive homes and families.  It is important and necessary for adopted children to learn how to connect emotionally with others, and be open to developing personal trusting relationships. In order to help adoptees achieve this, it helps to become aware of and understand the many psychological obstacles and challenges adopted children have to navigate through.

These are several hurdles for adopted children, namely adolescents, to address earlier on.  Adoptive children need to know their story and why they’re in a position requiring adoption. Adoptees must learn and accept that they were not the cause or the reason for their parents’ relinquishing them. It is understandable for an adoptee to have many questions about how their circumstances came to be. Many wonder why their parents gave them away, if there was something wrong or inadequate about them as a child, or if they were given away because their parents did drugs or abused them.  Adoptees then proceed to question what it says about them, and why their parents couldn’t work things out and take care of them.  With television shows today like Teen Moms and Secret Life of the American Teenager, many adopted children are reminded that many young and struggling parents do in fact figure out a way to keep their baby, leaving them to wonder why their parents weren’t able to do the same.

For an adoptee, part of learning their story requires adults to help provide them with difficult information.  Discovering the truth surrounding the circumstances of their adoption, especially if their parent had a mental illness, was in prison, or abusive, neglectful, addicted or even died, it may be difficult or even impossible to obtain the information. More commonly, many children are curious about the physical appearance of their birth parents and what they looked like.  It is imperative that adoptive parents disclose this information with their adopted child, or else they risk the adoptee finding out through less reliable ways, then feeling angry and betrayed by imagining scenarios that are far from the truth.  It is extremely important that adoptees learn all aspects of their story and why they are in a position of being adopted.  Seeking the assistance of a therapist or counselor familiar with adoption issues and grief is a positive and productive approach to handling such circumstances.

If you have questions or concerns regarding adopted children or seeking legal advice about adoption in Kansas, contact McDowell Chartered legal services at 316-633-4322 for more information today.  When we meet, our qualified Kansas adoption attorneys will review all of your legal options and help you determine whether an adoption proceeding is right for you.  Call us now to learn more!

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