Although it is important for adopted children to understand as much as possible about the circumstances surrounding their adoption, there are many other issues adoptees experience as result of the adoption process. One very common emotional hurdle many adopted children struggle with is feeling different from their peers. During adolescence is the most prevalent time in life for the want and desire to fit in and be part of a group. The experience of adoption generally creates increased self-consciousness regarding the need for security by association and/or acceptance, as well as feelings of being an outsider and seemingly different due to their background and past. Oftentimes, an adopted child may look physically different from their adopted parents if they are a different race or from a different culture. If such issues are present, it is imperative that the thoughts and feelings surrounding these differences are addressed. Otherwise such insecurities may negatively affect a child’s sense of self-worth and security within the adoptive family. The following are common needs, sensitivities, and/or potential issues to be aware that may manifest with adopted children:
- Frequent assurance, especially initially, that the adopted child is welcome and worthy of their new family’s love, trust, and support.
- In relevant situations, the validation of having a dual heritage, from both their biological and adoptive parents.
- Gaining an understanding that adoption can be exciting and wonderful, yet also difficult and painful, and the likelihood it will present lifelong challenges for everyone involved. It is also crucial that adoptees are able to grieve their losses so that they are able to learn how to receive and give love to others, namely their adoptive parents.
- Adopted children need to be made aware that adoption may involve a sense of loss and/or grief. Adoptees need to feel confident that their birth parent’s decision to let them go was not about them, but instead about their parent’s life circumstances. An adopted child must address any feelings of rejection, and learn that absence isn’t synonymous with abandonment.
- Adoptees need emotionally stable and supportive families so that they can grow up with healthy role models. It is important that adoptive parents are capable of facing the special emotional needs that adopted children may have.
According to many professionals there are three types of adopted families. They are characterized by the unique distinctions they provide an adopted child regarding overall attitude towards the child, physical and emotional nurturing, and general environment.
- Blind: This category of parents communicates a very positive experience of adoption, claiming it has been wonderful for their family. However, these families often avoid real issues and discussions about the adoption, the child’s birth parents, and/or may even display sentiments of anger if the adoptee brings up any such topics.
- Balanced: In this category of parents, they are known to acknowledge the differences and difficulties adoption may present, and are able to openly and honestly discuss compatibility issues inherent in their circumstances of adoption. Also, generally with these families, discussions about birth parents, the desire to search for their biological parents, as well as any limitations of perceived compatibilities can be openly examined without fear of damaging the bond between adoptee and adoptive parents.
- Blaming: This category of parents generally has a more narrow perception of overall compatibility. Oftentimes, they exaggerate and/or magnify the importance of the adoptive status of their child, especially when emotional issues arise or the adopted teen doesn’t meet their expectations. Shortcomings of the adoptee are commonly blamed on the challenges of the adoption, rarely holding themselves accountable for their flaws or mistakes.
Contact McDowell Chartered legal services at 316-633-4322 for more information about the adoption process. If you have questions or concerns regarding potential mental health and medical issues of adopted children or seeking legal advice about adoption in Kansas, we specialize in everything aspect of the process.