Psychological Issues Faced by Adopted Children and Adults
How does it feel to discover as an adult that you were adopted as a baby? We talk to four people who came to terms with finding out later in life. "I was sad to learn that she had died, but I did find a cousin who agreed to meet. Children who were adopted as infants are affected by the adoption throughout The child must understand that places and people exist outside of his or her referral is indicated if the child suffers from depression, or has symptoms that affect. Who would knowingly marry someone who was going to leave them? may have a tendency to replicate the adoption process of being "given away," they might.
Adoptees need help with specific language and "tools" to use when they are asked questions by friends and classmates to eliminate potential shame and embarrassment. I suggest parents and children role-play possible scenarios to find answers that fit.
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I also have a birth mom. Many adoptees struggle with issues of self worth, shame, control and identity. Often, adoptees acclimate in one of two ways. Some might test limits, trying to discover if they are going to be abandoned again. Others acquiesce to situations, sometimes to the point of withdrawal. Hoping if they go along, they will keep their place in the adoptive family. The adoptee is forced to develop a "false self. I encourage them to become curious about the behavior, rather than judging or naming it.
As we utilize the lens of adoption, we can see the underlying experience that's driving the child's behavior and then tend to the raw feelings of fear, grief, despair and anger.
Remember, the behaviors are coping mechanisms and not personality traits. Adoptees need parents to be curious and act as compassionate detectives to discover what's going on or seek professional help if it seems too difficult to do it on their own.
Because an adoptee's early experience was that of relinquishment, their brain is wired early on to expect more of the same. Sometimes older adoptees unknowingly set themselves up to re-create abandonments, thus fulfilling the sense of shame and unworthiness.
Not having access to the original birth certificate adds to the adoptee's sense of shame.
Only eight states in the U. Adoptees in other states have modified and falsified documents. Where there is secrecy, there is inevitable shame. Adoptees are in reunion whether they are formally searching or not. I recently presented at an adoption conference and had the members attending my session participate in a quick exercise before they took their seats.
I asked them to walk around the room and find the person they thought they most closely looked like. After a few minutes and some nervous laughter, I had them take their seats and we talked about what that experience was like.
I explained that this is what adoptees often do. They walk through the world looking for their lost "twin" or for someone they resemble.
Years ago, I worked with a year-old girl who was adopted at birth. Julia's parents described her as "angry, oppositional, and living in her own world.
They told me they answered Julia's questions related to adoption when asked but added they rarely brought the subject up. They didn't think she was interested. I quickly discovered Julia was very interested in who she was and where she came from.
She was indeed living in her own world -- the Ghost Kingdom! Julia explained she likely shared her hair and eye color with her birth mom. She planned to live with her birth mom for one year when she turned Julia "knew" she had six brothers and "hopefully a little sister. They want their parents to start these dialogues.
The adoptee's desire to search is not a rejection of the adoptive parents. Part of knowing who you are is knowing where you came from.
Search is about the adoptee's history and histories have a beginning. For adoptees, their beginning started before they joined their adoptive family. Many adoptees deny their desire to search thinking that they are going to hurt their adoptive parents' feelings. This is a common theme, even among adoptees who have their adoptive parents' support. Adoptees want and need assurance and more assurance that parents can "handle" the desire to know where they came from.
Adoptees might even want their parents to collaborate and assist in the search.What People With Depression Want You To Know
Because they fear hurting the adoptive parents, many adoptees wait until one or both parents are dead to search. They embark on a search only to discover that their birth parent is also dead. The adoptee then suffers a second loss of the parent he or she never knew.
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Adoptees want to belong. They want to connect and feel connected.
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Like everyone else, adoptees strive to find connection and acceptance. Although this idea of affiliation is sometimes inherent with those we are biologically related to, adoptees can find connection through support groups, interaction with other adoptees or identification with their birth country.
Adopted children can be encouraged to develop interests and hobbies in line with their adoptive families. Interests and hobbies that are diverse should also be fully embraced, encouraged and supported. When an infant or child is separated from his or her birthmother, it is undeniably a traumatic event. All of the once-familiar sights, sounds and sensations are gone, and the infant is placed in a dangerous situation -- dangerous that is, perceived by the infant.
The only part of the brain that is fully developed at birth is the brain stem that regulates the sympathetic nervous system, that is, the fight, flight or freeze response. The parasympathetic ability to self-soothe isn't available and baby needs his or her familiar mom to act as the soothing agent to help with self-regulation but she's not there.
Events that happen age are encoded as implicit memories and become embodied because they place before language develops.
Adoptive parents can be sensitive to this and later help put explicit language to the felt experience for their child. Sometimes birthdays and Mother's Day are difficult for adoptees and they might not even know why. Birthdays are often the day adoptees were relinquished and again, that memory of separation is an implicit one, just a feeling. I've worked with parents who become frustrated after planning a big celebration and their child suddenly becomes sad and no longer wants to participate.
Parents can empathically respond to a child who is struggling by saying, "I wonder if part of you remembers this is also the day your birthmother made the difficult decision to have someone else raise you. Parents can "say" what is not being said by celebrating and acknowledging their child's birth mom. We want adoptive parents to be our advocates. According to the Adoption Institute, there are more than 1. The school environment can be a great support for adopted children and their families if teachers and administrators are comfortable and informed about the subject, language and issues related to adoption.
Trainings need to be implemented in schools to inform and educate about adoption and foster care in the same way educators are trained and informed to the sensitive issues related to race, sexuality, gender and religion.
Parents can ask if programs like this are taking place in their schools. I have a friend who adopted her sons Andrew and Jake when they were infants. The brothers are not biologically related and are different races. Andrew is African-American and Jake is Caucasian. In September, they found themselves in the same Biology class. On the first day of school, the students went around the room introducing themselves.
Andrew introduced himself as Jake's brother. The teacher glanced at the only other black student in the class and told Andrew to "quit messing around. The teacher still thought the boys were trying to "punk him. Issues faced by adopted persons: It is very common for those who were adopted to feel rejected and abandoned by their birth parents.
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This is accompanied by feelings of grief and loss. There is no set time or age when these feeling surface but, sooner or later, they do. Feelings of loss and rejection are often accompanied by a damaged sense of self esteem.
There is an understandable tendency to think that "something must be wrong with me for my birth parents to have give me away. Guilt accompanies loss and grief because the adopted individual believes that they are being disloyal to the people who adopted, loved and raised them. They do not want to hurt or betray their adoptive mother or father.
Feelings of guilt and fears of being disloyal were what prevented the girl in case "C" from asking the obvious question, "why am I in your wedding pictures if I was not born yet? In cases B and D there is a disconnect with the original heritage of the birth parents. For the Asian young woman, raised in a large family with many siblings, the obvious racial differences did come to "haunt her" later on.
While she wished to visit the Asian nation of her birth, she was so totally identified with being American, and even "while" that she feared stirring up her past. She, too, did not want to cause any hurt to her adoptive parents. However, it must be said for them, that they encouraged and offered to help her in her search.
Despite this encouragement, she was not ready to do any search. Long discussions in therapy never revealed what she feared. According to the great psychologist, Eric Erikson, adolescence involves a search for self identity. While this search is difficult for most teenagers, it presents special problems for adoptee.
Assuming they never met their natural parents and family and have no idea of their genetic background, they are left with a gigantic gap in their search to answer the age old question, "Who am I. In all of the cases above, a huge gap existed in this information. Except for the Asian young woman, all were denied any information, mostly because the adoptive families, either wittingly or unwittingly, did not provide necessary facts.
Missing genetic information is important for obvious medical reasons. It is important for everyone to have knowledge of the medical history because it can provide clues to genetic diseases.
For example, in case D, the patient entered psychotherapy unaware that he had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. His family was unaware of this as well.
If more had been known about the birth parents, it might have been possible to predict his childhood problems at home and at school. It was only after entering psychotherapy that he was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD and appropriately treated for this. The information was relieving to both him and his adoptive parents because everyone now knew that he was never "bad" or "dumb" but afflicted with this disorder of the brain.
Many adults who were adopted struggle with fears that they will be disloyal to their adoptive parents if they search for their natural parents. In my experience, the only real exception to this is when adoptive parents make the very deliberate and conscious effort to inform and encourage their child to do a search and to let them know how important that is. Unfortunately, as illustrated in cases A and C, there are people who discourage such a search and even lie to their adopted child about their origins.
In the end, lies and distortions never succeed and often result in feelings of anger at the adoptive parent, sometimes causing a breach in the relationship. Why do a few adoptive parents hide the truth? There are cases where the adopting family lives in a state of fear that, somehow and someday, they will lose their child.
This fear of loss, often irrational, is a powerful motivation to keep the adopted child as close as possible. The truth is that, adopted children who search for their natural parents, have no reason for shifting their loyalties and feelings.