10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know | HuffPost Life
CrossRef citations to date With the opening of adoption records and a movement toward greater openness in adoption in .. Rather, adoptees' descriptions of their post-reunion relationships with birth fathers ranged from. Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in adoption-related issues This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. . Adoptees are in reunion whether they are formally searching or not. Studies in this area to date tend to be descriptive in nature and give natural . reunion separate from the dyadic adoptee-natural mother relationship. provided with information on post-traumatic stress disorder (Appendix C), to make them.
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. 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. Adoptees want to belong. They want to connect and feel connected. 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.
Psychological Issues Faced by Adopted Children and Adults
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.
- When adopted siblings meet: the relationship after a reunion
- Long-Term Issues For Birthmothers After Adoption
- Psychological Issues Faced By Adopted Children And Adults
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.
She was immediately struck by the physical likeness, and soon discovered that they had the same date and place of birth, and had both been adopted. The two messaged on Facebook, then Skyped, and visited each other, before a DNA test in February proved that the two are twins. She'll text me and be like, "I want to drink my tea but it's too hot," you know? Just random things about the day to feel like we're connected. It happens to a lot of kids, but I had an imaginary friend and she was called Anne I needed that comfort, I guess.
Psychologist Dr Phil urges caution for those who find a biological sibling, and warns that planning is advisable before the first meeting. 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. They set out on the search because their is a deep-seated need for most of us to know as much as possible about our history, both racial, cultural, personal and genetic.
Much has been learned by past adoption experiences that now make some of helps ease the way for families and adoptee: In this situation, the birth mother and adoptive parents legally agree to have the birth mother involved in the development of the child.
Adoption & Birth Mothers*
This may take the form of monthly visits all the way to weekly and even daily visits, according to what feels acceptable to all parties. People adopting children from other cultures or racial groups agree to raise the child with knowledge and experience in the background of the adopted child.
I know of cases where adoptive parents see to it that their child is raised knowing and practicing both the language, customs and religious rituals of their birth parent. Enlightened adoption agencies now keep all records on file of the children put up for adoption and make those records readily available when and if the adopted person wants to learn of their background.
10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know
They will even arrange meetings with the birth parents. Today, adoption is common place and no longer carries with it the dark features of shame that colored it dating back to the 19th century and earlier. This is a positive change in making it possible for everyone to feel more open and assured about the adoption process. Were you adopted and are you struggling with some or all of these issues?