There are many psychological and emotional effects that adopted children can suffer from.
Some may feel a sense of abandonment or rejection from their birth family. I find that’s particularly the case when the child doesn’t truly feel accepted by all the members of the adoptive family.
Some children may have issues with self-esteem or identity development. Those are often, but not always related to the children who don’t look anything like their adoptive families. If proper steps aren’t taken, those kids can grow up feeling self-conscious and out of place.
For most adoptees there is huge sense of guilt associated with any thought of search and reunion with birth family. To them it feels like a betrayal to the parents that raised them. Such feelings can negatively affect the adoptee’s feeling about themselves, their adoptive parents, and their birth parents.
If an adopted child has experienced early life trauma, there will be lingering effects from those experiences as well. Trauma can include abuse, neglect, separation from first family, and time spent living in foster care or an orphanage.
There is no parental handbook to ensure the psychological and emotional health of your child. There are steps you can take minimize some of the effects of adoption. One thing you can do is make sure that your child knows he or she is adopted from day one. Even if the child is too young to understand what it means, it’s important that they not find out later. That could lead to anger, resentment, and shame.
Always be as honest about their birth story as age-appropriateness allows. It’s important that you not keep secrets. Treat the child as if they are biologically yours while respecting and encouraging their heritage and culture. Finally, understand that the desire an adoptee may have to learn about or meet their birth family is a completely normal thing. Your child deserves your support throughout and search and reunion.
Additionally, research the impact that early life trauma has on brain development, emotional development, and behavior, and learn parenting techniques that can help mitigate it.
Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and a mother of two, currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees’ rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life.