Adoption gives a child many opportunities that they might not have had with their birth family. Even if they feel loved and cared for, an adopted child may experience some effects of their adoption. As their adoptive parent, you have the opportunity to walk through these experiences with your child. Here are some common effects of adoption on a child that you should understand.
Your child may feel a sense of loss.
Some adopted kids feel a sense of grief due to the loss of their biological family. They suffer the separation from their birth family, often in an unconscious way. An adopted child may feel the loss over and over, especially as they get older and begin to understand the details of their adoption.
As an adoptive parent, you can help your child as they walk through the grief. Listen to their thoughts, concerns, and questions. Allow them to express their feelings to you. Use appropriate adoption terms like “birth parents” or “birth family.” Reassure your child of your love and support. Let them know you want to help them in any way you can. This won’t change the circumstances, but they’ll know they aren’t alone.
Your child may be curious about their history.
It’s normal for an adopted child to be curious about their personal biological history. Studies suggest that even in open adoptions, where there is more contact with a birth family, adopted kids may not get all the information about their family history.
Depending upon your child’s personality, this may not be a big deal, but this is very significant for some kids. Listen to your child and offer to help them find any answers they are searching for.
Your child may struggle with rejection.
Studies show that adoption can make even normal childhood struggles like self-image, loss, and feelings of rejection more complicated. It’s hard for an adopted child not to feel rejected by their birth family. Their sense of loss mixed with these feelings of rejection is a nasty brew.
This can cause an adopted child to avoid situations where they feel like they may get rejected. Other children reject others because of their feelings of rejection. It is important to let your child know over and over that when a birth mother places her child for adoption, it is out of love and is a sacrifice of the heart made so that her child can have a better life.
Remember, it’s your child’s journey.
Ultimately adoption is your child’s journey, and you’re there to support them as they travel this journey. It’s best to tell your child they’re adopted early on rather than waiting until they’re older. Children who aren’t told about their adoption until they’re older are prone to a difficult identity crisis.
Open adoptions can ease some of the identity trauma your child may feel. Sometimes, adoptive parents struggle with fear if their adopted child wants to visit their birth family. It’s important to think more about your child than yourself. Remember that meeting their birth family can be helpful for your adopted child. These meetings can help them learn many things about their family history and develop a healthy identity.
Positive effects of adoption on a child
Besides the difficulties an adopted child may face, there are many positive effects of adoption on a child. Most adopted kids are more likely to be healthy and less likely to live in homes that struggled financially. Besides these things, adopted kids:
- Were read to more often
- Were sung to more
- Had stories told to them more often
- Participated in extracurricular activities more often
Overall, adopted children experience a sense of love and care because of their adoptive family’s involvement in their life.
Your child’s feelings are real.
Every adopted child is unique. The effects of adoption on a child are different for every child. It often depends upon what age they were adopted and what they went through before their adoption. As their parent, you are a huge part of their journey, but they must sort out the loss, grief, and feelings of rejection.
Some adoptees struggle their entire life with their adoption, while others hardly think about it. It’s important to reassure your child that you support them in their journey. Don’t try to minimize their feelings.
If you asked ten different adoptees about their experiences and the effect that adoption had on them, you’d get a variety of answers. But each one would probably say there are some very positive aspects of adoption and some negatives about adoption.
If your child is having a tough time with these things, you may want to find resources to help them work through their issues, such as a support group or a counselor. Remember, as your child travels on their adoption journey, your love and support will be important to them. And isn’t that what parenting is all about?
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”