Whether a child was placed for adoption form birth, was in an orphanage or in foster care and no matter how careful you were to explain adoption in positive terms, your adopted child commonly faces some emotional and developmental issues that an not common in a non-adopted child. As a result post-adoption therapeutic services are frequently needed, although often not until years after the adoption has taken place.
Most adoptees, at some time in their life, experience issues with loss, grief and anger as well as trust, attachment and identity. Certain dates and experiences, like birthdays, the birth of siblings into the family, anniversaries, etc. may trigger adoption related problems. School problems can arise around classroom assignments, interactions with friends, and lack of sensitivity on the part of school personnel and other adults. Adoption and foster care can lead to positive outcomes for many children. However, thousands of other children and young adults placed in foster or adoptive homes may experience significant life stress and trauma due to difficulty with the foster care system, problematic placements, and neglectful or abusive foster parents and siblings. Even those children who are adopted into loving homes may experience conflicted feelings about being given up for adoption. Adoptive children may also experience stress or anxiety as a result of not knowing their background. These and other issues can often be explored through therapy.
Attachment Issues and Adoption
Due to the high number of placements and transitions a typical child may experience prior to finding a long-term home, attachment issues and related concerns are common. In addition, some children may exhibit serious behavioral issues as a result of early trauma and a lack of structure and consistency in their lives. These behavior problems can impact the entire family system and may also result in increased placement disruption in foster or adoptive homes.
International adoptions pose a unique set of challenges and difficulties for children to overcome, including behavioral, psychological, and basic health issues. In some cases, foreign orphanages do not provide the care, attention, and supervision necessary to support healthy attachments in the child’s early developmental stages. Early attachment issues can develop during this time, and these may have a long-lasting impact on a child’s ability to form positive relationships with family and primary caregivers.
These issues may be helped and/or resolved with intensive attachment-specific therapy, in addition to child and family trauma work.
In addition to attachment concerns, children who live in foster homes or with adoptive families may have developmental delays, and they may also experience mental health conditions, such as significant anxiety or depression or social problems. Children who are eventually adopted by their foster families or by other families may also experience difficulty with trust and may not adapt easily to a permanent home.
Typical diagnoses associated with foster care and adopted children include:
- Reactive attachment disorder
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Post-traumatic stress