Being adopted can be wonderful ... and being adopted can
emotional problems and unhealthy relationship habits.
Adopting a Child
Did Your Parents Abandon You?
Many babies are conceived by people who do not wish to raise them
... and do not want to abort them. Couples who wish to experience or extend
parenthood may adopt children. Adopting children can be joyous and
exciting - and adoption can have unforeseen consequences.
All my life I feared being abandoned.
I was just told that I was adopted as an infant.
I've always had a sense of loss and
I always feared it happening again.
Adopted people are different to each other ... they are not homogenous. What applies to or works for one person may be
inappropriate for another! Also, some adults who were adopted as young
children have no memories of their birth parents; some children are told that
they were adopted, and many people who were adopted as babies assume
that their parents are their genetic parents.
I don't belong to this family!
I'm nothing like my mother ... nor my father!
I've always felt that I belong somewhere else! Canada
(The parents told me that this teenager had been adopted
as a baby
but they never spoke about it.) Martyn
Some adopted children have histories of multiple
foster placements, abuse, neglect, rejection and abandonment. In
some countries, abandoned children are sold as slaves ...
and even this may be better than death by starvation.
Who am I?
Some adopted children forever search for themselves and their families. While many
people may question their identities, building and maintaining a
sense of personal identity seems to be much more challenging
for people who were adopted.
I was born in Asia and adopted by
a Danish couple. My problems came from my
overwhelmingly white school.
I could never be one of them. I was an outsider.
Even now, as an adult, I am not sure who I am. Denmark
Being adopted as a child can create
special problems for both you and your adoptive family.
Common problems include unmet expectations and poor adjustment.
A key issue is how well the adoptive parents cope with
the problems of adopting children.
My mother was adopted as a
baby. When I was young, she would threaten
to take me to a children's home. That was a background for my whole childhood.
Did you lose something?
Adopted children often have little family or ancestral information.
They may experience a distorted sense of personal identity. People who
search unsuccessfully for their biological parents, or who feel rejected by their
genetic parents often experience a traumatic double loss.
I was told as a child that I was adopted at
birth. For most of my life I have felt low energy
... it feels like my life energy is sucked into my adopted parents.
I am diagnosed with chronic fatigue. Milan
People who were adopted as children may express
identity loss as
pervasive health and emotional problems, attachment
disorders, nightmares and
learning disabilities. As adults they
may have poor social
skills and delayed emotional development, perhaps
showing signs of passive aggression ... or
just plain aggression.
started abusing me when I was 12. My step-mother would get drunk
happened. A schoolteacher told me that my stepfather would go to prison
informed the police. I ran away from home at 14 ... I made enough as a
prostitute to go to university and I have a M.A. in criminal
You helped me end my dreams of revenge and punishment.
Systemic Family Therapy
Adopted children may not discuss their early family, yet
reflect them in every action as relationship bonds.
Adopting a child can be a blessing - or can result in chaos for everybody. A key is that potential adoptive
parents enjoy a stable and happy partnership ... adopted children will test your theories
and good intentions.
I was adopted ... my step-parents made it
very clear that they adopted me in return
for my helping them when they got old
... I was their investment and insurance policy ...
I feel huge guilt for
leaving them but I feel that I would have died if I had stayed
Adoptive parents may not find much assistance. Some
parents said that they "had to educate the professionals whose
job was to help them" (Smith et al, 1999).
Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) was created in the USA
in 1998 as a not-for-profit organization with a mission to strengthen the
well-being of adoptive families through education, training and collaborations
within the adoption community.
Suggestions for Adults who were Adopted
1. Respect your genetic parents
Some adoptive parents criticize the biological
parents. We suggest that you research your genetic parents and
contact them (or think of them) with respect, even if - or especially if -
one or both genetic parents are missing, alcoholic, dead, in prison, or avoid
meeting their children. The more you can respect your biological parents,
the more you can respect yourself!
2. Respect your adoptive parents
Adopted children are sensitive to the emotions, moods and
conflicts of their adoptive parents. Find ways to express gratitude to your
adoptive parents, regardless of their behavior.
3. Focus on your maturity
Don't try to take sides between real
and adopted parents. You do not have to choose any parent or step-parent
as being better than another parent. Perceive your adoptive
parents as substitutes for your genetic or biological parents. Focus
on setting, planning and achieving your own goals.
4. Do not blame anybody
Do your parents or step-parents blame you for their own problems?
Do you blame them for yours? Remember that step-parents are substitutes
for your biological parents - and that you cannot bring Mom and Dad together again.
5. Minimize change
Adopting you created many challenges and changes for your
step-family. As continuity is important - make your environment as familiar
as possible, including your favorite things, photographs, etc. Decide to live in a home
- not just a building.
6. Meet your genetic parents
Explore how you can have maximum benefit
and happiness if or when you meet a genetic parent. Compliment your genetic
parents as much as honestly possible. Expect tears ... your own as well.
While many adopted people have difficulties;
many have good experiences of adoption, searching for relatives
and reunions. We can help you explore and
accept your history ... and move ahead with your life
Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Therapy
I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
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Martyn Carruthers 2004-2017 All rights reserved