Adopting a child can be wonderful and adopting a child
can create huge problems.
Contact us to solve relationship and emotional challenges.
Were you adopted?
Coping with Adoption
Many couples who wish to experience or extend parenthood want
to adopt a child. Perhaps one partner is infertile. Or maybe they
were always too busy ... until they were too late. Or maybe they
kept having miscarriages. Adopting children can be joyous and
exciting - it can also be frustrating and uncertain. Many
potential adoptive parents seeking joy find confusion and
Some people who want to adopt children may be searching for
themselves. An adult with a rejected inner child
(a split-off part resulting from trauma) may feel strongly motivated
to adopt an abandoned child. We suggest that potential adoptive parents
clarify their emotions before adopting a child.
I wanted to adopt a child. I am 45, and I
had a HUGE urge to find and help a child who was abused or abandoned. When you
helped me explore my feelings, I discovered that I was searching for an
abused and abandoned child-part of myself! Croatia
Adopting children creates special problems for both
children and their adoptive families. Common problems include unmet
expectations and poor adjustment. A key issue is how well the adoptive
parents can solve the problems presented by adopted children.
Adopted children need endless support to adjust to their new
family, school and community. They may have more mental health problems than
other children. Failure to support adopted children can disrupt adoptive families
and return the adopted children to state care with more emotional burdens than before.
Adopted children may have pervasive health and emotional
problems, attachment disorders, nightmares, adjustment disorders and
learning disabilities. Adopted children may
have histories of multiple foster placements, abuse and neglect, rejection and
abandonment as well as disjointed education. Adopted teenagers with poor social
skills and delayed emotional development can be especially problematic, often
showing signs of passive aggression ... or
Systemic Family Counseling
Adopted children may not discuss their biological parents, yet
reflect them as beliefs and bonds.
Adopting a child can be a blessing - and can result in chaos for the adoptive
family. A key is that potential adoptive
parents enjoy a stable and happy partnership first ... adopted children
will test all your theories.
We help adoptive parents evaluate
their partnership and manage identity issues:
- If a parent acts guilty, children may try to
express the parent's guilt
- If a parent acts like a failure, children may
respond with chronic fear
- If a parent acts resourceless, children may
try to grow up too quickly
- If a parent acts like a victim, children may
respond with chronic anger
- If a parent is dead or absent, children may
respond with chronic sadness
- If a parent blames them unjustly, children may
act out to reveal what is true
- If a parent forces children to take sides in
parental conflicts, children will suffer
Suggestions for Adoptive Parents
Talk about adoption early and often. Pace the child’s
developing emotions with a gradual introduction. Perhaps mention
adoption around age 3, and discuss it throughout your
child’s childhood. Do you want Parent Coaching?
1. Respect the Genetic Parents
Following adoption, some adoptive parents pretend to
be the biological parents. Some criticize the biological parents. We
suggest that you talk to your children about their genetic parents with
respect ... even if - or especially if - one or both genetic parents are
missing, alcoholic, dead, in prison, or avoid meeting their children.
2. Love the Children
Adopted children are often super-sensitive to the emotions,
moods and conflicts of the adoptive parents. Take time to express love to
adopted children, regardless of whether they are well behaved, polite,
have tidy bedrooms or eat their broccoli. (Most children spell LOVE as
3. Children need Mature Parents
Many adopted children try to take sides between real
and substitute parents. Repeatedly reassure children that they do not have
to choose any parent as being better in any way than any other parent.
Reassure adopted children that the adoptive parents are substitutes
for the biological parents.
4. Do not blame the Children
The genetic parents may have blamed their children for their
own problems. The children may dream of reuniting their family. They may show
learning disabilities or psychosomatic symptoms. Explain to the children that
you are substitutes for
their parents - and that they cannot bring Mom and Dad together.
5. Fight Fair - away from the Children
Adoption is an intense time for any family and often raises
conflicts. Avoid arguing near adopted children - or any children. Organize
times and places away from the children to resolve conflicts. If a talk becomes
an argument, STOP, TAKE TIME and RESCHEDULE your discussion.
6. Minimize Change
Although adopting a child will create many changes for your
family, continuity is important. Make the children's environment as familiar
as possible, including their favorite things, photographs, toys,
blankets, etc. Offer children a home - not a building.
7. Encourage Meetings
Discuss how your children can have maximum benefit
and happiness if or when they meet a genetic parent. Avoid asking children
to deliver messages, to spy or to obtain information. Compliment the genetic
parents as much as appropriately possible.
8. Get Adult Support
Adoption can be a difficult time for everybody. Adoptive
parents need mature emotional support from family, friends, counselors,
clergy, etc. Avoid asking children to support you. Support your children.
9. Talk about Feelings
During stressful times, children may misbehave. They
may age-regress (act much younger) or they may
try to grow up quickly and act in an overly mature fashion. Ask
children how they feel, and what they think or imagine is going on. Help
children express THEIR feelings ... don't complain about yours!
10. Make an Appointment ... Take the initiative and
Online Adoption Coaching
We coach adults who are considering adoption or who have adopted
children. We help adoptive parents stay focused on their goals and move forward.
We also help step-parents coach their adopted children and we help the biological
parents of adopted children cope with their loss.
We often recommend that adopting parents take our couple counseling
to manage outstanding emotional problems and sort out partnership issues
- including conflicts and limiting beliefs - before adopting children.
We help partners appreciate and support each other's
perspectives, motivations and goals.
I have been updating my skills to
practice as a helping professional life coach and decided to attend Soulwork
training. It turned out to be well worth the effort. The training
Martyn Carruthers offers in clarifying and resolving even the most
entangled and traumatic family situations is by far the most
effective I have experienced.
He builds on the work of well-known figures such as Virginia Satir in a
powerfully intuitive manner and his use of such tools as family mapping,
family rules, accessing the unconscious and psychodrama would be particularly
appropriate and effective in the area of post adoption work.
In situations where children are behaving according to dysfunctional
birth-family rules they learnt for survival, there will be a clash if
this behaviour is misinterpreted in the adoptive family. Martyn Carruthers'
systemic coaching brings clarity, enabling individuals to become
conscious of their emotional and mental habits and inappropriate coping
mechanisms that affect their relationships. His work enables individuals to
diffuse and resolve these patterns and make healthier choices.
These processes are demonstrated wherever possible rather than relying
on an academic approach of only teaching theory. I find this particularly
Pamela Vass MA (Devon, UK) Professional Coach OneonOnecoaching
Do you want to resolve difficult emotions and relationship
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