If you've recently added to your family through adoption, congratulations! You've started down an enormously enriching path that will change not only the life of your child, but also your entire family. However, you may be concerned about potential emotional or attachment issues stemming from your child's entrance into your family, particularly if you adopted your child at an older age. Read on to learn more about the types of emotional problems your adopted child may face, as well as the resources to help you and your family deal with these issues before they become a problem.
Are adopted children more prone to certain emotional issues?
Many studies have shown that children adopted as infants or toddlers, whose parents are open with them about their origins, face few adjustment problems in elementary school and middle school. Although all children of this age may experience some "growing pains" or developmental challenges, studies have not indicated that these issues are much more severe in adopted children than in natural children.
However, these and other studies have also indicated that adopted children are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This number climbs even higher when examining only children who were adopted from foster care.
In addition, children who were adopted at an older age or who are told about their origins at an older age may struggle with identity crises, feelings of rejection or guilt, and depression. In many cases, and especially with strong parental support, your child will work past these difficult questions and become a well-adjusted, happy adult.
How can you help your child deal with these issues?
The most important thing you can do to assist your child is to ensure that they always know they are loved and wanted. Children who report having a close-knit, warm relationship with parents are much less likely to struggle with emotional issues than children who have a colder relationship with parents. Although you should discipline your child and provide limits as you see fit, don't withhold affection or praise as a form of punishment, as your child thrives on these displays of love.
The next step you should take is to remain proactive and ensure that the lines of communication are always kept open. By researching the types of emotional and attachment disorders your child may be more susceptible to, you can be alert for any potential warning signs and begin to address these issues as soon as they are noticed, rather than after they become a problem. By encouraging your child to bring any concerns or fears to you, you can be confident that you have a good handle on your child's emotional state.
If you adopted your child through a licensed adoption agency, it's likely that this agency offers resources targeted to your child. Because agencies generally specialize in certain types of adoptions -- domestic, international, interracial -- they are uniquely equipped to help your family tackle the emotional issues that can result from your child's specific adoption circumstances. In many cases, they may be able to provide your family with additional information about your child's birth parents, which can help your child deal with abandonment guilt or questions about his or her heritage. You can take a look at the site here to get in touch with a licensed adoption agency.
If you had a private or non-agency adoption instead, you may still be able to take advantage of some of the resources offered by an adoption agency. In other situations, you can seek the services of an adoption counselor. These individuals are generally licensed psychologists or psychiatrists who specialize in some of the emotional issues unique to adopted children and adults.