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Ms.KitKat
s/o The "other" side of Adoption: When the baby grows up
October 24, 2013 at 11:36 AM

 

The Darker Side of the Adoption Story

This month’s theme has to do with the effects of adoption on the adoptee and the adoption issues that most people in the adoption community don’t want to talk about. Sadly, adoptee Adopted child syndrome; do adoptees have more problems? Common Psychological and Emotional Effects of Adoptionissues are real, and the tragedy comes when adoptive parents do not understand what they are really facing as they make the all-important decision to adopt a child.

Like everyone else, I enjoy the hardcover adoption magazines full of adorable images, arts and crafts, and “my baby is the cutest” photo contests. But every time I look at one of those magazines, I have to think to myself,

“Please tell the other side of the adoption story.”

Adoption can be full of happiness and joy, but it can also be full of loss, grief, and in some cases indescribable anger and dangerous behavior.

 

Common Psychological and Emotional Effects of Adoption

Some common issues observed in adoptees are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Identity development
  • General feelings of grief, loss, and rejection

 

Statistics on Adopted Children and Adults Show Adoption Always Affects the Adoptee

Many research studies have shown that adoptees and birth mothers suffer more from depression, and that there is a higher rate of suicide among these populations. Because adoption issues often show up during the teen years, unresolved issues can manifest themselves in dramatic and destructive ways that adoptive parents may not be prepared for.

There are a handful of disciplinary correctional schools, residential treatment centers, and adoption ‘camps’ that are designed to deal with adopted teenagers whos parents have decided that they don’t know how to handle the behavioral problems of their adopted child. These adoptee camps take in adopted children with all kinds of issues: substance Adopted child syndrome; do adoptees have more problems? Common Psychological and Emotional Effects of Adoption and drug abuse, sexual misconduct, violence and anger towards parents, siblings, pets, or even themselves, the list can go on. There is even a camp referred to as “The Last Chance Ranch,” that specializes in teens from Russia. Sadly, some of these teens are actually re-relinquished to the camp by their adoptive parents.

Despite the fact that adoptees make up less than 2% of the US population, they represent 25-35% of teens in these correctional camps and institutions-

I find that statistic so incredibly sad and alarming.

 

Resources to Help Adoptive Parents Understand the Psychological and Emotional Effects of Adoption on their Children

There are many resources available today, that did not exist years ago. There have been many wonderful books written about the impact of adoption, three of my favorites are,

  1. The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier
  2. Lost and Found by Betty Jean Lifton
  3. Raising Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen.

There are also adoption therapists who specialize in helping adoptees heal and overcome their psychological and emotional issues.  Here is a very important point to remember: there are many therapists who attempt to help adoptees, but unfortunately have no real understanding of adoptee issues. I was fortunate to find a child therapist who was herself adopted, and she was enormously helpful throughout all of my years of raising my three adopted children. The therapist does not need to be a member of the adoption triad, but they need to have some special training about these crucial child development issues.

This month’s edition of the magazine will talk about all of these adoption issues and more, including adoptee suicide. It will also feature a very special 24 minute video of a young man who suffered from severe attachment issues, and talks about it in a truly real and compelling way, I promise you will be mesmerized by his story, and the hope he gives all of us.

 

So… Do Adoptees Have More Problems?

Every adoptee has a completely unique and separate experience but I think one of our anonymous Message in a Bottle submissions best summed up a great answer for general adoption questions…

“Adoption isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.”

Thank you to whomever submitted this message! To submit a Message in a Bottle of your own, use this form.

Adoption is not always unicorns and rainbows.

 


Replies

  • paganbaby
    October 24, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    I don't know about all adoptees, but my 14 year old dd is very happy and well adjusted. I've had people tell me she's going to have a hard road ahead of her because not only is she adopted but she's also bi-racial being raised in a white family.  

    *Shrugs* So far, so good. I've been rasing her since she was a month old. Her Bio mom has in been in her life off and on from the begining and she writes her her bio dad occasionally on FB.

    I think our situation is unique because she grew up knowing her bio mom. There wasn't this big fantasy about her. In fact DD doesn't really like spending more than a few hours with her,lol. As for her bio dad, she's never really shown an interest in him.

  • mcginnisc
    October 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Ha! I always say adoption is not all rainbows and ponies. 

    Adoption is a life long journey for everyone in the triad. It is hard. Period. Adoptees *are* at risk. As an adoptive parent, it is essential that one do their research and understand fully that attachment does not just happen as infants/toddlers...attachment disorders can manifest later in life. The majority of adoptees grieve and a-parents need to be able to navigate this with the child in the beginning and later in life. I don't have all the answers, but I know that I still do my research even now almost 7 years into our adoption journey. 

  • momtoscott
    October 24, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    My SIL was adopted and had lots of problems as a teenager, legal and mental, but in adulthood she has managed to straighten out her life and do well.  She had similar problems to my BIL, who was the biological child, so it's hard to know how much was nature and how much was nurture.  

    Several of my cousins were adopted, and I'm not aware of them having had problems at any point.  All are adults and doing well now.  

    I can believe the results of the study, but I don't know that there's an alternative that would provide for the children.  I would imagine that growing up with a parent who doesn't want you and/or can't provide for you would be even more destructive than growing up with a nonbiological parent.  

  • A-nony-mous
    October 24, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    There's so many more problems to adoption that has been spoken of, although this post is a good start. 

    Many babies are quite literally stolen and trafficked to feed the adoption industry. Adoption is FOR PROFIT, don't kid yourself. It hasn't been about finding homes for orphans for a long LONG time. It's now about finding children for infertile wealthy westerners. There have been some recent famous cases about children stolen from one state to another and in violation of that child's due process and constitutional rights (along with the parents) but it happens all the time. China estimates that around 70,000 children a year are kidnapped and many of those go to feed the adoption industry.

    UNICEF released a statement recently about the corruption in the international adoption sphere.  

    Domestically, there are a number of states that are well known for quicki, pseudo illegal and unethical adoptions; Utah, South Carolina and Florida topping the list. All push unwed (and even in some cases married) fathers out and skirt around other laws to push adoptions through.

    Because of the 1997 "Safe Families and Children Act", child services gets a cash bonus for each child adopted out of foster care. This gives huge incentive to terminate parental rights, not focus on their so-called doctrine of reuniting families, and to push adoptions through. Adoptions have doubled and tripled since the SFACA was signed. Some states have as much as $10 MILLION dollars or more of their state budget tied up and coming in on the backs of children seized and around 90% are seized for minor issues like temporary poverty or homelessness and only 10% or less are seized for actual serious abuse. Many of these children are adopted out without needing to be, when they have perfectly good parents or grandparnents or aunts and uncles that would take them...but there's no cash bonus for that.  

  • rfurlongg
    October 24, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Interesting. I know several people that are adopted. Some are great functioning and healthy people and others have mountains of baggage. I also know several people raised in their bio homes that would fit one of those categories. 

  • beesbad
    by beesbad
    October 24, 2013 at 3:15 PM
    My youngest is adopted out of foster care and we have had a few issues. But I believe that forewarned is forearmed and I appreciate the resources listed above. In our case it has been very important to allow her to feel safe to ask whatever questions she has without letting our own personal feelings and emotions affect her. I assume that as she ages her concerns and questions will change and I need to be aware of that and look for clues that she may need help in processing her emotions and the answers to her questions.

    If she gets in trouble she will ask if I still love her. This tells me that she believes it is possible that at some point she could lose our love or that she is unlovable. She needs more reminders that she is valued for herself and that our love isn't conditional, she may need these reminders her entire life.

    Also, an adoption attorney told us that in her experience most domestically adopted children, even those adopted as infants, have been affected by drug and/or alcohol abuse by the birth mother. Our daughter has ADD which makes school very difficult and frustrating, it could have been an inherited trait or a result of the birth moms drug abuse.

    People need to be aware of these issues before they adopt because they are making a lifetime commitment.

    My brother and his wife adopted two boys from infancy. The oldest is severely ADHD, defiant, and possibly suffers from FAP. I hate to say it but these two people should never have been allowed to adopt, they are incapable of parenting a child with his issues and have instead withdrawn their love and have exacerbated his problems. It is heartbreaking.

    I wish that all potential adoptive parents were required to take classes discussing these issues so they could make informed decisions and recognize the special needs of adoptees. I also think that potential adoptive parents should be required to participate in some type of psychological screening process so people like my brother could be weeded out so they cannot further damage damaged children.
  • sexysiren1983
    October 24, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    right just then let them rot in the foster system...they'll grow up sooo much happier "rolls eyes"

  • beesbad
    by beesbad
    October 24, 2013 at 3:21 PM
    I don't doubt any of the concerns you raised. Sometimes a well intentioned law or policy can be abused. In an effort to prevent adoptable children from languishing in foster homes for excessive amounts of time some children, who can and should be reunited with birth families, are adopted too soon.

    I accidentally posted too soon - editing to add more

    In California (at least in my daughters case) I am confident that everything was done to encourage reunification. No one in her extended family was willing to take her, it may have been because they didn't want to have to deal with the birth mom coming in and out of her life. It caused me to have some rather mixed up emotions. I hated when the social worker arrived to take her for her visitation with her birth mom, but I made sure she was dressed as cute as possible so the mom would see that she was worth fighting for. I was scared when the mom went into rehab but was angry when she left after one day, I couldn't understand why she wouldn't do everything in her power to get her daughter back. The mom had a year to take parenting classes, get free counseling, and free rehab before our daughter was placed in our home. The birth mom had her own social worker assigned to her to help her through the process. It was another year before her parental rights were terminated - at no point did she ever meet even one of the requirements.

    I initially had a lot of guilt for taking this woman's child but our daughter would have been an absolute mess if she hadn't been rescued from the situation she was in. She was two when she came to live with us and hoarded food, it took a while for her to realize that she wouldn't be hungry again and that we weren't going anywhere. The birth mom would leave her with random friends and acquaintances for an afternoon and then not come back for days or weeks, I don't think our daughter actually knew her birth mom was her mother because she wasn't with her long enough to form a bond.

    She's ten now and luckily has no memory of her early experiences.


    Quoting A-nony-mous:

    There's so many more problems to adoption that has been spoken of, although this post is a good start. 

    Many babies are quite literally stolen and trafficked to feed the adoption industry. Adoption is FOR PROFIT, don't kid yourself. It hasn't been about finding homes for orphans for a long LONG time. It's now about finding children for infertile wealthy westerners. There have been some recent famous cases about children stolen from one state to another and in violation of that child's due process and constitutional rights (along with the parents) but it happens all the time. China estimates that around 70,000 children a year are kidnapped and many of those go to feed the adoption industry.

    UNICEF released a statement recently about the corruption in the international adoption sphere.  

    Domestically, there are a number of states that are well known for quicki, pseudo illegal and unethical adoptions; Utah, South Carolina and Florida topping the list. All push unwed (and even in some cases married) fathers out and skirt around other laws to push adoptions through.

    Because of the 1997 "Safe Families and Children Act", child services gets a cash bonus for each child adopted out of foster care. This gives huge incentive to terminate parental rights, not focus on their so-called doctrine of reuniting families, and to push adoptions through. Adoptions have doubled and tripled since the SFACA was signed. Some states have as much as $10 MILLION dollars or more of their state budget tied up and coming in on the backs of children seized and around 90% are seized for minor issues like temporary poverty or homelessness and only 10% or less are seized for actual serious abuse. Many of these children are adopted out without needing to be, when they have perfectly good parents or grandparnents or aunts and uncles that would take them...but there's no cash bonus for that.  

  • DSamuels
    October 24, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Just curious, why do you post so many negative articles about adoption?

  • A-nony-mous
    October 24, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    sexysiren -- You missed the point entirely. Many children should not be in foster care in the first place.

    According to statistics published in the recently released government publication, “Child Maltreatment 1998: Reports from the States to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect,” 18% of children placed in foster care were taken from homes with unsubstantiated reports of child maltreatment. Pennsylvania, Kansas and New Jersey led the 16 states reporting in this category. Nearly half (43%) of the foster care placements in those states were taken from families where child protective services (CPS) workers had unsubstantiated reports of child abuse or neglect. 

    "Children are eleven times more likely to be sexually abused in state care than they are in their own homes, according to NCCAN. While 59 out of 100,000 children in the general population are alleged to be physically abused, 160 — more than twice as much — were physically abused in the foster care population. Neglect? The 32 states submitting data in this category reported that 490 per hundred thousand children were neglected in their homes and 760 per hundred thousand were neglected in state care. Tragically, 6.4 children per 100,000 were killed in foster care in 1998 compared to a rate of 1.5 per hundred thousand in the general population. (See Table 2)."

    Ten percent of the children incarcerated in Washington were placed as a result of unsubstantiated complaints of child abuse or neglect, according to NCCAN. An additional 26% placed in state care were cases “closed without a finding”


    New Mexico reported to NCCAN that 24% of the children it placed in state care were subjects of unsubstantiated complaints. 

    In Kansas, 41% of the children placed in foster care came from families where CPS investigators found complaints of child abuse or neglect to be unfounded.  

    Adoption is not a solution to this terrible law or kids "languishing" in foster care. If you want kids not to languish in care then work to repeal the Children and Safe Families Act that ties profit and state budgets into child seizures and adoptions. 

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