Concerned about what might be bothering your adopted child? Let us understand better by delving deeper into their psychology.
Adoption, in a lot of ways, is not all that different from childbirth. Parenting in any of its forms, quite truly, is one of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences in life. Whether it is in your belly that you carried your child for most part of the year, or have spent a long time to complete your family coordinating with an adoption agency, when the child finally arrives, all you really want as a parent is to have a happy and healthy child.
However, adoption as a legal process can involve a lot of emotions and feelings for all the people involved - you as a parent, your partner, your family, and the adopted child. Further, it can make child care quite a challenge as many emotional and behavioural problems could occur. Every child needs hugs, lullabies, and ofcourse – their homework checked. While adopted children too face similar issues to the ones non adopted children face while growing up, given the temperament of an individual child, some experiences may directly be related to being adopted. As a result, adopted children may be more likely to struggle with emotions and behaviours. Whatever the nature of the problem may be, some kind of intervention becomes necessary. Especially during the adolescent years, the child will begin to explore their identity, and find a place in the world.
To make sure that the health, progress, and well- being of your child is not hampered, let us look at some common psychological problems of adopted children that might occur, and what steps can be taken to reduce the probability of the child experiencing them.
Feelings of Grief or Loss
Certain behavioural problems in adopted children can come out of their sense of abandonment. If the child is old enough, he or she may grieve for their biological parents, grandparents, siblings, culture, or language. If feelings of grief, loss, anxiety, or even anger are left unexpressed and not attended to in this regard, it may stir up a sense of uncertainty. They might start to wonder if there is something wrong with them, or if their adoptive parents will leave them too.
What is needed then is to make sure there is enough communication of thoughts and feelings. To be able to overcome these anxieties, the child must be talked to. Parents must provide the child with a safe outlet for self expression, and acknowledge their feelings. This will allow the child to feel secure and be comfortable with the adoption arrangement.
A Sense of Low Self- Esteem
As the child grows, he or she may face challenges with their self- esteem, which relates directly to their sense of value, identity, dignity, and belonging. The adopted child might think of himself or herself as different, somewhat out of place, and not the right fit in the society with others. It is when the child is ashamed or embarrassed of being adopted, they display a lack of self confidence.
To let them have a better sense of self while growing up, adoption should be looked at in a positive manner when being raised. A sense of self worth and self esteem in the child can be the result of healthy relationships between parents and their adopted child.
Formation of Identity
Development of Identity can be slightly complicated for kids that are adopted. They are likely to ponder over several questions like who their biological parents are, where they live, or why they were given up for adoption. It is like trying to put several pieces of a puzzle together. Identity formation begins during childhood and becomes more prominent into the teenage years. It is a sense of purpose that they seek from life in this setting of adoption, by filling these blanks. In such a case, an ‘open adoption’ (if possible) can be extremely beneficial for children as well as for adoptees.
An ‘open adoption’ is one where the birth family and the adoptive family keep in touch for the sake of the child. Keeping in touch can mean different things - exchanging letters or mails, or making phone calls or visiting regularly. It is what suits best to both the parties. This kind of a set up makes the adopted child have tangible answers to several important questions. It helps them overcome challenges, and get a wholesome feeling while growing up. They truly understand their identity, and often even carry it with pride, knowing that their biological and adoptive families both love them a lot.
At times, adoptive parents with sincere intentions tend to over- indulge their child. They may treat the adoptive child as someone “special” simply because he or she is adopted. They indulge the adopted child more than they would indulge the biological one. While it may be done out of sympathy and a pure heart, it can create additional anxiety, sadness, or fear for the adopted child. Parents may even not discipline the child if he or she misbehaves, thinking that may not have complete “right.”
However, over-indulging any child does not lead to a positive outcome in the long run. The adopted child should not be treated any differently. Every child needs to understand that there are rules and that a little bit of discipline can go a long way.
If nothing seems to work out, reach out to an expert - one that understands your child and you as a parent. With the right kind of assessment and intervention, the psychological problems can be managed and you and your child will learn to honour the positivity and strength that exists in your relationship as a family.