I recently came across a beautiful video of an adopted child recollecting her meeting with her adoptive parents for the first time and expressing her love and gratitude for her adoptive parents. I was so touched by the video that I instantly posted it on my social media account. It was not long before I saw it posed across several sites.
I scrolled down the comments to see how people reacted (don’t judge me), and stumbled upon an article shared by an adoptee. The article brings to light the feelings of extreme trauma, alienation, guilt that adoptees grapple through their life. The article also mentioned that in cases of adoption it is almost always the voices of adoptive parents, lawyers and social agencies that are taken as the final verdict on adoption. As I continued scrolling down, I came across several comments by adoptees who found the video uncomfortable.
The first thought that crossed my mind was to dismiss a lone article and a few voices of dissent. But I ended up searching for mental health issues among adoptees and was shocked when I came across an article published by NIH, that put the suicide attempt rates in adoptees at as high as four times in those who lived with their biological parents.
I looked for other articles and came across another, which stated that since those parents who are able to adopt come from higher income groups and are more aware of the issues that may arise with adoption due to , and hence refer their children to a mental health setting.
I tried searching for articles that would compare the mental health issues of adopted children with those who were never adopted, this would be a fairer indicator, but I did not come across any such article.
I have been a huge proponent of adoption and I do think that more and more children should find loving homes. I was, however, unaware of mental heath issues that adoptees face and a percentage faces in the long term. Instead of brushing them under the carpet, they should be openly discussed.
Having gone through several articles, the links to which I have posted below, I compiled a list of issues faced by adopted children, and how adoptive parents can approach these issues.
- Separation Anxiety: To be separated from the primary biological caregiver is a traumatic experience for any child. The child may therefore have separation anxiety and a need to please the adopted parents for the care they provide.
Even well meaning people may point out how lucky they are to be adopted, but luck can run out. This often causes anxiety in children. This statement should be avoided in front of adoptees.
- Post traumatic stress Disoder: Sometimes they come from backgrounds where they have already faced trauma, and have feelings of loss, grief and guilt.
- Internalization: They tend to internalize difficult emotions because they do not wish to be seen as ungrateful. Allow children to express difficult emotions.
- Quest for roots: The child may want to know the true origins but may hold it in to avoid hurting the adoptive parents. Be the one to start the conversation about them, their roots and their past and accompany them in discovering who they are. Try to uncover as much information about their past as you can.
- Alienation: The adopted child may feel alienated due to lack of similarity with other family members.
- Children may also develop other disorders like oppositional Defiant Disorder(ODD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), Conduct disorder and major depressive disorder.
Counselling can help children develop social skills, emotional resilience and healthy coping mechanisms.
I felt that the article that entirely dismissed the video of the adorable, little girl and the parents of the adopted child was a little too harsh in handling of such a sensitive subject. There are children in this world who need love, care and healing, and so do the adults.
Demonizing the adoptive parents for posting an innocent video will only discourage people from adopting. And possibly the whole purpose of posting the video was to show how fulfilling parenting can be even for adopted parents. Adoption is still considered a taboo in many societies, where too much stress is laid on biological kids.
I wish there was an ideal world where every child could have loving, biological parents but we live live in a world that is far from ideal. But we can create a beautiful world by caring for each other in times of need.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this topic and the sole reason for writing this is to at least spark a conversation on this topic.