How to Help Adopted Children Face Their Unique Challenges

Adoption is a wonderful way for a child to find a permanent, loving home and a solution for parents who cannot have kids. However, it is also fraught with complicated emotions and issues that might not be obvious on the surface. This guide should take the guesswork out of what those challenges are and how to face them with dignity and success.

Self-Esteem and Identity Issues

Most adopted children at some point in their lives feel a sense of grief and loss over the separation from their birth family. Even children who were adopted as babies may go through these emotions when they get older and better understand the situation. Older kids may grieve for the loss of siblings or other family members they remember.

Adoptive parents sometimes struggle in handling these emotions. Their adopted child may start to show signs of anger, anxiety or fear and feel like they don’t belong or don’t know where they fit in. Their self-esteem may dip as they consider the question of why their birth parents did not keep them. As they struggle with identity issues, they may lash out at their loving adoptive parents or siblings to figure it all out. They may feel rejected by certain members of the family, and this can impact their self-esteem also.

These complicated emotions can lead to guilt over hurting the feelings of their adoptive family. Now is the time for support and relying on resources outside the family to help counsel each member, so relationships within the family do not suffer.

School Challenges and Other Mental Health Challenges

Often kids are adopted from foster care after being removed from dysfunctional homes where they experienced trauma, abuse or neglect. All these factors can contribute to developmental delays and sometimes, mental health issues as well. Some other things to watch out for are anxiety, depression, ADHD, attachment disorder, substance abuse and even behavioral problems. Here are some additional resources to help adoptive parents of children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect.

If you adopted an older child who experienced some form of trauma or abuse, they should be in counseling until all of the issues are resolved. Family counseling is also strongly recommended.

Managing Post-Adoption Issues

The adoption process is a wonderful thing, but it can also cause the entire family discomfort during the adjustment period. There are plenty of post-adoption resources, clinics, counseling and even reading material that can help you process things until your child is fully integrated into your family.

  • Talk openly with your child and make yourself available to them. Be honest about their adoptions and answer any questions they may have.
  • Find out as much as you can about their history, so you know what to expect and how to help them.
  • Reach out to therapists and other resources when needed.
  • Do your best to love them and provide a stable, consistent home with boundaries and expectations.

How to Bond With Your Adoptive Child

Sometimes it takes a little while to form a parent-child bond with your adopted child. A few ways you can help the bonding process are:

Build Attachment

Connect with your child on commonalities that you share. If a baby, cuddle, hug and talk to your child a lot. Let them learn to love the sound of your voice.

Play Together

Playing together is an important way to bond with your adopted child. It also helps build social and development skills as well.

Provide Consistency

Kids crave consistency and routine. As they get used to coming home from school and seeing you, it starts to develop into a dependent and reliant relationship.

Show Them Love

Often kids who are adopted at older ages act out to see if you will “send them back.” Make sure they know you love them no matter what and you are a family for good.

About the Author

Emily is a writer at Records Finder blog, an online public records search company. She covers community problems and solutions, believes in compassion and defending the defenseless.


One Response to “How to Help Adopted Children Face Their Unique Challenges”

  1. Thank you for writing this wonderful and informative article. This also reached a bit of a ‘difficult’ note for me, as my husband grew up in foster care in a time where abuse issues (both in original the home and in the foster care system) were not as well known and publicized as they are today. Because of this, when we learned we were unable to have children, we really looked into adopting a foster child in need of a loving, stable home. We believed based on our histories together (we have both been in very long-term recovery) we were uniquely qualified to raise a child who had a difficult past. We thought who could relate to them better, understand, and help them through it than the two of us?

    However, because of his past history (turning to drugs for many years because the system failed him) we were not even considered as candidates. I do not know if the laws are state by state, but in NY, if you have ever been convicted of a felony, you are ineligible to adopt or even take in a foster child. It did not matter that he had turned his life around, it did not matter that is was a drug-related charge and not a ‘violent’ crime, and it did not matter that we are model citizens with good jobs, great support systems, etc.

    While I absolutely understand their primary goal is to protect the child (these children have already been though enough!) I hope one day changes can be made in the system so that people like us can be viewed on a case by case individual basis rather than being judged based on past.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!