Love is like a field of yellow tulips. It symbolizes “there’s sunshine in your smile.” When you are with your family and feel the warmth of your child in your arms, your smile naturally shines brighter than the sun. This is your dream come true, something you’ve worked so hard for and dedicated countless hours to. It’s finally yours, and your baby is surely as thrilled as you are to finally find the puzzle they fit perfectly into.
While your son or daughter may feel happy, they might not feel so complete yet. Let’s be honest, adoption is a laborious process for all involved — birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees. Even as babies, adoptees are aware of the changes happening around them, which can later develop into troublesome issues. As your child’s adoptive parent, it will be beneficial for you to educate yourself on the seven core issues of adoption so that you can help keep your smile and theirs.
Adoption Choices of New York understands that the following core issues may not impact everyone the same way or go in any particular order. Some adoptees may not experience these issues at all. Each and every individual in the adoption triad has their own unique adoption journey.
The 7 Core Issues
Loss can be at the core of each emotion and stressful encounter that adoptees go through. You might think that since your child is young, he or she won’t be affected by such a complex matter. This is a common misconception. As we discussed in the blog post, Acknowledge Attachment Issues for Your Child, your child understands that they have been separated from their birth mother as an infant. Give them credit. They are smarter than you might think.
That being said, because they experience such a complicated emotion, they naturally feel a sense of abandonment. Unfortunately, the amount of hugs and love you give them might not be able to fill that void as easily as you might like. It will take time for your child to process and grieve, even in infancy. But there are healthy ways that you can bond with your son or daughter, making this adjustment period easier for both of you.
Going hand-in-hand with loss is the feeling of rejection. Adoptees might question why their birth mother would place them for adoption. Rejection is painful and harmful to your child’s development. It will also come with doubts about their worth. They might feel like they don’t deserve love from you or anyone else because of their inner misconceptions of why their birth parents “left.” This is why it’s so important to tell your child their adoption story from day one. Telling them stories about their birth mothers can ease their pain. It may initially add to their sense of rejection, it is part of their grieving process.
3. Guilt and Shame
Shame is developed from adoptees questioning their worth. Oftentimes, they believe it is who they are that forced their birth mother to place them for adoption. Whether it is their physical appearance or personality, they believe that they did something “wrong.” Thus, their “wrongdoings” are reasons why their birth parents no longer wanted them.
It’s an awful thing to feel, especially for a young child. Shame often stays with them for a very long time. This is another good time for you to tell your child about his or her adoption. It will reassure them that they didn’t do anything wrong and that they shouldn’t feel guilty about their identity.
Grief is a natural escalation from loss. It is a complex matter. For losses and deaths, society comforts those in need. For an adoptee feeling grief, society turns against them because adoption is supposed to be the savior for adoptees, an act that gives them a better home. Society states that adoptees must feel grateful and forget about where they came from. While adoption is a wonderful way to build families, it does not erase the fact that adoptees have lost someone important.
Even as your child’s new parent, you might not fully be able to replace the void that his or her birth parents left behind. Everyone grieves differently, and there are no technical processes to lessen the pain. What you need to do is to give them space, time and lots of love.
Adolescents often go through an identity crisis. These crises escalate greatly for adoptees. Being placed in a new home, a new environment and, potentially, a new culture, is extremely confusing and scary. For young adoptees, all these stimulants have them questioning their identity. They might wonder who they actually are, where they belong and where they should go.
Your child may doubt that he or she truly belongs in your family, despite your efforts to make him or her feel welcome. Like we’ve mentioned above, at a young age, your child might know right away that something is different. That they feel alone and, once again, lost. All they want is to belong.
Because adoptees can innately sense that something is different and that they might not entirely belong in their adoptive family, forming strong bonds with family members might be a difficult task. To form meaningful relationships, there needs to first be self-acceptance. Without really knowing who they are, self-acceptance won’t come easily. This also deals with stability. Adoptive parents have to work extra hard to get their children to trust them and reassure them that nothing will change.
Initiate small acts like hugs, cuddles, and kisses. Constantly reassure your child that you love them and you are happy they are part of your family. They will eventually become stables in a healthy parent-child relationship. You are your child’s forever home.
When someone’s life has changed without their knowledge or permission, they often want to regain control in other aspects of their life. It is no different for an adoptee. They had no voice in their placement nor who gets to adopt them. This does not mean that they don’t want to be adopted, it simply means they want to decide something for themselves.
Garden of Healing
You may feel powerless when it comes to the issues your child might go through. Do not stress. Begin by planting a seed. Stay by their side, give them lots of hugs, tell them you love them, and make sure they know that they are the last piece of the puzzle in your family. The garden of tulips will flourish, and the journey for healing will continue with you by their side.
Adoption Choices of New York
Over the past seventeen (17) years, Adoption Choices of New York has helped many individuals and couples make adoption plans and complete their families through the miracle of adoption. Our staff has well-established relationships with agencies and attorneys across the nation, as well as Adoption Choices agencies in many other states. As a leader in the adoption community, we have a genuine commitment to a sensitive, comprehensive and supportive experience for all involved in the adoption journey. We are dedicated to ensuring that your adoption is processed in a professional, competent and caring manner and would be delighted to answer your questions.
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Lisa Truong is an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Denver. She is minoring in writing and Chemistry. She has been commended by professors for her news stories as well as creative writing.
During her freshman year, her essay “See Ya on the Other Side” was displayed at a writing exhibition sponsored by the University of Denver. That essay later went on to be published in Many Voices One DU, a book also sponsored by the university.
Lisa frequently volunteers to be a leader at the Daniels School of Business for their quarterly Ethics Boot Camp where students learn about the importance of character in business. In her free time, Lisa enjoys watching animated movies with her mother, listening to music, going for bike rides, and eating breakfast food.
Bramlett, Patience. “7 Core Issues of Adoption.” Adoption Choices of Colorado, September 20, 2019. https://www.adoptionchoices.org/7-core-issues-of-adoption/.
Thorton, Devon. “The 7 Core Issues of Adoption for Adoptees.” Adoption Choices of Nevada, September 27, 2019. https://www.adoptionchoicesofnevada.org/the-7-core-issues-of-adoption/.