Unlike many physical wellness complications, mental health issues are rarely brought up in today’s society. There is a stigma against it. It is unfortunate that this is the case, considering that 5% of adults in the U.S will suffer from some form of mental health issues every year. That approximates to 44 million people.
In the adoption process, the source of troubles might be deeper than it seems. It is important to realize that anyone within the adoption triad can face some sort of mental health problem: adoptees, birth parents, or adoptive parents. It is mixed with emotional traumas and harmful comments from passersby.
As a parent, you want to try your best to shield your child from the hurt of the world. You cannot do that if you yourself are suffering. It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay. You are not alone. Looking again at the statistics, these issues are quite common and you don’t need to feel alarmed. The first step to take is to understand the mental health issues that you or your child might encounter as you grow.
Defining Mental Health Issues
Mayo Clinic defines mental health issues as “disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior.” Having those issues can make everyday life seem daunting and chore-like. In adoption, every step is delicate and it is hard for adoptive parents to tell whether their child will adapt well to the new home or not.
Several determinants can be at play if your child suffers from mental health issues. Keep in mind that this list does not detail all the possible factors, but are some that you should consider and understand.
- The age of the child when they were adopted. Children from the age of 8 to 18 are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues. However, as we have discussed in the Acknowledge Attachment Issues for Your Child, newborns can tell when they have been separated from their birth mother which can negatively affect their mental health.
- Where the child was adopted from. The location where the child grows up has significant impacts on their health and character. Since Adoption Choices of New York specializes in adoptions of newborns and infants, you will not likely encounter this dilemma. All the same, it is beneficial for you to be aware of your child’s surroundings.
- Their biological family’s mental health history. This might be the biggest factor. If someone in their biological family suffers from mental health issues, it is more likely that your child will encounter such issues as well. Before the adoption has been finalized, you will be able to obtain the birth parents’ family medical history. It will help you prepare for the possibilities.
Common Mental Health Issues
To help you understand mental health issues and to feel more equipped, it is best to go over the common issues that you or your child might have to tackle. Again, this list does not include all of the possible concerns. Consult a specialist for any further questions.
Depression. With adoptees, this can be developed before they are born. For example, birth mothers with alcohol or substance abuse, or something that grows over time as they experience the world. They might feel angry without a distinguishable cause, or they might feel absent from the family. With adoptive parents, they feel the pressure of providing care for someone’s life. They tend to have high expectations of their parenting abilities and will downgrade all of their work if something minor happens. The term is broad and sounds terrifying, nonetheless, you should not feel frightened by it.
Anxiety. When your chest feels tightened and you feel uneasy, that’s what anxiety looks like. Your child might feel stress when they face a problem and don’t know how to talk to you about it. The emotions built up inside can lead to panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety, etc. Adoptive parents might experience this when they feel embarrassed to talk to others about any parenting troubles they have like bonding or falling into the stereotype of not being good parents. They fear the shame and guilt that will accompany such confessions. Vulnerability is a big factor in this, making sure that you feel in control is a good first step.
Postpartum. It is common for adoptive parents, not just birth mothers, to experience something like postpartum depression. One reason for the remorse is they can’t go through the same birthing experience as birth mothers. Since they did not give birth to their child, they feel that the emotional bond with the child was never established. Another reason is that adoptive parents might have some preconceived notions of what the adoption would look like and how they envisioned their new family to be. In spite of that vision, once the child arrives home, the parents might start to feel differently and look at the everyday life of changing diapers and feedings as chores. This feeling is not permanent. It will take time, but it will slowly fade away.
PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can manifest at a young age when the victim witnessed traumatic experiences that will follow them into adulthood. It can numb them with intense fear and vulnerability. The negative experiences range from physical or emotional abuse or separation and loss. Adoptees know when they have been separated from their birth mother and that trauma might never leave them. Symptoms of PTSD include: hypervigilance, unwanted flashbacks, and avoidance of conversations about what happened. It is also common for birth mothers to go through this after placing their child up for adoption. There’s no telling if and when these symptoms can go away, but there are ways to cope with the situation.
Conquering the Mental Health Monster
You might not believe it, but you should not feel conquered by mental health issues. Understanding mental health issues was the first big major step for this challenge. Your adoption experts at Adoption Choices of New York can guide you to the appropriate resource to ensure you get the best possible care. We know that it’s tough, and we won’t let you fight this monster by yourself.
Adoption Choices of New York
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, Adoption Choices of New York.
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.
“5 Surprising Mental Health Statistics.” Mental Health First Aid, February 6, 2019. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2019/02/5-surprising-mental-health-statistics/.
“Mental Illness.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, June 8, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968.
Muller, Robert T., and Research. “Adoptive Parents at Heightened Risk for Depression.” The Trauma & Mental Health Report, November 4, 2016. http://trauma.blog.yorku.ca/2015/11/adoptive-parents-at-heightened-risk-for-depression/.
Team, The Meadows Web. “Adopted Children Often Face Mental Health Struggles as Young Adults.” Claudia Black Center, May 30, 2017. https://www.claudiablackcenter.com/adopted-children-often-face-mental-health-struggles-as-young-adults/.
“Will My Adopted Child Have All Sorts of Emotional Problems?” Creating a Family, July 11, 2016. https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/mental-health-issues-with-adopted-children/.