Abandonment Issues: Throughout the adoption process, many prospective parents hear comments from friends, family and co-workers about how lucky the child is to be adopted. Comments often flow from the uninformed about how the prospective parents are “saving” the child.
Those in the adoption community know that everyone that meets the adopted child will be the ‘lucky ones’. That each of us is lucky to know each other.
A Chinese Proverb that is well known throughout the adoption community relates:
“An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.”
This saying is often mentioned in by those touched by adoption from China. But the proverb should have meaning to all of us.
The effects of adoption, like the red thread, run throughout the adoptive parents and adopted child’s lives. Those will little knowledge of adoption think that its effects stop the day the child and his/her parents become a family. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The effects of adoption last throughout the life of the adopted person, his/her adoptive family, the child’s birthparents, their friends and families.
Abandonment Issues: Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is one of the issues often facing adopted children. Many children lack a sense of security and place that would give them more self confidence. This coupled with an understandable fear of rejection resulting from their separation from their birthparents is an issue that all adoptees have to deal with.
Most adoptees struggle with these questions several times throughout their lives. The first time is often when they just become old enough to understand the concept of adoption. They often think about these issues throughout their teen years and again each time a life changing event occurs.
As a child grows and matures it is natural for them to begin to question their sense of place in life. This happens with all children and helps them in their natural maturation and growth toward independence. Adopted children battle additional questions because of the unknown elements of their lives. The greater the number of unknowns, the greater the number of questions.
This sense of place is often exacerbated by the physical differences in appearance many adopted children face. A child with a Chinese heritage living in a Caucasian world is confronted with this “isolation” each time they look in a mirror or at a photo of their family.
This lack of resemblance also happens with children of the same ethnicity as their adoptive parents. A comment from a stranger about something as simple as a beautiful singing voice or blonde hair can unleash self doubt about where these genetic traits may have come from.
Abandonment Issues: Personal History
The personal history of most people starts with their place of birth. It’s not uncommon for a person to answer the question, “where are you from?” with a response starting with their place of birth even if they only lived there for a short time.
An adopted child’s personal history often starts with an unknown. “I was born about July 23rd, somewhere near Saint Petersburg Russia and lived in an orphanage.” is how one little boy started his “life story”. This lack of certainty can impact an adoptee throughout their childhood and adulthood.
Abandonment issues with Adopted Children.
Many adopted children grow to resent their birthmothers at times in their lives resulting from a feeling of abandonment. This sense of rejection is a common emotion that follows many adoptees. Throughout their lives, many adoptees have trouble forming long lasting meaningful relationships out of a deep seeded concern of being rejected and abandoned.
These children will have to battle with the possibility of never knowing why their birthmother offered them for adoption and this frustration may manifest itself throughout life.
Adoption and particularly abandonment issues are often difficult for adoptees to discuss with their adoptive parents. An adoptee may feel that they are being “ungrateful” or making their parent uncomfortable by opening the discussion. Many adoption experts recommend professional help in dealing with issues that come from feelings of abandonment.
Abandonment Issues: Resources
Even with the most supportive adoptive parents and friends, the only
people who can relate to several of the issues affecting an adoptee is
There are positive support groups in most cities and towns throughout the world as well as online.
The North American Council of Adoptable Children offers a searchable online database of adoption related support groups. You can visit them at: http://www.nacac.org/pas_database.html.
An online search tool can also find many opportunities in particular states or areas along with assisting you in finding people with similar experiences.
“Being a member of a number of support groups gave me the chance to talk to people who knew what I was talking about,” said one adoptee. “With just one look you could tell that another adopted kid felt the same way.”
Many organizations can also offer support through counseling. A good
place to start is through adoption related organizations and healthcare
The Even B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is also a great resource: “Our Mission: To improve the quality of information about adoption, to enhance the understanding and perception of adoption, and to advance adoption policy and practice.” You can visit their web site at: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/
Abandonment issues, self asteem, relationships and adopted children.