Helping Families of Adopted Children
Adoption is becoming more open and accepted, and most adoptions are very successful. More than 80% of adopted children stay with their adoptive families and function well in society.
The success of adoption relies on having a good support system for the child, the adoptive families and, many times, for the biological parents. The adoption process has a huge impact on each member of this triad. Each of them has his or her own, often complex, feelings, regardless of how successful the adoption is. Each may need different types of support.
COMMON ADOPTION ISSUES
Adopted children may deal with many issues during and after the process. These can include:
Loss of birth parents and grief: Loss of a birth parent can lead to a later search for identity, and this journey can complicate the relationship with the adoptive parents.
Feeling of rejection and abandonment by the biological parents: “I am was not good enough so they gave me up.”
Forming a new attachment with the adoptive parents: This process is crucial in development of healthy lifestyle and success. The attachment process varies based on the age of the child, the readiness of adoptive family to accept a new “stranger," and the ability of the parents to provide unconditional love despite difficulties.
Anger towards the adoptive parents: The child may see adoptive parents as the people “who took me away from my biological family.”
These issues can cause a number of reactions, such as acting withdrawn, being depressed, failing school or being oppositional. Often, adopted children have multiple issues with their adoptive parents.
Adoptive parents can experience sense of failure, rejection and, at times, doubts about their decision to adopt.
AN INNOVATIVE TREATMENT — DYADIC DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOTHERAPY
The many issues adoptive families face can create a tense dynamic and an unhealthy cycle of behaviors and attitudes. Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is a treatment approach for families who have children with emotional disorders, including trauma and disorders of attachment. Research has shown that this treatment is very effective in promoting attachment and addressing related symptoms. Dyadic treatment emphasizes reflecting each other’s feelings in ways that help parents and child better understand the complexity of their issues. This understanding then empowers the family to work toward solutions.