I think we can all agree that adoption is usually seen through a joyous lens. We as people view that as a positive experience but sometimes we disregard the hurt and negative effects adoption can have for everyone involved. What are some of those overlooked and under-discussed issues? In the early 1980s, a study was published on the 7 Core Issues of Adoption. This article outlined some of the pain points of adoption for the adoptee, the adopting parents, and the birth parents. Later, in 2019, the study was refined to what we study today.
Choosing to adopt a child can be a difficult decision often made based on painful factors like infertility. Choosing to place a child for adoption can arguably be even more of a difficult decision to make. When a birth parent chooses to allow their child to be adopted, it can be for many reasons and most of those can stem from a painful experience. As we walk through the 7 Core Issues of Adoption, I encourage you to acknowledge that adoption affects everyone involved in their own unique way.
The sense of loss can be especially true for a birth mother who feels the empty void her child would have filled. Loss can also be experienced by the adoptee due to not having a traditional relationship with birth parents. It is true that adopting families may have also experienced loss through infertility.
A feeling of rejection isn’t uncommon in adoptees for obvious reasons. An adoptee may feel they were unwanted, especially if the adoptee is older. A birth parent may also feel a sense of rejection when they make the decision to place their child for adoption. This is especially true if there isn’t loving support for their decision. Adopting families may also experience a fear of rejection from their adopted child, especially if their child was adopted as an older child.
Most birth families that decide to place their child for adoption do so due to an unplanned pregnancy. This can weigh heavily on the birth parents which can cause a false sense of shame or guilt. Unfortunately, shame and guilt can also seep into the minds of adoptees. They can feel they were at fault. Infertility can also cause guilt within the adopted family.
Birth parents sometimes experience the grief of not being able to raise their child. Similarly, the adoptee might experience grief from not being able to be raised by their birth family. The adopting family might experience grief due to not having a biological connection with their adopted child.
It can be confusing to have a biological connection to a child that you are not raising. Adoptees can also experience identity issues due to the unknown or feeling they belong elsewhere. The adopting parents can develop identity issues by not feeling like the real parents of their child.
The birth family can feel a real disconnect between becoming pregnant and placing the child for adoption. The grief that we discussed earlier can seep in and cause intimacy issues for them in other relationships. For the adoptee, intimacy challenges can stem from that sense of rejection we covered earlier. If an adopting family is coming from infertility, it can cause a lack of intimacy with the adopted child, especially if they have not properly grieved their infertility.
- Mastery & Control
When a birth family is coming from an unplanned pregnancy, they can feel really out of control of their options. The adoptee can feel this as well in that they didn’t have a say in the adoption process at all. Adopting parents feel the lack of control more so during the adoption process.
Adoption can be a joyous occasion but it can also come with serious pain points. Hopefully, understanding some of these issues can help you navigate the relationships you are able to make with your adopted child, their birth parents, and yourself.
If you are interested in adopting and want to know more information both positive and negative, check out my comprehensive course, All About Adoption 101.