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With all of the excitement and joy that comes along with adopting a child, it is natural for both seasoned and new parents to wonder about the what if’s. What if they don’t like me? What if I can’t give them what they need? There are some stigmas about adoption that mention it’s harder in general to raise an adopted child, or that adopted children are more prone to mental health issues than biological children. In addition, parents of transracially adopted children can face cultural barriers. As a future parent in any capacity, it’s important to be informed and even better to feel supported.

Are Adoptees More Prone to Mental Health Illnesses?

The short answer is yes, but it’s crucial to remember that not all children are the same. Like biological children, adoptees have their own needs too. Thus, as a parent, it’s best to educate yourself and your family about what to expect, so that you’re equipped to meet those needs. Further, it’s essential for you to know that there are plenty of resources to help along the way.

What Causes Mental Health Illness?

Now that we’ve established adoptees are more prone to mental health illness, we need to explore any and all known causes and risk factors to better understand why this is. Research suggests that mental health illnesses can be triggered by a host of causes. Among them: childhood abuse, trauma, neglect, family history, poverty or stress. Other research offers that brain chemistry and culture may play a role.

In the world of open adoption, adoptive parents are able to gain a good understanding of potential mental health issues by looking over their son or daughter’s medical and health history. If their child’s birth mother has any history or alcohol abuse, know there’s a risk of behavioral disabilities or alcoholism. If you’re adopting an infant transracially, there may be specific mental health factors that increase the risk from that as well.

Yet, no matter what, knowledge is power. The more you can learn upfront about your baby, the better you’ll be prepared with their future. Don’t hesitate to voice any questions or concerns you have with the adoption agency pertaining to your child’s background. Your adoption professional will help ensure that you’re ready to meet your child’s needs.

Are There Signs or Symptoms I Should be Aware of? 

Recognizing when your child requires intervention for a mental health issue is imperative. Some of the most classic signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Extreme fear of social situations
  • Constant state of fear or worry that something bad will happen
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches

Because depression and anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, here are some things to watch out for:

  • Changes in energy levels
  • Lack of interest in doing things that make your child happy
  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying or fussiness
  • Nightmares

 What can I do to help?

The CDC recommends ensuring your child eats a balanced diet and gets plenty of rest and exercise; it may also be useful to work with your child to practice relaxation techniques. Also, asking for help as a parent should not be taboo. If you find yourself unable to help navigate these types of mental health problems you can get in touch with a mental health counselor or even work with your child’s school to develop a plan of action to help get them back on track.

Some of the best gifts that you as a parent can give to an adopted child include patience, understanding, and the desire to be informed. By taking an interest and learning about what your child needs can help lessen these statistics. For example, adopted children need to feel safe. They need to feel like they are in an environment where they will not be given up on for making a mistake or sent away for it. In addition, these children need understanding because sometimes they aren’t aware of where their mental and behavioral problems come from either, especially if they are too young to communicate their feelings. If you are considering adoption and already have biological children, it’s imperative that no child feels like one is favored over the other.

Adoptees and Mental Health Issues

In the end, adopted children want to be as happy as everyone else. Despite the fact that there may be challenges along the way, adoption is still a selfless and loving act. Adoptive parents should never have to feel alone; once they’ve made the choice to adopt, they step into a world that is filled with support and like-minded people who just want to make a difference.

Adoption Choices of Nevada

If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.

Support Adoption Choices

CrowdriseAdoption 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

Desi PohlDesiree (Desi) Pohl is eager to start her career in writing! A Colorado native and adoptee herself, she lives, works and goes to school online from home. Desi received her BA in Communications in December of 2018 from Grand Canyon University and is currently a full-time online graduate student working towards her MA in English.

The majority of her writing thus far has centered around research papers for school; though, at one point, she created and managed a blog called “PTSD Me” that allowed her to share her personal experiences with others. She enjoys writing short stories and articles focused on women and family issues, mental and physical health, and wellness. Desi has said that it’s important for her writing to reach readers on a personal level, and she loves sharing her own story in hopes it will make a difference to others!

She aspires to become a writer or editor first and foremost when she’s finished with school. When she’s not writing articles or working on homework, Desi enjoys spending time with her husband and three dogs. Being in Colorado, they are a family who loves the outdoors. She’s been a swimmer most of her life and is currently training for her first open-water marathon swim next year at Lake Tahoe!

 

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Sources:

Berger, C. (2010, October 8). Could My Adopted Child Have an Attachment Disorder? Retrieved from http://www.path2parenthood.org/article/could-my-adopted-child-have-an-attachment-disorder/

“Causes.” Causes | Mind, the Mental Health Charity – Help for Mental Health Problems, Oct. 2017, https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/causes/#.XZUt80ZKjIV.

Fuller, K. (2016, November 28). Adopted children more likely to develop mental health disorders, study shows. Retrieved from https://www.sovhealth.com/mental-health/adopted-children-likely-develop-mental-health-disorders-study-shows/.

Hill, T. (2015, December 12). Mental Health: 12 Things Adopted/Foster Children Wish You Knew. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2015/12/12-things-adoptedfoster-children-with-mental-illness-wish-you-knew/.

Kaplan, A. (2009, January 26). Adoption and Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/adhd/adoption-and-mental-illness.

Park, Madison. “Adopted Children at Greater Risk for Mental Health Disorders.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 Apr. 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/13/children.adoption.mental.health/index.html.

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