The child has now begun to settle down into their forever home. They can now create lifelong memories and futures for themselves with their adoptive family. Although, there can be times where the adopted individual can face emotional issues around attachment along the way. This could coincide with the loss of their birth family. As the adopted child grows up their emotions and reactions to the adoption world could possibly change. Adoptive parents may want to consider the following blog as suggestions on how to approach different scenarios when dealing with possible attachment issues adoptive individuals go through.
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
Reactive Attachment Disorder is a disruption of a type of trauma that can be triggered by physical or sexual abuse, neglect and/or frequent change in caregivers. It typically occurs in the first three years of a child’s life. The other factors that can contribute to RAD are: adoption, death of a parent, and frequent moves. Some of the symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder can include, but are not limited to: stealing, poor peer relationships, and/or learning lags.
“You Are Adopted.”
Adoptive parents will often bring the word “adoption” and their child’s adoption into the daily conversation when the child is present. This can be helpful to the child, because it will allow their adoption to not be hidden from them or a topic they should be ashamed about bringing up. An open line of conversation within the adoptive family will allow for a judgmental free zone for the adoptee. Parents should not worry if the child does not ask questions all the time. Every adopted individual goes through their own struggles and challenges at their own speed. The questions will become more complex as they grow up. The more they learn about their adoption, the greater their curiosity and want for details. All adopted persons face a different road with their adoption and therefore, each situation should be handled differently.
“Who Am I? Where Did I Come From?”
The more the adoption is discussed with the adopted individual, the more questions they can have about their birth family and who they are. This is common and, again, should be handled in a sensitive matter. As parents of the adoptive child, you always want to think things through before laying out all of their adoption details, if you have any. If it was a closed adoption, there isn’t usually a lot of information to go on because birth parents may not want to be found or contacted after the adoption. However, open adoptions may provide additional resources and information to obtain from their adoption for the adoptive parents. As the child grows up, depending on their age the information the parents have on the adoption may be explained differently. You never want to lie to your child or create false fantasies of their adoption, by doing so can create deeper rooted trust issues and possible attachment issues with the adoptee and everyone else who may enter their life.
Adoptive parents that are of a different nationality and race from their adoptive child should research and find more information on the child’s heritage and culture. The different celebrations and practices of your child’s background can be of interest to them. Specifically, if the child was adopted from China, discussing the Chinese New Year with them may be worth mentioning. Discussing the heritage and special traditions behind what their culture celebrates, too, allows the adopted individual to be connected to their roots and a sense of pride from where they came from. The more information provided with questions such as, “who am I?” and “where am I from?” allows them to be one step closer to their birth home, and gives them a sense of identity awareness the older they get.
Adoptees in School
There are some children who throw themselves into games and school activities, while others will sit on the sidelines hoping someone will approach them to play. A lot of the time children adopted or not, can use the extra push of encouragement to show that it is ok to make friends and have fun.
The possible hesitation for the adoptees’ in particular can trigger from their history of being placed from different homes. This may create a repeated history of making new friends where they are and leaving shortly after and never creating a stable relationship which is commonly found of those 9 months or older if he/she was placed into a different foster homes.
Since the parents cannot be with their child every step of the way, there are often other adults who will care for the child. When it occurs in the child’s school, their teachers and guidance counselors are often those who see how the child interacts with others. They will also be able to not only watch them, but to educate and teach them how to share and communicate with others. In school these caretakers may provide better insight on how the child is doing during teacher parent conferences and on the child’s report cards, particularly if the child is acting out, not sharing, and/or is shy and keeps to themselves.
Parents often want to be there to catch their child when they fall but sometimes that is more harmful than helpful. The child should grow up and experience things about their adoption and life without feeling controlled by each step they take. Attachment issues cannot only happen with the adoptee to the parents but sometimes parents to the adoptee. It is important adoptive families and those in the adoptive child’s life give the child the opportunity to explore and learn about their adoption at their own speed, if they choose to. This will not only educate and help themselves with attachment related issues but sometimes even help the adoptive family.
Any time there are concerns or possible issues with a child of adoption, it should be handled calmly and carefully. Adoption can trigger anxiety, sadness and panic for some adoptees. It is always good to be ahead of the issues and seek an adoption professional and/or specialized adoption groups. The more active and helpful parents are with the child’s needs the more comfortable the child will be with their adoption. Adoptive parents that are currently dealing with attachment related concerns should never detach from the child out of the blue, this is a gradual process, a work in progress.
Note for Adoptive Parents
Parents may wonder if their adoption had influence on these traits. Parents may want to encourage their child to ask questions about their adoption, often this can lead to curiosity that could carry over to their behavior in school. If your child is of a different ethnicity than the parents, this will be something that will translate to them at school and with friends. They will be aware that they are indeed different from their adoptive family and they will notice the differences by comments made by others. This is the time the parents will want to step in and have a discussion about the adoption and allow the child to feel comfortable with who they are and where they may have come from.
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
Adoption 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
Rachel Strom graduated from Lehman College in the Bronx in May of 2018, where she received her bachelors in Professional Writing. After receiving her education at Lehman College, Rachel is currently interning at Adoption Choices Inc., where she is a weekly blogger.
Rachel was adopted from Asuncion, Paraguay in 1991. Her adoption experience has helped her write articles for Adoption Choices Inc., from the perspective of an adoptive individual. She hopes her articles will help someone looking into adoption or encourage those currently in the process.
When Rachel is not writing for Adoption Choices Inc. or her own novels she enjoys her other passion for baking, where she resides, in the New York City area. When she is baking, music is always playing throughout the kitchen while she is whipping up a delectable dessert for her friends and adoptive family.
Channey, and Unsplash. Basketball. March 2018.
Frank, M.S.W, Elaine. “Adoption and the Stages of Development .” Edited by Gloria Hochman, Child Welfare Information Gateway , Child Welfare, 1990, www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_stages.pdf.
Parker, Lysa. “Developing Emotional Attachments in Adopted Children.” Developing Emotional Attachments in Adopted Children, Attachment Parenting International , www.attachmentparenting.org/support/articles/adoption.
Sikkema, Kelly, and Unsplash. 2018.
Smith, M.A., Melinda, et al. “Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Other Attachment Issues.” HelpGuide.org, Oct. 2018, www.helpguide.org/articles/parenting-family/attachment-issues-and-reactive-attachment-disorders.htm/.