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Adoption And Its Unnoticed Effects: Behavioral and Emotional Issues In Adopted Children

Most frequently adoption is a joyful experience for the adoptive couple/families and the children involved. However, this process is not without its difficulties or challenges. The decision-making process to adopt a child must take into consideration all areas of the couple’s life that will be impacted as well as the mental and emotional well-being and the unnoticed psychological implications on the child being adopted.

For example, the couple adopting may have experienced the loss of a recent pregnancy, struggled with infertility, perhaps looking for acceptance, or even the need to pour into someone else. For the child/children involved it is dealing with the loss of one family and gaining another, rejection from one family, feeling shame or guilt, and a host of other emotions may be felt.

Awareness and understanding of the feelings and mental challenges related to adoption can ease the transition and the effects of the adoption process on all parties. Recognition that every individual engaged in the adoption is impacted differently and the implications on mental health are profound.

Let’s consider current research. Most research examined suggests that adopted children display the same emotional/mental behaviors as non-adoptive children. However, children adopted at later ages who may have experienced trauma or neglect are at greater risk of having behavioral and emotional issues.

Behavioral issues such as oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorders, or mental health issues related to depression, anxiety, and ADHD are very common. Adopted children may experience feelings of rejection, shame, loss, and struggle with identity as it relates to being adopted into a different family that may also be different in culture, ethnicity, or race. All of these issues cannot be overlooked or taken for granted when going through the adoption process.


  • Make sure to have a thorough background of the child/children being adopted

    • Medical history

    • Parental history

    • Racial/cultural history

    • Psychological history

  • Ensure the children being adopted have every advantage available as non adoptive children. Showing favoritism, bias, or unequal treatment toward non adopted children over adopted children will create increased confusion, issues with anxiety, depression, and aggressive behaviors on both sides.

  • Address mental health issues early. If you are aware that your adoptive children are struggling, get help early. Waiting may increase unwanted behaviors including suicidal ideation or self-harm.

  • Make efforts to learn, talk, and normalize racial/cultural/ethnic practices or norms when possible, especially when adopting children that are of a different race than the adopted parents. Ignorance or indifference in this area will only increase tension between parents and adopted children, create identity issues, and can lead to significant mental illness or behaviors.

  • Like all children, adopted children have unique needs and behaviors. It may be necessary to pay extra attention to behaviors that are formed and taught in institutionalized living situations (or in foster homes ) as well as behaviors that arise from significant life disruptions. Individualized evaluations and assistance from social workers, psychologists, educators, and therapists are beneficial to every adopted child and family. For a child who has experienced trauma and adoption in the past, behavioral techniques designed for biological children might not be suitable.

  • And finally LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. Love the adopted children like you love your biological children. Love is kind. Love is patient. Love is hopeful. Love covers faults. Love is generous. Love protects. Love seeks the well-being and prosperity of the one being grafted into a new family.


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