Understanding an Adopted Child's Feelings
When people hear a child is being adopted, they often say something like "what a lucky kid!" This well-meaning person is correct in the way that the child will have a family and a brighter future, which all children do not necessarily get. Adoption is great thing. It gives a child security, new opportunities, and a forever family. However, there is another side to it too.
When a child is put up for adoption, it means they've experienced a huge loss. Whether by choice, by poor circumstance, by death, or whatever -- this child has lost their biological parents by no fault of the child’s. This isn't something most of us, including myself think about very often.
People had said it to me before, but it wasn't until one day when I was doing a project with my daughter that I realized how true it was. It was her adoption anniversary and we were drawing pictures that made us think of adoption. She drew a camera because we took pictures that day, a smile because she was happy, a heart because we love each other, and tears. When I asked her why she drew the tears she said, "Because I have two mommies that I love, but I only see one." Even under circumstances where the biological parent may have done bad things, the child may still feel an attachment and connection to them. This connection can cause the child some very confusing feelings when they are a adopted and have a brand new family.
When an older child is adopted this loss is usually very obvious. They may act out their negative feelings or talk about their feelings of loss or grief. Despite popular belief, infants and even newborns can also be affected by these feelings. Issues and feelings of sadness may come up later in life. Sometimes without knowing why. Of course, just like anything else, all children will deal with adoption differently. The effects of adoption go to extreme to mild to nonexistent.
Not too long ago people believed that adopted children should not be told they are adopted. However, after some time people began realizing that not telling the child made it worse. The child would have feelings of loss and depression and not know why. Because they did not know why, they could not deal with these feelings properly.
It always best to be as open and honest with your child as possible. This will help your child understand the situation and will allow them to talk to you if and when these negative feelings arise.