All parents want their children to develop a healthy sense of self; a child who grows up with a sense that they have a solid place and role in your family as well as in society. Adoptive Parents will need to be aware that they may have to work with their children to help them manage identity issues. Not all, but some adopted persons feel as if their connection in the world is indefinable or ambiguous.
When your child reaches the age of 7 to 12, he or she is now old enough to understand more about adoption. It is at this age when they are faced with the actuality that their biological parents chose to place them with another family. A child in this age range will try to make sense of this through what they have been told by you, by picking up on your unspoken feelings, and through “fantasies” of their own. The realization of their adoption (I was given away) may cause the following feelings:
Many adopted children are aware that openly expressing sadness, doubt or confusion about their adoption will hurt their parents’ feelings. These children tend to hide and/or ignore difficult feelings out of fear they are being disloyal to you. It takes a confident parent to calmly and openly discuss uncomfortable aspects of adoption. As Adoptive Parents, it can be difficult to hear and accept that your child may experience loss because she or he has been adopted. It is important to work through your own painful feelings of loss surrounding adoption (infertility, fear of birth parents, etc.) so you will be able to effectively assist your adopted child. Denial or suppression of your child’s feelings will interfere with the development of a healthy self-esteem which comes from a strong sense of self (identity). However, supporting and joining with your child as he or she processes feelings will help him or her move forward.
Each human being is unique and wonderfully created. Many adoptees are remarkably free of difficultly surrounding adoption issues. Loss and grief will be more intense for some than others. What can you do if you have a child who needs help? As your child’s parent you are especially equipped to help them by talking, listening, and being in-tune with who they are and what they need. If your child is really struggling, contact your local adoption agency for recommendations about counseling, support groups, etc. There are many resources available to help you and your child work through some of the difficult issues that may come with adoption.