Whatever was your decision to become an adoptive parent (personal choice, personal experience, or infertility issues), congratulations for taking this step.
Now the next step is to have the support you will need.
Adopting children (domestic and internationally) can bring a particular set of issues that is not seen elsewhere.
There are many challenges and difficulties that both adoptive parents and adopted children will have to overcome, including psychological, behavioral, grief/loss (of familiar place and people), health issues, adjusting to being a parent, or being parented, and sometimes even language barriers.
Besides the normal challenges of adopting a child (children) and being an adoptive parent, dealing with international adoption bring additional difficulties, such as language barrier, dealing with international agencies, dealing with other country’s rules and regulations, being prepared to travel (money, staying, passport, time off, lawyers, etc).
At times, future adoptive parents will have to make decision on the spot while they are traveling.
That’s why is important to have a support of a therapist – to help future adoptive parents to be ready for the adoption process, adoption completion, and adoption adjustment period (which can last years).
Signs and symptoms of suffering because going through adoption issues
The distressing emotions of going through adoption issues are particular for this issue, since at one hand parents might be overcoming feelings of loss and grief (not having children their own, their own fertility, etc.), then there are issues while going through the adoption process until finalizing the adoption. Later on, adoption adjustment period may bring its own set of stressors. See below common symptoms for parents and/or children, to watch for before, during, and after the adoption process is completed.
- Anxiety – worriedness – panic
- Guilt / Shame
- Behavioral issues
- School issues
- Your relationship with your partner may suffer
- Anxiety-related sexual dysfunction
- Attachment issues
- Tantrums / Uncontrollable crying
- Isolation / Hiding
- Stressors with open adoption
- Stressors with transracial adoption
- Stressors with international adoption
- Stressors with same-sex adoption
- Stressors coming from family and friends
- Dealing with children who have been neglected
- Dealing with children who have been abused
- Dealing with special need children
- Dealing with children with learning or developmental disabilities
- Personality issues and other psychological issues
- Low self-esteem
- Self-harming behaviors
- Trauma (from mild to intense trauma)
- Suicidal tendencies
- Lack of sensation of safety for both parents and children
- Disregard for conventions/normalcy
- Children diagnosed with ADHD or with symptoms of (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Children diagnosed with or with symptoms of ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)
- Children diagnosed with or with symptoms of Bipolar
- Children diagnosed with or with symptoms of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)
it is necessary to have a psychologist to help you go through your adoptions process, and help you through the emotional rollercoaster and other symptoms, which may be connected to pains of the past and uncertainties of the future. It is also recommended to have your child in therapy for every milestone your child reach in life, as support will be greatly helpful. To support your child through complex developmental trauma (or disorder), it is necessary to have a team (parents, therapist, psychiatrist, GP, grandparents, friends) to understand and work on behalf of the child.
Causes of adoption issues
People choose to adopt due to personal choice, personal experience, or infertility issues. The issues derived from the adoption process (before, during, and after) will vary from person to person and from child to child.
Even when you adopt a set of siblings, you may find out that they come with a complete different set of issues. You and your partner also may have different set of issues to deal with, along with the issues that comes from your family, coworkers, and friends in understanding and accepting your child through adoption.
Many issues will arrive with the child. Some others will develop later on in life.
How I treat individuals / couples dealing with adoption issues
I often use an integrative approach to treat people with grief/loss issues. I use techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as psychotherapy, Mindfulness, ACT, EFT, and other types of therapy I’ve trained on and maybe useful to the treatment. I provide an non-judgmental environment where patients can find support and candidness to be open about their most inner feelings and thoughts.
How I treat children who have been adopted
Behavioral and psychological issues will be treated with love (research o oxytocin reveals great results with giving and talking about love), understanding, and acceptance. I often use an integrative approach to treat adopted children. I use techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as psychotherapy, Mindfulness, ACT, EFT, and other types of therapy I’ve trained on and maybe useful to the treatment. I provide a non-judgmental environment where patients can find support and honesty to be open about their most inner feelings and thoughts. Often times these children cannot communicate their inner suffering with words. The relationship formed between the therapist and the child will be the key for the success of therapy and of the child. At times, schools may request letters and summaries of treatment for at-risk children.
Typical outcomes of adoption issues treatment
This therapist/patient relationship will last long time. Every time the child or parents come to therapy, issues will be resolved either through individual, couples, or family therapy. Although, adoptive parents and adopted children often times return to treatment when the child is going to different phase of life (school change, getting period, dating, having sex, marrying, having a child, etc). Each milestone may bring a different set of issues to address, for both parents and child.
FAQ about adoption
How long is the treatment for adoption issues?
Treatment can be brief such as in a couple of months for small behavioral issues in small children, to years in therapy for older children dealing with trauma, attachment issues, self-harming or suicidal behaviors. Treatment for adoptive parents, as individual, couples, or family can vary according to the presented issues, and what they bring to therapy their own.
How often should we attend sessions?
At the beginning of treatment, parents and/or children will attend sessions weekly, or even more than once in a week, until a homeostasis (sense of routine and balance) has been achieved. Later, patients may attend sessions every other week. Patients may return to treatment as difficult milestones arise for parents and children.
My partner/family member who has also been affect by adoption stress does not want to come treatment. Can I come by myself?
Yes. Individual parent can come to treatment. At times, it will be necessary to have couples and/or family sessions to help with mutual understand and commitment to one another and to the child to move towards family and child wellbeing.
Do you treat children, teens, or adults who have been adopted?
Yes. Children, teenagers, and adults have specific needs as they learn to deal with their complex developmental issues. You might see higher levels of anxiety and behavioral issues in small children, more aggression, being isolated, being angry, being anxious, being impulsive, with more self-harming behaviors and suicidal tendencies in adolescents, and more relational issues in adults.
Do you treat LGBT couples and their children?
Yes. My practice and treatment for adopted people is all inclusive and I have experience treating this population.
Consult with a psychologist to get help with adoption issues right away.
Call (813) 613-8587 now for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation.
Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove