Muir Wood Teen

Adoption

Adoption can be a tremendous blessing for the adopting parents and the child. But it is important to remember that this life-changing transition also carries risks for child’s emotional and mental well-being. There are a variety of psychological and emotional effects that adopted children may suffer from. Some may feel a sense of abandonment or rejection from their birth family. Others may not truly feel accepted by all the members of their new family.

Some adopted children develop issues with self-esteem or identity development. Those are often, but not always related to the children who look very different from their adoptive families. If appropriate steps aren’t taken, those children may grow up feeling self-conscious and out of place.

If an adopted child experienced early life trauma before the adoption, there may be lingering effects from those experiences as well. Trauma can include abuse, neglect, separation from first family, and time spent living in foster care or an orphanage.

Trauma—especially childhood trauma—is strongly correlated with substance abuse and a higher risk of suicide attempts. If a severe substance use disorder develops in adolescence, the underlying trauma driving the addiction needs to be addressed in treatment.