Let's just say I am SO frustrated with the phrase "Adoption Issues" that I could SCREAM! As if to say that the adoption or the adoptive parents are causing the struggle for their adopted child.
Sure, this is a very difficult job and many Adoptive Parents struggle sometimes - hard behaviors, hurtful words and dysregulation are just a few of the day to day challenges they face without training and support.
Let's get real...the question that begs to be considered is, what came first the loss of a primary attachment figure or the adoption itself?
The "issues" stem from the loss of or break in attachment, so let's call them "abandonment issues" or "loss issues"; the problems were there before our children were adopted!
No, our kids are not doomed to be forever broken; however, research shows that losses and mistreatment alike cause some level of difficulty with trust, low self esteem, and ability to do healthy relationships among many other hurdles. The root of the pain, for both child and adoptive parent, is the break in that first attachment, NOT the adoption.
Saying that a child has adoption issues is only creating another label he does NOT need. A negative one at that.
The hurdles he faces each day are a reflection of the deep loss he suffered. His brain was being wired to count on his primary attachment figure as his survival. When he lost her, it cut deep into his soul and his psyche. That kind of cut creates distinct wounds of mistrust, dysregulation, fear, inability to cope, unrealistic beliefs about himself and the world, challenges with having positive healthy relationships, and so much more. For many of our children, the negativity becomes their "WHO" they are and it is very difficult for them to change those internal beliefs, to come out from under that "black cloud" so to speak.
Let's not add to their "list of failures" by suggesting their adoption has issues too. Yes, they will struggle to heal within their new family, but it's unfair to label it over and over again as a problem with the adoption.
Our children need to know that finally having a family WILL work.
The other figure caught in the tsunami of the misuse of the label "adoption issues" is the adoptive parent. So many have shouldered the brunt of society's judgement and blame. These parents start out by opening their heart to children who needed a home and a family, but end up with a life they never expected - exhausted, lonely, hopeless and many times unsupported by their agencies or the system who placed these same children with them.
The biggest crime of all is what happens after sticking by this same child year after year, melt down after melt down, even suffering the loss of their own friends and family members because they have to do it differently. These same parents start doubting whether they are GOOD Parents. They start questioning if they are the "right" parent for their child. They feel lost and sad. They end up having internalized the fact that they have "Adoption Issues" because of their own failures. Families and marriages suffer. It is a vicious circle that can be stopped.
Here's one thing I know for sure...
some people who read this are going to hear me blaming Birth Moms.
This article is NOT about blame!
Life happens and whether an adoption was a brave and loving choice or the result of neglect and abuse, the fact is the attachment with the Biological Mother was broken and/or lost and that affects the child.
It IS the source of future emotional and psychological hurdles.
It IS the source of your child's tantrums, lying and mistrust.
It IS the source of struggles at school, lack of self esteem and more.
Reframing our understanding to reflect this reality will help the child to heal and the Adoptive Parent to be better equipped to help that healing happen.
It is time that we speak about adoption more accurately.
The "issues" are the result of the loss, the abandonment, the break in attachment, not the adoption itself.
Is your family struggling with "Adoption Issues" or are you all being challenged by the results of a lost primary attachment?
Does thinking about it differently give you a new perspective?
It really should set you free as Adoptive Parents. The hard behaviors and words, the mistrust, the anxiety, the wedge in your relationship is deeply rooted in the that first loss, not in the fact that your child doesn't love or respect you or that he's not trying hard enough or that you are not a good parent.
It is NOT an "Adoption Issue".