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The Effects of Adoption on Children

By Ripa Ajmera ; Updated June 13, 2017

The Child Welfare Information Gateway reports that adopted children usually have lives that are similar to those who are raised by their birth parents. Adopted children do, however, have certain experiences that are unique to those who are adopted and that can affect them at various times during their lives.

They Feel Rejected

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, adopted children feel a sense of grief, rejection and abandonment at some point in their lives when they learn that they were adopted. Adopted people, while children, and even as adults, often wonder why they were placed into adoption and whether something was wrong with them when they were born. Feelings of grief at not knowing one’s own parents can be coupled with guilt because it is not socially acceptable for adopted children to grieve for their birth parents, particularly when their adopted family is a happy one.

They Mourn Their Birth Culture

Along with feelings of grief and guilt, the Child Information Gateway reports that adopted children can react to the loss of their birth parents with feelings of depression, anger, anxiety, numbness or fear. Adopted children may also grieve for the loss of their brothers and sisters and for their other birth-family members, as well as their culture such as in the case of transracial adoption. Adopted children often mourn that they are not allowed to speak their mother tongue when they are adopted by parents of another cultural and linguistic heritage.

They Suffer a Loss of Identity

In his book, “Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self,” author David Brodzinsky suggests that having to deal with losing one’s birth parents as well as searching for the potential birth parents can be overwhelming. Often, adopted children want to learn more about their biological family members, such as who they are, why they left their birth parents for adoption and what became of their parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins. Adopted children wonder if they physically resemble their birth parents and where they belong in terms of their culture, education and social class; adopted children wonder what would they have experienced if they had stayed with their biological family.

They Lack a Medical History

Adopted people often do not have access to their medical history, however, which can make doctor’s visits something that reveals to adopted children how they differ from others, reports the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Not having an adequate medical history can also be challenging because this information helps predict whether you are at higher risk of developing certain diseases. Lacking family history information can make it more difficult to receive medical treatment when necessary, as well.

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