Sunday, May 1, 2011

Adoption Matters

"Why can't I have it?!" he screamed. "You're not my real mom, anyway! My real mom would let me have it!"

Crushed and on the edge of tears the new mother gave in (again) to her middle school son's angry request. Reaching out she snatched the CD from her son placing it in the shopping cart.

"Come on," she sighed, "let's go."

Conflicts like this are fairly common for those who have adopted. In an excerpt from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption, the author points out several problems that an adoptive family may run into, one of which is the "you're not my real parent" argument. Usually this argument expresses the child's anger at not getting their way more than the fact that they want their "real" parent. In actuality chances are that the "real" parent would not give into their temper tantums either.

Another common problem includes "echo responses" in which the child associates a past negative event with a new neutral or even good event. One child would never get in a blue car; he associated blue cars with social service vehicles which only meant more pain and change. Hoarding or gorging can also be a problem is an adopted child came from an orphanage were there was usually never enough to eat. In addition, some families may be so thrilled at finally being able to adopt that they unintentionally neglect to discipline their child out of fear that their child will hate them. This is a shortsighted response in the grand scheme of things.

Overall, this excerpt seems to be right on point. The only thing that I found missing was more attention on how the child's pre-adoption years could strongly influence their new families. For example, Attachment Theory supports the idea that the first 18-24 months are foundational in a child's emotional and psychological development. This is probably an important factor to include in any article on adoption.


  1. Many of the articles I have read lately shows that foster/adopted children who have had traumatic, abusive pasts are more likely to have attachment issues and to be diagnosed as attachment disordered. There is clearly a unique play of attachment in the lives of these special children. Another article I read showed that children who were able to develop secure attachment relationships with their foster parents were able to mature appropriately and have better relationships with the biological family. Some other research shows that attachment style therapies and educating parents on attachment theory can help attachment related problems in this population.

  2. It’s true….adoption does matter. It’s interesting to witness the interaction between a foster child and foster parents. Because I have family members who are on the path toward adoption, I have been able to see first-hand the conflicts that you discuss in your post. I view adoption and fostering as the most difficult forms of parenting. The fact that the child has more than likely been abused physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally leaves very few areas in which a parent can connect to the child. Through my observations, I notice that the parent has the intentions of being firm when it comes to making a decision. However, once the conflict begins, I notice that the parents will give in because they do not wish to hurt the child further or risk the chance of establishing a meaningful connection. Can this be viewed as a weak parent? It’s hard to say. Nevertheless, I appreciate your analogy in the second to last paragraph concerning the “echo response”. I have yet to witness this form of behavior; however, I can see a child could react in a negative way. It is inevitable that the first 24 months of a child’s life is extremely important. In order for the child to overcome the negative emotional and psychological beliefs, they must be patient. Great post!


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