Adoption Healing Website
Reliable Adoptee Source Research Information __________________________________________
Research and Studies on Adoptees
There are vulnerabilities shared by all adoptees. In those most vulnerable, a distinct pattern of behaviors can be seen. Some have labeled this the "Adopted Child Syndrome." (Kirschner)Adopted 'children' are disproportionately represented with learning disabilities and organic brain syndrome. (Schecter and Genetic Behaviors)The secrecy in an adoptive family, and the denial that the adoptive family is different builds dysfunction into it. "... while social workers and insecure adoptive parents have structured a family relationship that is based on dishonesty, evasions and exploitation. To believe that good relationships will develop on such a foundation is psychologically unsound" (Lawrence). As John Bradshaw, the well-renowned therapist, says, "A family is only as sick as its secrets."
Mental health professionals are surprised at the alarmingly high number of their patients who are adopted. Studies show an average of 25 to 35% of the young people in residential treatment centers are adoptees. This is 17 times the norm. (Lifton, BIRCO--Pannor and Lawrence)
Adoptees are more likely to have difficulties with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder, infertility, suicide and untimely pregnancies. (Young, Bohman, Mitchell, Ostroff, Ansfield, Lifton and Schecter)
Adoptees are more likely to choose alternate lifestyles. (Ansfield and Lifton)
Alarmingly high numbers of adoptees are sent to disciplinary/correctional schools or are locked out of their homes [adoptive]. (Anderson and Carlson)
60 to 85% of the teens at Coldwater Canyon's Center For Personal Development, are adopted. That is 30 to 40 times the norm. The center is a private acute-care psychiatric hospital/school in Southern California. (Ostroff)
50 to 70% of the teens at The Haven in New Trier Township, Illinois, are adopted. That is 25 to 35 times the norm. The Haven is a resource center for street kids. (Henderson)
Secrecy erects barriers to forming a healthy identity. Sealed records implicitly asks for an extreme form of denial. There is no school of psychotherapy which regards denial as a positive strategy in forming a sense of self and dealing with day-to-day realities. (Howard)Adoption is a psychological burden to the adoptee. The effect of this burden is known, but the origin is confused. Secrecy plays a part in it, but Nancy Newton Verrier, Ph.D., sources the difficulties to the separation of the newborn from the mother.The Primal Wound is the most recent and revealing work done on the effects of adoption on the adopted. In the author's own words, "I believe that the connection established during the nine months in utero is a profound connection, and it is my hypothesis that the severing of that connection in the original separation of the adopted child from the birth mother causes a primal or narcissistic wound, which affects the adoptee's sense of Self and often manifests in a sense of loss, basic mistrust, anxiety and depression, emotional and/or behavioral problems, and difficulties in relationships with significant others (21)." Verrier has been criticized for her work, but her response says it all, "The only people who can really judge this work, however, are those about whom it is written: the adoptees themselves. Only they, as they note their responses to what is written here, will really know in their deepest selves the validity of this work, the existence or nonexistence of the primal wound" (xvii).
Secrecy, denial, and the primal wound have all played a role in the effect adoption has on the adoptee, but there is still more. Having spent nearly eight years studying and working as a volunteer with over 1000 people affected by an adoption (nearly all adoptees and birthmothers); I have seen the effects of adoption.
Humans have a basic need to feel they are individually whole, yet part of a whole. For the adopted this can be difficult. Often adoptees feel they do not belong (Kirschner). It is very lonely and isolating to feel different from those you should feel the closest to, your family. Edin Lipinski, M.D., brings insight to these feelings:
In an existential sense, the past is as important to adopted people as their future. It is the present that is most troublesome. Not knowing where they fit into the spectrum of happenings is a great problem for them.