Review of Adopted Child Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY OF THE ADOPTED CHILD.
- 1st adoptee,
- "I look in the mirror and cannot recognise myself".
- 2nd adoptee,
- "I feel there is something about adoption that gives you a feeling of insecurity as regards just exactly who you are".
- 3rd adoptee,
- "I feel that I am only a half a person, the other half obscured by my adoption".
- 4th adoptee,
- "I never really felt I belonged. I feel empty and I find it difficult to make friends or be close to people. I have been hovering on the edge of a break down".
One of the main anxieties of adoptees is the fear of being different and somewhat set apart from the rest.
"When there are emotional problems, really basic problems connected with identification, something is likely to happen. Instead of the young person playing roles, he may very actively take on a particular favoured role, which he proceeds to live, and this role tends often to be the least in favour with the parents or other adults who care for this young person.And so we see again and again in our clinics the parents of teenagers who come to us in utter despair and say `Not only are we worried about the child, but the very things we have always been most afraid of: thats what he is doing'. If it was drugs then it was drugs; if it was promiscuity it was promiscuity; if it was failure to learn then it was failure to learn".Psychologist Erick Erickson. . . calls this a "negative identity". One can readily appreciate the relevance of this to the adoptive situation, because here we see the danger, in the confusion or embarrassment of explaining to the child about the natural mother or father, of denigrating them either as people who abandoned him, who did not care for him, or who had certain attributes of personality or behaviour. The danger here is that this will backlash, and later on, especially in adolescence, this is precisely the mode of behaviour which the child adopts in his "negative identity".
- Loss: Adoption is created through loss. Without loss there can be no adoption.
- Rejection: One way people deal with loss is to figure out what they did was wrong so they can keep from having other losses. In doing this, people may conclude they suffered losses because they were unworthy of having whatever was lost. As a result they feel they were rejected.
- Guilt and shame: When people personalize a loss to the extent that they feel there is something intrinsically wrong with themselves that caused the loss, they often feel guilt that they did something wrong or feel shame that others may know. (Silverstein).
- Grief: Because adoption is seen as a problem solving event in which everyone gains, rather than an event in which loss is integral, it is difficult for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birthparents to grieve. There are no rituals to bury unborn children, roles, dead dreams and disconnected families.
- Identity: A person's identity is derived from who he is and what he is not. Adoption threatens a persons knowing of who he is, where he came from, and where he is going.
- Intimacy: People who are confused about their identity have difficulty getting close to anyone, Kaplan says. And people who have had significant loss in their lives may fear getting close to others because of the risk of experiencing loss again.
- Control: All those involved with adoption have been "forced to give up control" said Silverstein. Adoption is a second choice. There is a crisis who's resolution is adoption.