Young Adults: Managing Adoption Issues

This article has been taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway.

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Most adopted adults overcome any adoption-related issues they experience during childhood and adolescence and are as well-adjusted as nonadopted persons (Borders et al., 2000; Corder, 2012). However, there is also significant research that suggests that many adopted persons struggle with issues such as grief, loss, identity development, and self-esteem. The following describes some ways that adopted persons manage these and other issues.

Support Groups

Many adopted persons are helped by support groups in which they can talk about their feelings with others who have similar experiences. The support group may provide a long-needed outlet for any lingering feelings related to the adoption, such as loss or grief. In addition, support groups may provide help with the decision of whether to search for birth relatives.

Counseling

Some adopted persons may need more help than they find from family and friends or through a support group. In these instances, adopted persons may seek professional counseling. Many mental health practitioners report not having enough training in adoption-related issues, so it is important for adopted adults to find a counselor who has the requisite skills, knowledge, and outlook (e.g., the counselor does not assume all issues are related to adoption) (Baden & Wiley, 2007; Corder, 2012). Also, support groups may have experience with local counselors and be able to make a recommendation. For more information, read Selecting and Working With a Therapist Skilled in Adoption, available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website here.

Education

For many adopted persons, learning about the experiences of others, whether through first-person accounts or through adoption research, can be a helpful coping mechanism. There are an ever-increasing number of books, articles, videos, and websites (including blogs) that focus on a wide range of adoption-related topics. Adopted persons may be reassured discovering that others who have gone through similar experiences have had similar reactions.

Conclusion

Adopted persons generally lead lives that are very similar to their nonadopted peers, but their adoption experience frequently can contribute to circumstances that the adopted person may need to overcome, such as feelings of loss and grief, questions about self-identity, or a lack of information about their medical background. The increasing occurrence of open adoption— and therefore the increased contact adopted persons have with their birth families— has dramatically affected the issues faced by adopted persons over the past two decades. Whereas adopted persons from a past era may have more frequently dealt with issues of secrecy and large gaps in information, persons adopted recently may more often be faced with issues related to having contact with their birth parents. Additionally, with the seemingly limitless availability of information, in large part due to the Internet, adopted persons now have access to widespread information and resources, which can greatly aid them in discovering information about their birth families or finding resources for support and encouragement.

Return to Adoption Parenting

Young Adults: Postadoption Issues

Young Adults: Openness, Searching, and Access to Family History

Young Adults: Additional Resources

References

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Borders, L. D., Penny, J. M., & Portnoy, F. (2000). Adult adoptees and their friends: Current functioning and psychosocial well-being. Family Relations, 49, 407–418.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013a). Openness in adoption: Building relationships between adoptive and birth families. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_openadopt.cfm.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013b). Working with birth and adoptive families to support open adoption. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_openadoptbulletin.cfm.

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Resource

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Impact of adoption on adopted persons. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.