Helping Your Child Work Through Adoption-Related Depression

Depression is not uncommon in adopted children and needs to be addressed in a healthy manner - the sooner the better.

Tom Andriola October 09, 2016
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Being adopted can be a traumatic experience for a child. Depending on the situation, you may find that your child experiences depression related to the adoption. There is nothing out of the ordinary about that. In fact, it can be quite common. But if it’s not dealt with in a healthy manner, it could result in further difficulties down the road.

Everyone is different. I was adopted when I was three months old, and I didn’t really experience adoption-related depression until I was an adult, dealing with other traumatic childhood issues at the same time. That’s not always the case. Perhaps your adopted son or daughter was older when the adoption was finalized. Maybe they were removed from an environment they remember. Regardless of whether that environment was a positive or negative one for them, it was what was familiar to them.

Being suddenly removed from a situation you were used to can be very traumatic for a child. You may show them love and affection, but their ability to trust may not be there. They may not know for sure that they won’t be taken away from your house and your family, and they may be depressed about that.

So what do you do? Show empathy. Show understanding. Ask your child how he or she feels. If they don’t want to provide many details, don’t push them. They may just be looking for the right time to come out with their feelings. They could continue to have trust issues, and it’s important not to take that personally. It’s really not about you. It’s about what they’ve been through.

What if the depression persists even after trying these things? Maybe your child was removed from a difficult situation or came to you after a tragic set of circumstances and the trauma is deep. Or perhaps your son or daughter is just having a hard time. At that point, it might be helpful to seek the assistance of a therapist. I know from personal experience that it was difficult for me to wait until much later in life to get the therapy I needed as a result of my own situation growing up. If I could do it over again and knew then what I know now, I would have tried to deal with my issues at a much younger age. That may have set me on a more successful path much earlier in life, and maybe I would have avoided many of the struggles I faced in early adulthood as a result.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.


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