a question about adoption

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
a question about adoption
12
Sun, 06-29-2003 - 11:12pm
i have an honest question about adoption. maybe someone here has adopted, or been adopted, and can help me out. this question has weighed on my mind for many years. i want to ask first, then explain why i ask it....

do adopted children have more psycological problems than non adopted children?

here's why i ask...i grew up with a young man (i'll call him *joe*) who was adopted. i was friends with him, and i knew his family well. he was adopted right after birth to a loving family. he's an only child. his parents are both smart (both are psyc. dr.s), loving, and generally wonderfull people. i say this not only from my observations, but from the testamony of joe himself, now that he's all grown up. joe's parents truley gave him unconditional love. plus they had no financial burdens. they told him from very early on that he was adopted, i guess so that he knew right away, a decision that was hard to make i'm sure. as joe got older, he became very violent. to the point where he tried to kill his parents. he was a danger to himself and others. his parents put him into an institution, hopefully to help him. it did. joe now has a great relationship with his parents (and vice versa, hence the unconditional love). but its the psycotic episodes that i wonder about. i've only known one other adopted person, and she always seemed so miserable. but i didn't know what her home life was really like, so i can't say one way or the other that it was because she was adopted.

is this an isolated incident?

angel

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
Mon, 06-30-2003 - 10:43pm
i could use a reply......(echo echo echo) lol
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-11-2003
Mon, 06-30-2003 - 11:39pm
it gets kinda slow around here at night. you might have more luck with an adoption board than the abortion debate board though. I am adopted and i knew from a very early age. I knew about ten other kids in my year who were adopted adn knew about about it. I do not know if this is the norm or not, but all of us who knew about it had problems.....emotional problems. nothing psychotic or violent that i ever knew about. But all the kids I knew in my year at school had some real issues with trust, drugs and alcohol, stability in themselves, self-esteem..... there may have been others who were adopted that i didn't know about. there were certainly enough kids who were not adopted who ahd some of the same issues the adopted ones had....so who knows? My counselor I was assigned to by my high school for running away at 15 told my parents that he beleived that my problems stemmed mostly from my knowing I was adopted...but I disagree. not that I didn't play that aspect up since it would releive me of a lot of responsibility in my actions......but I had wonderful, stable, loving parents. No abuse. I turned away and rejected them a lot though. and to be honest the only reasons I know of for doing that was that i was an incredibly self-centered and selfish teenager...more so than most.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 06-30-2003 - 11:40pm
Hi Angel,

I was adopted...but let me preface this by saying that I've never tried to kill my parents and its doubtful I ever will. ;)

There's a book out there called _Primal Wound_. It was written by a clinical psychologist who is also an adoptive parent...started out as her PhD thesis, and grew into a book that's made the adoption circles many times. Her primary claim, among many, is that adopted children experience a certain, unique, kind of seperation anxiety and inferiority. She feels that we're often more afraid to reach out emotionally, that we're more self-protective, and feel a sort of innate kind of rejection. Etc, etc, etc...

Honestly, I think there may be some truths in what she's written - but I don't think it is nearly as dramatic as she presents it, at least not for the majority of us.

The truth is that there are always unanswerable questions. No matter how wonderful the adoptive family is, no matter how 'incorporated' the adoptee is into that family, and no matter how open everyone is about it...there are still myths.

When you and other non-adoptees are growing up, you're absorbing so much about yourselves simply by watching your parents and siblings and grandparents, etc. When you look at your mother, you see yourself...you get glimpses of your own future in the way her hips fill out and the way her hair grays, in the way she matures as an increasingly older woman. You see her interacting with your father, and know - even if you don't think about it - that this is *tangibly* where you came from, the reason for your existance. It is your physical connection to the planet you're on, and the people in it. That simply doesn't exist for children of closed adoptions. Our creation is a myth...might as well be as mythical as a Greek god for all we know, because we know so little. I have a cousin who's also adopted, and her mother used to get so angry at her when she'd have her little-girl fantasies about who her biological parents were. But that's how myths are created and perpetuated. As humans, when we don't understand something, we invent stories to explain it to ourselves...and satisfy that need to know.

I think if there are more (or different) psychological issues among adoptees than among everyone else, my guess would be that it relates back to these myths - to not having that tangible connection to the earth, and not having those mirror images present in your life. I think we wonder more about who we are as people, because we could be anybody. I think I've always been a pretty well-adjusted person, but I do think there's something adoption-related in the emotional barriers I've been known to construct. The line of thinking (even though this comes subconciously) is that in the end, its just me here...kind of floating in the ocean with no *real* connection to any lineage of people. So because of that, I must be the one to protect myself. I can't bridge that divide, so I might as well cultivate it.

I would guess though that any psychological "traumas" (such a dramatic word...) that your friend Joe experienced because of adoption aren't the cause of his psychotic episodes though. They may feed it, definitely...but I doubt seriously they're the cause. More likely (and this is just a guess) is that Joe's biological mother also had similar psychological problems that Joe has inherited genetically. Maybe those problems were what led to her pregnancy, or maybe they led to Joe's relinquishment as a baby. Psychotic episodes like the one you describe are usually related to severe brain disorders such as rapid-cycling bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. There is a lot of strong evidence that these disorders can be inherited, though I don't recall any specific genes or sequences being uncovered. No amount of a loving childhood can fix those diseases...and I'd guess that Joe was probably very lucky to have two wonderful psychologist parents there for him.

I do think that adoption has a psychological impact on the adoptee...but not nearly as problematic as your friend's problems. I think it would be very interesting to see more studies done on these topics - and somehow be able to filter out the stuff that may be genetic, and of course the stuff that may have happened before the child was adopted (if its an older-child adoption). I think major problems such as this are more than likely genetic...maybe fed by the adoption issues, but not the cause of them.


Edited 6/30/2003 11:41:41 PM ET by marrymeflyfree

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 06-30-2003 - 11:58pm
"...he beleived that my problems stemmed mostly from my knowing I was adopted..."

Ouch. You know the psychologists used to advise adoptive parents not to tell the children anything...but I think that is sooooo much worse. The best thing my adoptive parents ever did for my brother and I was being so open about it.

I don't remember ever being told...it's just always been part of who I am, and who our family is. That's absolutely the best way, and I'll argue that till the day I die. How horrible is it to suddenly find out as an adult? Or even worse, as an adolescent? The foundation of our identities begin with our parents - and to suddenly have to question those things all over again is devastating. And then of course you realize that family and close friends of your parents knew this fundamental thing about you all along - but you, for whom it is *fundamental*, were out of the loop the whole time.

Nothing was ever secret in my home growing up...we knew the terrible things that happened that caused my mom to need a hysterectomy at 19. We knew how tested their marriage was after that, and how badly they both wanted children...and subsequently, how committed they were to each other - kids or no kids. We knew the lengths to which they went to bring us home, and make us as much a part of the family as anyone else. When we adopted my brother, I was as much a part of the process as my parents were - and just as excited when we got him. None of it was a taboo topic at any time...and when I found my biological family, my parents were just as curious and interested and nervous as I was.

My parents instilled in me so much respect for my birth parents at such a young age...it was always as though they were part of our family, even if they weren't there and we knew nothing about them.

Secrets are always destructive - especially when it is something so relevant to a child's identity. It still makes me angry when I hear of someone claiming that its better not to know. Ignorance never solves anything!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
Tue, 07-01-2003 - 9:26am
wow i'm glad to hear that you found your biological parents! sounds like you had a good life and a great family! i agree about the "secrets are destructive" comment.

thanks for all of your insight on this...its really been a question that has always been on my mind. i posted this in the abortion baord, because adoption is an alternative to abortion, and i was wondering if there were any "consequences" from adoption. plus i didn't realize there was an adoption board (blush).

thanks again!

angel
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 07-01-2003 - 11:27am
OK, this is what I think. SOMETIMES, and I say sometimes. Please don't beat me up saying that this is not true, because I know most of the time its not. A mother who gives up her child for adoption may have mental, emotional disorders, this being one of the major reasons she either gave the child up, or had problems that did not allow for her to raise the child on her own. These types of disorders aren't know to be heriditary so to speak, but do tend to run in families.

Also I think some children don't accept the fact that they were ever unwanted by their birth parents. Most do accept it and realize they are blessed with parents they have now. but for those that have that nawing feeling of rejection growing in them I would assume it changes them emotionally in ways directions they would not have went had the situation been different.

I don't think all or most adopted children have such issues. I think that like every other group of people there will always be some with problems and like every other group of people it is those with problems that stand out in society and makes people question the whole group.

Leesa

Leesa

I'll hold my head high
I'll never let this define
The light in my eyes
Love myself, give it Hell
I'll take on t

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 07-02-2003 - 11:25am
"Also I think some children don't accept the fact that they were ever unwanted by their birth parents."

I think this is another way in which my adoptive parents did well with my brother and I...when we were young and talking about these things, the sentiment was never that they didn't want us. It was that they wanted us enough to bring us into the world, but were smart enough to know that someone else could be better moms and dads than they could at the time. I guess it goes back to the fact that they wanted us to respect our birth parents...makes all the difference.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-11-2003
Wed, 07-02-2003 - 10:58pm
I totally agree about it being wrong to keep it a secret. the counselor came up with the idea or presumption that it was why i was so messed up....I ran with it becaue it absolved me of responsibility for my actions. i could just blame being adopted for why i was so rude and mean and badly behaved.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 07-02-2003 - 11:03pm
Enjay, it sounds like you've got a pretty good understanding of yourself during those years. Glad to see that you seem to have come out well despite all of those problems that time. :)
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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
Wed, 07-02-2003 - 11:06pm
Sadly, I think many adopted kids have more severe mental and emotional problems, but not all. I know a few of my friends were adopted and actually they are both totally fine with it. Neither had any desire to contact the birth mother because, lets face it, all she did was get pregnant and give birth. The mother is the one who loves and raises the child regardless of biological factors. Also, both knew from the beginning that they were adopted. I actually think I'd like to adopt someday, seeing as how pregnancy and giving birth are very undesirable for me. And I would let them know as soon as they could understand if they weren't already at that age. Keeping secrets can only lead to bad things.

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