Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month? This is a time to celebrate adoption and raise awareness about the importance of adoption.

It’s also a time to discuss adoption’s impact on mental health. According to recent studies, adoptive families are more likely to experience mental health issues than biological families. This can be due to several factors, including the stress of the adoption process itself and difficulties adjusting to life as an adoptive family.

The Effects of Adoption on Mental Health

Approximately 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Every adoption experience is unique. Some children are adopted at birth, while others are adopted later in childhood or adolescence. Some children live with their adoptive families in the same community where they were born, while others are adopted by families living in different states or countries. All of these factors can influence a child’s mental health.

Adoption trauma is a reality for a lot of families

Many people don’t realize that adoption trauma is a real thing. Adopted children often go through a lot of emotional turmoil that can have lasting effects into adulthood. If you’re adopted or the parent of an adopted child, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of adoption trauma. Adoption trauma is a very real thing that can have a lasting impact on adoptees. If you suspect that you or your child is struggling with adoption trauma, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. With the right support, you can begin to heal the wounds of your past and build a brighter future.

Even when children are placed with loving, supportive families who can provide them with a sense of stability and security, they can still carry trauma from

  • Prior abuse and neglect.

  • Separation trauma

  • Loss

  • Disenfranchised grief

  • Reactive attachment disorder

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

One of the most challenging things about being adopted is the feeling of being different from everyone else. It can be hard to explain to people why you feel the way you do and even harder to find others who understand what you’re going through. This can lead to a sense of isolation, which can impact your mental health.

The different types of adoption trauma

A few specific types of trauma associated with adoption are separation trauma, loss trauma, and disenfranchised grief.

Separation trauma occurs when an infant is separated from their birth mother. This can happen during adoption or if the child is placed in foster care. Loss trauma occurs when a child loses someone they’ve bonded with, such as a foster parent or caregiver.

Disenfranchised grief comes from not being able to express your feelings about your adoption openly. This can be due to shame or feeling like you need to be grateful for being adopted.

These types of trauma can lead to mental health issues such as reactive attachment disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. Reactive attachment disorder is a serious condition in which children don’t establish healthy attachments with parents or caregivers. Children with reactive attachment disorder may have trouble trusting people and forming relationships, and they may act out in destructive ways.

If you think your child may have reactive attachment disorder, it’s important to get help from a mental health professional. With treatment, children with reactive attachment disorder can learn to trust others and form healthy attachments.

The signs and symptoms of adoption trauma

Signs and symptoms of adoption trauma can vary depending on the person’s age, experiences, and coping mechanisms, but the most common ones include:

– Feeling alone and isolated

– Difficulty trusting people

– Feeling like you don’t belong

– Anger or irritability

– Depression or anxiety

– Disordered eating

– Self-harm or suicidal thoughts

– Substance abuse

– flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about your birth family or your adoption story

If you suspect that you or your child are struggling with adoption trauma, it’s important to seek professional help. A therapist specializing in adoption trauma can help you work through your feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

How to heal from adoption trauma

Many people don’t realize that adoption can be traumatic. It’s a loss of control, a loss of identity, and a feeling of being unwanted. If you’re struggling to come to terms with your adoption, know that you’re not alone. Here are some tips for healing from your adoption trauma or helping your adopted child heal.

Talk About Feelings

One of the most important things you can do is talk about your feelings. Find a therapist, support group, or even just a friend who will listen. It’s okay to be angry, sad, scared, or any other emotion you’re feeling. The first step to healing is acknowledging what you’re feeling. If you are the adoptive parent, it’s essential to encourage your child to express their feelings without judgment. This can be difficult to do, but it’s important to remember that your child is going through a lot of emotions that they may not understand.

Find an Outlet

Another way to begin healing is to find an outlet for your emotions. This could be painting, hiking, running, or anything else that makes you feel good. Having a healthy outlet for your emotions is essential, so you don’t become overwhelmed by them. Journaling is also a great way to express what you’re feeling. You can write about your adoption story, birth family, or anything else on your mind.

If you are the adoptive parent, introduce your child to creative and physical outlets where they can express themselves. This could be art classes, martial arts, or music classes. If they show interest in something in particular, it’s important to support and encourage them.

Seek Professional Help

If you’re struggling to cope with your emotions, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you work through your feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms. There is no shame in seeking help when you need it. Adoption can be a very traumatizing experience. If you’re struggling to come to terms with your adoption, know there are ways to heal the trauma. Talk about your feelings with someone who will listen without judgment, find an outlet for your emotions, and seek professional help if needed. Remember that healing is possible, and know that you are not alone.

If you or your child are struggling with unhealed trauma from adoption, contact Serene Health. We offer a wide variety of behavioral health and mental health services, including individual and family therapy. We also have flexible appointments available through our Telehealth platform so that you can speak to a therapist online from the comfort of your home. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.