The Psychology of Adoption and Foster Care

adopt

After the holidays are over it is easy to forget the children that received donated toys through programs such as Toys for Tots, are still in need of loving homes. These children had a moment of happiness, but what happens to those still in foster care or waiting to be adopted? What are the long-term psychological and physiological challenges that these children go through from conception until safely placed into loving homes? Are "loving homes" enough to repair the damage that some of these infants and children have been through? It takes persistence, consistency, and providing the appropriate resources to give these children the best start and future possible.

Adopting through Foster Care

The foster care system is in desperate need of good families that can provide care for children of all ages. Often these children are move from home to home and become separated from their siblings. This has been shown to exacerbate the separation trauma that they have already experienced. Repairing and establishing a bond with these children is imperative for their future and overall health and wellbeing. Many foster children are eventually returned to their biological families but then suffer the consequences of the trauma (separation or otherwise) that they will need help to heal from. There are excellent resources for foster children and parents such as:

The Westside Children’s Center

FosterCare.com

Adoption Voices Magazine

Adopting an Infant

Adopting an infant, although rewarding, can be very traumatic for all involved. The birth mother needs a lot of support as she grieves the loss of her child, even if she rationally knows it is what is best for her baby. The baby has to readjust and grieve the loss of its mother and what s/he has known for at least the last 9+ months, even if it was a toxic environment. In addition, the adoptive parents must adjust to their new roles as parents and form attachments to this child that might feel very difficult at first. Skin-to-Skin contact during this time is critical for establishing trust and a secure bond with your new baby. If you are thinking about adopting in the United States there are some great resources available to you such as

Child Welfare – Department of Health and Human Services

National Adoption Center

Adoptive Families

Adopting a Child From Another Country

Thousands of orphans in other countries are in need of being adopted each year. Each one of these children will have a unique set of needs and obstacles to overcome. Learning how to meet these needs can be challenging for some, especially if there is a language barrier. Sometimes these children are not held or touched very often, which can lead to sensory and attachment issues. If you are thinking about adopting internationally, please do your research and get counsel on how to best prepare yourself.

InterCountry Adoption – U.S. Department of State

Adoptive Families – International Adoption Facts

International Orphan Aid and Adoption Assistance

Adopting a Step or Relative Child

As with all family dynamics, adopting a spouse’s child or a relative comes with its own set of challenges. In these types of situations where there could be a high intensity of emotions, (such as with custody battles), making decisions the best interest of the child is imperative. Often these children are caught in the middle of a war they did not ask for. Making the transition as easy as possible will help them feel secure in the decisions you as the parent or guardian make for them.

*Please always go through established and trusted adoption agencies. Adoption Counselors and Attorneys are an excellent resource to help you navigate through your adoption process!

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