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Hidden issues adoptees face and what to do about them

Most Iowa families who choose to expand through adoption have kindness and love at the core of their motives. Maybe they personally know someone who experienced belonging for the first time as a result of adoption, or perhaps they have had the privilege of visiting an orphanage in the U.S. or somewhere around the world.

In the time they spent with the children, their hearts melted and they felt like they could no longer ignore the issue of orphanhood. The spouses' response, then, was to talk the decision over with their biological children and then begin the process of fostering, with the goal of adoption. For most families, this is likely a normal process, and they never expect the bumps in the road that often come with taking in children who have lost their birth parents.

Core Issues

The American Adoption Congress seeks to educate adoptive parents on what to expect, and they begin by outlining seven core issues adoption triggers: "loss, rejection, guilt and shame, grief, identity, intimacy and mastery/control."

Important for adoptive families to remember is the reality that though their newest members have gained essentials that really matter in life - parents, siblings, a place to belong - they have also lost these same aspects of their birthplace. Even when small children come to loving families through adoption, they will still grieve a past now lost to them.

Therapy Options

To assist children with the transition to their new homes, Child Welfare Information Gateway offers advice for the types of therapy that often benefit adoptees:

  • Play therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Trauma-informed therapy

The Gateway suggests the best approach will depend on the child's age, experience and severity of the symptoms, among other things. 

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