Whether you’re an adoptive family or a birth parent, we know that you have plenty of questions about how this journey might shape your child’s future. While the story of every adoptee is unique, one common concern is mental health.
Many birth parents and adoptive families worry about mental health when it comes to life for adoptees — and for good reason. Adoption can be a positive and rewarding experience, but it does come with many bumps and bruises along the way for the child who had no say in the placement. As they get older, it’s possible for an adoptee to struggle with their self-esteem or identity, feel left out of their adoptive family and have difficulty forming emotional bonds.
We’d like to take this Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week to spread awareness about this important issue. While education and resources for mental health continue to increase, it can be hard to know what exactly you can do to support an adoptee as they come to terms with their adoption story. Thankfully, there are many ways that you help.
Below, we’ve listed five ways that you can support the mental health of the adoptee in your life. If you have any questions, please reach out to an adoption counselor or specialist. They can provide additional ideas support the mental health of the adoptee in your life today and in the years to come.
With a trained adoption counselor, adult adoptees can better heal from any adoption-related trauma. These professionals understand how difficult adoption can be, and they are there to help. It might take some time to find a counselor who fits their needs, but stay committed to find a counselor that’s right for them.
2. Open adoption and contact with biological family
An open adoption is great for everyone in the adoption triad, especially the adoptee. With this type of adoption relationship, an adoptee knows exactly where they came from and has a direct line of communication with their biological family. Biological relatives will be able to answer an adoptee’s lingering questions, ones that might be difficult for you to answer on your own.
3. Adoption education
Education can be a powerful tool. One of the best ways to support the mental health of an adoptee is locating helpful resources.
You should also become familiar with the needs of adoptees in each type of adoption. Foster and international adoptees will likely have different needs than a child adopted through a private, domestic adoption.
While you might not know exactly what an adoptee is going through, staying informed is a great way to connect with them and support them during their personal journey.
4. Adoptee support groups
When you’re an adoptee, sometimes the best person to talk to is someone who’s already been in your shoes. So, the adoptee in your life might reach out to a support group meant for adopted individuals. In-person and online support groups exist across the country. Be sure to recognize common do’s and don’ts before joining one.
5. Adoptee blogs
For many people, writing is a therapeutic exercise. If you’re trying to support an adoptee, you might share stories from others like them. They might even think about sharing their own story — if they’re comfortable with the idea.
There are tons of blogs written by adoptees that you can binge read today, but if you’re looking for more, you can always contact an adoption professional for some of their recommendations.
Support for mental health around the world continues to grow, but we still have a long way to go. If you are an adoptee or if you know an adoptee who is struggling to cope with adoption-related trauma, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. You might feel like you’re alone in this, but we promise that there’s also someone ready and willing to listen.