adopted adults and relationships

Adopted Adults and Relationships – How Are They Affected?

Particularly if you experienced childhood trauma or bounced around in foster care, forming emotional bonds can be a challenge that lasts into adulthood. When a person’s early childhood experiences were defined by impermanence, they may struggle with adoption abandonment issues. Relationships can be challenging for some adult adoptees who fear rejection, struggle with their self-esteem, or who spent part of their childhood without a role model for a healthy relationship.

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Adoptee Emotional Difficulties and How They Could Affect Relationships

Some adoption-related emotional difficulties that you may experience as an adult adoptee can also lead to adopted adults’ relationship issues. Although there is currently little to no evidence or research that supports the theory that adult adoptees struggle in their relationships, anecdotes persist.

Some adoptees suggest that these adopted adults’ relationship issues struggles may stem from:

  • Fear of rejection, which can manifest as the desire to reject a person before they have the opportunity to reject you.

  • Low self-esteem, which can manifest as not feeling worthy of love or in choosing partners who treat you poorly because you don’t feel you deserve better.

  • Fear of abandonment, which can make you feel paranoid that your partner will leave you.

  • Fear of change, which can make you want to stay in unhealthy relationships longer or compel you to avoid new relationships or growth within a relationship.

Some people have tried to connect insecure infant attachment to caregivers with strained adult relationships later in life, but most adoptees who were adopted at birth had secure attachments to their caregivers, and there hasn’t yet been any correlation between the theory and the suggested outcome. However, insecure attachment in early childhood has been linked to potential depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, and these issues could cause a rift in romantic relationships.

Being Adopted May Not Affect Your Relationships At All

Not all adopted adults and their relationships struggle. Not all adoptees have experienced significant negative impacts from adoption. And even if you do struggle with emotional issues related to your adoption, those issues may not affect your relationships at all.

Every relationship has its ups and downs, so it would be wholly unfair to pin every struggle in an adoptee’s relationship on issues relating to their adoption.

But for adopted adults with relationship issues that continually recur, it may be beneficial to seek out counseling from a counselor who has experience with adoption abandonment issues. Relationships can benefit from individual counseling as well as couples counseling, regardless of whether or not a person was adopted. 

Regardless of the Source, Emotional Issues Can Be Resolved

Although there isn’t much evidence to support the theory that adopted adults and their relationships fail as a result of adoption, there are documented emotional difficulties that some adoptees may struggle with. Whenever one partner within a relationship brings their own fears and insecurities into the relationship, the emotional bond can be strained. This can include emotional insecurities relating to your adoption, or unrelated emotional issues from either partner.

These issues can also be resolved with some guidance from a counselor. Just as healthy relationships are important for your own mental and emotional wellness, a healthier self can make for a healthier partnership.