Support for Adoptive Parents and Adoptees

Whatever drove your decision to become an adoptive parent (personal choice, personal experience, infertility issues, etc.), congratulations for taking this step.

Now the next step is to have the support you will need.

You decided to adopt a child (or children) due to your own beliefs or fertility issues. Everything was supposed to be smooth and have a happy ending. But perhaps it has not been that way so far. Adoption can be a difficult time for couples; before, during, and after the adoption. Each type of adoption comes with its own set of issues.

Adopting children (domestic and internationally) can bring about a variety of issues that are not experienced or seen elsewhere.

There are many challenges and difficulties that both adoptive parents and adopted children will have to overcome, including psychological and behavioral issues, grief/loss (of familiar place and people), potential health problems, adjusting to being a parent, or being parented, and sometimes even language barriers.

Domestic / Baby Adoption

Single people and couples might find themselves dealing with a lot of stress waiting for “the match”, or following the progress of a pregnancy that may or may not end in adoption. There may be issues of parenting, attachment, or dealing with family members and friends.

Finding professional help before, during, and after the adoption will greatly enhance the support network you need to create a nurturing family environment.

International Adoption

Besides the normal challenges of adopting a child (or children) domestically and being an adoptive parent, accomplishing an international adoption brings additional difficulties, such as language barriers, coordinating with international agencies, dealing with other countries’ rules and regulations, being prepared to travel abroad (money for travel and lodging expenses, passport requirements, visas where required, time off from your job, lawyers fees, etc).

At times, future adoptive parents will have to make decisions on the spot while they are traveling.

This should be a joyful time. Instead, you may be frustrated, angry, or having difficulties talking to friends, colleagues, or family members.

That’s why it is important to have the support of a therapist – to help future adoptive parents prepare for the adoption process, achieve the adoption completion, and successfully work through the adoption adjustment period (which can last years).

Siblings or Multiple Adoptions

You decided to go beyond your first plans to adopt and adopt more than one child – at the same time, or you may be adding one or more children to your family.

Your dream was to have a big, happy family. Instead, there’s stress – everywhere: at home, school issues, impacts on your work environment, etc., and these stressors are hurting your relationship or you are very overwhelmed.

You made the right decision to look for help now.

Finding professional help before, during, and after adoption of siblings or multiple adoptions adds to the support you need.

Call (813) 613-8587 for a free 15-minute phone consultation, to help you decide why coming to therapy would be beneficial for you, your spouse or partner, and your children.

LGBT Adoption

Your plans of having a family have been realized, or are just about to be.  If your family and friends are supportive, that is wonderful.  If family and friends are less supportive than you would like them to be, you should be commended for you and your partner making the decision to grow your family and bring a child or children into your immediate family.

Now, you may be overwhelmed with dealing with the legal challenges put around LGBT adoption, or you could be overwhelmed with having to deal with child issues and not having the support you need.

You made the right decision to look for help now.

Finding professional help before, during, and after a LGBT adoption of children adds to the support you need to successfully establish your family and minimize associated stressors.

Call (813) 613-8587 for a free 15-minute phone consultation, to help you understand why coming to therapy is beneficial for you and your family life goals.

Signs and symptoms of suffering that can be related to adoption issues

The distressing emotions of going through the adoption process are particular for this issue since on one hand, parents might be overcoming feelings of loss and grief (not having children of their own, their own infertility, etc.) before the adoption, and then during the adoption, there may be very challenging emotional and behavioral issues that arise throughout the adoption process, and which may even continue beyond the adoption finalization. Later, the adoption adjustment period may bring its own set of stressors. The list below is common symptoms/challenges parents and/or children may experience before, during, and after the adoption process is completed.

  • Anxiety – Worriedness – Panic
  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Guilt / Shame
  • Anger
  • Behavioral issues
  • School issues
  • Frustration
  • Your relationship with your partner may suffer
  • Anxiety-related sexual dysfunction
  • Attachment issues
  • Tantrums / Uncontrollable crying
  • Aggressiveness
  • Isolation / Hiding
  • Stressors with open adoption
  • Stressors with transracial adoption
  • Stressors with international adoption
  • Stressors with same-sex partners adopting
  • Stressors coming from family and friends
  • Dealing with children who have been neglected
  • Dealing with children who have been abused
  • Dealing with special needs children
  • Dealing with children with learning or developmental disabilities
  • Personality issues and other psychological issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Trauma (from mild to intense trauma)
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Impulsivity
  • Lack of sense of safety for both parents and children
  • Disregard for conventions/normalcy
  • Children diagnosed with ADHD or exhibiting symptoms of (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Children diagnosed with or exhibiting symptoms of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder)
  • Children diagnosed with or exhibiting symptoms of Bipolar
  • Children diagnosed with or exhibiting symptoms of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)

It is crucial for the well-being of you and your family to have a psychologist help you through your adoption process, and help you through the emotional roller coaster of other symptoms that may arise which may be connected to pains of the past and uncertainties of the future. It is also strongly recommended to have your child in therapy for every milestone your child reaches in life, as the additional support will be greatly helpful to your adopted child or children. To support your child through complex developmental trauma (or disorder), it is necessary to have a team (parents, therapist, psychiatrist, pediatrician, grandparents, friends) who understand the indicated issues and who are working on behalf of the child.

Causes of adoption issues

People choose to adopt due to personal choice, personal experience, or infertility issues. The issues derived from the adoption process (before, during, and after) will vary from person to person and from child to child.

Even when you adopt a set of siblings, you may find that they come with a completely different set of issues. You and your partner may also have different sets of issues to deal with, along with the issues that come from your family, coworkers, and friends in understanding and accepting your child through adoption.

Many issues will arrive with the child. Other issues will develop later on in life.

How I treat individuals/couples dealing with adoption issues

I often use an integrative approach to treat people with grief/loss issues. I use techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as Psychotherapy, Mindfulness, Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, or “Tapping”), and other types of therapy that have been proven to be useful in the treatment of adoption issues. I provide a non-judgmental environment where patients can find support and open up to be candid about their innermost feelings and thoughts.

How I treat children who have been adopted

Behavioral and psychological issues will be treated with love, understanding, and acceptance (research on oxytocin, which is a hormone released by the pituitary gland, reveals great therapeutic results can be achieved with giving and talking about love.) I often use an integrative approach to treat adopted children. I use techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as Psychodynamic Pychotherapy, Mindfulness, ACT, EFT, and other types of therapy that have been proven to be useful in the treatment of adoption issues. I provide a non-judgmental environment where young patients can find support and honesty to be open about their innermost feelings and thoughts. Often times these children cannot communicate their inner suffering with words. The relationship formed between the therapist and the child will be the key to the success of therapy and of the child. At times, schools may request letters and summaries of treatment for at-risk children; these types of reports will be released upon parental written authorization.

I have Adoption Competency Training and Foster Competence Training completed.

Typical outcomes of therapeutic treatment for adoption issues

Based on the child’s acceptance and trust in the therapist, the therapist/patient relationship will last a long time. Every time the child or parents come to therapy, issues will be resolved either through individual, couples, or family therapy. Although adoptive parents and adopted children oftentimes return to treatment when the child is going through different phases of his or her life (school change, female beginning menstruation, dating, having sex, marrying, having a child of their own, etc). Each milestone may bring a different set of issues to address, for both parents and child.

FAQ About Adoption

How long is the treatment for adoption issues?

Treatment can be brief such as in a couple of months for small behavioral issues in small children, to years in therapy for older children dealing with trauma, attachment issues, self-harming, or suicidal behaviors. Treatment for adoptive parents, as individuals, couples, or family can vary according to the presented issues, and what they bring to therapy on their own.

How often should we attend sessions?

At the beginning of treatment, parents and/or children will attend sessions weekly, or even more than once in a week, until homeostasis (sense of routine and balance), has been achieved. Later, patients may attend sessions every other week. Patients may return to treatment as difficult milestones arises for parents and children.

My partner/family member who has also been affected by adoption stress does not want to come treatment. Can I come by myself?

Yes. The individual parent can come to treatment. At times, it will be necessary to have couples and/or family sessions to help with mutual understand and commitment to one another and to the child to move towards family and child wellbeing.

Do you treat children, teens, or adults who have been adopted?

Yes. Children, teenagers, and adults have specific needs as they learn to deal with their complex developmental issues. You might see higher levels of anxiety and behavioral issues in small children, more aggression, being isolated, being angry, being anxious, being impulsive, with more self-harming behaviors and suicidal tendencies in adolescents, and more relational issues in adults.

Do you treat LGBT couples and their children?

Yes. My practice and treatment for adopted people is all-inclusive and I have experience treating this population.

Consult with a psychologist to get help with adoption issues right away.

Call (813) 613-8587 now for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation.

Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove