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Managing Adoption Issues with Counseling

Managing Adoption Issues with Counseling


Managing Adoption Issues with Counseling


Adoption, the process of permanently transferring birth parents’ rights to a child to adoptive parents, can be beneficial to all parties involved. Unprepared biological parents get an opportunity to secure the future of their child and a second chance to improve their circumstances. Adoptive parents can fulfill their dream of becoming parents. The child has the opportunity to be loved, provided for, and raised well by parents who are prepared to fulfill the role.

Despite these potential benefits, adoption has a strong emotional impact on everyone concerned that does not just dissipate over time. Birth parents may live with intense emotions such as grief, guilt, and shame. Deciding to adopt a child and living with the thought of one day telling the adopted child the truth can also be agonizing for the adoptive parents. The experience can be earth-shattering for the child once he or she finds out.  

Regardless of who you are in the equation, there are intense emotions to live with, even when all parties achieve their personal goals and the adoptive parents and child have a good and fulfilling relationship. Adoption is a highly charged event. This is why it may be important to seek counseling during the adoption process.


“Who Am I?”—The Struggles of an Adopted Child

A host of issues may confuse, hurt, or anger a child when they find out about their adoption. They may feel grief, realizing they have lost what could have been a cherished relationship with the birth parents, even if they feel loved by their adoptive parents.  They may also feel unloved, abandoned, unwanted, or rejected, thinking that there must be something wrong with them.

Though they may want to meet their birth parents, they can feel confused and guilty, thinking it is disloyal to the adoptive parents who raised them. One of the worst feelings that an adopted teen may experience is alienation, sensing they are different from their friends and peers.

An adopted child is particularly vulnerable to low self-esteem and identity crisis as they reach adolescence, a stage when they are in search of self-identity. They will be perpetually looking for an answer to the question “Who am I?” If denied information about their biological parents or the opportunity to meet them, they can have difficulty formulating a real sense of themselves.  


Adoptive Parents: Embracing Parenthood to Someone Else’s Child

Not every adult wants to be an adoptive parent. Aside from the challenges, most are unprepared because it isn’t an idea that people normally entertain when they are young. The idea only takes form upon the realization that they are not biologically able to have babies or that there are many children out there who need adoptive parents to love and raise them.

While a successful adoption can fulfill a desire to have a child or help others, it can be a scary prospect too. The whole experience is never simple—it can be surreal or like a roller-coaster ride. Adoptive parents may feel a sense of foreboding, wondering if their decision to adopt was a proactive one or the result of frustration at failing to bear a child. They may also be troubled by the question of how they will handle it when the adopted child is old enough to ask, “Who am I?”


Birth Parents: Living with Guilt and Loss

The circumstances or reasons surrounding birth parents’ decisions to place their babies for adoption vary greatly. Typically, however, it is something that is perceived as best for the baby. While there can be good reasons for adoption, there is still a negative impact on the emotions and psyche of the parents, particularly the mother.

There can be a strong sense of loss, for it is akin to losing a child with the physical separation. They may also grieve for other losses—their parenting roles, their aspirations for their child—as well as other issues that happen in relation to having a baby and placing it for adoption. They may be overwhelmed by guilt and shame, first for the untimely pregnancy and second for not having the courage or means to keep the baby. They may also live with identity issues, wondering if they are bad people.

Some birth parents may suffer renewed feelings of loss each time they see a child the same age or resembling their child, or on the child’s birthday and other special occasions. The intensity of the grief can be worse if the birth parents were pressured to place their child for adoption or there was no opportunity to express their feelings about it.


Resolving Emotional Issues with Counseling

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding adoption, the child, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents will all face unique challenges along the way. The emotional roller coaster does not end upon the signing of the adoption documents: long-term issues can arise for everyone involved.

The facts cannot be changed, but issues can be resolved and emotions can be eased as the issues are better understood. A counselor trained in this special area and independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC, is the best form of help that you can seek.

If you are experiencing emotional distress related to adoption, know that adopting or placing a child for adoption is a major decision that takes courage and selflessness. While the intense emotions can’t be avoided, you can learn to accept them and be able to live a productive life. For your emotional well-being and to help your child understand who he/she is, know that Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC, is here to help.


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Counties: Chatham, Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake, NC

Areas: Pittsboro NC, Gulf NC, Hickory Mountain NC, Hadley NC, Siler City NC, Wilsonville NC, Fearrington NC, Mandale NC, Bear Creek NC, Albright NC

Zip Codes: 27207, 27228, 27256, 27312, 27344, 27559


Gail Gustafson, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 9+) Adolescents and Adults, Individuals, Couples and Families. PTSD/Trauma, EMDR, Adoption, Drug/Alcohol/Substance Abuse addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-polar, Life Transitions, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Family, couples and marriage counseling.
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare/ Tricare Prime Tricare Select/Extra/Retired and Cash (Credit Cards Accepted, HSA and FSA )
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Counseling Information

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Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC
68 Fayetteville St.
Pittsboro, NC 27312

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