Psychological Identification

If your child has had several homes before yours, there is often a brief period where he or she will try to be perfect to ensure your love. Eventually however, the sense of loss, hurt, and anger surfaces. Your child may, consciously or not, break your rules, steal, lie, or act out physically or even sexually. You will need to help your children build trust and confidence that you will not abandon them by helping them develop the psychological identification that distinguishes them as individuals.

During the elementary school-age years, children's identity comes from a combination of their genetic heritage, their experience with their families, and what happens to them as they try to find their place in the wider world.  Sometimes during these years, children learn about heredity, genes, and "blood relationships." At this time, the adopted child realizes the differences between biological and adoptive relationships. Reactions to this information are varied and can include feelings of relief, a sense of enlightenment, heightened interest in learning more about birth parents, denial of any interest, or feelings of loss and grief.

All adopted children have feelings about their adoption, and that many times in their development they will struggle with why their birth parents made an adoption plan for them. You can help your children by letting them know that they are not alone in these feelings and that it is all right with you if they express them and try to get explanations for what puzzles or troubles them. The more open family discussions have been from the beginning of verbal communication, the more likely it is that communication will continue no matter how intense or complex the subject becomes.