Adopted adults have more problems....


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I don't know how to copy/paste on my phone. Pathetic, I know.

Lately I am trying to understand why Kay is soooo different than the rest of us in her attachment to the family. It won't change anything to research or know, but it has helped soothe my guilt. Apparently there are so many more problems in adopted children due to attachment issues (even with infants), parental drug use, and even the fact that there are so many unknowns with the birthparents of our kids.

I have read obsessively on this lately and I would have been so much better prepared if our social worker had told us the truth. They knew. That way when Kay acted out, and adopted kids tend to have school issues too, we would have expected it and been ready and not have taken it personally, as in we are bad parents.

I think we would have also anticipated possible levels of estrangement and have taken that less personally too. Not that these problems always happen.They don't. But they are much more common in adopted kids than with biological children who are never separated from their birthmothers.

The articles also point out that most adoptive parents are eager to parent and want to be good parents and usually are, and.mostly have the means to give our children advantages. I keep is.not the parents. It is the child's experience and genetics.

Wish I could buy it 100 percent. Wish I could have copy/pasted the last article I just read too 😒. However, I am feeling better about myself lately and a little irritated that, in our case, we were never told about things like attachment issues and other things to look out for. We would have adopted her anyway, but with eyes....maybe a better outcome. Or not....

Love and.prayers to all.


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Staff member
Years ago on this website, it was apparent that there was a disproportionate number of folks here with adopted kids or adult “kids.” I asked my daughter’s psychiatrist who I watched as a young excellent physician become a well known nationwide seasoned child psychiatrist over the many years if she had a disproportionate number of adopted children as patients AND if those children tend to be sicker and/or more difficult to treat. At first she was quiet. I saw her “wheels turning.” I thought she would faint as she reflected. She blurted out “YES!” She never realized it until I asked.
I can’t recall the name of the group, but there was a group that did a study and it’s now documented that adopted children have a higher incidence of adhd than bio kids. But adhd is sometimes diagnosed instead of Bipolar or other mental illness especially in you g children.
My adopted daughter just found her birth family. The entire family suffers from extreme issues of mental illness. EXTREME. Alcoholism/drug abuse as well.
Think about it...with Bipolar and likely other mental illness comes problems with impulse control and lack of cause and effect reasoning. Such issues might very well lead to an unplanned pregnancy.
Over the years I have met many many many families with adopted children who are mentally ill and even with medication and therapy , struggle terribly. I find this so very confusing snd sad.
I knew one doctor with a struggling adopted daughter and a bio son. The bio son was finishing medical school and the adopted daughter had many huge problems and he was busting his butt hoping by some miracle she could finish hair dressing school. I asked him if he felt there was a disproportionate amount of mental illness with adopted kids. He said “definitely.” Back then I was doing a fair amount of writing. I asked him if I could interview him. He said “no way.” Even anonymously he said no. Bottom line...this is one of those things generally speaking not discussed. Almost a secret. Perhaps it’s mental illness + attachment disorder together that makes it an extremely difficult situation.
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Nomad, thank you for answering. It really helped me.

I don't know my daughters bio.history, but I can imagine it is like your daughter's. My own therapist who hub and I see (Kay would never go) told us that adopted kids and adopted adults have a lot more mental illness, behavioral problems and attachment issues EVEN IF ADOPTED AS INFANTS than others. Some of that is because most parents who lose custody of their kids or don't feel they can raise them are not stable and the child does not have the best genetics, on top of the initial separation from their birthmother. Let's not leave out possible substance abuse while pregnant and lack of pregnancy health care. This all matters.

This explains to me how three kids, all raised the same way in a two parent home with love and lots of advantages can turn out so differently. My two biological kids are hard workers with college degrees, very loving and were easy to raise. They are are going to have good lives if they keep on. They try HARD to live well. This is important.

Kay was difficult from the start, had school problems, and has never shown motivation. She left her own son. Once she asked me ",Why did my real mother leave me? Was I bad?" Maybe that's why she could leave Jaden. She doesn't check in on him.

I think most adopted kids wonder about that first abandonment. I was in an adoptive parents group. While the babies were the light of their parents.lives, as they aged almost all of the parents had problems with the kids, and we asked each other if it was being adopted. We have.lost touch but were like Kay before we lost touch....not close, not wanting to be close unless they wanted money, etc. It was a big proportion....more than in the general population. I think we lost touch die to our sadness.

Others who adopted and had bio. kids had experiences like I did with the bio. kids doing better. That puzzled us. They had been raised the same way.

Many adopted kids look for "real Mom." Those words hurt. One of the moms child's birthparents were dead so she found her birth siblings and.moved in with a sister. The crazy world of kids with two families....those who loved and raised them with such caring and the family that can give them what we can't....genetics, answers to why they have blond hair, answers to why they are musically gifted, answers to some of their problems in school....perhaps more similar personalities.

They may still love us too, but they are not our DNA. With FB and all it's easy to search for birth relatives. Kay's birth family sadly has a very common last name....she would be happier if she could find them. They live abroad. I wish she could find them and maybe finally bond with somebody...even if it's not us.

There used to be lots of adoptive parents here on the forum. Now not so many. Thanks for responding.

I wish doctors and social workers would be upfront. They are not.

I wish great happiness for your family.
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Busy, I read yours and Nomad’s posts to my husband; they resonated so much with me. I, too have an adopted child, now 20, who has had problems in school, at home, and is struggling just learning how to live life as a young adult with issues. Some of them were caused by circumstances he had little control over—like his birth mom’s drug (crack) and alcohol abuse when she was pregnant with him which has resulted in some serious brain deficits, but not an intellectual disability per se.

Although I have heard he bonded with his birth family at birth and that is probably a good thing (parents were trying to stay clean), he did have some abandonment issues when he came to us (he is my biological nephew). He had been uprooted from two different homes/families, first removed from the birth home at about age 2 and placed with his grandfather, my father, who was in his eighties, and my step-mother, somewhat younger. While living with the birth family, his birth mother was on the streets, in and out of his life, which caused him much anxiety as a toddler. He is still an anxious kid. He suffered neglect. When we got him at nearly 4, he cried everytime I left the house, thinking I wasn’t coming back.

On the plus side he has been a loving child, though troubled in many ways. I say loving to a point—during and after puberty he went through a period of tremendous anger, punching holes in walls and doors, jumping out windows and running away. We had to call the police several times. I know many folks on this site can relate! He did not want to follow rules, either ours or the school’s. He began smoking pot and it became his drug of choice. He started shoplifting, spent time in juvenile detention, and got sent to a school for problem kids. He was in residential treatment for suicide ideation when he was about 15. At 18 and still in school, he decided he was ready to live on his own, so he left our home. He has been in two programs in two years for drugs and behavior, both unsuccessful and not taken seriously.

He has not been allowed to live in our home since he left but surprisingly, our relationship is good. Needless to say, life has been rough for him for the choices he‘s made. Things are challenging right now but he is finally beginning to understand the role he has played in creating some of his problems. And believe me, he had every kind of therapy, counseling, and support services that you can imagine. Nothing worked. He seemed destined to be just like his birth family.

And I too, have other grown children, educated and successful. They had their “moments,” during puberty and young adulthood like a lot of kids growing up, but they were brief and not anywhere near as troublesome as the things my adopted child did.

I was aware of some of the issues alcohol/drug exposed kids can suffer. Along with the behavioral issues, there is, as I see it, the very debilitating characteristic of not learning from mistakes, and not understanding cause and effect. Nomad, this is one so many of us can see in our children and it is frustrating! It’s as if a part of the brain is missing.

I did a lot of research when my son was younger on different therapies, treatments, etc. I came upon a doctor who is a leading researcher in children exposed to drugs in utero, Ira Chasnoff, and bought two of his books, “The Mystery of Risk, Drugs, Alcohol, Pregnancy, and the Vulnerable Child,” and “The Nature of Nurture.” They are excellent at explaining the different effects that prenatal drug and alcohol exposure can have on our children.

At the time (2010) he was about the only doctor who had extensively researched this subject. He may still be, I don’t know. He heads an organization called Children’s Research Triangle at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. He actually has a clinic, and I believe there are others around the country where parents and children can receive specialized counseling and services. And they understand our kids! Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t a clinic in my area or I would have definitely pursued it. In addition to books, he has a vast library of audio/video material geared toward parents, teachers and counselors.

This book referral probably belongs on one of the other forums that deal with young children, but Busy, since you are interested in the role of genetics vs. nurture and some of the characteristics our exposed children have, I thought I would mention them. I have never read anything that explains it like Dr. Chasnoff does. And with so little information out there on the subject of drug exposed kids, it is encouraging to know that a medical professional or practice understands their brains, which are quite different from those of “typical” kids.

Your posts have been very informative, so thank you. Lots of truth to what you’re saying. Hugs.


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Oh, Nandina!!!! Thanks for responding.

I lived way on the near coast back then and flew Kay to go to The Chasnoff Clinic!!! How cool is that?

I read a lot at the time and have forgotten a lot of it now with years and all we have gone through. But it helped us at the time. And depressed us. We wanted to believe that if we just loved Kay enough, she would be just another loved child and her adoption status would not matter much.

It did. I think it usually does. The adopted kids in this forum, if I recall, were at lease semi estranged. In my parent group most kids had been adopted beyond infancy and most had a ton of problems. Some were children of substance abuse that continued during pregnancy. We suspect Kay's birthmother drank. Kay has problems of common sense, logical thinking and not learning from mistakes, consistent with alcohol ingested in utero. She has a hot temper, impulse control problems and anger. It is sad. I'm beginning to accept that a lot of this came with her and that she can't help it, especially since she won't get help.

In my other kids, I see family traits...ways of walking, talking, temperament, interests that are easy to trace. Kay is naturally loud, without tact, musically gifted, tall and beautiful, rebellious, negative, friendly, trusting and non conventional.

The rest of us are so different.

I tend to believe nature trumps nurture every time. I've seen it with Kay and with friends who also shared adoption stories. I think most adopted kids are also held back as they wonder about their families of birth. We raised and loved them. They know this. But we can't answer questions about why they look or are this way or that way. I think many feel like outsiders with us, no matter how hard we try to make it not the case. Knowing ones DNA is important enough that there is an industry collecting our spit and sending back details of our DNA, even names of relatives we may not know.

Our DNA matters to us. Being adopted....they never see people with the same DNA.

Nandina,your son is lucky that at least you are a relative and can answer these DNA questions. I believe not knowing screws these kids up more. I overheard Kay on the phone don't know who she was talking to. She was not angry this time, more puzzled. "I look in the mirror and wonder why I look this way. Who am I? I'm not like the rest of the family at all. They're nice and all, but I feel like an alien." Laughter. "They try. I still feel like an outsider. I feel bad because they love me so much but I feel like an alien..." Kay was maybe fourteen at the time.

Be well and thanks.
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Busy, that is some coincidence! I’m glad you felt that it benefited Kay and your family. I have a little more to say about this topic but short on time so will stop by later.

Yes, my son being related to me has definitely given me information that so many adoptive parents don’t get—like not knowing what types of drugs your kids were exposed to, if they were addicted at birth, illnesses and addictions in the family...I know the whole sorry story! Lol.

And knowing all that stuff and warning my son from the time he was a little boy about the tremendous addiction on both sides of the family ( birth mom, birth dad, maternal grandmother and grandfather as well as paternal grandmother) made not one whit of difference. He couldn’t wait to try pot! And he pursued it with gusto! Is it any wonder? A doctor once told me every time his birth mom, pregnant with him, lit up her crack pipe, he was getting the same rush that she was. Ugh.


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Do you have an iPhone? I just got one. If you hold your finger on the article text "copy" will pop up. Then put your finger where you want to paste and hold it down. Paste will pop up. OR a second alternative is to hold your finger on the article link and do that same process.


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It's a common misconception that adopted adults face more difficulties in life. While it's true that they may have unique challenges, it's important to recognize that everyone has their own struggles and strengths. As a foster parent, it's important to provide love and support to the individuals in your care, regardless of their background. Foster parents always face difficulties, but there are such organizations as Foster Plus(removed linked url) which will help you. It's important to remember that every adopted adult has their own story and journey, and it's crucial to offer them a safe and nurturing environment.
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