Teens who have been adopted may require attention to their psychological health more so than other teens. Because adopted teens have experienced abandonment, loss of an attachment relationship, and major change in their lives, they may be sensitive and vulnerable to mental illness.
However, as a caregiver or adopted parent, you can support your teen with their mental health. You can help them develop relationships with friends, promote their quest for self-discovery, and ensure their well being. Here are a few suggestions for improving the psychological health of your adopted teen:
Help your teen discover who they are
Adopted children might wonder who gave them their personal physical traits. In their process of discovering their unique sense of self (which is typical for teens), adopted teens might begin to wonder:
- Why was I given up for adoption?
- Would I be a different person if I were still with my biological parents?
- Why can’t my adoptive parents be my birth parents?
- Will I ever really know who I am?
- Can I find my birth parents?
As a parent, try not let the relationship you have with your adopted child get in the way of his or her need to discover his or her past.
Help your child work through any issues of abandonment
As you can imagine, being adopted comes with some underlying issues that sometimes go unnoticed. Although adopted children, regardless of age, can get the love, affection, and acceptance they need, the feelings of abandonment might not ever go away, even into their adulthood.
Abandonment is a strong psychological experience that can influence a child’s perception and experience of life. Although birth parents may have even gone through the adoption process with care for their child, the experience, no matter how smooth it was, might lead to feelings of loss, rejection, denial, and depression for children.
Later in life, or if a child was adopted during adolescence, those feelings can resurface. Addressing abandonment during childhood can curb mental health concerns later in life. A therapist, psychologist, or other mental health professional would be able to adequately treat underlying issues that stem from adoption and facilitate living a healthy and happy life.
Tend to any psychological health illnesses
As mentioned above, it’s common for adopted children to have a mental health diagnosis, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or ODD. Being aware of this and helping your child manage the symptoms he or she experiences will help with functioning at school and home.
Furthermore, it will help with your job as a parent. Again, a therapist, psychologist, or other mental health professional would be able to provide you and your child with coping mechanisms and a treatment plan to address the disorder itself.
Teens who have been adopted are not only going through the challenges of adolescence, but they may also face issues of their childhood. In fact, research shows that the odds of having an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) diagnosis were approximately twice as high in adoptees compared with non-adoptees.
If you want to support your adopted teen, try the above suggestions. And if you continue to see your teen having mental health concerns, contact a mental health professional for further assistance.