What are some possible developmental concerns facing adopted children?

What are some possible developmental concerns facing adopted children?

Best Answers

  • Answer ✓
    Great question! I think one of the most important things to note here is that adopted kids are really not that different from any other children. There is argument back and forth about a 'primal wound' but that's a whole other topic. 

    Being adopted does not mean that you are inherently at risk for developmental issues. Most adopted children are well attached and do just fine- in fact oftentimes they score higher than other children on critical thinking tests and things of the like simply because adoptive parents typically have somewhat higher incomes (how else could they afford to adopt?!) and the resources to give a child a healthy, stimulating environment to grow up in. A healthy baby adopted at birth is most likely going to develop just fine. 

    This does not mean that adoptees have everything easy. They are likely to face feelings of abandonment, isolation and confusion. Although these feelings are not a developmental delay, adoptive parents should be on the lookout for these feelings and address them with therapy, love, and support. 

    Not all children placed for adoption were exposed to drugs in utero- in fact, most of them aren't. However, there are many adoptees who were exposed to drugs or alcohol while the birth mother was pregnant. Drug exposure can cause developmental delays and other problems.  This article provides some helpful information regarding raising children who were born exposed. 


    So far in answering your question I have only addressed domestic infant adoption. Older children and children adopted from foster care are an entirely different story. Children whose biological parents had their rights terminated have almost certainly been through trauma- if they hadn't, they wouldn't have been in foster care. Here are two very helpful resources to help you understand potential developmental issues that may come when adopting an older child.


    All this being said, don't let it discourage you! Many adoptive parents (and biological parents!) have raised children with developmental issues, and those kids have grown up to have healthy, happy lives. Educating yourself about possible issues and being willing to learn and grow will help you to be the very best parent you can be. 
  • Answer ✓
    I definitely echo what annaleece said above. I think there is this assumption that child who were adopted will automatically have some sort of development of emotional issues no matter what their circumstances. However, it is best to enter your adoption situation just as you would if you gave birth to the child. Full of hope and expectation for their future. It may be easy to worry and even reasonable. This may especially be true if you are entering a situation where you are unsure of the substance use during pregnancy. 

    Some of the possible concerns may be found from a lack of prenatal care or history. If you do know that substances were used during pregnancy, there may be risk of developmental issues from this use. There may also be genetic issues that arise later on. If you are able to get any sort of medical history, it may certainly be of your benefit. You may also see a higher likely hood of developmental issues in International Adoption, as many children are placed due to these issues. 

    Children who are adopted when they are older may experience a bit more emotional distress than a newborn might. There will likely be long periods of adjustment. Counseling is typically the norm and beneficial when adopting any child who is old enough to understand what is happening. For younger children, they may experience identity questions and crisis as they get older, though this is not always the case. 

    As your child develops, it is often a "Wait and see" situation. Through genetics, you may simply not know what they might be at risk for. However, this does not mean to wait and see and worry. Assume the best and prepare for anything, just as you would if you gave birth to this child. There is a chance for anyone, adopted of not, to experience some sort of developmental issue as life takes it's course. We are all different and you may have a situation where there is no issue at all. Just be ready and willing to learn. This guide at Adoption.com has a lot of information about how to approach developmental disabilities. 
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