Many adult adoptees who came in to see me for psychotherapy were completely unprepared for young adulthood. You might be thinking, of course that makes sense. After all, they came in because they’re struggling with life.
Or, perhaps you’re thinking, this isn’t an adoption issue. Young adulthood is the new adolescence, right?
Yes, and no.
Then I started to see a few more things. I saw that many adoptive parents were basing their mindset, their decisions, judgment calls with their teen on the guidance and advice they received from their agency, therapist, friends, etc. And, that guidance was centered around a few key themes – safety, security, love and belonging, trust, etc. What I was seeing was that when adoptive parents tried to respond in the same way that they had been for years, it no longer provided the comfort, reassurance and connection that it might have before. Now, it seemed to make things worse.
Then, it came to light via research that adoptees (ages 11-22) are four times more likely to attempt suicide.
Regardless of your feelings about adoption, it’s a vulnerable position to be in to differ from the mainstream in some way. But, what does this mean for adoptive parents? What does your adopted teen need from you?