Adoption is the process by which an adult legally and permanently takes over parental responsibility for a child and, at the same time, the rights and responsibilities of the child’s biological parent(s) or legal guardian(s) are terminated. In rare cases, an adult may adopt another adult. There are both domestic and international adoption programs, each with its own set of qualifying rules and requirements, along with its own set of potential complications.
Some, though not all, children who have been adopted may experience psychological, neurological, social, and behavioral problems unique to their individual situation. These potential problems, which can develop at any age, include bonding, attachment, relationship issues, cognitive delays, ADHD, and matters related to identity formation. In an attempt to pinpoint causes and develop workable solutions, ongoing studies look at the genetic as well as both prenatal and postnatal environmental influences on the development of children who have been adopted. Another area of interest to mental health professionals and researchers is the occurrence of post-adoptive depression in adoptive parents.