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What Is Adoption?

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. In an attempt to help children who have been adopted adjust and thrive in a new home, and to understand why problems may arise, studies look at the genetic as well as both prenatal and postnatal environmental influences on the development of children who have been adopted. Other areas of interest to mental health professionals and researchers is the occurrence of post-adoptive depression in adoptive parents and the adjustment of siblings, who are often faced with unexpected emotional challenges of their own.

The Impact of Adopting


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, defiance and matters related to identity formation. These problems may be due to separation from birth parents, trauma, stigmatization, cultural changes, environmental issues such as malnutrition or lead poisoning, or biological family history, including alcoholism or drug abuse. Since it is not always possible to obtain records of an adopted child’s medical history, there may be unforeseen physical health issues as well.

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