Families have been formed by adoption for centuries. Still, we are just starting to understand the psychological effects that the process has on all parties — including birth mothers.
Pop culture often portrays birth mothers as women with unfortunate circumstances who made decisions of their own free will. That story isn't always accurate. Unwed birth mothers faced enormous pressure from their families, society, and even state law to give up their children. This type of pressure created its own psychological stress.
Psychological Significance of Adoption
Adoptees experience a wide range of emotions. Though they feel grateful for their adoptive families and experience a sense of belonging overall, they also navigate feelings of loss, question their identity, and feel a sense of grief related to their birth family. Adopted children may also experience bonding and attachment issues and exhibit defiance or violence when grappling with these issues.
For birth mothers, little is known about their psychological stress. However, this excerpt from the book American Baby demonstrates the depths of stress and pain. The article explains that Margaret Katz's parents forced her to give up her child at 17 years old. She later married and had three children but never forgot about the child she gave up for adoption.
In 1980 she attended a meeting for the Adoptees' Liberty Movement Association (“ALMA”). ALMA created an adopted person registry where adopted persons and birth family members might search and get in contact with one another. However, she was unable to locate her child through those means.
Ms. Katz then began traveling into New York City to search library records that recorded births when she gave birth to her adopted child. She was unable to find information on her child's birth there. Eventually, she went back to the agency responsible for her child's adoption to leave her contact details. The agency threatened to call the police and refused to let her in. Ms. Katz left, overcome with emotion.
Benefits Outweigh The Risks
Despite the potentially harmful emotional effect, adoptees and adoptive families report that the benefits outweigh the risks. A 2007 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report stated that 85% of adopted children were in good health. Adopted children are also more likely to have health insurance, live above the poverty line, and participate in extracurricular activities while in grade school. These statistics show that adoption has an overall positive effect on the adoptee's health, school performance, and family involvement.
Getting Help With Your Adoption
The benefits of adoption on the lives of the adoptees, adoptive family members, and the community are immeasurable. The process can be lengthy and arduous. However, the positive impacts on families are worth it.
If you or your loved one is looking to adopt, Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience assisting families through the adoption process and can help you with your matter as well. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-5336 today.