Core issues in adoption

Adoption, as defined by is “the social, emotional and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become full and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to their birth family.” This action can cause reactions that are common among the adoptive parents, the adoptee and the birth parents. Even though the reactions are basically the same, the way they are exhibited are different.

This was made evident in the seven core issues that were developed by Silverstein and Roszia in 1982. In their study they wanted to show that the assumption up to that time, which said that adopted children were not different from those that were raised in a family they were born into. Their core values were loss, rejection, guilt and shame, grief, identity, intimacy and relationships and control or gains.


The adoptee feels loss through a fear they carry with them of abandonment and a loss of biological, genetic and cultural ties. They also can have difficulties when it comes to holding on or with letting go.

The birth parent also feels loss though it manifests itself differently. They think about the child often, the loss that they feel can then intersect with other aspects of her life. She can also feel social isolation and losses in her relationship. The changes that she went through are also signs of her loss both in body and self-image.

The adoptive parents feel loss through any infertility issues which leads them to feel a loss of self and a loss of immortality. Some of them may feel issues of entitlement. This can then lead into a fear of loss of the child or in over-protectiveness of the child.


For the adoptee, rejection can be felt when his placement for adoption is turned down. This can be felt as a personal rejection. He also has to deal with issues with self-esteem and he can also begin to misperceive situations in his life.

The birth parent feels the value of rejection as they look at themselves as being irresponsible or unworthy because they allowed the adoption. They come to the conclusion that they deserve the rejection and they come to expect it in their future.

The adoptive parents begin to feel rejection while having their fertilization difficulties. They may turn on their partner and see them as the cause of their situation. These parents may even reject an adopted child to avoid this feeling themselves.

Guilt or shame

Guilt or shame can show up in the adoptee by him demonstrating that he feels he deserves misfortunes in his life. This issue also can be shown by him being ashamed of being different from other children, or in occurrences of defensive stances or in anger.

The birth parent also feels guilt or shame through the action of adoption. She may feel that she needs to keep this action as a guilty secret. She also may feel shame or guilt because of placing the child for adoption. Some of this feeling comes when they feel like other people are judging her. Plus she may feel like she is stuck between a rock and a hard place when she cannot keep the child yet it is not all right to place him for adoption.

The adoptive parents may have to deal with infertility issues which can make them feel shame, or they may see their childless situation as an issue with their religion or as a curse or punishment.


Adults do not see that a child that is being adopted is dealing with grief. Yet he may be feeling it as he is severing one relationship and he is going into family where he may not feel he fits. When grief is overlooked it can lead to depression and acting out by the child.

The birth parent may feel like they are only allowed to grieve for a short time, however, this, plus feelings of shame, can cause the grief to be put off by ten or more years. Plus there are not rituals in place for the birth parent to turn to for handling this grief.

Adoptive parents, through the issues they have faced, need to deal with the loss of any children they could have given birth to. If they do not face this grief, they may place a wall between themselves and the adopted child. Then when this child is brought into the home, they may think of any grief the child feels as signs of rejection.


The adoptee has many issues with identity, especially if they are denied information about their birth parents, or other items in their background. A child with this issue may look to early pregnancy or extreme behaviors to identify him and a way to fit in.

Birth parents can experience feeling of loss of identity as the child goes on into the world without her knowing anything about the child. This can lead to the parent feeling lower self-worth and can stop them from having any other children in the future.

The adopted parents feel a sense of loss of identity when adopting due to an uncertainty of their role. They may not be sure if they are or are not parents.

Intimacy and relationships

A child that is adopted may be afraid of becoming to close to another person because they see it as a situation that can cause loss. They may also have background issues, such as incest, to deal with. These items make it difficult for a child to bond with another person.

If there is tension between birth parents, there can be issues with moving on with other relationships in the future. Along with this she may look at intimacy as the same as loss.

As birth parents deal with unresolved grief over any losses they may have had, they may develop intimacy or marital problems within their marriage. These difficulties within the marriage may prevent them from close feelings with the adopted child, plus they may experience this feeling due to other losses they have felt.

Control or gain

Any child that goes through adoption has his life course changed. He is not involved in early decisions in an adoption where the adults make choices that alter everyone’s lives. Due to this the child may feel disconnected to cause and effect issues in life.

As the birth parent give up the child, she may see this action as being out of control and can stop any drive she may have for self-actualization.

Any security that a couple may have felt when attempting to make a baby is replaced with a sense of helplessness or loss of control before they begin the adoption process. This feeling may also lead the couple to lose initiative in daily life.

Each of these issues are important areas to be aware of, by all parties involved in an adoption, before, during and after the process. If the knowledge is there of these issues, each of the parties involved can become stronger and more self-confident in the future.