MICHELLE BARRATT PSYCHOLOGY

35 Wondall Road

WYNNUM WEST

Qld 4178

Tel: 0401 924 331 

Fax:  (07) 3009 0553

MICHELLE BARRATT PSYCHOLOGY

Suite 37, Level 1 Benson House,

No. 2 Benson Street, TOOWONG,

Qld 4066.

Tel: 0411 731 516

Fax: (07) 3009 0075

 

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Accreditations

Michelle Barratt is a Fellow of the Clinical College at the Australian Psychological Society. 

Adoptive Families

 

Children live in all types of families, and one of them is when they have been being adopted. Adoptions can occur at any age. However, being adopted and living in the country of your birth is one thing, but living in a completely different country to your place of birth and in another culture altogether can at times bring about some interesting challenges.

To ensure we understand each other correctly, the definition of adoption provided by the Australian Government is that:

 

 

Adoption is a legal process by which a person becomes, in law, a child of the adopting parents and ceases to be a child of the birth parents. All the legal consequences of parenthood are transferred from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. The adopted child obtains a new birth certificate showing the adopters as the parents, and acquires rights of support and rights of inheritance from the adopting parents. The adopting parents acquire rights to guardianship and custody of the child. Normally the child takes the adopters' surname. The birth parents cease to have any legal obligations towards the child and lose their rights to custody and guardianship. Inheritance rights between the child and birth rights also disappear (Australian Senate's report on the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices (Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, 2012; "the Sente Inquiry", p 5-6, para. 2.1).

Adopted Children

 

 

In the above mentioned report, many different types of experiences by the adopted parents were recorded and that most of the support families received during the time of the adoption was from their spouse. There is no doubt about it, every family will have their own tale to tell about the trials, tribulations and joy they experience;

 

  • During the adoption process

  • At the times they receive their child and

  • While parenting their child

  • Adoptive children wanting to make contact with the parents of origin

  • What is the effect of contact on adoptive parents relationships, biological parents and the adoptees themselves.

 

No matter which part of the process you are in, the biggest issues are likely to relate to adjusting to the new changes in your life.

 

1. During the adoption process - many parents experience a wealth of emotions that can mirror the uncertainty they face, the length of time it takes can bring about feelings of uncertainty, frustration and a sense of relentless anticipation. As there are many forms of adopting a child in Australia, receiving the most appropriate support during this period is paramount to ensure that the child is received into the healthiest family environment.

 

2. At the time of receiving an adopted child can feel like nothing you have ever experienced before. Alongside feelings of joy and relief, other feelings can arise such as the fear of (especially when the child has been adopted from another country) what has this child actually or really been exposed to? For example, has this child experienced any trauma. Some children adopted from Africa have been adopted through a wealth of experiences 'prior to adoption'. At times, some of the deep seated emotional issues can arise only years later - so often, children seeking psychological support early on is paramount to offering the child as much support and guidance as possible.

 

3. While parenting the child; depending on the prior experiences of the child, the age of the child, the nature of the adoptive process and the following environment the child was exposed to will determine the child's behaviour. Many parents have reported that their child just doesn't seem to behave like other children, or if they are older parents, their adopted children don't behave like their previous/current biological children.

 

4 & 5. A wide range of emotions are experienced by both the child and the adopted family if the child would like to make contact with their previous origin and biological parents. This time can be not only a joyous experience, but be a very challenging one at that; possibly changing many dynamics in the family.

 

The Senate's (2012) report found that although half the adoptive parents did not find that the adoption had any effect on the heath and well being of their son or daughter, some respondents did find there was a link, of which the most common reported were:

 

  • mental health problems (including depression, autism/Asperger's syndrome and personality disorders);

  • low self-esteem;

  • attachment issues;

  • feelings of rejection;

  • abuse of drugs;

  • negative behaviours (shoplifting, stealing, "inappropriate sexual behaviour"); and

  • Embarrassment about the adoption.

 

Most adoptive parents in this category wished they had received psychological support earlier.

 

Some adoptive parents commented that it would have been useful to have known the medical history of the birth family in order to better respond to the needs of their children. Other comments on the health effects of the adoption on their son or daughter include:

 

He always wanted to be seen as the unwanted one and would get extremely angry and frustrated when we tried to reason with him … (1420, 2012)

 

The lack of more detailed information concerning the birth mother and father with respect to health and personality profiles and their family backgrounds has made it very difficult for us to respond to the many issues that are ongoing. (1770, 2012), and in addition distracted by wanting to know and meet biological family, the child appeared to not be able to apply himself to study/projects and persevere to the end. Poor decision-making, inconsistent, unsure of himself, low self-esteem also seemed to be a common theme amongst these children. (233, 2012)

 

It is therefore highly recommended that if you experience any behaviour of concern with your children, or would like to receive parenting skills or support yourself - please don't hesitate to contact Michelle Adoption is a legal process by which a person becomes, in law, a child of the adopting parents and ceases to be a child of the birth parents. All the legal consequences of parenthood are transferred from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. The adopted child obtains a new birth certificate showing the adopters as the parents, and acquires rights of support and rights of inheritance from the adopting parents. The adopting parents acquire rights to guardianship and custody of the child. Normally the child takes the adopters' surname. The birth parents cease to have any legal obligations towards the child and lose their rights to custody and guardianship. Inheritance rights between the child and birth rights also disappear (Australian Senate's report on the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices (Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, 2012; "the Senate Inquiry", p 5-6, para. 2.1).

 

Family Therapy or Counselling:

Michelle Barratt is a Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist providing therapy or family counselling to adopted children for low self-esteem, social skills, mental health issues, negative behaviour and parenting skills or any other issues your child or adolescent might be experiencing. Please feel free to contact Michelle to make an appointment to work out whether your child or family might benefit from therapy.

 

 

Author: Michelle Barratt

           Clinical Psychologist