Parenting an adopted child

Adoption is a common worldwide phenomenon. While the moment of adoption occurs at a specific time, the adjustment process of the family is more complex and continues over time.

Parents of adopted children are often required to deal with issues that biological parents do not. In some cases, there is no contact between the adopting and biological parents.

Therefore, many questions concerning these children’s lives remain a mystery to them.  Analysis of adopted children’s drawings, particularly during the first years after adoption, offers both the parents and the child an opportunity to gain insight into the child’s inner self.

Case Study: an adopted child

The adopted boy, who made these drawings, is 7 years-old. His parents had chosen not to tell him about his adoption. One day he accidentally heard about it from a classmate.

His drawings reflect the crisis he experienced as a result. One month before becoming aware of his adoption, his drawings had been well-developed and age-appropriate.

Afterwards, however, a regression is evident in his drawing on the left, which may be characterized as angry or even furious.

This regression illustrates his feeling, as if the world had stopped spinning and no longer has elements with distinct names and shapes. This is also evident in conduct problems in school.

Adopted Children

Adopted Children2

Parenting Adopted Children: Tips and Tools

  • Tell the child about the adoption from the very beginning, to make it a natural part of his life story.
  • Use the term “adopt” also in other context, as an integral part of your daily speech. Talk about other things you would like to adopt: “This is a good idea. I think I’ll adopt it…”
  • Use the term in a positive context: “Let’s adopt the habit of working out at least twice a week”.
  • Give the child answers in direct reference to her questions. There is no need to detail all your beliefs about adoption. Keep your answers brief and specific.
  • Don’t say: “I chose you because I looked for a good girl”. This kind of statement might be misunderstood and make her behave willfully.
  • Adopt a neutral approach towards the child’s biological parents. Even if frown upon the act of giving a child up for adoption, don’t criticize them, in order not to create a conflict of loyalties.

Parenting adopted children is more complex than parenting biological children, requiring the adoptive parents to cope with many challenges throughout the child’s life.

The adopted child doesn’t look like his adoptive parents and may have different personality traits. Adoptive parents may feel connected to the child’s soul, whereas friends, relatives or neighbors might occasionally drop remarks such as “she doesn’t look like you at all…”, and in general, behave differently with the child without even realizing it.

Analyzing children’s drawings can shed light on their mental status, character, and ability to come to terms with their family status. Using professional tools like drawing analysis helps to understand their needs and how they cope with emotional difficulties, as well as tailor unique solutions.

Want to know more?

Our learning center will familiarize you with important tools and topics for understanding children’s drawings.


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