Why do some adoptions go wrong? Adopting a child from a foreign country is usually a positive experience, for both the child and the parents. “Over the last 20 years, foreign adoption has become more popular, and Americans now adopt about 20,000 children from Guatemala, China, Russia and other nations each year” (Wingert). The comparison in Figure 1 shows the number of children adopted by U.S. citizens in 1990 and 2001. It illustrates that the number of international adoptions increased dramatically during that period and also that the countries that the United States have been adopting from have changed drastically. Studies show that most of these kids do very well, but in a small but significant number of cases, things go very badly; the adopted children killing their adoptive parents, the parents killing their children. “Since the early 1990s, the deaths of 14 Russian children killed by their adoptive parents have been documented” (Wingert). Cases like these are extreme, but it shows that parents are being overwhelmed by the unexpected emotional and behavioral problems of their adopted child.
Figure 1 US State Department
Today, adoption is typically described as a lifelong process, or journey, complicating one’s ability to negotiate normal developmental tasks. For example, all adolescents must incorporate their family into their sense of identity; adoptees must integrate a cultural heritage from their adopted family as well as a genealogical and cultural heritage from a birth family, about which they probably have limited knowledge (Penny). There are convincing arguments linking adoption to increased risk of interpersonal problems. Issues concerning loss are inherently relational, meaning that the issues are there from birth, and are central to the adoption experience: adoptees have lost their birth parents, and more generally, a sense of being biologically tied to significant others; further there is a “status
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