7 Core Issues of Adoption

By: Patience Bramlett


Your heart swells every time you look over and see that unabashed grin on your child’s face. It’s one given without fear, without thought. Not long ago, you could only dream of a moment like this. You used to lay in bed at night and wonder incessantly of the life you’d share with your future adopted child. Overnight, it seems, these dreams morphed into reality. Through adoption, you were finally able to grow your family and become an adoptive parent. So why are you suddenly worried about the adoption-related issues your child may face?

It’s going to be okay! Adoption Choices of Colorado knows that, while you’re joyous to be entering parenthood, you also fear for the future. The last thing you want is for your child’s smile to become hesitant. Filled with pain. This is normal! In order to help, we did our research and found these seven well known core issues of adoption. Awareness of these issues will allow you to better address the complex challenges and feelings your child may experience throughout various stages of development.

Adoption Issue #1: Loss

The truth at the core of adoption is that there is no adoption without loss. For instance, adoptees lose their birth families and possibly their cultural beliefs and surroundings. No matter the details of the adoption, loss is unavoidable. This is why it’s often at the heart of most adoptees’ emotional and psychological issues. A sense of loss can lead to a fear of abandonment and commitment hesitancy.

Adoption Issue #2: Rejection

Even though birth mothers create adoption plans out of love and with the child’s best interests in mind, it’s common for adoptees to feel rejected or abandoned. Adoptees can feel hurt by a perceived loss of inclusion. After all, people get their most basic needs met through human connectedness; so, feeling rejected or ostracized from a birth family can cause an adoptee to feel a deep sense of abandonment and isolation. Rejection can interfere with parent-child relationships, romantic relationships, and even friendships.

Adoption Issue #3: Shame and Guilt

Most adoptees who believe they were rejected or abandoned also experience shame. Some believe that their behavior was why their birth mother placed them for adoption. Others feel they did not have value or were not good enough or cute enough. Guilt and shame can contribute to low self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors, which can lead to a demand for self-perfection.

Adoption Issue #4: Grief

The profound losses that created feelings or fears of rejection, which led to the emotions of shame and guilt, must be grieved. Grief for adoptees is complex. They have experienced a profound loss that changed the trajectory of their life. In the rearranging of family trees through adoption, they are grieving as their understanding of what happened to them unfolds. While grief is universal, it’s experienced as a personal and highly individual process. Every adoptee grieves according to their own timeline and in their own way.

Adoption Issue #5: Identity

Adoptees wrestle with these fundamental human questions – Who Am I? Where Do I Belong? Who Are My People? – on a level most adoptive parents can’t comprehend. They often feel as if their identity is incomplete, being born into one family but becoming part of another. Adoptees are on a quest to understand who they are and where they fit. They want to share their stories with others to better understand themselves. Stories that are broken due to historical or personal events can make it difficult for people to understand and express who they are and solidify their life’s narrative. For some adoptees, the intensity and depth of these questions interferes with the development of a sense of self.

Adoption Issue #6: Intimacy

Intimacy requires an adoptee to know who they are, what they need in relationships, and believe that they have value.  Issues of adoption often interfere and cause relationship problems because an adoptee may feel less connected to their family. Loss, rejection, shame, grief, identity-questioning can accumulate and compound in the mind of an adoptee and can lead to difficulty developing intimate relationships. Intimate attachment in relationships requires trust, respect, acceptance, empathy and reciprocity.

Adoption Issue #7: Mastery and Control

Major, life-altering decisions are made for adoptees, often without their consent or awareness. Even when for the better, their worlds are turned upside down without warning. It’s no wonder that adoptees often have a need to control certain things. This can play out differently for different people and may be recognized in anxiety disorders, dysfunctional relationships, and eating disorders. It’s also a contributor to adoptees’ issues with perfectionism and attempted control.

Issues of Adoption

Adoption Choices of Colorado wants you to rest easy! While there are some adoptees who experience adoption-related issues, many do not. How and when they are affected by both the positive and challenging issues of adoption depends upon factors such as personality, temperament, and support systems.

Keep admiring the smile on your child’s face. Only this time, do it without fear of the future. Should he or she exhibit any struggles, you’re prepared! Knowing these seven core issues of adoption allows you to, not only be there for your child, but also help him or her along the way.

Adoption Choices of Colorado

Adoption Choices is a network of adoption agencies located in several states. In Colorado, we’re one of the best local adoption agencies you can turn to for help. If you’re looking for adoption agencies in Colorado, Adoption Choices of Colorado is a great option.

For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.



“7 Core Issues of Adoption.” AFFCNY, 2016, https://affcny.org/adoption/become-an-adoptive-parent/adoptionissuestoconsider/7-core-issues/.

“Lighthouse Thoughts.” Beacon House Adoption Services, https://www.beaconhouseadoption.com/2012/09/the-7-core-issues-of-adoption/.

Roszia, Sharon Kaplan, and Allison Davis Maxon. “Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency.” The North American Council on Adoptable Children, 2019, https://www.nacac.org/resource/seven-core-issues-in-adoption-and-permanency/.

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