Adoption is not without controversy, as evidenced by many reports of microaggressions directed toward adoptive family members from those outside the adoption community. These may include intrusive and insensitive questions that doubt the authenticity of the family and negative stereotypes associated with adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, and the process of adoption. These sometimes harsh, biased, and hostile views often result in behaviors that stigmatize and have negative effects on both domestically and internationally adopted children and their families.
But a study published in the September 1, 2017 issue of The British Journal of Social Work found that even within the family unit, conflicts and complications unique to the adoptive status of some members often have negative effects on the relationships between everyone involved. One very important family relationship that can be altered by adoption in both positive and negative ways is the sibling relationship. These researchers looked at the unique and various ways sibling relationships require support in an adoptive family and brought out the following points:
The goal of good mental health care for adoptive families, both pre- and post-adoption, is always to provide the families with support and help the children thrive. But questions need to be answered before solutions, both preventative and remedial, can be found. For instance, what is typical sibling behavior and what is behavior that is a direct result of the adoptive family’s and adopted child’s circumstances? These researchers recommend that practitioners rely on systems theory, and a family systems framework, when attempting to understand sibling relationships within the adoptive family. They also suggest that some adopted children may require a long-term counseling relationship, even into early adulthood, in order to succeed within the context of an adoptive family.
Meakings S, Coffey A, Shelton KH. The influence of adoption on sibling relationships: Experience and support eeds of newly formed adoptive families. The British Journal of Social Work. September 2017;47(6):1781-1799.
Garber KJ, Grotevant, HD. “YOU Were Adopted?!”: Microaggressions Toward Adolescent Adopted Individuals in Same-Race Families. The Counseling Psychologist. April 2015;43(3):435-462.
Adopt Connect: Addressing the Stigma of Adoption