Adoption & Adopted Children
Solve Family Problems © Martyn Carruthers

Adopting a child can be wonderful and adopting a child can create huge problems.
Contact us to solve relationship and emotional challenges.

Were you adopted?

Coping with Adoption

Many couples who wish to experience or extend parenthood want to adopt a child. Perhaps one partner is infertile. Or maybe they were always too busy … until they were too late. Or maybe they kept having miscarriages. Adopting children can be joyous and exciting – it can also be frustrating and uncertain. Many potential adoptive parents seeking joy find confusion and disappointments.

Some people who want to adopt children may be searching for themselves. An adult with a rejected inner child (a split-off part resulting from trauma) may feel strongly motivated to adopt an abandoned child. We suggest that potential adoptive parents clarify their emotions before adopting a child.

I wanted to adopt a child. I am 45, and I had a HUGE urge to find and help a child who was abused or abandoned. When you helped me explore my feelings, I discovered that I was searching for an abused and abandoned child-part of myself! Croatia

Adopting children creates special problems for both children and their adoptive families. Common problems include unmet expectations and poor adjustment. A key issue is how well the adoptive parents can solve the problems presented by adopted children.

Adopted children need endless support to adjust to their new family, school and community. They may have more mental health problems than other children. Failure to support adopted children can disrupt adoptive families and return the adopted children to state care with more emotional burdens than before.

Adopted children may have pervasive health and emotional problems, attachment disorders, nightmares, adjustment disorders and learning disabilities. Adopted children may have histories of multiple foster placements, abuse and neglect, rejection and abandonment as well as disjointed education. Adopted teenagers with poor social skills and delayed emotional development can be especially problematic, often showing signs of passive aggression … or plain aggression.

Systemic Family Counseling

Adopted children may not discuss their biological parents, yet reflect them as beliefs and bonds. Adopting a child can be a blessing – and can result in chaos for the adoptive family. A key is that potential adoptive parents enjoy a stable and happy partnership first … adopted children will test all your theories.

We help adoptive parents evaluate their partnership and manage identity issues:

  • If a parent acts guilty, children may try to express the parent’s guilt
  • If a parent acts like a failure, children may respond with chronic fear
  • If a parent acts resourceless, children may try to grow up too quickly
  • If a parent acts like a victim, children may respond with chronic anger
  • If a parent is dead or absent, children may respond with chronic sadness
  • If a parent blames them unjustly, children may act out to reveal what is true
  • If a parent forces children to take sides in parental conflicts, children will suffer

Suggestions for Adoptive Parents

Talk about adoption early and often. Pace the child’s developing emotions with a gradual introduction. Perhaps mention adoption around age 3, and discuss it throughout your child’s childhood. Do you want Parent Coaching?

1. Respect the Genetic Parents

Following adoption, some adoptive parents pretend to be the biological parents. Some criticize the biological parents. We suggest that you talk to your children about their genetic parents with respect … even if – or especially if – one or both genetic parents are missing, alcoholic, dead, in prison, or avoid meeting their children.

2. Love the Children

Adopted children are often super-sensitive to the emotions, moods and conflicts of the adoptive parents. Take time to express love to adopted children, regardless of whether they are well behaved, polite, have tidy bedrooms or eat their broccoli. (Most children spell LOVE as T-I-M-E)!

3. Children need Mature Parents

Many adopted children try to take sides between real and substitute parents. Repeatedly reassure children that they do not have to choose any parent as being better in any way than any other parent. Reassure adopted children that the adoptive parents are substitutes for the biological parents.

4. Do not blame the Children

The genetic parents may have blamed their children for their own problems. The children may dream of reuniting their family. They may show learning disabilities or psychosomatic symptoms. Explain to the children that you are substitutes for their parents – and that they cannot bring Mom and Dad together.

5. Fight Fair – away from the Children

Adoption is an intense time for any family and often raises conflicts. Avoid arguing near adopted children – or any children. Organize times and places away from the children to resolve conflicts. If a talk becomes an argument, STOP, TAKE TIME and RESCHEDULE your discussion.

6. Minimize Change

Although adopting a child will create many changes for your family, continuity is important. Make the children’s environment as familiar as possible, including their favorite things, photographs, toys, blankets, etc. Offer children a home – not a building.

7. Encourage Meetings

Discuss how your children can have maximum benefit and happiness if or when they meet a genetic parent. Avoid asking children to deliver messages, to spy or to obtain information. Compliment the genetic parents as much as appropriately possible.

8. Get Adult Support

Adoption can be a difficult time for everybody. Adoptive parents need mature emotional support from family, friends, counselors, clergy, etc. Avoid asking children to support you. Support your children.

9. Talk about Feelings

During stressful times, children may misbehave. They may age-regress (act much younger) or they may try to grow up quickly and act in an overly mature fashion. Ask children how they feel, and what they think or imagine is going on. Help children express THEIR feelings … don’t complain about yours!

10. Make an Appointment … Take the initiative and contact us

Online Adoption Coaching

We coach adults who are considering adoption or who have adopted children. We help adoptive parents stay focused on their goals and move forward. We also help step-parents coach their adopted children and we help the biological parents of adopted children cope with their loss.

We often recommend that adopting parents take our couple counseling to manage outstanding emotional problems and sort out partnership issues – including conflicts and limiting beliefs – before adopting children. We help partners appreciate and support each other’s perspectives, motivations and goals.


I have been updating my skills to practice as a professional life coach and decided to attend Soulwork training. It turned out to be well worth the effort. The training Martyn Carruthers offers in clarifying and resolving even the most entangled and traumatic family situations is by far the most effective I have experienced.

He builds on the work of well-known figures such as Virginia Satir in a powerfully intuitive manner and his use of such tools as family mapping, family rules, accessing the unconscious and psychodrama would be particularly appropriate and effective in the area of post adoption work.

In situations where children are behaving according to dysfunctional birth-family rules they learnt for survival, there will be a clash if this behaviour is misinterpreted in the adoptive family. Martyn Carruthers’ systemic coaching brings clarity, enabling individuals to become conscious of their emotional and mental habits and inappropriate coping mechanisms that affect their relationships. His work enables individuals to diffuse and resolve these patterns and make healthier choices.

These processes are demonstrated wherever possible rather than relying on an academic approach of only teaching theory. I find this particularly effective.

Pamela Vass MA (Devon, UK) Professional Coach OneonOnecoaching

Do you want to resolve difficult emotions and relationship blocks?