An adopted child is likely to be raised properly if realistic motives have encouraged adoptive parents to adopt someone else’s child. The desire to have a child, even though they cannot give birth of their own, is likely to lead them to a healthy emotional attitude towards the adopted child. But adoption is sometimes the reason for unhealthy motivation. There are people who adopt a child for some neurotic cause, because of dissatisfaction in marriage, because of disappointment in life; in short, to solve their neurotic problems. Then their adopted child serves as a means to achieve some completely selfish goal. In this case, there is a danger that the adoptive parents will treat the child in a completely wrong way. They most often pamper it, seeking in the sentimental behavior towards it a certain satisfaction for their unsatisfied emotionality.
Excessive pampering and indulgence towards the adopted child are what married couples are prone to, who desperately wanted their own child but remained infertile. After many years of waiting in vain for a child, they decided to adopt someone else’s child. Then they bring into their emotional attitude towards it all their sorrow that they do not have their own child, turning it into a painful sentimentality towards that substitute for a real descendant.
It will be easier for adoptive parents to raise someone else’s child properly when they are younger. Most adopted children lived in an orphanage before adoption. There their psychic development stunted. If a child has spent a long time in an institution, it will come to adoptive parents with a whole range of psychological impairments. Then the adoptive parents will face a very difficult task: now they need to re-educate an already wrongly raised child. And re-educating a little neurotic child or a psychopath is much harder than re-educating a still undamaged young person. Parents must show special parenting skills, great patience and extreme adaptability, and these are qualities that cannot be demanded of average people. This is why many adopters lose patience when a child proves defiant or listless, lazy, stubborn, and inflexible. Then they become too strict with it, start abusing and humiliating it, and thus make the educational situation even more difficult. Therefore, the child should be adopted as early as possible, preferably in the first year of its life. Adoptive parents are then given the opportunity to influence the shaping of the young person in a positive way from the beginning.
Particularly at risk is a child adopted by very ambitious parents, expecting it to show great success in life, and it disappoints them in this because it has limited intellectual abilities. In such a situation, it is likely that the disappointed parents will treat the child in a very negative way, pouring all their resentment on it due to unsatisfied ambitions. Thus, a whole series of emotional difficulties will be grafted onto its already inferior intelligence, which will lead its mental development to neuroticism.
A particular problem with adoption occurs when a child grows up, so the question arises as to whether it should be told that it has been adopted. Most adoptive parents who have adopted a child in their earliest childhood deny his or her background by presenting themselves to be his or her parents. They are constantly postponing the moment when they will tell the child the truth. But the older it gets, the harder it becomes for them to reveal to it the secret of its origins. Then it regularly happens that someone else beats them to it. It is impossible to hide from the environment that the child has been adopted. That is why there will always be someone among the adoptive parents’ acquaintances who will “warn the child” that it has been adopted.
If it is an older child or young man, or a young woman in puberty, the knowledge that it has been adopted will shake it deeply. The emotional shock they experience often disrupts their behavior, especially in relation to adoptive parents. The negative reaction to such knowledge will be the stronger the less intimate the emotional relationship between the child and the adoptive parents. We had the opportunity to see a few boys and girls who became particularly disobedient and insolent towards adoptive parents or withdrew into themselves, stopped learning and fell into severe depression when they learned that these were not their real parents. A 14-year-old boy even attempted suicide when some neighbors told him he was adopted. Many children in such a situation begin to fantasize about their origins, get carried away by some fantastic ideas about their parents, imagine them as ideal, and begin to see themselves as victims of unfortunate fate, as unjustly punished wretches, and feel sorry for themselves. Such an attitude towards oneself leads them to neurotic behavior, to passivity or revenge and malice towards other people, to envy and jealousy of everyone and everything.
When a boy found out he was adopted, he became very aggressive towards his schoolmates. At home, he kept asking questions about his parents. Since the adoptive parents did not know how to give him more detailed information, he began to fantasize about them, imagining them alive and with much more positive personalities than the adoptive parents. So, one day he ran away from home with the motivation to go in search of real parents who would surely embrace him with sincere love.
A warm emotional relationship between the child and the adoptive parent can greatly alleviate such emotional reactions of the child to the knowledge that he or she has been adopted. Since the true origin of a child cannot be permanently denied, even when the information about the adoption is not entered in any document, it is necessary to tell it that it has been adopted. This should be done as soon as possible. A younger child tolerates such knowledge more easily than an older one. Already at a younger preschool age, i.e. in the fourth or fifth year, the child should be told the truth about its origin. If it has so far built a positive emotional relationship with the adoptive parents, it will not resent them for not being its real parents, but will continue to call them mother and father. This phenomenon proves how important it is for a child, especially a younger one, to have parents in a psychological sense, and that their physical parenting is not that important to it. It is natural for a child to call its mother or father a person who treats it in a parental way, regardless of whether they really brought it into the world.