The Special Needs of Adopted Kids

Dear friends,

This is an except from 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew  20thingskidswish that I thought you might enjoy, especially this summer, since the kids are home and you can “study” lovingly their special needs and your responses.

Learning these special needs, or as I call them, vulnerabilities, will increase your compassion and awareness for your beloved child. This list applies to adoptees of all ages!

The following is a list, drawn from my own experience, research, and stories from adult adoptees as they’ve reflected on what it was like for them to grow up adopted.

Fellow adoptee friends are the best!

The Special Needs of Adopted Children     

            Please keep in mind as you read my list that it is merely a springboard for you to begin making your own, for each adoptee is unique.  Study your child, enter into play with her, observe her interacting with others. All these activities will enable you to compile a list of your particular child’s special needs.

Emotional Needs:

  • I need help in recognizing my adoption loss and grieving it.
  • I need to be assured that my birth parents’ decision not to parent me had nothing to do with anything defective in me.
  • I need help in learning to deal with my fears of rejection–to learn that absence doesn’t mean abandonment, nor a closed door that I have done something wrong.
  • I need permission to express all my adoption feelings and fantasies.

Educational Needs:

  • I need to be taught that adoption is both wonderful and painful, presenting lifelong challenges for everyone involved.
  • I need to know my adoption story first, then my birth story and birth family.
  • I need to be taught healthy ways for getting my special needs met.
  • I need to be prepared for hurtful things others may say about adoption and about me as an adoptee


Validation Needs:

  • I need validation of my dual-heritage (biological and adoptive).
  • I need to be assured often that I am welcome and worthy.
  • I need to be reminded often by my adoptive parents that they delight in my biological differences and appreciate my birth family’s unique contribution to our family through me.

Parental Needs:

  • I need parents who are skillful at meeting their own emotional needs so that I can grow up with healthy role models and be free to focus on my development, rather than taking care of them.
  • I need parents who are willing to put aside pre-conceived notions about adoption and be educated about the realities of adoption and the special needs adoptive families face.
  • I need to hear my parents openly express feelings about infertility and adoption, thus producing a bond of intimacy between us.
  • I need my adoptive and birth parents to have a non-competitive attitude. Without this, I will struggle with loyalty issues.
  • Relational Needs:
  • I need friendships with other adoptees.
  • I need to taught that there is a time to consider searching for my birth family, and a time to give up searching.
  • I need to be reminded that if I am rejected by my birth family, the rejection is symptomatic of their dysfunction, not mine.

Spiritual Needs:


  • I need to be taught that my life narrative began before I was born and that my life is not a mistake.
  • I need to be taught in this broken, hurting world, loving families are formed through adoption as well as birth.
  • I need to be taught that I have intrinsic, immutable value as a human being.
  • I need to accept the fact that some of my adoption questions will never be answered in this life.

Your greatest challenge as a parent is to first identify the special need that has arisen and then to help your child verbalize it. This gives him some sense of mastery and control over something that feels out of his control. Helping your child heal is largely centered on honest, productive dialogue between you and your child.

Once you as a parent gain such a depth of understanding of your child’s special needs, you will be able to give him the support he needs not only now but throughout all of life. His special needs, in turn, will become deep wells of personal strength and empathy within him as he grows older.

For many, the summer is almost over! Schools start so early these days.

Love to all!

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2 comments to The Special Needs of Many Adopted Kids, Teens, and Adults

  • I want Ms Dell Dunn to adopte because of my parents are not living anymore because of AvErY JaRreLl and AlLly black had murdered my mother and father and brothers and sister I want to say that I would like Ms Dell Dunn to adopt me please my name is Sarah Michelle banks and I’m 34 years old and I’m developmentally disabled and I’m needing a new family and my birthday is 11/16/82

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