Permanency in adoption is the act of finding a family for a child/youth who cannot remain in their birth family. As placement is found and a family formed, it is often assumed that successful adoptions will not likely experience mental health issues. Yet everyone on an adoption/permanency journey has experienced a loss prior to connecting. Any connections that begin with loss will impact those on an adoption journey’s mental health, and that needs to be recognized.
The experience of loss will emerge in various aspects of individuals’ lives, relationships and within the family’s life journey. It is important to acknowledge that these experiences and challenges are normal. Building relationships on a foundation of loss is different and involves stresses and challenges that include how connections are formed, how identity is built, and how trust is established. It is important that everyone on adoption journeys are given this information and understand this reality. Without knowing the realities, children/youth who are adopted and their adoptive and birth families often have expectations that they will experience family life and relationships in the same way that families formed biologically will. These expectations create further stress and sometimes a sense of guilt or failure.
The isolation and fears connected with the pandemic have intensified these mental health realities in the past few years. The ACO is committed to supporting children/youth and families on adoption/permanency journeys. We know their experiences are normal and that adoption/permanency is heart work that needs specialized supports and services.