The Advantages & Disadvantages of Adoption

By Erica Loop ; Updated April 18, 2017
Adoption creates a safe haven for kids who might not otherwise have one.
Adoption creates a safe haven for kids who might not otherwise have one.

Adoption offers you the chance to start a family without having to conceive. If you’re struggling with infertility, can’t have children of your own or don’t want to, adoption is one way to complete your family and give a child who is in need a home. That said, adoption isn’t always easy. It’s possible for families and the children to suffer negative effects. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of adoption helps you to make informed decisions on the road to creating a family.

A Positive Start

For the parents, finalizing an adoption often means the end of a long, emotion-filled process. Even though the journey of parenting is just beginning, knowing that you have a child who is legally yours means the ups and downs of the adoption process itself are behind you.

Post-adoption Stress and Depression

While the security and stability that being legally united as a family brings is positive for parents, this time is also a transitional time. You’re settling into life as a parent. Likewise, the child is adjusting to you and your family. However, the post-adoption period can feel stressful or even bring on depression in parents, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Post-adoption stress syndrome is a reality for many adoptive parents. This results from the overwhelming feeling of responsibility and a letdown in excitement once the normal tedium of daily life begins and troubles dealing with the child’s needs or behaviors occur. The symptoms of depression often go away on their own as the adjustment to parenting is made. In more serious cases, professional help from a therapist is needed.

Love and Parental Identity

The adoption is final, your new baby or child is living with you and you’re officially a parent. While you might feel the pride and joy of becoming a parent, your identity is shifting rapidly. If you don’t feel an immediate sense of love for your new child or you’re struggling to adapt to your new identity, you may find this part of adoption a challenge. While this is a negative effect of the adoption process, it is typically temporary.

Keep in mind, love doesn’t always happen overnight. Just like you may not have fallen for your spouse or partner right away, building a strong bond with your child may take time. The more time that you spend together as a family, the more you’ll feel like a parent – emotions and all.

Children and Birth Parents

Finding a forever home is something that many adopted children dream of. Even so, having birth and adoptive parents may confuse the child and result in negative feelings. As the child ages he may wonder who his birth parents are and have strong feelings about being given up. While this isn’t as much of an issue in an open adoption – where the child may know and have contact with the birth parents – it is a challenge for kids in closed processes.

The child may distort the image of his birth parents and feel a range of emotions from empathy to anger, notes child development social workers Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor in the journal Adoption. These feelings may increase as the child moves into the teen years and begins to question his own identity.

A Full Family Life

Even though you may feel unsure of yourself as a parent and your child may eventually question where she came from or why she was adopted, adoption as a whole positively affects families in a way that defies words. The close bond that forms between families and the safety that children feel growing up with parents who went to great lengths to have them can bring joy to everyone who is involved. With sensitive support from the parents, adopted children can grow up with positive attachments in much the same way that children by birth do. Children who would otherwise grow up in unhealthy, abusive, neglectful or economically poor conditions are given opportunities through adoption that they might not have ever had otherwise.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.