Many of you have asked for me to talk about adoption and mental health. Instead of just spouting off different stats that tell you how likely you are to have certain mental illnesses, I instead want to offer up some ways to best manage your mental health if you have been adopted.
1. Explaining what adoption means and how the adoptions itself happened is so important so that your child knows it’s okay to talk about, and it helps them understand how much you went through to get them. This can help us feel wanted, searched for, and important.
2. Making sense of their story. Children learn through storytelling. If you have ever been away from a child when they went to an amusement park or to camp they come back wanting to tell you all about it. Yes, it may not be a cohesive story or make that much sense, but it’s their way of processing through their day. So having our adoption story to tell over and over can help us better make sense of where we came from.
3. Self-worth, shame & identity are things that those who have been adopted struggle with. This happens because as children we build our self-worth through knowing that someone cares when we cry. If someone doesn’t come we may question whether or not we are worth it and so working to build a healthy sense of self can help us heal from those past hurts.
4. Knowing that curiosity and possibly wanting to know your birth parents is completely okay and normal. This does not take away anything from your adoptive parents, it’s just a way for you to better understand who you are and where you come from.
5. Putting explicit language to your experience. When we are born only our sympathetic nervous system is fully developed enough to be regulated. What this means whenever we feel upset we have no way to actually soothe ourselves, and we need other people to do it for us. Therefore, expressing in real words how we have felt, what happened to us, and what we struggle with now can help start our own recovery process.
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I’m Kati Morton, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos – Depression, Eating Disorders, Anxiety, Self-Harm and more! Mental health shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it. You’re worth the fight!
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