The Impact of Closed Adoptions on Children in 1960s New Zealand

1. Lack of Identity and Belonging

Closed adoptions often result in children experiencing confusion and a sense of emptiness due to not knowing their biological roots. Without a clear understanding of their background, these children may struggle with developing a sense of identity and belonging. This lack of connection to their biological origins can lead to feelings of isolation and alienation.

Additionally, the uncertainty surrounding their heritage can have a significant impact on their self-esteem and mental health. Children may grapple with questions about their identity, such as “Who am I?” and “Where do I come from?” This internal conflict can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, and a general feeling of not fitting in.

Without a strong sense of identity and belonging, children raised in closed adoptions may struggle to form meaningful relationships and navigate social situations effectively. They may feel like they don’t truly belong anywhere, leading to a persistent feeling of being adrift in the world.

In conclusion, the lack of identity and belonging resulting from closed adoptions can have long-lasting and profound effects on children’s emotional well-being. It is crucial for adoptive parents and professionals to recognize and address these challenges to support the healthy development of children impacted by closed adoptions.

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2. Shame and Guilt

The secrecy surrounding closed adoptions often led to overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt among all parties involved. Birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees alike were burdened with these emotions, as the lack of transparency and communication perpetuated a sense of secrecy and shame.

For birth parents, the decision to place a child for adoption was often shrouded in shame. Society’s judgmental attitudes towards unwed mothers or those facing financial difficulties meant that many birth parents felt immense guilt for not being able to provide for their child. The secrecy of closed adoptions only intensified these feelings, as they were unable to openly discuss their decision or seek support from others.

On the other hand, adoptive parents also grappled with feelings of shame and guilt. The need to keep the adoption a secret from the child, family, and friends often made them feel like they were hiding something shameful. This secrecy could strain the relationship between the adoptive parents, the adoptee, and the extended family, creating a sense of disconnection and emotional distance.

Similarly, adoptees faced their own struggles with shame and guilt. The lack of information about their biological family and the circumstances surrounding their adoption could leave them feeling like they didn’t belong or that they were somehow at fault for their situation. This internalized shame often manifested in strained relationships and a sense of inadequacy.

In conclusion, the veil of secrecy surrounding closed adoptions perpetuated feelings of shame and guilt among all parties involved, ultimately leading to strained relationships and emotional turmoil.

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3. Lack of Emotional Support

The closed adoption system failed to prioritize the emotional needs of children, resulting in profound feelings of abandonment and loss. In this system, the focus was primarily on the legal process of placing the child with adoptive parents, with little consideration given to the emotional well-being of the child. As a result, many adopted children grew up feeling a deep sense of loss and longing for their biological roots.

Throughout the closed adoption process, children were often left with unanswered questions about their origins and identity. This lack of emotional support could have long-lasting effects on their self-esteem and mental health. Without the opportunity to explore their background and understand their genetic heritage, many adopted children struggled with feelings of rejection and isolation.

Furthermore, the absence of emotional support in closed adoptions could lead to difficulties in forming healthy relationships later in life. Adopted individuals may have trouble trusting others or expressing their emotions due to the unresolved issues stemming from their adoption experience. The emotional scars left by the closed adoption system can hinder personal growth and development, impacting all aspects of their lives.

It is essential for adoption systems to prioritize the emotional well-being of children and provide them with the support and resources needed to navigate the complexities of adoption. By addressing the emotional needs of adopted children, we can help them heal from the wounds of the past and move forward with a sense of identity and belonging.

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