3 Hidden Fears of Adoptees

When my wife and I adopted our first child, we were aware, at least intellectually, that adoption was as much about loss as it was about being found. — Lawrence Rubin Ph.D, ABPP, LMHC, RPT-S

children anxiety

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Living inside the foster care system is a lonely and complicated life. So, when a child gets adopted by an altruistic family, everyone expects a happy ending for the adoptee.


What everyone doesn’t realize is that adoption doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘happy ending’ for the adoptee. They may still carry the same fears that were developed during their stay in the foster care system.


Fear of Separation

anxiety on children

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The moment a foster child has been removed from their biological parent’s company, the fear of separation has started their spur and grows. Studies have shown that separating a newborn from their mothers can have traumatic effects on both the mother and the child.


For example, placing the newborn in the nursery for nine months before returning the child to the mother can result in a lack of confidence and anxiety in the child. So, what more if the child is separated from the mother indefinitely?


Fear of separation is a rational fear that has started to develop from the moment the child has been placed in the foster care. It may also have developed through pregnancy with the influence of the mother’s feelings of unhappiness and not wanting the child.

Many of my clients often end up being adopted or placed in a therapeutic foster home with caregivers who have experience with psychiatric conditions. But some of these same families end up reporting that they are unable to further care for the child with severe mental or behavioral health challenges and “re-home” or place the child back into the foster care system. —

Fear of Abandonment

anxiety for children

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Along with the fear of separation, the fear of abandonment is developed in the early years of the child’s stay in the foster care system.


Leslie Johnson shared her feelings of being adopted in an article at the Huffington Post. She stated that her younger self has always believed that she might be abandoned, which caused her to develop separation anxiety.


The fear of abandonment is a fear rooted from the fear of separation and the traumatic experience of being left by their biological parents in the foster care system. Adoptees, especially children, will question why they were left alone by their biological parents and if it can happen again.


Sadly, this question is answered by adoptees through searching for faults in themselves and believing that they can be abandoned again.

Fear of Rejection

anxieties of children

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At some point in an adoptee’s life, they will begin to question what their biological parents look like, where they are, or how their life is. This curiosity will motivate adoptees to look for their biological parents, which then creates another fear: rejection.


The search for their biological parents may scare the adoptee as they believe it might hurt their foster parents. They are afraid that their parents will think that the reason why their child is searching for their biological parents is that they are unsatisfied of the love and care of their foster parents.

You can help your children to understand where they came from and be available to help them to frame and process the information in the most positive manner. — Jennifer Bliss Psy.D., LCSW

Adoptees may also feel scared of meeting their biological parents. If they feel like their biological parents may show an ounce of dislike for them, they might cancel the search immediately.


Finding the biological parents is a milestone of achievement for the adoptee as it would help them to search and to develop their true identity. Regardless, it is a journey that is filled with anxiety and a lot of uncertainty.

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