How to Help Your Adopted Child Overcome Feelings of Rejection

Adopted children sometimes feel guilty, betrayed, or angry when transitioning to their new family. The loss of their loved ones and the effects of early childhood trauma can interfere with their ability to accept the change. According to the Children’s Bureau Express (CBX), rejection is often caused by “children believing the crisis was their fault; and feeling judged, unwanted, different, less than, or not good enough.” Feelings of abandonment and rejection can cause mental health issues for some adopted children. Havenwood Academy uses evidence-based treatment programs to help adopted teens heal from trauma related to their adoption and more.

The Impact of Emotional and Physical Rejection

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), physical abandonment, and emotional rejection can cause some adopted children to develop the following issues: 

  • Anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression and other mood disorders
  • Attachment disorders, including reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
  • Behavioral problems 

Not all adopted children have a history of neglect or abuse. Still, they may feel like they’ve been rejected even when they are removed from a home simply due to caregiver illness, injury, or disability. Adoptive parents can help their children process these feelings by ensuring they have access to high-quality mental health services.

Adopted Children Have an Increased Risk of Mental Health Issues

Environmental factors play a significant role in a child’s mental health. Various circumstances surrounding adoption may cause some children to struggle with attachment issues and feelings of rejection. Early mental health intervention, diagnosis, and treatment can give adopted teens the tools they need to heal and avoid developing behavioral or emotional issues. 

Some factors that negatively impact a child’s ability to cope with trauma, loss, or rejection include: 

  • Difficulty identifying or processing emotions 
  • Under-developed coping skills 
  • Lack of emotional support
  • Emotional or physical neglect 
  • Family history of substance use or mental health disorders 

Adopted teens exposed to parental abuse or neglect may have difficulty regulating emotional responses. In addition, a child’s developing brain can physically change in response to ACEs and trauma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Some children experience adversity that is so severe and persistent that it produces toxic levels of stress that harm the brain’s developing architecture.” 

Changes in the brain can impact how a child interprets social interactions and processes traumatic events, like perceived parental rejection. Feelings of abandonment can affect a child’s self-worth, self-confidence, and how they feel about the people around them. 

Mental Health Treatment for Issues Related to Rejection 

In The Body Keeps the Score, author Bessel A. Van der Kolk says that developmental trauma can cause “extreme and persistent distrust,” and “defiance or lack of reciprocal behavior in close relationships with adults or peers.” Neglect and other forms of early childhood trauma may cause some teens to distrust others in an attempt to avoid future rejection.

Adopted children can benefit from professional mental health services that address the emotional pain and distress caused by feelings of rejection. Havenwood Academy encourages adoptive parents to consider our excellent residential treatment program for teens struggling with issues like: 

  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and personality disorders
  • Depression and other mood disorders  
  • PTSD and anxiety disorders 
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and rejection-sensitive dysphoria (RSD) 

Children with access to evidence-based treatments have a decreased risk of long-term mental health issues associated with rejection. 

Treating the Underlying Trauma 

Children who struggle with feeling rejected often harbor untreated trauma that affects their ability to process major life changes like adoption. Havenwood Academy uses evidence-based methods, including neurofeedback and traditional talk therapy, to help children learn essential coping skills. Most teenagers who have an opportunity to process trauma and ACEs have fewer behavioral issues. 

Some common treatments for mental health disorders related to abandonment and rejection include: 

  • Psychotherapy
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) 
  • Brain spotting 
  • Experiential therapies 

We collaborate with teens and their families to create personalized treatment plans and ensure the best possible outcome. 

Parents Can Help Adopted Teens Overcome Rejection 

Rejection is a part of life. However, in many cases, it can cause adopted children to internalize negative beliefs and blame themselves for situations entirely outside their control. Parents can help their adopted child overcome these issues by providing consistent and unconditional love. They can model healthy coping mechanisms and help their child cope with feelings of rejection by doing the following: 

  • Actively listening and addressing their concerns using empathy and compassion
  • Reassuring them that any traumatic circumstances surrounding their adoption were not their fault 
  • Modeling healthy conflict resolution and social interactions

Children have an incredible capacity to overcome adversity and heal. Adopted teens often naturally adapt to new family dynamics as they develop and grow. However, parents can further empower their children by ensuring they have access to mental health treatment.

Havenwood Academy offers personalized residential treatment for adopted teen girls struggling to overcome feelings of rejection and related mental health issues. We also educate families and provide information on how they can best support their child during treatment and recovery.  

Some adopted teens have difficulty coping with the adoption process. In some cases, they may feel abandoned by their loved ones. Rejection can impact a child’s social development and how they process social interactions. Parents can help their children overcome feelings of rejection by providing them with love, support, and access to professional mental health services. In turn, therapists and other mental health professionals can teach children how to regulate emotions and cope with emotional distress. Havenwood Academy offers personalized residential treatment for teens with behavioral or mental health issues. We can give your daughter the tools she needs to process feelings of rejection and heal from past traumas. To learn more, call (435) 586-2500.

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