Do children who are adopted have developmental delays and behavior problems?
Children who are adopted tend to have several risk factors that could affect their development and behavior. In many cases, children are adopted from the child welfare system or from group living arrangements (i.e., orphanages). Children
who are adopted from the child welfare system typically have experienced
some form of abuse/neglect/trauma, substance exposure at birth, parental mental
health issues, exposure to violence, loss, etc. Their early environments were not ideal or conducive to supporting development, as their caregivers were likely not emotionally or physically available to interact with them in healthy and engaging ways. Without those positive interactions, children can struggle with language, gross and fine motor development, emotional regulation, impulse control and other behavior problems. Children adopted from other group living situations may have experienced some of the
same issues. Even if there was no abuse/neglect or other known parental problems,
children raised in a group environment do not usually have the experience of a primary caregiver, which is crucial for development. Some group living environments
try to assign primary staff to children but the environment is not the same as a family setting.
Adopted children do have the potential to work through past experiences, catch up developmentally, control their behaviors, and have good relationships. It takes a
positive, supportive, warm, nurturing, structured environment with an attuned, patient, loving caregiver to help mitigate some of those earlier losses, abusive/neglectful, traumatic
risk factors and, thus, enhance children's development and improve their behaviors.