Psychologist: Obsessing About Birthmother

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Seven year old adopted granddaughter is obsessing about her birth mother, and can't seem to get peace about being adopted. How can we help her accept that she can't see her birthmother until she is 18 years old?

Many adoptees yearn to know more about their biological parents. This is particularly true during the later years of childhood and during adolescence when identity issues are normally being addressed. Not knowing when this 7 year-old adopted granddaughter became a member of her family is an important variable. For example, was she adopted at birth and now, at age 7, she is consumed with this issue? The fact that she is "obsessing" suggests that she, as well as her adoptive caregivers, may need some professional assistance in addressing this problem. I often recommend mental health support when problems interfere with our ability to function. For now, I would focus on the positive aspects of her life, in the here and now at a cognitive, or thinking, level. Provide information that is developmentally appropriate and don't reinforce her obsessive thinking with frequent discussions. By ensuring that her emotional, social and behavioral needs are being met, she may be less consumed with who her birth mother is.

by Mark Lerner, Ph.D.

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