Question: Dr. Dobson, are adopted children more likely to be rebellious than children raised by biological parents? If so, are there any steps I can take to prevent or ease the conflict? My husband and I are thinking about adopting a toddler, and this question has me worried.
Answer: Every child is different, and adopted kids are no exception. They come in all sorts of packages. Some boys and girls who were abused or unloved prior to being adopted will react to those painful experiences in some way—usually negatively. Others, even those who were not mistreated, will struggle with identity problems and wonder why their "real" mothers and fathers didn't want them. They may be driven to find their biological parents during or after adolescence to learn more about their heritage and family of origin.
I must emphasize, however, that many adopted kids do not go through any of these personal crises. They take root where they are replanted and never give a thought to the questions that trouble some of their adopted peers. As with so many other behavioral issues, the critical factors are the particular temperament of the child and how he or she is handled by the parents.
I hope you won't be reluctant to adopt that child because some special problems might—but probably won't—develop. Every child has his or her own particular challenges. Every child can be difficult to raise. Every child requires all the creative energy and talent a parent can muster. But every child is also worth the effort, and there is no higher calling than to do that job excellently.
Let me add one more thought. I knew a man and woman who had waited for years to adopt a baby. When a female infant was finally made available to them, they were anxious to know if she was healthy and of good heritage. They asked if her biological parents had used drugs, how tall they were, whether or not they had attended college, etc. Then, the father told me later, he realized what he and his wife were doing. They were approaching the adoption of this baby much like they would if they were buying a used car.
They were "kicking tires" and "testing the engine." But then they thought, "What in the world are we doing? This little girl is a human being with an eternal soul. We have been given the opportunity to mold and shape her as a child of God, and here we are demanding that she be a high-quality product." They repented of their inappropriate attitudes and embraced that child in love. Adopted children, like all children, are a blessing from God, and we are privileged indeed to be granted the honor of raising one of His precious kids.
From Dr. Dobson's book Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide.