It has been repeatedly emphasized, the importance of the criteria for the selection of adoptive parents and even more the need of their preparation and emotional support.

But what happens when the adoption takes place arbitrarily and without the mediation and support of a responsible group of experts?

Our announcement concerns the study of 10 cases of adopted children who came to the I.K.A. Child Mental Health Center, in the last three years (1985-1987) and for reasons seemingly unrelated to the matter of their adoption.
When studying our cases, we were surprised to find that out of 10, 8 were done through direct negotiations between the natural and adoptive parents. The remaining two cases concerned foster parents who, after years had passed, made an act of adoption.

The negotiations between the two parties are conducted in absolute secrecy, which covers the guilt and phobias of both natural and adoptive parents.

The case of the adoption of Christos is typical. His parents were a young unmarried couple. After negotiations, it was decided to confine the natural mother to the stepmother's house throughout the pregnancy, while she would officially be abroad. The adoptive parents would pay a significant financial sum to the naturals. During the pregnancy, there were many fights between the two mothers due to the fact that the natural one drank and smoked (but of course we could discuss a lot about what was playing in the subconscious of the two women....). The birth took place in a private provincial clinic and the stepmother's details were falsely declared.

Of course, the fact of concealment expresses a life attitude for which the main defensive psychological mechanism is denial. It also implies patterns of family relationships that are expressed with the saying that "it's better not to say some things because relationships are at risk" and of course such a pattern that was once expressed with the denial that "I did not give birth to this child but adopted him" can expressed also with his denial that "one day this child has the right to grow up and leave me". But with such a pattern of behavior, one lives superficially calmly, others around him may envy him, but he lives constantly in fear of revelation and thus his life is filled with anxiety. Paraskevi's stepmother also lives in this unbearable situation, who, talking about the fact of adoption to the Social Worker, said between sobs, "Alas, if anyone tells Paraskevi that she is adopted, I will kill him." Yes, be sure that I will kill him and keep that in mind too"...

But what might follow if the fact is ever revealed? Here we have the case of Aglaia, one of the most tragic cases.

Aglaia is adopted, but without a deed of adoption. Her adoptive parents took her at the age of 2 months and registered her in the Registry Office as their own child. Generally Aglaia was a timid, shy child and did not participate in group games.
When she was 12 years old she accidentally heard that she was adopted and asked for clarification. But the mother denied it.

At 18, she learned that her cousin was adopted and became distraught. He asked to be sure of his own origin. Mother now revealed to her what she should have done long ago. After the revelation Aglaia felt shocked and started cursing her mother. At that time, she was taking National Examinations and while she was a good student, she failed. At the same time, he began to present phobias and express delusional ideas of persecution for which he was hospitalized...
Another finding that concerned us is the ages of the adoptive parents. Of course, we all know that adoptive parents are usually older than the natural parents, since the fact of their inability to have children must first be certified.

But even here things are even more impressive. While the average age of mothers in Greece, as shown by the data of the National Statistical Service, is 25.2 and that of fathers 29.7, in our cases the ages were incomparably older. Thus, for mothers the average level was 43.5 and for fathers 50.2.

This fact of the old age of the adoptive parents may largely justify the impossibility of obtaining an adopted child through legal procedures, or it may mean some other mental potential of the couple. But the fact remains critical.

13-year-old Paraskevi has a 77-year-old father, 14-year-old Anna a 71-year-old father and 15-year-old Katerina a 79-year-old father.

Is all this irrelevant to our latest finding that 5 out of 10 children were referred to our Center for a conduct disorder?

Is it a coincidence that children of immigrants raised by their grandparents have been found to have similar behavioral problems?

Old age means physical health problems, it means a decrease in adaptability to new situations, it means some withdrawal from the social environment, it also means preparation for death.
How will all this be combined with a child who requires constant mobility and adaptability?

It is one thing to give affection as a grandfather and another to have sole responsibility for a child as a parent.

It would be unfair to attack Katerina's father (79 years old) who is worried about the schools being mixed... It would be unfair not to understand Paraskevi's father (77 years old) who suffers from rheumatism and is therefore constantly lying down. But we can't help but also understand Friday who doesn't tolerate it and constantly challenges and curses him.

And even the old age of the adoptive parents also means great expectations from their children. They rush to give them as much as they can and push them because they are afraid that someday, maybe soon, they won't be able to give them. But at the same time they expect a lot. "I'm giving you now as much as I can and I expect you to give me what I need." And this pressure will bring many reactions on the part of the child, which for the sensitized child psychiatrist, the manifestation of conduct disorder is very often a depressive equivalent.

I will end with two examples.

Aphrodite, 9 years old, who came for behavior disorders because while she is very good at school, she is nervous and aggressive at home, told the psychologist about a CAT image:
"Mama bunny was sitting on her bed sad because she was sick and her child was not taking care of her at all, because he was a bad child. So she decided to leave the rabbit hole and go live in the forest. Then the child, after the bunny left, was very sad and went to find her to bring her home to take care of her."

And Anna, 14 years old, came because, according to the adoptive parents, she is hostile and abrupt, gets annoyed by the slightest thing, is reactive and behaves badly in her social environment.
The problem of the TAT test showed for Anna that "You have been assigned a difficult task, you can't do it and you think about the consequences if you don't do it.
With this project you want to thank your parents who make sacrifices for you.

But one parent is tyrannical and the other is sick and you try to help them. But there is no hope of a cure.

You feel like you are involved in a war and you can't stand it. You're in a dark place and you're trying to get out by thinking about the beauties of life."

In summary, we should emphasize that here lies the requirement for systematic work by specialists before and after adoption: To work so that the "war" is solved without there being a loser, but only people who will live "the beauties of life ».

Dimitris Karagiannis
International Adoption Conference, Athens 1987