Erikson believed that people develop in psychosocial stages. He emphasized developmental change throughout the human life span. In Erikson's theory, eight stages of development result as we go through the life span. Each stage consists of a crisis that must be faced.
According to Erikson, this crisis is not a catastrophe but a turning point. The more an individual resolves the crises successfully, the healthier development will be. The first stage of Erikson's psychosocial stage is trust vs. mistrust, which is experienced, in the first year of life. Infants learn to trust in order to satisfy their needs thus developing a feeling of self-worth.
When infants receive inconsistent care they may mistrust the people in their life. This is a very important stage to look at when looking at adoption and the foster care system. Children who are adopted in the first few weeks of life will probably not face may difficulties during this stage because their care will be consistent from the second or third week on. This is very different from children who are adopted later in this stage or who are in the foster care system during this stage. Some of these children will have inconsistent care thus mistrusting people in their live.
This mistrust will follow this child for a long time or possibly for the rest of their life. For example I was adopted at three years old and I remember my social worker coming by a year after I have been placed with my family to do the last home visit. As soon as I saw her I ran and hid in my closet because she had taken me away from so many places and my care was so inconsistent that I have formed a sense of mistrust of people. With the help of my family I have learned to trust and have successfully completed this stage. Autonomy vs. shame and doubt is Erikson's second stage of development occurs between the first and third years in life.
During this stage children learn to be independent by mastering tasks such as feeding a dressing themselves. If children do not develop autonomy during this stage they will doubt their ability and develop a sense of shame. I lived in one foster home from the time I was one and a half to the time my parents adopted me at age three. I believe that I developed during this stage just as well if not better than children who are biological or who are adopted very young. The reason that I believe this is because in my foster home their were many children which caused me to do things for my self. I learned to feed myself, dress myself and perform other tasks much earlier than societies norm.
Initiative vs. guilt is Erikson's third stage of development, which occurs between three to six years of age. This is an expansion on the autonomy developed in the second stage. During this stage children begin pretend play with peers and accept responsibilities such as chores. If this stage develops conflict between family members and this child is unable to balance their initiative with the demands of others guilt may begin to form.
I was placed in my adopted family at the beginning of this stage. I believe that I developed a little slower in this stage than children who were biological or who were adopted at a young age. I also believe that I developed slower than children who lived in a consistent foster home during this stage and were adopted later did. The reason that I believe this is because I felt very guilty during this stage. I felt that I had abandoned my foster family and the people that I lived with. My biological parents had visitation up until this stage and I thought that I did something wrong that made them not want to see me anymore.
I turned this sense of guilt in to a feeling of needing to please everyone. My parents said that I would do anything to help and would get very upset and ask them if they were going to give me away if I spilt something or forgot to put something away and had to be asked to do so. Industry vs. Inferiority is Erikson's fourth stage of development, which occurs between seven and eleven years of age. During this stage children master difficult skills such as math problems. Children who are able to excel at these tasks develop a sense of mastery and self-confidence. Children who so not feel this mastery will feel inferior and avoid new activities.
I developed about the same as children who were adopted earlier in life or biological children. I had adapted to my new family and was supported in my schoolwork and social life. During this time I still had a need to please everyone because of my feeling of guilt. If I would get a C on a test or paper I wouldn't bring it home because I was afraid that my parents would send me back. Identity vs. Role Confusion is Erikson's fifth stage of development, which occurs between twelve and eighteen years of age. This is the stage when we refer to a child nor longer as a child but as an adolescent.
During this stage adolescents build on their experiences earlier in their life to develop a sense of identity, focusing mainly on their identity with their peers. Adolescents may try many different identities during this time until they find one that describes them. Failure to do so may cause an adolescent to be confused about who they are their choice in occupations and their upcoming role as an adult. During this stage my feelings on adoption really changed. I became proud of being adopted and wanted everyone to know. If made me unique from the rest of my friends.
I still wanted to please my parents but wouldn't do anything like I did when I was little. I really saw myself as being a part of my family and developed just like a biological child, in my eyes. Intimacy vs. Isolation is Erikson's sixth stage of development, which occurs during young adulthood. During this stage young adults attempt to form strong friendships and achieve love and companionship with another person. Young adults who do not develop strong identities during adolescents may have difficulty during this stage forming intimate relationships thus experiencing isolation and loneliness.
This is the stage that I am going through now and I believe that I am on track. I have friends and a boyfriend. My relationships are healthy, I know what I want to be and get out of life. Generativity vs. stagnation is Erikson's seventh stage of development, which occurs in adulthood. Generativity includes responsibilities such as raising children and being productive in a job.
Adults who do not perform these tasks become stagnant. Integrity vs. despair is Erikson's eighth and final stage in development, which occurs in Old Age. Older adults look back on their lives and evaluate the outcomes. Those who view their life as productive and satisfying feel a sense of integrity. Those who do not see their life as productive will feel disappointed causing despair.
I believe that an adopted child has more hurdles in developing than a biological child. I also believe that a child who is adopted later in life will have more issues than those are adopted earlier in life will have. I also believe that if the foster parents and adopted parents are have good intentions and work together the child will be able to complete each stage successfully.