An Adoptee’s Perspective: Is Adoption Worth It?

When I started working in the adoption world a little over five years ago, I was an absolute proponent of adoption. I don’t think there would have been anything anyone could have said or done to make me believe that adoption wasn’t anything but wonderful. Working in the adoption world can be difficult at times, especially for an adoptee. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say something negative about adoption or attempt to discourage prospective parents from adopting, my kids’ college fund would be all set. The negative sentiments towards adoption can be difficult to hear sometimes, especially knowing that I wouldn’t be where I am today had my parents not chosen to adopt me. Working in the adoption world has brought a lot of my adoption issues to the surface, and has forced me to address many issues I had kept buried for most of my life. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work in this field and learn about the good and the bad sides of adoption. It has also helped validate and normalize many of the feelings and experiences I have had throughout my adoption journey.

I believe in adoption. I believe that every child deserves a loving forever family. But, I am also well aware that adoption is not easy or perfect. Mistakes are made, and children and families sometimes pay the ultimate price for those mistakes. Working in the adoption world, I hear the stories—good and bad—and I see a system that works for some and has failed miserably for others. I also see children who age out of foster care or live their entire young lives in orphanages, and I am well aware of the statistics on the difficulties they will most likely face.

As much as I believe in adoption, I know that adoption isn’t for everyone. You need to be extremely dedicated, open-minded, always open to learning, and incredibly thick-skinned to be an adoptive parent. Adoption isn’t easy. It’s not a lifetime spent on cloud nine, nor is it always a dream fulfilled for people wanting to add to their families. Regardless of whether they were adopted domestically, internationally, or from foster care—all adoptees come with issues. No matter how old they were when adopted, it’s unrealistic to believe that it is possible for a child to experience the loss of one’s birth parent and come out on the other side completely unscathed.

The adoption journey doesn’t end when your adopted child is finally in your arms. The journey is one that never ends. It is a journey filled with joy and it is a journey filled with heartache. It’s the realization of one dream and the loss of another. It will sometimes feel like a rollercoaster ride that never ends. It is also a journey in which you may need to learn when to love and when to let go.

I have heard some parents say that they don’t know whether or not they would adopt if they could go back and do it all over again. But, a majority of adoptive parents have whole-heartedly said that despite the tears, the sleepless nights, and the sacrifices they have had to make throughout their adoption journeys—they still believe that it was absolutely worth it. If there is one thing motherhood has taught me, it is the fact that part of being a parent is experiencing heartache and knowing that you would endure it a million times over because your child is worth it. That’s how I feel about adoption. The system isn’t perfect, parents aren’t perfect, and children aren’t perfect, but it doesn’t mean that we should stop finding forever families for children and teens and it doesn’t mean that we should stop believing in the good things adoption has to offer.

My story as an adoptee hasn’t been picture perfect. I didn’t talk to my parents very much about being adopted or all of the teasing and bullying I endured growing up. I think it was my way of protecting them. As a teenager, I acted out and did things I am not proud of and put myself and my parents through hell and back. I went through a phase of not really caring about anything, much less myself. In doing so, I thoroughly tested my parents’ love and support for me. But, no matter what I put them through and no matter how much I pushed them away, my parents were always there. Looking back at that period in my life, I am so thankful that I had a place to call home and for parents who were there to pick me up when I hit rock bottom.

Even though adoption isn’t perfect and it’s not always a fairytale, as an adoptee, I can unequivocally say that adoption is worth it. I don’t know what I would do without my parents’ love and support. My parents and I talk pretty much every day. Some days I don’t feel like talking, and other days I am off in another world, but I always look forward to those daily phone calls. I find comfort in knowing that I can just pick up the phone when I’m having a rough day and know that I will always have someone to talk to. I am blessed to have a family to celebrate holidays and birthdays with. Without adoption, none of this would have been possible, and I would not be the person I am today.

32 thoughts on “An Adoptee’s Perspective: Is Adoption Worth It?

  1. ckrone says:

    And, as I always want to point out to people who question why a person would “risk” raising an adopted child, their birth children didn’t come with any guarantees, and I know plenty of families with no adoptees and lots of issues. Folks tend to forget about that part of reality and only see the adoption angle when a family goes through any kind of difficulty.

  2. ckrone says:

    And thank you for this eloquent statement on adoption. It is so true that the painful circumstances that lead to adoption will be there in your life and in your kids lives more than you ever want to believe when you’re reading all of the books on raising adopted (especially older adopted) kids and waiting for your adoption fairy tale to begin. But then again, I see birth parents struggling with kids and know that the lovely family Christmas card photos don’t really tell the whole story of any family.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words and for your insight. I completely agree with you that non-adoptive families encounter many similar issues. In fact, both of my sons, neither of which are adopted, have special needs. We are actually struggling with a number of issues that we see with foster and adopted children. So, I am absolutely living the life you have so accurately described!

  3. Joanna says:

    Beautiful. Thank you. I especially like when you say that the “adoption journey never ends”. I am the mommy to the most wonderful little Ethiopian through adoption. She is an amazing joy, but we will never be “done” with our attachment/bonding. We will never fully say goodbye to feelings of grief and mourning. It is all part of us now. We never stop parenting…and parenting looks a little different from family to family for whatever reason…and , YES, she is worth it! A million times over, SHE IS WORTH IT!

  4. Mama Bear says:

    I adopted three children from foster care (well, in the process of adopting the third) who are all full bio siblings. My daughter, who is the oldest, has some emotional baggage from her past abuses that are starting to come out now, but she has some disabilities as well. I love hearing your perspective, because one thing I try to do is talk openly with my children about adoption and their birth parents (without going into too much detail.) I am hoping that by being honest, my children will hopefully feel more comfortable when they reach the point later in life if/when they feel a sense of loss, they will talk to me about it. We’ll see! I’m also hoping that by having all three together, that sense of loss and question of identity will be diminished.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Mama Bear! Being honest and open with your children about being adopted is one of the most empowering things you can do for them. It’s wonderful to hear that you were able to keep all three of them together! Having each other will be so important for your children in terms of coping with feelings of loss and questions of identity. Wishing you and your family all the best in your adoption journey!

  5. Carroll says:

    I read your “10 Things” blog (great!) from a FB share, then found this one. We are the parents of 4 teens and young adults, the younger 3 we adopted as infants. One of our daughters has been particular challenging for us – we have asked ourselves “does she want to see how bad she can be for us to give up on her?” We can only hang in there with her and hope and pray she one day has a perspective similar to yours. At the same time we have just been contacted about 2 children in foster care who need a forever family and are trying to decide if it might be ours. This blog totally speaks to my heart and I plan to share it with my husband. I’m so happy to have discovered your blog and look forward to more!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you are having a difficult time with one of your daughters. When you wrote, “does she want to see how bad she can be for us to give up on her?”, my thoughts went right to the fact that your daughter might be thinking the same exact thing. Many adoptees have issues related to their being adopted that manifest themselves at different points in their lives. Looking back on the really tough years, I know that, through my actions, I subconsciously was saying to my parents, “Will you still love me if I do this?” or “Will you still love me if I’m not the person you raised me to be?” Trust is a huge issue in adoption, and the fact that your daughter trusts you enough to act out speaks volumes. Be patient and whether the storm with her. She’ll always remember that you were there.

  6. I’m relieved to hear that adoption is worth it. I don’t expect to have a perfect family, of course, because no family is perfect, but I have heard stories of adoption not working out. Thank you for reminding me that even families with biological children have problems.

  7. Thank you, thank you for this blog. Not yet two years ago, we went from adoption as being something in the distant future to having the baby in our house and finding out I was pregnant all within about a month so there was little time to look into all the issues surrounding adoption beforehand, and with two little ones under two at the moment, there has been even less time since. About a month or so ago I started reading blogs by birth mothers and adult adoptees that made me feel like Hitler for daring to adopt. My husband made me stop reading them. I am glad to find a blog like yours that honestly looks at adoption from the perspective of an adoptee and doesn’t have an axe to grind. I do want to think about these things for the sake of my son and for the sake of the other children out there who need an adoption community out there that is well-informed and that neither sugar-coats nor demonizes.

  8. So many blessings in such a short period of time! I’m happy to hear my blog is a helpful resource for you. Thank you so much for your comment, and best wishes to you and your family!

  9. Thank you for this. I just found your blog via facebook page. I’m adding you to my feedly. We are in the approved and waiting stage for domestic infant adoption, and hope to adopt more (and interenationally). I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  10. Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing so eloquently. As both an adoptive and biological parent, I think my faith in God has deeply influenced my perspective. I sincerely believe that God created me, my spouse, our children, and knit us together as a family. I don’t take credit for the traits/characteristics of any of our children, regardless of biology, because I know I didn’t really “make” anyone – sure, I tried to be very healthy during pregnancy, but I didn’t concentrate to create a liver or kidney, I didn’t pick personality traits or hair color, etc. I just happily accepted the child God made for me – whether or not I gave birth to that child.

    Most people don’t get to pick their parents. Not babies, anyway. I didn’t pick mine, but I’m grateful for them. My kids didn’t get to pick me, but I pray they’ll be glad I was their mom.

    The other day, someone introduced me as the mom of 2 adoptive and 1 biological child, and it really annoyed me. I’m a mom of 3. 3 amazing, incredible, unique, precious people with hopes, dreams, and a purpose. I’m glad I get to be part of their journey. And I really wish people would stop caring so much about *how* they got here, and would just start to enjoy *who* they are.

  11. About that roller coaster ride..Isn’t “family” always a ride regardless of how the family is formed?? As an adoptive mother of two young ones, 11 and 8, our issues are still based on who walks the dog, who unloads the dishwasher, and getting their clothes to the washer, We haven’t faced the trauma’s of it all yet..A family that used to focus our lives on adoption related, Russia related events and “get-togethers” we now focus on neighborhood cookouts and KatyPerry concerts. I am currently in grad school after 23 years of teaching, and have found that there isn’t much research on our Russian adopted children..As its a finite set of children, you’d think the psych studies would be everywhere. But no. So I share from THIS side of adoption, I knew it was worth it the minute I laid eyes on that first video of my eldest one. And unlike Traster, my reasons for adopting were not to make a name for myself, but to make a wee little family. Blessings to you!

  12. Jake Martenis says:

    I find your story very interesting. I myself and my sister were both adopted at a young age. We were from two different families and are two years apart in age. We both feel extremely lucky to have been adopted by the parents that have raised us. We weren’t spoiled or anything but we grew up on a dairy farm and were able to explore many avenues of life as we grew up.

    There was no abuse and we were taught that we could do anything we put our minds to. All of our family members knew we were adopted and only twice in our lives did anyone ever say anything to us about it. And even then it was not done in a hateful way. We were kids at the time and we had been told that we were adopted at a very young age so it never bothered us.

    As an adoptee I think it’s very beneficial to tell the child at a very young age that they are adopted. You might think you are protecting them by not telling them, but personally I disagree. I think adoption is a great thing and I also think it’s very sad that it takes so much time, effort and money to get an adoption for those that could definitely make a difference in a child’s life.

    My wife and I are raising our 7 yr old grandson and would adopt him in a minute but we know that is not possible now with his mothers situation. My wife also has two children that she adopted when they were young. Again, the best thing that could happen for all parties.

    Just let me say one thing to adoptees though. If you ever decide to look for your birth parents (for whatever reasons, such as medical, etc.) please understand that when you go on this “journey” that it will affect a LOT of people. So be very careful how proceed on this avenue.

    Ironically, there is a person on this post that is a relative of mine that doesn’t even know that I exist. I have know plans of contacting them because I’m sure none of that family ever knew about me. I think if they knew about me it would crumble the image of that person that they knew and loved their whole life. So be careful before you take that first step. I found out first hand how many people it can affect when i went to look for my mother. And the only reason I went to look for her was for medical reasons.

    So again, my hat goes off to all you that have adopted children and hopefully the system will get better and benefit us all. God bless all of you.

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