An Adoptee’s Perspective: 10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know

1. Adoption is not possible without loss. Losing one’s birth parents is the most traumatic form of loss a child can experience. That loss will always be a part of me. It will shape who I am and will have an effect on my relationships—especially my relationship with you.

2. Love isn’t enough in adoption, but it certainly makes a difference. Tell me every day that I am loved—especially on the days when I am not particularly lovable.

3. Show me—through your words and your actions—that you are willing to weather any storm with me. I have a difficult time trusting people, due to the losses I have experienced in my life. Show me that I can trust you. Keep your word. I need to know that you are a safe person in my life, and that you will be there when I need you and when I don’t need you.

4. I will always worry that you will abandon me, no matter how often you tell me or show me otherwise. The mindset that “people who love me will leave me” has been instilled in me and will forever be a part of me. I may push you away to protect myself from the pain of loss. No matter what I say or do to push you away, I need you to fight like crazy to show me that you aren’t going anywhere and will never give up on me.

5. Even though society says it is PC to be color-blind, I need you to know that race matters. My race will always be a part of me, and society will always see me by the color of my skin (no matter how hard they try to convince me otherwise). I need you to help me learn about my race and culture of origin, because it’s important to me. Members of my race and culture of origin may reject me because I’m not “black enough” or “Asian enough”, but if you help arm me with pride in who I am and the tools to cope, it will be okay. I don’t look like you, but you are my parent and I need you to tell me—through your words and your actions—that it’s okay to be different. I have experienced many losses in my life. Please don’t allow the losses of my race and culture of origin to be among them.

6. I need you to be my advocate. There will be people in our family, our school, our church, our community, our medical clinic, etc. who don’t understand adoption and my special needs. I need you to help educate them about adoption and special needs, and I need to know that you have my back. Ask me questions in front of them to show them that my voice matters.

7. At some point during our adoption journey, I may ask about or want to search for my birth family. You may tell me that being blood related doesn’t matter, but not having that kind of connection to someone has left a void in my life. You will always be my family and you will always be my parent. If I ask about or search for my birth family, it doesn’t mean I love you any less. I need you to know that living my life without knowledge of my birth family has been like working on a puzzle with missing pieces. Knowing about my birth family may help me feel more complete.

8. Please don’t expect me to be grateful for having been adopted. I endured a tremendous loss before becoming a part of your family. I don’t want to live with the message that “you saved me and I should be grateful” hanging over my head. Adoption is about forming forever families—it shouldn’t be about “saving” children.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I may need help in coping with the losses I have experienced and other issues related to adoption. It’s okay and completely normal. If the adoption journey becomes overwhelming for you, it’s important for you to seek help, as well. Join support groups and meet other families who have adopted. This may require you to go out of your comfort zone, but it will be worth it. Make the time and effort to search for and be in the company of parents and children/youth who understand adoption and understand the issues. These opportunities will help normalize and validate what we are going through.

10. Adoption is different for everyone. Please don’t compare me to other adoptees. Rather, listen to their experiences and develop ways in which you can better support me and my needs. Please respect me as an individual and honor my adoption journey as my own. I need you to always keep an open mind and an open heart with regard to adoption. Our adoption journey will never end, and no matter how bumpy the road may be and regardless of where it may lead, the fact that we traveled this road together, will make all the difference.


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173 thoughts on “An Adoptee’s Perspective: 10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know

  1. Christine Noble says:

    Thank you for the perspective. I don’t know that I know any adoptees, or parents of adoptees, but I am sharing this on FB, just in case.

  2. Christina. Thank you for sharing. YOU are an amazing woman. As an adoptive parent I am grateful for you sharing what I could do to be a better parent. As a teacher, a support group leader I am so grateful for you writing down your feelings so that I can share this with them that are considering foster care or adoption and for those that are struggling and need to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I was going to be there to hear you speak but I know someday… I will get that opportunity and you will be amazing. Thanks again and keep on being you and sharing it with the rest of us. Blessings

  3. So helpful as an adoptive parent (3 bio and 4 adopted) to hear your perspective. Our adopted children are 17, 18, 20 and 21 and have been home for 10+ years, and to hear them share about adoption as they have experienced it, now that they are older, is fascinating. (They and others have shared their stories at I hope that more and more adoptive parents will be able to hear from people like you Christina. I really think it brings key information and help in parenting. Bless you!

  4. Thank you! This has confirmed we are doing some things right!! We just heard of a book similar to this and we plan on getting it and reading it soon!
    We just brought home our Heaven Sent Haitians, they are 12, 9 and 5. We openly discuss their birth family, the adoption process, the pain of loss, the pain each time we went to visit and had to leave with out “our” children and their pain of being “left behind”. In the 4 weeks we have been a forever family under one roof we know the best bonding moments have been those where “testing” has been the source. We are glad they are comfortable enough to test. We wouldn’t trade one of those tests for a anything because each time we know it has added one millionth of an ounce of trust and above all things we want our children to trust that we will love them unconditionally until death parts us.

  5. Cathy McGoldrick says:

    Thank you sooo much for this reminder to our daughter’s special needs. I will always keep this close in years to come!
    Cathy in Montana

  6. Heather says:

    Our daughter is so easy going all the time. Most people in our lives think I am over reacting/over protective. Thank you for the reminder that I am her advocate. We are having a lot of insecurity dealing with #4. I caved to the piano teacher this week and left the room for the 30 min. lesson. Next week that won’t happen.

    • chris says:

      maybe leaving and coming back was exactly what she needed to prove that you wouldn’t abandon her. Has she been to the piano teacher before? will she be going to school outside the home? sometimes finding these opportunities to show your children that you will come back after short periods of time are perfect. they still need natural opportunities for life.

  7. Michelle Walton says:

    Thank you for sharing! We have 7 children – 4 bio and 3 adopted – and so far most of the issues you’ve pointed out have been things we’ve had to discuss with our biological children as our adopted ones are still too young. We’re not sure how much they’ll want to know about their birth families (we got them all as infants through foster care so we’ve always been “mom & dad – they’ve known no other) and we try to instill as much of their heritage as possible in their daily lives so they won’t suffer another loss. I think most of the things you pointed out may come to us at a later date – when they’re old enough to question and are searching for their identies and want answers to all the why’s. Thank you for being brave enough to share with all of us. We need to hear more from older adopted children so we know how to help more.

  8. We are just starting the adoption process. I am printing this to keep with me for my future child or children to have a voice now and through this forever journey. Thank you for putting this down for all of us.

  9. Tara S. says:

    Fantastic post! My friend sent me the link and I am new to your blog (and will be reading more!). I am an adult adoptee and also an adoptive parent. Your top ten list is spot on. The loss is real even for children that “come home early”. A newborn already knows and recognizes the voice of their mother. My daughter cries in my arms that she misses her first mom and I cry into hers and say that I miss mine too. I am happy to see so many adoptive parents here commenting. We’re not really angry. We say things that might make people uncomfortable and it hurts when we share something so deep and aren’t taken seriously.

    • Marie says:

      Thank you for talking about the “early ones” Tara! As an adult adoptee who was adopted at 6 weeks, no one ever understood how I would miss people I “never knew.” Even now, as an adult, when I mention my connection to my birthparents who I have not reconnected with yet, people still don’t understand why this is considered a loss when I was “too young to remember” anything different. Just last night I was asked, “do you really think it’s that way for everyone?” The point is who cares? It is for me, why isn’t that enough???? Thanks for showing me that it’s not just me.

    • rhiannon says:

      Reply to any adoption pages in search of tara michelle sherrell adopted out of nashville tn ….with dec 9,1974 birthday I think….I have some other info but not sure on a lot and trying to find more daily….I wld be her half sister and you can find me on fb Rhiannon Tupper jones or email I will make post untill I find her…

  10. 2fromchinamom says:

    Thank you for all the words of wisdom. I’m glad to see it from an adoptee’s perspective that what we’re doing is on the right track.
    For those with more than one child, we’ve found that each of their “takes” on adoption differ. Our oldest daughter (currently 16 & adopted at l yr old) seems to be very comfortable with being adopted as part of her & is open about asking questions. However, our youngest is most certainly not & just about refuses to discuss her feelings or adoption (she’s 15.5 now & was adopted at almost 3 yrs old). Because I’m of Chinese decent it is not obvious that they are adopted, which actually is problematic in other ways.
    Also thank you to Beth for the blog link “” I’m going to check it out & let my daughters know about it.

  11. Angela A says:

    I especially love #8. My 3 children are adopted. They are a sibling group. It frustrates me when people tell me how lucky they are we adopted them. My children saved me, it is not the other way around. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Denise says:

    Thank you for putting words to the feelings of adoption. I am adopted and have felt guilty for some things I feel. I think because I was an infant and never remembered the loss, I felt that I shouldn’t feel the same as those who remember, but I do feel loss. Thank You.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Denise! Please don’t feel guilty about the feelings you have related to your having been adopted. Adoption is so incredibly complex and we are all entitled to our own thoughts and feelings related to our adoption experiences. I am happy to hear this post helped validate what you have been feeling. Best wishes to you!

  13. Thor says:

    I have been a father for almost two years. I have heard many well-meant and valid comments from competent people, but all of that is becoming alive only after I read what you had to say. Thank you for your help.

    • Wow, what an awesome comment! I am so happy to hear this post helped put things into perspective for you and gave you a better understanding about adoption. Best wishes to you and your family!

  14. Thank you for making this post. I have a four year old son adopted from Korea at age 5.5 months. He could have written this post. They definately know, even when suffering the loss as infants.

  15. Thanks for the perspective, Christina. We are a family of 7… 5 biological children, and we are looking to expand our family. This was definitely eye opening for me, and I’ve shared it… Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  16. Shelley says:

    Thank you for #4, I always walked away from people before they abandoned me and was always told it was my greatest flaw. My adoptive family still don’t understand why I always felt abandoned since I was given up at birth and only had 2 homes before I ended up with them. I found my bio fam when I was 32, went through the honeymoon, and now need my adoptive family more than ever as I have been abandoned again by my bio mother after 10 good years. At 46 it is still difficult sometimes,and a lifelong commitment from the adoptive family is essential. .

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Shelley. I am so sorry for what you are going through with your birth family. Though they may not fully understand the issues related to adoption, I’m happy to hear that your adoptive family is supportive and there for you. It makes such a difference! Best wishes to you!

  17. Dear Christina;

    BlogHer’s mission is to bring women bloggers exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.

    We love this post:

    We’re planning to feature it on Thursday, July 5, 2012 around 3 PM PDT on the homepage of and in the Family URL topic as a BlogHer Spotlight.

    Once it goes live, please let your friends know you’ve been featured and @BlogHer when you tweet.

    We’ll be promoting your post in various ways, which includes Twitter — we also may discuss it on Facebook and/or placement within the BlogHer network. Follow @BlogHer and @BlogHerFamily, and like us on Facebook so you can jump in any discussions we may have!

    Here’s some bling for your blog:


    (PS: Sorry for the public comment instead of an email. You don’t have an address posted anywhere on site.)

    Jenna Hatfield
    Family Section Editor | @BlogHerFamily
    Events Section Editor | @BlogHerEvents

  18. Susan says:

    As an adoptee, I respectfully
    Disagree with all these but numbers 2 and 10.

    I have never felt abandoned and I feel lots of gratitude to my parents for my adoption. I feel no need to have anything to do with my biological parents.

    That’s why I like
    Number 10- all of us and our experiences are different.

    That’s why I hope as people read this they do understand that number 10 is very important- respect our different adoption journeys as different- I had a very positive experience and I know that’s not
    Everybody- and know we don’t all feel the same way about the experience.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Susan! It’s great to hear from other adoptees–especially those who have had different experiences related to adoption. I’m so happy to hear you have had such a wonderful adoption experience! What a blessing! 🙂

  19. Great post!! For #7, I have already told my daughter many times that should she ever want to look for her first family, we will help her in the search. I never want her to think that looking for her first family means she will break our hearts. It’s a natural desire in everyone to learn about their roots. Adopted children are no different in that regard.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Rhonda! I’m sure it can’t be easy for adoptive parents to watch their adopted children search for their roots. Thank you for having the strength and courage to be open to that possibility for your daughter. Blessings to you and your family!

  20. Mommyofsix says:

    Thank you for this! I am an adoptee and an adoptive parent and your list put into words many of the things I felt when I was younger. My siblings and I (all adopted domestically as infants in the 60’s) were not encouraged to talk about being adopted. It is so different now. We have three biological children, two adopted children (from foster care) and one foster child. We have tried to be our children’s advocates and we are very open with all of them about our thoughts and concerns and encourage them to be open with us. I am very blessed to be their mother! I am also blessed to have located my birthparents to whom I have become very close to and have a wonderful relationship with!

    • It sounds like, not only are you blessed to have your children, they are blessed to have you as their mother, as well! Congratulations on finding your birth parents and I’m so happy to hear everything has gone well for you! Blessings to you and your family!

  21. says:

    As someone that has struggled withmy identity because of being adopted my whole life I can relate to all of those things. A wonderful list!

    • I’m so happy to hear that you were able to relate to this list! I hope you continue to read my blog postings, as issues of identity will most definitely be addressed. Hugs to you!

  22. Thank you for sharing this. We are in the process of adopting 2 girls from China (ages 13 & 4). I feel like we have a good perspective on their needs and we definitely have a desire to allow them to be exactly who they are. We do not want to take away one single thing from them and I am fine that they long for another mom other than me. I can understand that completely. I have 4 biological children and if something happened to me, I would want for the person raising them to respect their devotion and love to me as their mother. I pray for both of the girls bio moms and wonder if they think about our girls. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    • It sounds like you already have a wonderful understanding of adoption and some of the issues your daughters will face. Thank you for sharing the link to your blog. I look forward to reading it! Your family is absolutely beautiful, by the way! Blessings to you!

  23. lois says:

    on number five how do we do that wo knowing culture of origin as far i know my daughter is black my son is white my baby son is black on paperwork but everyone asks me if his bio dad was white we dont know who dad is i dont know if they are african or irish or indian other then the obvious skin color they have already asked at five what am i? im able to say im a finish irish indian i know where my ancestors came from how do i help on number five

    • This is a tough question to answer, but a relatively common issue in adoption. If you don’t know your child’s race, and there is no way of finding out, the best thing to do is raise your child the way society views him or her. A great book to read is “Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib” by Jaiya John. Make it a point to talk to other African American parents and learn from them on how best to raise your daughter and son. They will be great resources on hair and skin care, which are so important in the black community.

      My parents knew very little about raising a Korean child. They sent my sister and me to Korean culture camp and we made Korean food together, but there were very few resources available to them in terms of transracial parenting. My dad is Italian, and he shared his knowledge of the culture with my sister, brother and me. I always like to say that I am Italian at heart. And, I have to say that my sister and I can make a mean meatball!

      Share the knowledge of your race and culture with your children. Make it a point to teach your children and take advantage of opportunities available for you to learn with your children. Sharing your race and culture with your children will also help grow the bond you have with them, and it will help them to feel even more a part of your family.

  24. Hi! I just found your blog and thank you so much! I am an adoptive mom to two little girls born in China. They are now 5-1/2 (adopted at 16-months) and 4-1/2 (adopted at age 2). Your list is great– we are trying our hardest to do all that you have listed. Our oldest lived in a very nice orphanage until we adopted her and our youngest lived with a very caring foster family. We have maintained contact with the foster family– they have access to email so it is fairly regular. Both girls have pictures of themself with their Ayi or Foster Family and we have some of these pictures out with all of our family pictures. I made each one their own personalized adoption storybook that includes pictures of them before we adopted them as wel as blank pages to represent all that we do not know. The books are kept in a place where each one can get it to look at whenever they want to and ask questions. We are open about what we do and do not know and hug them when they say they are sad and miss their Ayi or Foster Family (this is where they are at right now).

    I have goteen a comment or two from other adoptive moms that I keep “this kind of thing” too alive for the girls and that is why they express sadness. It is said negatively, but I figure they are right– I think it is positive that my daughters feel secure in their relationship with me to express their feelings of loss.

    The girls take a chinese language and dance class; participate in a China Cares program that is run by local Chinese College students, and we try to hit every Chinese themed event that comes around throughout the year. We make some chinese dishes at home and stuff dumplings together. We know this is not the same as their lost culture, but we try to do the best we can with what is available to us.

    We have several friends who have children adopted from China who are the same age as our daughters that we see frequently and there are a few other kids that they know who are either domestic adoptees or adopted from other countries.

    My teenage stepkids are bi-racial, hispanic/dutch, so we are well acquainted with bigotry.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Reena! It sounds like you are doing a fabulous job of parenting your children and addressing their needs as adoptees. I think the book you created for your daughters is wonderful. It’s good for your daughters to express sadness about their experiences. They have endured a huge loss and it’s wonderful that they trust you enough to grieve with you. Best wishes to you and your family on your adoption journey!

  25. Gram says:

    As an adoptive parent of an age 40+ grownup, I can confirm that all 10 things are true and important. I am glad to see this blog getting the attention it deserves.

    I want to emphasize that it is also important for adoptees to do their personal work around these issues.

    We adoptive parents will age and die. We cannot promise that we won’t ever “go anywhere.” Aging and death are not a choice to abandon. An adoptee who has not done their personal work will not understand this.

    As we get older, we adoptive parents will have to focus on planning for our elder years. Sometimes we will have to say,”no, we can’t give you that money.” This is not abandonment or lack of support. It is proper, loving planning to not be a burden on our children. An adoptee who has not done their personal work will not understand this and can spend years in unnecessary estrangement and unhappiness. Yes, I speak from personal experience.

    This is a long journey and both adoptive parents and adoptees need to open their minds and hearts to each other’s realities. It is important for both to do their personal work so that they are able to face life’s challenges as a team, not as opponents.

  26. Heather says:

    Thank you so much for this post. We are in the process of adopting our newest addition from China (we have 4 biological children). Keeping this in mind will help us to be the best forever family we can be.

  27. Bridgette says:

    Thank you for writing this! My husband and I are planning on adopting an older child in the next few years. I’ve done some research, but found it difficult to uncover this kind of candid discussion, and I truly appreciate it. I’m going to share this also, with the hopes that others will find it as helpful as I do.

  28. Thank you. I am a caucasian mother of 3 from Asia and hearing from you is comfort and sense. It’s not an easy road….I don’t care about easy so much as “worth it”. I’m grateful that you can share the way you do. Best wishes and prayers for good health today and your tomorrows.

  29. Wonderful helpful post, I ran across on FB. Our daughter is 16, from China, well adjusted, but definitely experiences that feeling of abandonment. Your post is a good reminder for us.

  30. Love this. While some of my personal experiences as an adoptee are different (I cannot relate to 3,5,8,9 personally, but I know others who definitely can) I see the threads of truth and common experience. #10 is SO important!!! I keep reminding myself of that as I move into the adoption of my own little girl (we have 5 kids – all bio so far – and our new toddler will be #6). Her experiences will be different. She may relate much more to different items on your list than I did – especially because she is older (I was a newborn), is of a different race (she is Chinese), and has different special needs.
    Thanks again!

    • Thanks so much, Erin! I’m happy to hear you were able to relate to some of the points on this list. Congratulations on your upcoming adoption, and best wishes to you and your family!

  31. Lisa says:

    #1-4 really resonated with me. It took me a long time to learn those things about myself and even longer to be able to share them with other people. Thank you so much for writing this!!

  32. So very well said. I share your sentiments exactly. I’m a Taiwanese-American adoptee and recently reunited with my birth family in Taiwan at the beginning of the year. Thanks so much for this post and for the introspection and thoughtfulness behind it. I blog at:

    • Thanks, Marijane! I’m happy to hear you are able to relate to this post. And congratulations on reuniting with your birth family! Thank you for sharing the link to your blog. I look forward to reading it!

  33. Gigi says:

    I can’t thank you enough for your post. We have 4 children (10, 9, 4, 3) all adopted from Korea. Our oldest is 10 and having a very hard time right now. Reading your post I felt as if he was the one who wrote it. He is extramely smart but has a very hard time expressing himself. He is so angry right now with us and his siblings and we are working very hard with him in therapy, meeting with our caseworker of 9 years for post-perm and I have been attending 2 support groups in hopes to be able to be all we can for him. #4 & 6 are alot of what we are seeing but we really feel that all 10 apply.
    #8 is especially difficult for me. When people tell us how wonderful we are for “saving” our children I want to scream but in stead I say they are the ones who us a family. It’s about family and love and never has been about saving anyone. Another adoptive mom shared your post on facebook and I am so thankful to continue to read your posts. Thank you so much for sharing your feeling I have been searching for an adult adoptee to learn from.

    • Thank you so much for sharing about your family and your adoption experience, Gigi! This journey is not easy, and I’m happy to hear that you have built a solid support network for yourself (so important). Sending hugs and best wishes to you and your family!

  34. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for your post. My husband and I are hoping to adopt and these are really good things to know. I’m going to share on FB with my friends and family. 🙂

  35. Susan Woodward says:

    I just loved your ten points. Thanks for sharing your insight and heart. I am an adoptive parent of three and even though i was aware of each of these points, they were beautiful reminders of how blesses we are with our sweet and unique family!

  36. Unlike many people on here, I wasn’t adopted, but instead was born premature. Because of this, I’ve always had a sense that I was different, like I’d been through a war that I can’t remember. Throughout my life, I’ve been through each one of these ten things because I’d lost my innocence and was left out a lot as well as just wanting to know where I came from in the first place. Thank you for putting into words my feelings over the years, ajcaidensmommy. Your ten points have reminded me why I want to adopt, even though my experiences were different from other people’s.

  37. Courtney says:

    Thank you very much for posting!! I started reading and had to stop a few times to dry tears. I am an adoptee. Thank you for putting the feelings that are inside my heart onto paper. This should also be read by friends of adoptees. I think that a lot of us have abandonment issues that we don’t know how to deal with. Thank you again!!! Hopefully people will try to understand why we are the way we are and help to make our relationships with others healthy.

  38. Courtney says:

    Also to others reading this…. These feelings don’t stop once we are adults. I’m 28 years old and just now coming to terms with them.

    • Thank you so much, Courtney! I’m happy to hear you are able to relate. I have had a similar experience in that I didn’t start addressing my adoption issues until my late 20s. Thank you for reminding us that the adoption journey doesn’t end and these issues can manifest themselves at different points in our lives. Big hugs and best wishes to you!

    • Kimberly Brown says:

      Courtney, you’re absolutely right. In fact, last year, at 37 years old when I met my birth mother and her side of the family was actually when all those feelings really began to surface. I sometimes wonder if it made it worse, to be honest. Piece by piece, I am putting it all into perspective. I wrote a book about finding her, since the course of events were just too ironic/unbelievable/whatever. Doing so was extremely therapeutic and has really helped me personally. It is now my hope that, just like this blog, the book will touch someone else on a personal level. Thanks for being brave enough to admit that just because we grow up doesn’t mean we have it all figured out. I think most of us have a fear of rejection that we can’t quite put our finger on. Ok. I’m done rambling. 🙂

  39. Barbara Regan says:

    I wish there was something around like this 60 years ago. I was lucky, very loved, adopted parents who really showed me love and how to walk the right road. I pray that all adoptees lives are better because of the special parents who raised

  40. calvin says:

    I’d love you hear your take on discipline, for a long time my adoptive relatives seemed to be afraid of chiding me or even talking me down or disciplining me, they thought I would feel unloved, what they didn’t realise was that the hands off policy made me feel more unloved.

    • I’m very sorry to hear of your experience, Calvin. I can absolutely understand how that could have been painful for you, and for any adoptee. I believe that adoptive parents should discipline their adopted children as they would their biological children. Adopted children need to learn what’s right and what’s wrong, just like any other child. I am an opponent of corporal punishment anyway, but I absolutely would not use this form of discipline with an adopted child. Given the potential trauma he or she may have experienced prior to becoming a part of your family, the use of corporal punishment could absolutely be a trigger for them.

      • Calvin says:

        Thanks I turned out alright, but I just wanted the adoptive parents out there to know, like you said discipline the adoptive kids same as the biological kids, that way they will feel like a part of the brood.

  41. Kimberly Brown says:

    Wow! You nailed this one. Good for you for having the bravery to write what I assume most of us adoptees only think in our heads. It absolutely IS a rejection and while I can appreciate (and would never change) what my adoptive parents did for me growing up, at the end of the day, what has always stuck in my mind…someone else said “NO.”

  42. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I would like to understand the facts and premises of your views. I hope you can explain and reply to my comments. I may refer to my 3 year old daughter as a reference. As an aside, we have been slowly introducing her to her story of her adoption since her first year and intend to be open about it. Since your sharing was direct and honest, I will follow the same manner.

    “Adoption is not possible without loss”. My daughter never had a relationship with her birthparents, because we took her home after she was born from the hospital. Loss implies something was taken away that you had. My daughter never had another set of parents, only my wife and I. She was never immersed in her birthparents culture, so what is there to lose? Were you adopted not long after birth?

    You mention losses (plural). What things did you possess that you do not possess now? If you didn’t possess what you lost, then are those “losses” merely psychological creations? How can there be a “void” when nothing was there in the first place? Is your feeling better described as an unmet curiosity rather than a loss?

    Superficially, I don’t believe adoptee’s should be grateful for being adopted. However, I bet many adoptee’s would not exist if adoption wasn’t an option. I look forward to your responses!

    • Gram says:

      matthew, as the adoptive mother of a now grownup child I know how much you love your daughter. I know how hard it is to accept that your beautiful 3 year old daughter was hurt by something that you had no power to prevent.

      I suggest that you go to and begin to read some of the literature in this reading list. To be the best adoptive parent possible you will need resources like those offered by the american adoption congress. You will need to understand more about this complicated issue.

      Best wishes to your family as you proceed on this journey.

    • Hi Matthew,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, and for your great questions.

      When I say that “Adoption is not possible without loss,” this does apply to all adoptees (as well as other members of the adoption triad), regardless of his or her age at adoption. When a child is growing in its mother’s womb, the child is able to hear her voice and forms a bond with her prior to birth. So, even if your daughter was never placed in her birth mother’s arms, she still formed a bond with her.

      I, presumably, spent a year with my birth parents before I was abandoned at age one. I spent a year in a foster home prior to my adoption at age two. Even though I spent a year with them, I don’t remember anything about my birth parents. But, I still very much feel the loss of not having them in my life. Every time I look in the mirror, I feel the pain of loss, as I know I have someone’s eyes and someone’s smile, but I will never know those people because of a decision my birth parents made for me many years ago.

      The main losses most often experienced by adoptees are: loss of birth family/genetic ties, loss of culture and language of origin, and loss of medical history. If you adopted transracially, your daughter may also lose a sense of belonging within her racial community. I often have been told that I’m not “Asian enough” because I don’t know my language or culture of origin. This can be an especially painful loss, as you are being rejected by people who look just like you. These are very real and very painful losses and should absolutely be treated as such.

      Your daughter is young and doesn’t yet understand what it means to be an adoptee, but there may come a time when she will feel abandoned by her birth mother. The realization that her birth mother chose to not parent her (regardless of the reason) can be extremely painful and is seen as the ultimate form of rejection. It is truly a blessing that you have information that you can share with your daughter about who she is and where she came from. That knowledge can certainly help ease the pain of loss.

      Please know that these losses happened due to something that was beyond your control, and are not a reflection of yourself as a parent. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about these losses and acknowledge that they are a very real and very integral part of your daughter’s adoption journey. Asking the questions you have asked in order to better understand is a wonderful step in the right direction.

      Lastly, you are absolutely right in that adoptees should not be grateful for having been adopted. Because of the losses involved, instilling in your child that she should be grateful for having been adopted would be a very difficult and heavy burden to place on her. I am not grateful for having been adopted, but I absolutely feel blessed to have a family who loves me and has afforded me wonderful opportunities in life that I may have otherwise never had. Being that I was older when I was adopted and that I was a girl, I very much believe that I would have remained an orphan had I not been adopted. I absolutely count my family as one of the many blessings in my life.

  43. posy says:

    Amen to this. Being a chinese teen adopted by a caucasian couple, I can relate to so many of the things you write about.

    I thank you for voicing all I’ve been feeling for whole my life. I have often felt and been told I’m not asian enough for the asians and not american enough for the americans. It’s especially hard to be constantly reminded of being not “normal” when random strangers just have to satisfy their curiosity and ask if my adoptive parents are “my real parents”. Going to family reunions, I stick out and don’t “belong”. it is very frustrating and painful to deal with.

    I also very much agree that society seems to think we should be forever grateful and that we are forever in debt to our adoptive families. Many people have commented “Oh, how lucky she was to be adopted! Should be so grateful to you” to my parent(s). I am lucky, yes, and super grateful, but … I never asked for this. And like you, I don’t want to live under a “message that ‘you saved me and I should be grateful’ hanging over my head”.

    I loved reading your “dreaded family medical history question” post because I have had the exact same looks given by uncomfortable doctors. I’ve always dreaded that question – just another reminder of me not being “normal”.

    I don’t know but there’s something very comforting to me knowing that there’s someone out there who has weathered similar storms as me. I don’t feel so alone anymore. So thanks.

  44. Linda Isom says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I have four year old twin daughters that have lived in the US for about 11 months. They are from Ghana, Africa. I am grateful they have each other so they have someone who knows how they feel.

    We have tried to do what we can to infuse their culture with ours. We are friends with a group of people from their home country that live here and celebrate Ghanaian holidays with them. We have identified mentors of their same nationality and race to help them in areas we cannot. We have added decorations to our home that are from their home country. And some of their traditions.
    I have a unique situation in which I have two biological sons that are ten years apart and the girls are right in-between them. They came home from Ghana and 28 days later I had their little brother. This was not planned as I was told I could not have any more children, but I am grateful for the reminder of how to nurture a little one. I feel like I have 3 babies sometimes. It has also been good for my girls because they have learned nurturing by watching and helping me with the baby. No one soothes them like their little brother. It’s a tough road but totally worth it. I love all my children the exact same. Blood does not change that.

    I ache for their losses and wish I could fix those feelings of abandonment and those feelings of loss. They are my children now, how can I not?

    Thank you for your perspective and the knowledge you have shared. Keep up with the posts so we can be the best parents to our adoptive kids.

  45. Kristee says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about being adopted. It really helps to hear a different and probably very common adoptee stance. My husband was adopted from Korea but he has no desire to explore his Korean heritage or birth family. We adopted a baby boy from Korea a couple of years ago and I want to make sure he learns about his culture and that i have collected everything I can about his birth family for future search purposes. I don’t want to assume that he will think the way my husband does and want to be as prepared as I can in case my son wants to find his family. We know quite a bit. So it will really come down to whether the birth family wants to make contact later. We also have a large adoptive community in our area and its not hard to find other kids to play with. I fear that the hardest part is going to be teaching the cultural side of things. How far should we go? I really want to teach him Korean and celebrate all the main holidays and eat Korean food. But that’s a monumental task when you have never been exposed to that before. But I believe that that is the responsibility we took on by adopting an international child. You can’t take a child out of their culture and not expect them to long for it later in life. I really appreciate your honesty. It helps us adoptive parents.

  46. Ginny Miller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, wish I had read this years ago. My adopted daughter (now 28) has had a lot of struggles….our relationship has felt like a tug of war a times, we would get very close, then she would push me away, it was so painful, but after reading your post it has helped me understand her a little better, she has recently found out she is pregnant and I pushing me away again, I so wanted to share this special time with her, I am trying to “just be there” for her. I really don’t have any support, so again I really appreciate your input.

  47. Leah Evans says:

    I agree with much of what you shared, however, adoption IS different for everyone, and that including the adopted child. This is not every adopted child’s story.

  48. Thank you for sharing this post! My husband and I are in the process of adoption and while we can read books discussing the grief and loss you referenced, its different and so challenging hearing it from an adoptee directly. I appreciate your courage and kindness in sharing your story.

  49. Molly Holsen says:

    Our oldest son was adopted from Guatemala. This post is wonderful, honest, educational, and so very helpful. I plan on printing it out & puting on our fridge as a reminder to me. I am reposting on FB as well. Thank you so much!

  50. Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in truth was a enjoyment account it.
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  51. something something darkside says:

    On point 8…

    I’ve got news for you, birth parents (mostly just mothers) will often pull the “I gave birth to you, so be grateful” line, I still hear it from my mother once in a while and I’m 28 years old (apparently I should call more). Many of the problems you’re discussing have a birth child-parent relationship equivalent. I’m sorry to tell you this, but your psychological perspective isn’t that unique in terms of child upbringing.

    I get that you want understanding, all children want that from their parents. Often in terms of defining themselves as different from their parents and maybe in seeing how other families are (and bio-parents get pissy if you compare how other families work). But, frankly, these points sound very much like wanting understanding without giving any in return. You mention that you understand that it’s hard for the adopting parents too, but you want special consideration beyond them.

    Now, if this list really just applies to kids, fine, so be it. Kids are jerks, selfish, and will break a parent’s heart, it’s what they do (bio-parent or adoptive parent, doesn’t matter. Kids are kids). But at a certain point there has to be a demand that the kid turn around and start showing some respect and gratitude (a demand I got from my parents often, and it started early if not right away. Actually, it started so early I don’t even remember when, but it’s as far back as I do remember).


    • True that! I am an adoptee and have children both by birth and adoption and the problems are largely the same. I do get tired of hearing people saying “I was misunderstood because I’m adopted” “I felt like I didn’t fit in because I’m adopted”. Did you ask your home-baked friends how they felt? It’s part of growing up. Most people, regardless of their family structure or origins, feel like that at some point or other.

      Still a good article and good food for thought.

  52. Joe says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I could not agree more with your comment about “feeling lucky to be adopted.” One of the comments I hear a lot as an adoptive parent is about how lucky our kids are to have us as parents. I often find the comment to be rooted in a lack of understanding about adoption. My wife & I feel that we are the lucky ones and are very quick to point that out.

    There are also times where I feel a sense of guilt for having adopted our two children. Maybe it’s not guilt, but a sense of deep sadness when I think about the loss they have experienced and don’t fully understand it yet. I think about the milestones I am able to have with them, that their birth parents will miss. As much as I want to be able to understand what my kids are experiencing, I know that is not entirely possible.

    I’m not sure why I felt the need to comment, I hardly ever do on blogs. I just wanted to say “thanks” and let you know that you have made a difference in another person’s life.

    • David263 says:

      Hi im adopted kid. I dont know when u adopted ur kids but a little helpful advice. Dont ever try to connect with them on there abusive path. We will never think you understand how its like to be abused.
      I also dont usually do blogs but im kinda really pissed at john and jen (my adopted parents of two years) and so im just typing away. This really isnt something you talk to friends about you know because they just dont get it and well your “parents” dont either were pretty lonely sometimes so just be understanding

  53. Bonnie Anderson says:

    I am a custodial grandparent. My husband and I have had our grandsons for 11 years – they are 13 and 11 years old, one of whom is biracial. Much of what you have written applies to our situation as well. People tend to discount past trauma because they are now in a stable loving home. You can’t discount previous trauma. It has left its mark on the child. Thank you so much for writing this post. It is very needed. I have shared it on my Facebook page as well and others have shared from me.

  54. sam says:

    I’m and adopted child and never knew it till late, they hid it for long time and now that I know I feel my life’s a lie, all of it. And, never a day goes when I’m not made to feel that they’ve done me a favor and I should be grateful. As a child I never was attached to them never knew why but now I know and verbal abuse as well as violence has been part of my growing up always. I don’t know how to leave them but I want to and never look back. I don’t want to feel resentful but I am now. And, this makes me hate myself too.

    • David263 says:

      Why do they always do that. The parents i mean. Its like me secretly thinking you hate me isnt enough you have to make me feel guilty enough to where i hate myself too

  55. 1, 3, 4, and 7. are so spot on, for me.
    7 had my throat feeling like something was caught in it, then my eyes started sweating a bit. i have fretted on 7 for years now. 42 to be exact.
    thank you for this post.

  56. Anonmyous says:

    I am an adoptee and I can confirm all of them, 1-10. I am currently dealing with 5 and 8 right now. I have Asian friends and classmates at school, and none of them view me as a “real Asian” because I can’t speak Chinese and I’m “different”. I also get told by them, “You should be thankful that your parents even adopted you.” Does anyone have any helpful suggestions on how to deal with it?

  57. Brian Stalker says:

    Thank you I am going to print this out and put it next to my bed and read it every morning to remind my self to be patient and loving if I’m not the person she wants to see in the morning.

  58. This was the sort of thing I had been looking for a very long time, both for myself and friends of ours that are in the process of trying to adopt 2 children in oxford, uk. so past it on to them. I was trying to get them to understand from a child’s point of view. Though I’m not sure they listened to me. As I am adopted from Panama (Latin America). So thank you for your inspiration to start my own blog.

  59. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Firefox.
    I’m not sur if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post
    to let you know. The design and style look great though!
    Hope you geet the problem solved soon. Thanks

  60. Marion Tee says:

    My 30 year old black adopted daughter has left the family for the past three years. Your post reminds me to keep the faith and keep loving her till she is able to return.

  61. Elana says:

    I wish this was something my adoptive parents understood. Just last night my mom tried telling me there is no point in wanting to know more, that my heritage and race is the same as hers because I am white (though I am constantly told I look multi – ethnic and have recently found out I am) she doesn’t believe some of my abandonment and anxiety issues and says I make them up. I don’t even understand how I’m supposed to feel. It’s constant guilt

    • David263 says:

      Omg yes!!! They always make us feel guilty. Like why dont you love me, im all you need just love me. Uhhhhh its just like enough already. I get it you dont think i love you and that why you are a failure of parent. But please go ahead blame it on the kid who really needs to feel accepted instead of being called names and being told how we cant feel or love were so cold and uncaring. Uhhh sorry for replying im just kinda mad

  62. ralph (it's a nickname!) says:

    I LOVE THIS POST!!! thank you so much for posting this! i am mom to four children through adoption (china) and this needs to be inserted into all adoptive parents’ brains no matter how supportive we are! love it. thank you.

  63. Marlene Koslowsky says:

    As a mom to an 18 year old girl from China, all I can say is, YES! Glad a friend posted this on FB. It’s all true. When times get tough and your sweet little girl you love so much shows a hurt heart, stick with her. You have no idea how hard it is wrap your mind around this experience. I came across this at a perfect time. Thanks for writing.

  64. David263 says:

    Im 16 and have been adopted for two years. I still dont understand why number 4 and number 8 are not common sense. Also y’all parents who are thinking of adopting teens, hate to break it to you but we have been kicked around by everyone and its gonna take a whole of hell lot more then just a couple years for us to stop being angry. And future parents do not expect the kid to say they love you or to call you mom and dad. It just isnt happening. It doesnt mean we dont love you. Its just we have so very little trust to adults and actaully voicing out love would make us to vulnerable. Its just to scary. We might not never say but its there so please dont hold it over us. Because even if we want to say we love you its just not possible for those words to come out and be directed at parents its just too foreighn.

  65. marquisha says:

    As a fellow adoptee I feel this was spot on. I am 23 and still struggling. I always denied my struggle but I can definitely see it manifesting in my relationships. personal and romantic. Break ups are extremely hard. I feel like I am always trying to find myself instead of being happy within myself. its hard to explain to other because they always think it so easy to get “get over” and as hard as you try it still lingers feelings of mistrust, insecurities, and not being enough. I appreciate this post and relate a ton. Thanks !

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