Acknowledging the Pain of Adoption

 

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Just like antiseptic on a wound, some lessons sting but are necessary to healing. I have always considered myself to be a fairly aware adoptive parent. I have known many adoptees, including my sister who was legally adopted by my dad when my parents got married. I thought I had a pretty good handle on some of the major pitfalls that I see adoptive parents fall into and knew that I was not doing those things, so I patted myself on the back.

Then, my article on social workers came out and I saw that it was being attacked online by a group of adoptees. Their words were harsh and painful to read. And though I felt unfairly excoriated, once I had the chance to process it all, I am glad to have stumbled into that controversy. The daily struggle as a parent to raise special-needs kids can sometimes feel so overwhelming that it’s easy to get wrapped up in my own stress and pain. The feedback from my article put a fine point on the need to never lose sight of my kids’ feelings as adoptees. I was at a conference on adoption at the time that I read the comments and it made me extra-sensitive to discussions about the experience of being adopted. I’ve also begun following a number of adoptees on Twitter and am really taking in how much pain so many of these people feel about their adoption story.

When I say that I was a fairly aware adoptive parent, I mean that I always, intuitively got the concept that their adoption is a tragedy and a trauma for them. Being adopted is a signal that something went terribly wrong with the “normal” order of things. I worked for racial justice and never minimized my kids’ racial identities. I also understood how profoundly important their birth parents were to them and never denigrated their feelings for them. I try to be fully supportive of them expressing themselves around their adoption. I reached out and established connections with birth family, framed pictures of them for kids, and always assured them of how much they were loved. I saved gifts and letters from their families-of-origin. We talked about everything and I never judged them for what they said, even when it hurt me. When my most attached child told me that he shouldn’t live with me because he should have stayed with his birth mom, I agreed with him that that would have been best in an ideal world and didn’t let on how intensely those words made me want to cry.

But here’s where I went wrong. I don’t think until last week that I ever *really* understood how angry, hurt and sad so many adoptees were. And this made me feel so heartbroken and furthered my questions about a foster care system that funnels children into new families. But the day-to-day realities of adoption have been part of my life for so long that the bigger picture of what so many adopted persons go through hadn’t sunk in as it should have.

I naively assumed that nearly all adoptive families stayed family after the kids reached adulthood. Of course I knew that sometimes families splinter, but my realization lately is that it’s happening far more than I would have considered. I finally really understand in my bones how intensely important it is to “get it right” when it comes to adoptee feelings. By that I mean to honor their story, their experience and their feelings. It is crucial to set-aside our feelings as adoptive parents to allow our kids to process their journey. And if our kids are adopted from other races, other cultures and even other socio-economic backgrounds, we have to be real – like really, really real – about how coming into our families and communities can be completely traumatizing and disorienting, beyond whatever trauma, poverty or anything else that brought them into the adoption world in the first place. We have to acknowledge that they have their own story separate from us. Even children adopted as babies experience loss and grief when they no longer hear and smell their birth mom.

Adoption has changed quite a bit, in many ways, from the “dark days” of adoption being considered a shameful secret. Or the flip side – that adoption was nothing but a joyous occasion for all where our children will be grateful to be saved. Clearly there are still families where these outdated ways of thinking linger. But more of us are trying to do better, and even still may not grasp the depth of our kids’ distress. That grief can be so painful for us as their parents. But ignore it at your family’s peril. You might worry that being open and affirming about their experience can drive them “back” to their bio families. But what I’m now clearly seeing is that not acknowledging their feelings can be what fractures your relationship. Things can become so broken, possibly beyond repair, as your child tries to make sense of their world. Our kids need us to help them sort out all these complex and conflicting feelings while they are still young. Not having to add unprocessed feelings about adoption to such an already stressful and chaotic time as entering adulthood will only further their success. And hopefully, it will preserve the family you so much wanted to create.

41 comments

  1. Amazing. I am a long term foster forever parent, and do not adopt due to foster child’s bio attatchments whetherevtgere is contact or not. I make is perfectly clear that I love them and they may stay forever and safe. However there are many mitigating circumstances beyond my control at times. That is my struggle. All my foster children have ALL wanted to be with their bios and crave, yearn, long, with much discussion, therapy and a strong team of support we make it through each unique individuals circumstances! Thanks for the article

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    • Thanks for all you do for the kids. They need the same thing we all need – acknowledgement of our feelings and someone who we can share them with. You created the space for the kids in your care to process with a trusted adult and that is so important! We need more providers like you.

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      • i am sorry that you have sought to only answer a foster carer on their comment but not the other two of us and i anticipate their will be more soon i see the carer said (All my foster children have ALL wanted to be with their bios and crave, yearn, long, with much discussion, therapy and a strong team of support) do you not think this fact warrants some investigation in to how this could happen

        Liked by 1 person

  2. In the UK ‘Firced Adoption’ is a major criminal enterprise. This is no longer ‘A State Secret’ in spite of the failing secrecy laws used in the corrupt Family Court. There are now massive movements gaining momentum that will end this practice and it is only a matter of time before we will see it no more.

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    • i do not think adoption unless there’s fiscal abuse my daughter had her children taken off her and the lies they told were unbelievable she was and is an amazing mother my granddaughter was 10 at the time i have not heard any thing from them no acknowledgement of how she is i have wrote i have phoned but nothing she is 13 now i am worried sick so is my daughter they have since had her baby adopted through lies again they are a force to be reckoned with there is no way of winning because there all in on it and all them poor children’s lives ruined how can you repair the damage these monsters have done and how can you repair a mother thats broken they are the gestapo

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      • I’m so sorry for your daughter and for you, the kids, everyone. I think this severing of connections is one of the most unhealthy, unnatural and cruel parts of child protection. I don’t know how they can think that no one having contact helps the kids. And in many cases they are like the gestapo. I’ve been working on a bill for my state (here in the US) to put a check on their unfettered power. I hope it goes somewhere this year.

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    • funny how the author of this article and many other foster carers refuse to accept the fact that most children that are up for adoption are forcefully and needlessly stolen from loving family homes and never actually suffered any neglect or harm from their parents or family, and have the Gaul to describe it as (Just like antiseptic on a wound, some lessons sting but are necessary to healing) rather than what it is they are actually doing and that is ABUSING CHILDREN. (All my foster children have ALL wanted to be with their bios) surely they can see there is something wrong if thats all the children want so just why will no one ever do an article like this from the wronged parents the only reason i can think of is MONEY it is in very few children’s best interest to be removed from parents and denied any contact with their family and siblings forced adoption is nothing less than child abuse. their is no shortage of foster carers or adopters the fact is far to many children are needlessly STOLEN for this business and that is what it is will the author of this article do another article after interviewing some parents who have needlessly had children stolen??

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      • It is unfair to say that foster parents are all in it for the money. I know that is the case for some, for many. But there are many good people doing this work and they are not the ones who deemed that the child should be removed. They are dealing with the situation AFTER the social workers made their decision. I have done nothing but love my kids and work hard to help them recover from what they’ve been through. Please remember that not all bio-parents are supportive of their kids and are sticking by them, either.

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    • This article was not about whether or not adoptions should or should not happen. It was about the pain that adopted persons feel. I am a critic of the child protection system and believe that they have too much power and are pulling kids for the wrong reasons. I think it’s classist, racist, culturally-insensitive and creates an authoritarian power dynamic. I believe that it’s spun out-of-control and needs to return to its original mission of protecting kids from serious abuse, not the clash of values situation that it’s become. But those are separate matters from what this post was about. In my article I wrote, ” I don’t think until last week that I ever *really* understood how angry, hurt and sad so many adoptees were. And this made me feel so heartbroken and furthered my questions about a foster care system that funnels children into new families.”

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  3. how about looking in to the pain of the parents who have had their children stolen for the fostering/adoption business and that is exactly what this is nowadays a business that has no compassion for any child or parent that has had a child stolen. with no one that gives a second thought for the children or the parents who have had their children stolen and abused by a system that was “supposed” to care, why is this business kept secret why are parents gagged why will the media not report on the wrongs that are happening why will the government not investigate when parents complain that they have done nothing wrong and their children have been stolen by this corrupted business that has so much government protection. parents are been sent to prison because they refuse to stop fighting to get their children back to shut them up some parents are been driven in to taking their own lives and no one cares or will listen children are been abused and killed murdered in this system and no one cares, its all about money not the welfare of any child, why will no one look in to what is happening all anyone is interested in nowadays is money and children appear to be a very valuable commodity, when is anyone going to start talking to parents and families that are complaining that lies and perjury have been used in their cases how many more children have to die in this cruel barbaric system been operated solely in the interest of profit https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.change.org%2Fp%2Ftheresa-may-mp-call-on-the-government-to-order-a-independent-investigation-into-forced-adoption-fostering%2Ffbog%2F300905841%3Frecruiter%3D300905841%26utm_source%3Dshare_petition%26utm_medium%3Dfacebook_link%26utm_campaign%3Dshare_petition%26utm_term%3Dshare_petition&h=AT1_eu1km3NwBjFg01Ay3XVGFV12p6Os_NuHf_2rg5mZeTGIjD4caoyjaxUfWvm0JXh1GS-Jyu_zmjmzSY9UQa266WhE0l79KgS2Es0krZeaZhBd9L12zRRt7aVSgXcVtw2_hS1yOohLvAy5eW1BaZZpajxosFP-Q7Q975usdlP0AxfnLZSXLwhVo9Ig_ZJy7Gr5i-GpB4UvyU6a56UtnCJOVI9gLfjfFH7c6SMYtya56gMZHpQwjxroBXEv_ch7noMMHhdk1DztyVJ57e6j2JSu68gCFJ8A2s5gUX09H17Bodknov4-Tftt4wse5MSlsUM7BEvYkD3p9U9_OqfPUSDglP-TAqy3MxYvGGkeGvyel7T239TNLU2P

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  4. it’s so painful been with out my sons who were adopted and unsure if they will be told lies and npt the truth and what affect it will have on them when they are older by been adopted when they could have been returned to my care and been happy and had a healthy normal upbringing by me their mother 😦

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  5. Our 2 youngest grandchildren were adopted, I’m not sure they’ll even remember us 😢 Our 6 year old granddaughter was also adopted but this failed, we found out 6 weeks later but social services plan to look for another adoptive placement for her despite acknowledging they “got it wrong” and that our son has shown capacity to father his children. The foster carer of the older children agree the children are struggling in their placement and need their dad … it’s like talking into a void and has been a desperate few years for these children and the rest of the family. The stigma of being told we would not protect them despite positive assessments by professionals was hard to accept. We will never give up on our grandchildren and will do what it takes to support our son in his fight for them.

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    • I am so, so sorry for what all of you are going through. It truly breaks my heart. I hope, somehow, the kids come home to their dad and that the professionals who’ve given you positive assessments are listened to.

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  6. Adoption is wrong and causes a lifetime of pain for parents and children or child forced adoption is barbaric this is just a money making industry which needs to be ended money is made from others lifetime of pain and suffering

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    • I will not disagree that it often does cause a lifetime of pain and suffering. And I completely agree that in many, if not most, cases it’s unjust and handled poorly. Social workers have way too much power and corrupt ones ruin lives.

      But I just cannot agree that it’s only and all about money. There are some cases where there really does seem to be few options and the kids can’t be safely kept at home without far more supports in place than what currently exist. I will not discuss the circumstances behind my kids’ being removed from their parents, but it was nightmarish. This wasn’t caseworkers making things up. The police records are clear and the kids have told me themselves about what they went through.

      That being said, we are all part of the”system” – adoptees, foster parents, adoptive parents and bio families. I think we all need to work together to create a system that will be focused on everyone’s best interests. That’s part of my motivation for starting this blog is to shine a light on how bad things are and hope that we can work on reform.

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  7. Thank you for your article story. I just wanted to share with you how it makes the child feel, and the very real fears they are left with, once they have grown into a young adult and some of the help they seek. Just a thought for ones wanting to adopt to consider first. The child is left confused with a loss of identity finding it difficult to form attachments, yet they do still have real feelings and emotions which are going ignored. Can you really be sure all processes have been followed correctly first? because the natural/parents can go on to learn they have not been. Thank you.
    https://researchingreform.net/2018/08/16/section-20-councils-bypassing-parents-targeting-children-to-secure-agreements/ (this lady is an ex barrister)

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  8. Total
    Disagree with adoption or as many people know it as forced adoption where babies young children alike are being torn from loving homes it destroys families and relationships not mention what it does to these poor children now or in future life thinking there mummy and daddy didn’t want them it’s like the stone age and slavery something needs to be done a fast

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  9. to all foster carer my brother years ago split up with is wife she ran off with the children he later found out the children were in foster homes so they got back together and for a wile was seeing the children on the day they were having the children home she found out she was pregnant social services found out and told them they couldn’t have the children back as it wouldn’t be fare to them they were 4 and six at time so they told them if they had the baby adopted they could have the children back my brother refused all contact was stopped never saw his children again after years of looking for them he got a phone call it was is daughter she was 28 he since found out his daughter was raped by foster father at 8 years he went to prison they got adopted the adopted mother told his children there father was in prison for murder she died of cancer two years later her mother was in mental hospital most probably had break down after losing her children but to make a point its shows the lengths they go with there lies

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    • I’m not sure that I fully understand your story, but I think the message is clear that there were unfair rules set in place that made reunification impossible. And it sounds like the kids were abused in foster care. I know many, many fabulous foster providers. But, the statistics show that kids are more likely to suffer serious abuse and death IN foster care than in their bio families. And we, as a society, need to take a hard look at this reality.

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  10. please mind, only insignificant number of children are adopted fostered due physical sexual harm. Total majority taken into care for really insignificant reasons, because SS won,t dare to touch real difficult cases like 30000 youth gang members. Lazy socioparasites justify their existence by endless care proceedings , so can report about new 2safeguarding” and dupe gullible Governement inot syphoning ,more taxpayers money. Disgraceful policy!

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    • exactly eugene these carers only get children with the trauma of been needlessly stolen from their parents not many of them are the real troubled kids from troubled backgrounds they are just left as accepted by a carer on this thread *******(All my foster children have ALL wanted to be with their bios ) but they still take them instead of saying no try helping their parents first but then they would be discarded and not allowed to make any further earnings from them

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      • The foster mom who you are so unhappy with is one of them who’s trying to do the right thing. The kids didn’t come into her home because she stole them. The social workers were the ones who removed them from their bio parents. She’s trying to care for them and do right by them in a situation that is beyond any of their control. I hear you that you’re in pain. It sounds like your situation (I read your petition) is very sad and horrible. But I implore you to look for allies wherever they can be found. This foster mom is an ally. I am an ally.

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  11. it looks like i owe the author an apology for accusing her of only answering other adopters the time difference never even occurred to me so please accept my apology for not giving you a chance it is so distressing for people like me that see articles like this when we just cant get any one to fight our corner or even report on the unjust unlawful ways used to steal our children, any write ups about fostering and adoption is always written with a bias one sided view normally disregarding us people who have been wronged

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  12. My 2 beautiful much loved grandchildren have been forced adopted. The system lied and misinformed us until they were able to steal them. Over a 2 year period the children were so traumatised by the destruction of their family by the system it is no wonder the adopted parents will think they are emotionally abused children. Never once was the family encouraged to work towards the children coming home . Quite the opposite the secret family courts system, broke down the family until the mother was alone. They then moved in and took the children on possible future emotional harm. The social workers smirked at the mother as she broke down at the news in court. I have never experienced such inhumane behaviour by so called professionals. Their lies and fabrications against the family are to many to mention.i have spent the last 4 months keeping the parents from suicide. Breaking my heart , crying myself to sleep wondering what our children are thinking and feeling. Wondering what lies they are being told from the lies the adopted family were told. Wondering how their lives will unfold knowing the abuse that is rife in the care system. The secret Family courts are a corrupt system that is stealing much loved children and destroying family’s. If you are a foster carer or adoptive family you need to know this and not just swallow the lies you have on pieces of paper written by liars . Thousands of families can’t be wrong. Please for the love of God meet with the parents . Find a way for the sake of the children who cry their selves to sleep. For the children who can’t love you because their hearts are broken. There is no amount of money you can receive that can wash away the sin of what you are a part of. Check your heart. Check the facts and get these children home where they belong. You are not helping the children, you are part of a corrupt money making child trafficking crime against humanity. You can help. Will you.

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  13. Theresa your story is similar in many ways to ours and I’m so sad that you’ve gone through such heartbreak. We asked social work for help with our son and his family, if only the money and resources could have gone into that instead of splitting the children up. The financial costs of having the children in care is huge. Our 6 year old granddaughter has been so traumatised by her failed adoption that she was withdrawn from her siblings when she met them recently. Her whole sense of family, belonging and identity have been taken from her and yet we have to accept this is in her best interests and that she was removed to prevent potential emotional harm 😢 Social work are still looking for another adoptive placement for her even though they admit they got it wrong the first time and acknowledge our son could parent his children.

    The foster carer of our two oldest grandchildren meets us and talks with us on Skype with the children, she’s a good person and wants the children to be with their family. She’s as frustrated by the system as us.

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  14. I am mummy of 4 children removed due to me ask for help on domestic violence.. They adoption 3 of my children.. In Leeds.. I am in Leeds. Then come back removed my younger place her with my domestic violence ex husband family.. Close to him.. Over 200 miles away from me. My children woz abuse in forced care.. Before they adoption out.. It horrible not knowing if children are alive or dead.. I get letters box contact one a year. All because I ask for help from police and social services because my ex husband hit and stuff.. I am one be punishment for be victims… My children victim.. My younger is victims.. She on special guardianship order.. See her very little… My Abuse see her all time… So adoption is most evil thing in the world… To remove children from parents who love them place them with people who only look for own selfish needs… Remove parents from children is abuse.. If adoption it should open adoption so parents and family see they people….

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  15. I lost my 2 boys to a forced adoption a and it left me and my eldest boy who I was allowed to keep destroyed by the whole process ,I pray my boys are OK and I get a letter once a year and the adoptive parents seem very well off and the boys are doing well ,the LA told adopters not to allow us pictures which is devasting to us as the letters are bittersweet but its something I guess ,I’m sure plenty of adoptive parents are good great people but I guarantee that just like the social workers involved who helped build the case for placement orders lie and twist evidence to get the result they want to hit their target ,they will lie and twist the facts to the adoptive parents and they will Never know the true story that the vast majority of children I believe its nearly 90% in this country of adoptions are forced

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