this is adoption.

If you scroll through social media or watch the news, you’ll most likely find stories of adoption. These stories, presented as an uplifting tale of heroism and bravery share the sacrifice made by a family to save a child destined for doom. They leave the viewer with that warm fuzzy feeling, inspiring hope and good doing. But, what these stores fail to acknowledge is the other side of adoption.

Abandonment.

Adoption does not exist without abandonment. There is always a loss before a gain.

Too often, the complexities of adoption are forgotten, ignored or shamed. People want to hear a story of redemption, they want to feel uplifted and inspired.

But feel good doesn’t mean truth.

An adoptee always experiences abandonment.

Being separated from their birth family causes a deep wound of abandonment. Those in the foster care system experience abandonment every time they are enter a new home. Other children are adopted by multiple families, which only continues to reopen the wound over again. Then there are adult adoptees who experienced it when they are turned away from a relationship with their first families when in reunion. Some have experienced the abandonment and rejection from their own adoptive families, having been completely shut off from a relationship with them.

Adoption leaves adoptees with a life time struggle of dealing with the lasting effects that abandonment has on our psyche:

Abandonment tells us we are “un-keepable,” that we have to earn someone’s time or love. It is the best friend of anxiety and depression. It feeds into the fear of intimacy, leaving many of us alone and afraid. Abandonment preaches that no one will ever stick around, it’s only a matter of time before they leave us. It eats away at self-confidence and self-esteem, convincing adoptees that we will never be good enough.

This is adoption.


Adoption is not a greeting card; a feel good, inspiring quip. Adoption is a book with tattered and torn pages, a story of struggle and redemption, abandonment and complex emotions.

What would happen if you took the time to put the greeting card back on the shelf and pick up the tattered book? Read about the pain amongst the growth and acknowledge the loss adoptees have. Remember the abandonment a child experiences next time you see their story splattered across the television screen. Remember that although there may be beauty and inspiration, there most certainly is pain.

Because this is adoption.

10 Comments

  1. I feel the exact same way. My sister Sharon does not. She says “she gave us the gift of life, just not with her.”
    Every time I see my father, I feel abandoned all over again. I write and get no response. He doesn’t call except an occasional butt dial by mistake. If my sister or I invite him to a holiday event, he just stares at me.
    I come home and cry.
    I avoid him.

    1. I can ever so relate and I am sorry that those feelings are so tough. Know that you are not alone, there are lots of us adoptees struggling with this and we can support each other. Hang in there!

  2. This is so good, Brooke. So on point. I’ve been studying a lot lately how adoptees are “over represented” in addiction statistics. I mean, really! Which population could identify more with having a lack of identity/self than us? The solution lies in what you so aptly wrote above – that we educate and get radically honest with what adoption truly means to adoptees.

  3. People say we are so amazing because we adopted. We aren’t. They tell my kids they’re extra special because they “were chosen!” And I want to ask them why? Why were they chosen? Because someone else rejected them first. That’s why. Ugh. People can be so thoughtless and near sighted.

    1. The “you were chosen” statement is so frustrating!! It’s definitely coming from people that don’t understand adoption.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. As an adopter, I take this part of the story very seriously and try really hard to make space for my eldest daughter to express those feelings of loss. She was 5 when she was removed from her birth home so the loss and trauma is something she recalls and is processing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I really believe that that more we talk about that side of adoption and help children process those feelings and make sense of their story, the better the outcomes. I’d also add that as an adopter, I certainly wasn’t the hero in my kids’ story. They have been the heroes in mine. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Thank you for reading, and it’s so refreshing to hear from an adopter who supports adoptees and the sharing of their stories.

  5. Our daughter has really been struggling with these issues lately. We’re good talking through it, she’s got a great counselor — but her friends just make things worse. They say all the “pretty adoption things” pushed in the media and it drives her crazy. It’s hard enough dealing with your own anger when the world says you should be happy and grateful; having the people who should have your back trigger you endlessly makes this impossible.

    1. It was and still is hard for me to have convos with others about it because they can have the “sunshine and rainbows” view of adoption. I hope your daughter can continue to find support in you guys as well as other adoptees!

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