The Darker Side of Adoption


If you read this blog, you know I love my kids…all of them. You know I am a huge believer in Adoption and finding families for kids who need families. I love reading the happy stories of adoptive families who treasure their adopted children.  I watch the YouTube videos of kids being adopted, internationally and domestically and I smile! Our video can be found there.  And, while it is a happy/feel good video, it does not show the whole story of the years after the adoption date.  Our Adoption Video

For years we took our kids to therapy, special school programs and other services to get them help for the issues they came to us with from Russia orphanages or dysfunctional Russian families. Our son has some distinct learning issues but is caring, funny and enthusiastic about life. His issues I can deal with.  This year I am homeschooling him with the hope he can attend the local middle school next fall in a special ed program for kids with learning issues like his. He still sees a therapist to help him with social behavior issues and coping skills…but for the most part is a normal active kid for his age.

Our teenage daughter, coming here at almost 11, is another issue.  She has caused us a lot of heart-aches. The hopes and dreams for her may never be fulfilled.  She has had more therapy than most people would ever give their children.  While this has helped, she may never care for us as her ‘family’. She is more concerned for her friends and the next party or social event…never concerned about the future. We have finally just accepted her as she is and we realize she may never need us for anything more than getting her needs fulfilled from us. It is very disappointing and we are heartbroken that our dream for a daughter to love and love us is probably not going to happen for us.  We still love her, but I almost feel guilty that we can’t wait for her to graduate high school and move out on her own.  I never felt that way with my three older sons.  I actually cried when they went off to college and moved out.  I missed them so much…and still do.  But our lives will be less stressful and happier once this child moves on.

I never wanted to admit this…or write this.  I know there are other adoptive parents out there who are also saying,”Why did we do this?”  I know you take a risk with a biological child too, but an adopted child comes with a lot of unknown factors and some are just not correctable.  I do think the risks are higher the older the child at adoption. 

I am guessing I’ll get some comments and feedback from this post, but I needed to put it out there.  Am I glad we adopted?  Yes.  However, we went for Alex and probably should have not felt the need to bring home his older sister.  It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  Would I go back and change it? Probably not.  We love her too, but it has been an extremely rough path for us and we keep praying we can all stay strong until she is on her own.

Deborah Mumm, The Adoption Coach

Everything for Adoption




7 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you Debbie for sharing the “not so fun” parts of parenting and particularly parenting a child who comes to you pre loaded with anger, abandonment, fear and bonding issues. While most teenagers are a “handful”, it seems the acting out can be intensified 100% with a child who had little to no early childhood attachment to you. I am currently experiencing this with my own daughter who was brought to me through adoption. And to top it all off, she is a GIRL! I also raised 3 sons through the teens and they were not even close to being as mean and spiteful. Anyway, may God bless you for your heart, strength and love that you so easily share with others. And for letting the rest of us know that we are NOT alone in this stage of parenting. Blessings-Laurie


    • Thanks, Laurie. Although it is not good to know you are experiencing similar things as us, it does help to know that we are not alone. Sometimes you begin to think you are parenting wrong, or doing something wrong for this to be happening. But like you, we had 3 older boys and never experienced this kind of spitefulness. When we laid down the rules, there might have been some complaining but they always did as we said. Yes…the girl drama is a new one for us as well. I know why she is the way she is…but that doesn’t make it any easier for us! LOL….
      Thanks for the words of encouragement. It is difficult to talk to friends who questioned us as to why we would adopt her in the first place and now that she is proving that we should have listened to them, I can’t very well talk to them about these issues. So confusing, isn’t it?
      Hang in there!


  2. Hi Debbie, I’ve read some of the negative responses on the yahoo group forum, and I wanted you to know that I know what you mean here and that you are just being “real”. Sometimes we have looked at each other and said “why did we do this”??? For us it has turned out much better than in the case of your daughter, but I remember that crushing feeling of no escape,,,,,,,it’s not like you take the kid back to the store and return him/her! Adopting an older child is harder than imaginable. They come with a past that you have nothing to do with! No one can fully understand unless you’ve done it.


  3. Thanks for the support. It hurts when your adopted child acts out and suddenly you are put in the position of where all the ‘I told you so’s’ about adoptions gone wrong is now YOU. I run an Adoption Support group and try to keep things positive, but the reality is….something could go wrong and your child may not want that ‘perfect’ life you are working so hard to give her. It is complicated, for sure! Don’t pre-judge people with teens who are acting out. It is very difficult.


  4. Posted by help4yourfamily on Wednesday, June20, 2012 at 3:35 p06

    I am a therapist and I work with attachment disordered (usually adopted) children. I am so glad you posted this since many of the parents who come to see me come in feeling this way and worry about being judged for it. There are so few therapists who are trained to deal with this issue, and can even do more harm than good. Thank you for sharing your story and being so honest. I will share it with some of my clients to break down some of the feeling of isolation. All the best to you.


  5. Posted by M.A.Pepper on Wednesday, August1, 2012 at 3:35 p08

    Our daughter will be 21 in three weeks, she was adopted at birth. I hate to admit that I cannot remember when she didn’t bring us heartache. We’ve finally cut her off from our lives, she was slowly killing us……Oh yeah, she’s six months pregnant…. God help her & her baby because we’re simply worn out. Her total rejection, lies, stealing from us, just a complete & total disregard for her ENTIRE adopted family…. This has gone back to early childhood. We’re no longer sad & heart broken, we’re moving on with our lives. My husband & I are concentrating on each other for a change.


    • There would have been a day that I wouldn’t have understood your feelings about your daughter. However, now I totally can relate to you on this. We set up the Family Contract, which our daughter quickly broke, so that we could take control of our family life again. We actually get along better with our daughter now that she is out of our house. My husband and sons are smiling again…and so am I. That heavy veil has been lifted. Our daughter seems happy also…although she is now just living off her boyfriends family and really doesn’t know what it means to be independent. She acts so much better when she visits us!
      I pray your daughter gets her act together, especially with a baby on the way. So sad. Just realize you did everything you could for her and now she has to discover how to live on her own. Some adoption stories just don’t have that happily ever after ending. ( I am still hoping that someday we can be proud of our daughter.) Best of luck to you on this journey!


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