To: Prospective Adoptive Parents From: Adult Adoptees


I asked the online adult adoptee community to share what they would express to Prospective Adoptive Parents BEFORE they adopted if they had the chance. They knew their responses were going to be posted anonymous for a blog post and were happy to contribute to bring awareness and enlightenment to the adoption community.

Here are their responses

  • We are not blank slates. Keep a therapist in reach that is seasoned in issues surrounding adoption. You WILL need them for your child but also for you. If you can’t speak nicely and lovingly towards the biological parents then don’t adopt. Don’t tell them they are your gift from God. God didn’t do that. Also, the term gift is demoralizing… We are not chattel. Join the fight for an adult adoptee to access their original birth records without exception. That will help them to know that their rights as humans matter.
  • Don’t adopt the child. Help the family. You can provide a safe home without changing records and removing someone from their family. If the mother and child/baby must be separated, provide every opportunity for visitation even if it has to be supervised. Remind the child that you are guardians and they have a mother and father. Most of these “crackhead whores” whom society has deemed unfit, have had a past where no one helped them. Something awful has to have happened to have made them turn to drugs. Now is your chance to help mother and baby. If you found yourself in temporary trouble, would you want someone to help themselves to your baby? Do unto others….don’t take their baby. Also, don’t take babies from another country to satisfy your desire to raise a baby. Help that country change their old views that shame women for having babies too young, or out of wedlock, or shame the baby for defects and abnormalities or because of their sex. Help countries adopt the model shown in Belgium and other Nordic countries that acknowledge the importance of the mother/baby bond and socially support all mothers to keep their babies. Babies believe they are one with mother for 9 months after birth. Separating them before that messes with the natural stages of development we are supposed to experience. Seems we have more respect for animals and their babies than we do for humans. Also, for the entire pregnancy and for at least 6 weeks post partum, mother’s hormones are raging. Discussing adoption and having them sign anything is ethically wrong. Once a mother had mothered her child for the first 6 weeks and mother has been assessed by her dr to ensure her hormones are back to normal, mother then can decide if she would like to make first contact with an adoption agency/lawyer. Any contact before that is ethically wrong on the part of the agency/lawyer.
  • I find it’s sick and twisted anyone, especially the Christian community and angelical leaders PRAY for a baby to be separated from it’s mother. They PRAY for this trauma to happen so they can SELFISHLY have a child to call their own. It disgusts me that any REAL Christian would do this. They need to be praying NO CHILD is ever separated from their mother and go adopt a child from the USA that is in foster care AND/OR help mothers and babies stay together. Why the need for a fresh womb infant? Selfishness IMHO.
  • You cannot raise an adopted child the same way you would raise a birth child. I’m adopted and have 2 adopted children. I know what my kids are going to go through when it comes to wanting to know where they come from and all of that. Adoption isn’t easy. Its not fun. Its messy and complicated and not something you can ever understand unless you live it.
  • Be aware that your child may exhibit characteristics not usually seen in “biological” children e.g. more than usual aggressiveness or shyness, unexplained fits of temper, sadness, depression, and more. Realize that it isn’t you. Your child has an innate knowledge of who they are even if they don’t know who they are. They know they aren’t who their new family frequently want them to believe they are. When they can understand more than simple concepts, tell them their story. Don’t sugar coat it, don’t belittle where they came from, just tell them their story. Someday they may want to seek out more information, or they may not. Don’t push one way or the other. If they seek their origins don’t feel sad or depressed, or angry, because this happened to them, not you. If you treated them well, raised them well, taught them well, they will love YOU, but you have to remember there is someone else out there that they have a physical connection to, indeed, a connection at the human soul level. Just be kind, thoughtful, and love them. At this point they need it.
  • No to adoption. Adoption should never be an option. I don’t care what the situation is, it never warrants adoption. All people have a right to know who they are, who their people are, what their place is. All people have a right to not have to pretend to be someone other than they are, which is what happens in adoption. For children who need care while parents get the help they need, guardianship, fostering and sponsoring only. Never ever adoption. Even if parents don’t seek help, still no to adoption. We are who we are. We should not be made change our name and be told these are your parents now when we already have parents and families.
  • I am an adoptee and I adopted a baby. I also have two biological children. My son and I share the challenges, sadness, happiness and hope of being adopted. I tell him his birth parents loved him so much and we talk about them whenever he wants. I also make sure he understands reunion can be painful, especially when secondary abandonment/rejection occurs. But, he knows I will help him search and we will never stop helping him whatever he decides to do. Respect, patience, love and compassion can help all adoptees. I was rejected after 20 years of reunion and he knows the entire story. He and I share so much because I want him to be educated and exposed to the good and bad so he is ready for whatever comes his way. Thanks for this sight.
  • I am not a gift. Yes, I am a gift from God as all babies are, but PLEASE DO NOT REFER TO ME AS A GIFT! It makes me feel like a piece of property with a hefty price tag attached. It makes me feel like I’m not even human. – From A Christian.
  • Don’t do it. Be a positive part of a child’s life without forcing them to address you with the fake title of Mom or Dad. Don’t take away someone’s name, heritage, or family for your own ego. Be a guardian to an older foster child, a volunteer with Big Brothers – Big Sisters, or a doting aunt or uncle. If you’re infertile, I’m sorry about that but adoption will not solve it. It causes more harm than you can imagine.
  • I am an adoptee, and while I have had a terrible experience I still see the beauty in it and don’t discount it. All children need to be cared for. If you are adopting to fill a void for yourself, please do not adopt. If you think adopting a child is going to fulfill a fantasy you already hold, please do not adopt. Emotional intelligence is KEY, but even more essential in the case of adoption. Codependency and family dysfunction are certainly NOT suitable conditions. Be prepared to assist and empathize with a child navigating an extreme amount of loss, rejection, grief, control and identity issues, otherwise you will be setting your child up for failure. When you decide to tell your child they are adopted, already be prepared in knowing what emotions and reactions are expected to arise, and have a plan in place for how you will help them cope with them. Parents should find many ways to openly acknowledge and honor the child’s feelings surrounding adoption and initiate healthy loving conversations. I think having “rituals” in place, where the parents can hold space for the child and honor the loss and feelings would be tremendously beneficial, that way the child can integrate their truth into reality and not repress it.
  • Deal with your infertility issues before you adopt. We are not your infertility counselors. I’m not interested in your Infertility, I’m interested in my real mother and my real father and my brothers and sisters. We will never share DNA, medical history, mirroring, and probably not athletic, music, and education choices. That does not make me defective. I may be rejected by your favorite relatives; will you choose them or me? Adoption has more losses for a child than infertility has for you. The losses are permanent. You can no more replace a mother than an adopted baby can replace your dream child. It’s a recipe for disaster. Adoption is not a one time event – it’s a daily reminder of a catastrophic loss for the adoptee. I personally will never love you more than my bio mother, but I can learn to love you – that’s up to you and how hard you are willing to work.
  • Don’t adopt the child with some pre-conceived idea of what that child should be. Don’t adopt that child if you don’t think you have it in you to love them just as if you were their biological parents. Don’t adopt them thinking they will complete you somehow, and then resent them when they don’t complete you. Do some serious soul searching. What are your goals and expectations from adoption? Also, learn about the child’s heritage and raise them with some knowledge of that and incorporate some of the traditions of their heritage into their upbringing.
  • Don’t take the identity off the child. Tell it as it really is from day one. None of our children are ours to keep or own they will all leave when they want to. But every child must have the same rights to knowledge, identity, genetics, original name even. You cannot make them into something there not. You are lying to yourself if you think you can. And if you cant have children then there is a message in that. Love them but set them free.
  • Why aren’t you adopting from Foster Care?
  • Dont Adopt. Why are you really doing it. To conform to society? To look the same as your friends? To fill a void? Help keep marriage together? Desperate for a Baby? That is the worst reason of all.
  • I would ask are you prepared to have a child that is grieving for someone that can never be you
  • Personally for me I never and still do not feel like I’m a part of their family. My advice would be only give a child to a couple who has no other bio child as u can never compete with that love. The next would be for the child to have access to a councilor while growing up to talk though the everyday things that come with being adopted. I had good parents growing up and since have had contact with my birth parents but the wounds of being adopted run deep.
  • Adoption as a last resort but if it’s necessary, complete honesty/openness, answer every question and become experts in separation trauma with appropriate expert therapists available as early as is required.
  • Consider what the worst case scenario you can imagine could happen and then take a long hard look at your life to make sure you could handle that or that you could find help handling that. Adopted kids don’t necessarily have more issues than other kids, but we do have different issues than other kids. You might consider seeking out a therapist that is well versed in adoption issues before you adopt so you can get some kind of idea before you go through the process.
  • Read the book primal wound.
  • Keep seeking advice from adult adoptees, we have lived it. We know more about adoption than anyone in the equation.
  • I would tell them to be aware and mindful of the challenges that will arise. Loving and raising a child as your own , as beautiful as it is, does not erase the trauma of being adopted. I would tell the parents to be open and as honest as possible when you and the child are ready for that conversation. I would also tell parents adopting a child to listen to understand instead of listening to respond. As an adoptee myself, I just wanted my parents ,who raised me from six months old to listen. That’s it. It is a challenging but rewarding journey if the necessary steps are taken to make sure that the child is taken care of physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • We aren’t “heroes”, we aren’t “chosen”, or “special”, you are not their savior, you are their parent. That’s all. Don’t treat us differently, be understanding, listen when they need to get their feelings out and allow them an outlet to do so. If they want to find their family, let them, support them and love them.
  • Know what issues an adopted children will face. Remember that they have lost their first family and make sure you reassure they are loved no matter what. Talk about both families. Never say how lucky or blest they are. Listen and listen some more
  • I am not your child…..I am a child in your care. I cannot and will not replace the child you wish came from your womb. I am not responsible from whence I came, and if I had a choice I would be with my own tribe. I can learn to love you with care that takes into consideration the trauma of my loss. As I grow I will have questions I have every right to have answered with the truth, the real truth, not the “Rose coloured glasses” truth. I am not perfect, I am not anymore blessed by adoption than you are by infertility. I am as important as any future children you may have, your own or someone else’s. I do not look like you and if we share any common traits, enjoy my uniqueness and don’t take credit for something you or I had no control over. I am special because I exist and you are special because you gave me a chance to be myself.
  • Do not adopt a baby/toddler because of your infertility problem or your selfishness to have a baby that is not yours. If you wish to help a child, foster older children in the foster care system until their families get themselves together to take care of Their child. I am an adoptee and the only place i belonged in this world was in my birth mother’s arms. No woman will ever replace a birth mother. You want to help, help the poor mother keep her baby.
  • Before bedtime : expect that challenging times hard difficult ones will always be there adoption is a trauma for the adopted children and will always be a part of their lives in 1 way or another.
  • Since most adoptions today are open ones an adoptive family would have to feel comfortable with sharing the child with their biological parent(s).
  • Adopt for the right reason.

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Pamela A. Karanova

12 thoughts on “To: Prospective Adoptive Parents From: Adult Adoptees

  1. In terms of an adoptee being able to connect with PAPs I would say the following to these comments:

    1) Just as its not the job of an expectant mother in crisis to provide a child to a couple who would like a baby to parent its not the job of the PAP to help that mother in crisis. Don’t tell PAPs that they should help that mother as it will turn them off to your message to where they’ll lose valuable information on parenting an adopted child.

    2) Unless they are just Fostering PAPs are parents not Guardians (aka Legalized Baby sitters). Don’t refer or imply they aren’t parents. They are one set of the child’s parents and one part of the child’s family. Again as with my first point the PAP will tune out after that is said.

    3) The overall theme of the PAP going into it with an Open mind, respecting the biological family and being able to provide unconditional support and love for the child are important.

    4) Counseling for Infertility for both PAPs IMO is something they have to do. I’m a big believer in counseling for infertile couples no matter what route they move to be it treatments, adopting or being childless by default.

    5) When reaching out to PAPs Adoptees and Birth/First Parents need to think about what their goal is? Is it to convince that couple not to adopt or give them guidance that will benefit a child that couple may adopt?

    At least IMO using scare tactics benefits no one and the couple will adopt regardless of what they are told. But if the adoptee/birth/first parent is able to put the PAP in a position to take the necessary steps and have an open mind/approach then they will have potentially made a difference for the next generation of Adoptees.

    1. Responses to 1) and 2):

      PAPs (potential adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents) are not parents. They are hoping to become adoptive parents, but they are not parents to a child they have not adopted.

      If they want to become parents, then they should put themselves in the shoes of parents – would parents want their child removed for adoption or to be taken care of by strangers if they’re having trouble paying rent or other bills or for expensive education or holding a job or something else? Typically no. Many families struggle so much BECAUSE they want to much to raise their own child(ren) with a good, loving home environment, close to family, with good values, etc.

      In many cases, these children’s parents are struggling with problems that could be vastly improved upon if given support/resources, instead of being given the only option of giving their child away, permanently severing themselves from child and vice versa.

      1. You’re right that PAPs are not parents……yet. I was referencing the idea that Adoptive Parents are Legalized Babysitters rather than parents. I disagree with that idea. I believe they are parents as well.

        I don’t disagree with what you say about expectant mothers in crisis and parents who have lost their children to adoption. I would hope that these people wouldn’t want to lose their children to adoption. My only point was that it isn’t the responsibility of the PAPs to provide those people with help any more so than its those parents responsibility to provide PAPs with a child. I don’t disagree that parents in crisis need help but I don’t believe that PAPs should be given that responsibility unless they choose to do so.

        One question I have is clarification of you saying if PAPs want to become parents they should put themselves in the parents in crisis shoes. How exactly would that make them parents if they put themselves in the parents in crisis shoes? I’m asking because I’m confused by that opening and didn’t want to assume.

      2. The reason why I think PAPs should try to put themselves in the shoes of the child’s parents is because they hope to become parents to that same child.

        They should try to understand what these children have had to face, where these children came from. The continuity of these children’s lives are already disrupted/being disrupted a lot (unlike those of children who won’t/don’t lose their biological families). For most people, life is a continuum. A continuum of our ancestors, to our parents, to us, to our children, etc. Our histories help place us in this vast world, guide us to where we’re going, and connect us to our environment, everyone around us. But in adoptions, particularly stranger adoption, transracial adoption, transnational adoption, sealed-records adoptions, this normal continuum is broken. If these PAPs want to become parents to these children, they should come to understand in what ways these children’s lives/continuity of care have already been disrupted, so they can understand what these children have been going through and how better to care for these children and respect the humanity of these children.

        Instead, too many APs end up blaming these children for their very natural reactions to their very difficult, confusing circumstances and loss of continuity of care. Meanwhile, these children are instructed to love people who don’t understand what these children have been facing. Rehoming, abuse, neglect, murders, residential housing, “returns” come to mind as some of the consequences children with unprepared APs have to live with even beyond the losses they already have had to endure. I’m not saying intact families don’t also have issues of abuse, neglect, murders, residential housing, but APs have made an intentional choice to become parents. The adoption system says that they are doing a “service” for children and screening PAPs. Proactively placing already-vulnerable children in further harm’s way by dismissing the traumatic experiences of these children isn’t a “service”, especially when it’s also without regard to the trafficking and profiting some of these children and their families have already been exploited for (which unfortunately does happen sometimes/too often and shouldn’t be dismissed in the more general discussions of adoption).

        I hope that that clarifies/deepens my position a bit better.

        1. That makes sense and I definitely agree Adoptive Parents need to be open minded and do everything they can to learn of their child’s background. No, they cannot be exactly what their birth/first parents are but they can do their best to try to understand.

          I never had an interest in ancestry even before I learned my bloodline would end with me. But I’m guessing when you don’t have access to it makes you more curious to learn where you came from. That all makes perfect sense.

    2. pffft. Another infertile adopter telling adopted people how to think and act. Yet another attempt at silencing adults.

      1. Infertile? Yes. Not an “Adopter”. I was once a PAP who considered adopting but ultimately did not go down that road. And I’m not trying to silence you. If you or anyone else felt that way I apologize. I was giving my opinion as well as trying to help adoptees better connect with PAPs. Take it or don’t take it.

  2. God’s children? Please understand that we don’t all believe in god (my adoptive mother is a devout catholic), and her magical thinking (in my adoptive experience) was in accordance with her magical thinking that she was my Mother….As an adoptee, I would like to adopt in the future, but I would never lie to a child regarding who I am, or name myself their ‘Mum’ because I would be inflicting mental torment needlessly…………Children deserve truth and respect and if they asked to call me Mum? we would have a discussion about the meaning of truth, and why I could never take their Mum’s place….Their mental well-being would be of primary concern and lies are not conducive to the mental well-being of children…. Given that you’re adopted – did you allow your adopted child to keep their real name/identity? (did you hyphenate it with yours)? and did you tell your adopted child the truth about who you are?

  3. As an adoptee, adoption is a good option. However, make sure post-adoption services are available. The transition into a new family can be difficult (depending of course on the age of the adopted child). Also, do not label them your “special child” or your “adopted child.” Doing so can put undo strain on a childs’ sense of well-being. They are your child. As they become older they will have questions. Be honest with them and support them in their search (if they choose to do so).

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