Adoptees, Why Did Your Adoptive Parents Adopt You?  

I write about the difficult dynamics in adoption, the ones no one wants to talk about. As I have emerged from the fog of adoption, I’ve learned that not all adoptees are adopted for the reasons most people think they are. So what was the reason your adoptive parents adopted you? What were you told, and did it align with the truth?

Society paints a picture that adoptees are taken in when their biological families don’t want them. Their adoptive parents have taken on this responsibility to parent another person’s child to provide a safe and loving home for the child. The adoptive parents are then seen as heroes and often take on the superior attitude of saving an unwanted child from a life of despair. White savior complex sits front and center on many occasions regarding adoptions today. There is an underbelly to these false realities.

However, this is the opposite contrast of what many adoptees feel while we navigate life on the other side of the coin. For many of us, over years of our lives, we learn the truth about why we were adopted, and it opens up a level of understanding for each of us. We’re told we were chosen, and most of the time, we believe it. It’s a cushion to soften the blow of the realities about adoption. The chosen baby theory makes people feel better, even when it’s not true.

I am here to share the truth that most of the time, when a baby is adopted, the reasons they were separated from their biological mothers isn’t usually a pretty story. We must share this reality to stop setting adoptees up for the life-altering disappointment when they discover the truth. The separation trauma is traumatic enough, and we don’t have to add more lies and secrecy to it by using the chosen baby theory. I will be writing more about the chosen baby theory soon.

It’s rare for someone to choose to take on the responsibility of parenting another person’s child, with it being the first option. People generally want to have their own biological children FIRST, before adoption is ever spoken of. This means adoption is likely the LAST option vs. the chosen one. If you think your adoptive parent’s hand-picked you out of a line of babies, I can guarantee you this is a false narrative spun by the adoption industry. It’s part of the propaganda they sell to dress adoption up and hide what it truthfully is. The truth is, they took the next baby in line.

My adoptive mom was infertile. She couldn’t have kids of her own. So instead of healing from this significant loss and accepting those were the cards she was dealt, she adopted! I carried the load of her struggles with infertility my entire life. Somehow I remember saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” more than anything. She never healed from the divorce or her infertility struggles. I was the prime target of her emotional and mental outbursts and my adopted sister. Our adoptive father divorced her, left us, and moved away even when he knew she couldn’t take care of us. It was no secret that she was mentally ill. From an early age, I was her caretaker. I rubbed her back, put lotion all over her body, cleaned her room, changed her bedding. I ran her bath water, brushed her hair, cut coupons for her, cleaned the whole house, and the list could go on.

I started to learn in my early teens that my adoptive mother had a fear of going to a nursing home in her older age. She talked about this in my childhood many times, and by my teen years, it was very apparent to me that she had significant issues with going to a nursing home. As I started to connect the dots on this, and I experienced a life of hell in this home, it is evident that she adopted 1. Because she couldn’t have offspring of her own. 2. She didn’t want to go to a nursing home in her old days. These reasons are far-fetched from wanting to provide a loving and caring home to a child in need.

Another highlight about this reality is that our relationship was very strained my whole life, especially as I grew into my adulthood. She tried to convince me to be her power of attorney when I was 38 years old. When I was 38 years old, I was the single parent of a new 18-year-old high school graduate. I also had twins that were in 9th grade. I had my hands full to take on this responsibility, and I declined. If we had a healthy relationship and if she wasn’t abusive my whole life, I might have considered it. However, she went straight for my fresh out of high school 18-year-old daughter when I declined.

My daughter was barely out of high school, yet when she asked her and pursued her to be her POA. She was applying to colleges and ready to start her life as an adult. So why would she want to dig her claws in my daughter in this way? Because her plan with me backfired. I cared for her and catered to her my entire life until I finally broke free in 2005. I packed up a UHaul, all my belongings, my kids and moved across the country to escape her. It was the hardest thing I ever did because when you are adopted, you then step into a space of having no family and, in this case, no mother. I didn’t have one anyway, but we started our life over. I had no place to live, no job, no money, no car, and no keys TO ANYTHING.

I did this not only for my kids to have a better life but also for myself. So I could start the healing process from all my adoption experience has caused. I have come to life little by little, and today I’m thriving. However, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t been hurt by the reality of why my adoptive mom adopted me, to begin with. I see right through her intentions. It would be easier to believe the fairytale narrative; however, my life’s experiences won’t allow me to believe this.

I am not saying that some adoptees aren’t adopted for pure reasons, but I know I am not the only one who has figured out I was adopted to fill the void a biological child would have brought to my adoptive mom and her adopting for her wants and needs. It’s almost like I feel like a pawn in a game I never agreed to play. Unfortunately, because of this and all the abuse and lies she inflicted on me my entire life, we were estranged for several years before she passed away.

I’m curious about the experiences of my fellow adoptees? Do you feel like your adoptive parents adopted for “the right reasons?” whatever that looks like to you? Or do you feel there was another reason or even several? How has this made you feel?

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Thanks for reading and listening,

Love, Love.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article and podcast are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova.

3 thoughts on “Adoptees, Why Did Your Adoptive Parents Adopt You?  

  1. Thanks Pamela; I got my records from Children’s Home Society, and my father wrote that he wanted to adopt a child so that if he died, his wife, my mom, would not be alone. He was a WWII vet, and he thought about dying a lot.

  2. I’ve heard your story too often- from other adoptee girls and from myself. I was told I was “chosen” and then would hear the 10 minute story of my “coming home” from my adopted parents. It’s about things I didn’t do right as a baby but they put up with anyway. I don’t know my first words or first steps or any firsts- these were not important. As a girl, my “job” was to take care of my mother.

    When I was 6, I learned my adopted mother was pregnant and my role would change to someone who helped the family out, since her “real” child was coming. My adopted mother then miscarried and told me god punished her for adopting me first and I wasn’t worth it. When that understandably really upset me, I cried and begged my mother to take it back and then asked to go back to the orphanage if she didn’t want me. I was told I was a punishment from god. And I broke the unwritten rule of adoption. You cannot say you are unhappy if you have been adopted. Once they figured out my real punishment- permanent chores I could never finish, and I was told I had to earn my way back into the family. How dare I not want to be a part of their family!

    Publicly, my family was “great” and I had to play that part. Privately, I was sometimes told to not even eat with the rest of the family, or go out with them, etc.- always something I supposedly did wrong at the time. My family actually called me “Cinderella”, thinking they were funny, as they left for somewhere but I couldn’t go because of chores that suddenly appeared that I failed to do which were now going to keep me home. My siblings’ failure to do chores held no consequences other than to do the work. My family then started telling people I didn’t want to come along, if people asked where I was. So they continued blaming me for not being what they wanted. But I was “lucky I was chosen” by such a wonderful family. Many people still believe my family is “great” and I have always been “difficult” and let us never forget, “ungrateful”.

    I can tell you with certainty that my only real purpose in the family was, and is to “keep my mother happy”. It’s hard to hear you are not really wanted by someone. But it’s harder to know it while everyone around you- people who don’t even know you- tells you “how lucky you are”- because a nice family “wanted” me. No. The nice family really wanted something else and ended up with me because of a choice THEY somehow made. I don’t know if the next baby girl on the list could have done any better with these people, but I do know that I’ve been paying the price for not being their “real” child for my entire life.

    And as crappy as my story is, I have an adopted friend whose adopted mother, in front of me, said she wished she had the money back that she spent on adopting my friend because she really needed that money. This was said very casually to two adopted girls while a mother imagined her way out of her own money issues. My friend also had no say in how she came to be in that household. And we all know that adopted mother would never dare say that anyplace else.

  3. Pamela, this is a ‘long overdue’ and a much needed ‘reminder’ that, although there can be only one truth, seeking the ‘right truth’ and finding it is most empowering. Over the many decades it is quite evident that adoptees, like myself, have subconsciously redefined the mesning of a ‘Chameleon’. IMHO, adoptees have perfected this unplanned trait spending much of their earlier lives meandering through the ‘Fog’. ( as you have succinctly put it ). Thank you so much Pamela for your descriptive sojourn. This will, undoubtedly, relieve the angst of many adoptees who find themselves floundering and trapped by their inability, no matter how hard they have tried, to escape the chains of secrecy.

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