Random Glimpses Of Adoption Grief In My Children

I’ve written and shared extensively about our journey with adoption, I know my thoughts and opinions have made me unpopular with many in the adoption fraternity because I refuse to remain silent and because I refuse to embrace what I believe to be the fallacy fed to so many adoptive parents and birth parents about adoption being love, unicorns, rainbows and happily ever afters.


It’s very simple in my mind. Because I want to create an environment and a society that allows my children to explore and claim their grief and trauma. Because I want to help other adoptive parents recognize and acknowledge that their children probably are grieving. I want to help other adoptive parents create environments for their children that is safe and free and allows them to express their trauma, grief and confusion as they move through the stages of their lives. Because I don’t want my children and other children like them to grow up believing they have to hide their true selves and be grateful for the hand they have been dealt and it seems that society, in general, embraces that narrative more than any other. 

Adoptees Voices

I have long been of the opinion that adoptees voices go largely ignored, not just by those working in the adoption circle, or parts of the adoption triad, but that their voices are ignored by society in general. Reading Paula Gruben and Sarah-Jayne King’s books have really helped me open my eyes and my heart to the voices of adoptees. What better way to learn to parent my children than by opening up to, listening to and embracing the thoughts, opinions and experiences of those who are walking a similar path. 

Random Glimpses of Grief 

It’s been my experience that my children can show their grief at some of the most random times and if it weren’t for the fact that I am open to their grief and aware that every day they have an internal struggle, I may completely miss it. As adoptive parents, I believe we have to be aware enough that our children may be struggling or we may miss the manifestations of their grief and by doing so, miss an opportunity to create the open and accepting environment they crave to share their grief.  

This is what happened on Sunday:

Ava, Hannah and I were in the car on the way to the shops to spend Hannah’s birthday money and vouchers. We wre chatting in the car about how Ava was born before Hannah and how she was the big sister when the following conversation ensued:

Ava: I wish I wasn’t the big sister, I wish I was the baby, actually, I wish I was still a baby.

Me: Why do you still want to be a baby?

Ava: Because then I could still be with my tummy mommy. I wish I never had to leave her. 

Me: Oh Love, it’s ok to feel that way, how often do you wish this?

Ava: Everyday.

Me: Do you want to talk about it?

Ava: NO!


  • She is comfortable enough to show glimpses of her grief and for this, I feel like we’ve done ok, we’ve created an environment for her that allows her to feel safe to truly express herself. 
  • Ava is very secretive about her emotions, she has always been this way, but I know when she’s ready, she’ll tell me more and I won’t push her for more information.
  • She hurts. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Granted, she doesn’t show that hurt, but it’s there, it’s inside of her and it can’t be ignored or swept under the rug.

What I know everyone is dying to ask:

How did that make me feel? It’s irrelevant how I feel. Her grief and her trauma are NOT about me. I am her mother. I love her with every fibre of my being. If I loved her less, I could make this about my feelings but I love her too much to be that selfish. I love her too much to make this about me.

But since I know you’re all wondering, this is how it makes me feel:

Sad that my child is carrying this pain inside of her. 

The end.

I don’t feel betrayed, or belittled. I don’t feel like she loves me any less because of her struggle. I just feel sad that she is hurting. Like any mother would.

We need to stop making adoption about everyone in the triad while ignoring the adoptee. We have to listen, learn and acknowledge their experiences.

I feel so strongly that if I can do that for my children, I am in some small way, lessening their burden.

Share on
Previous Post Next Post

You may also like


  • Reply Gail Schimmel

    Just going to mention that my biological child frequently expresses a wish that he had other parents, that he had another family, and that he doesn’t really believe I am his mom. While I don’t doubt adoption grief is real, I also think there is a certain type of child who kind of enjoys needling their parents in this way that goes right to the core of one’s parenting. I asked him how he thinks it makes me feel yesterday, and he said, “very very sad”. I think he sometimes wants to know that he has the power to make me very very sad. . .

    March 7, 2018 at 8:12 am
    • Reply Sharon

      It’s really not the same thing though Gail. M kids have done the same as your mentioned so I do know that they can also play me. But it’s the after effects, the changes I see in Ava after she’s had one of these adoption related admissions that makes me realize how much she is hurting.
      Also, as an advocate for adoptees voices, I think we need to be VERY careful not to be dismissive of adoptees experiences and their expressions of grief and trauma.

      March 7, 2018 at 8:24 am
  • Reply Pandora

    I absolutely agree that we have to be their safe space where they can talk, share their feelings and ask questions, without ever fearing they are hurting us. It’s not about me, it’s something she has to deal with, and I will be there to support her. I also just feel sad and hurt for her, I don’ ‘t feel hurt or betrayed or jealous or anything people expect you to feel. The child in an adoption story had no say in anything, the least we can do is allow them to feel what they feel.

    March 7, 2018 at 8:28 am
  • Reply Jude

    I just love the way you help educate us all. Thank you! Thank you for opening our eyes to this and for so many other things you’ve made me think about. Both specific to adoptees and parenting in general.

    March 7, 2018 at 9:58 am
  • Reply Lise

    I think most kids do that ” I wish you weren’t my mom” thing. I think the difference is those quiet moments where there is no anger or manipulation, just raw grief. The 10pm crying for the mom he can’t remember. The conversations where he talks about how lucky he is because he has us, but how much he wishes he lived with his real mom. There is absolute heartfelt grief and it is so important for it to come out and be spoken about rather than festering.

    March 7, 2018 at 12:04 pm
  • Reply Suzanna Catherine

    My adopted “child” is now 49 years old. There are so many things I did wrong while parenting this amazing individual. I understand that now. How I wish things had been different. This was a closed adoption handled by the State of South Carolina (USA). South Carolina is still stuck in the 1960s, which is not a good place to be.

    About five years ago, my son was having medical issues and we tried to get his medical history (whatever was given before he was placed) and we were totally shut out. His records are closed and we were told they could not be opened. Period.

    Thank you for the honesty you’ve brought to the subject of adoption. I’ve been reading your blog for many years and like Jude stated above, it makes me think.

    March 7, 2018 at 12:58 pm
  • Reply Chantell Papalexis

    I think the difference between the two is that for biological children it can be a fantasy (as a young girl I imagined that the entire cast of The Outsiders were my long lost brothers!) but for adopted children it is a very deep-seated heartfelt yearning. A longing and aching for someone they really and truly miss. Wishing you could have another mother just because you’re not getting your own way or want to annoy your Mom cannot be compared.

    March 7, 2018 at 1:01 pm
  • Reply deborah

    We need to be heard on all fronts..adopted child

    March 7, 2018 at 1:39 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    Thank you Deborah. I agree! We can learn so much by listening to the adoptee.

    March 7, 2018 at 3:48 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    Exactly this. When my kids are being little sh*ts, they will pull that whole “I wish you weren’t my mother” stunt. This is different though. It’s quiet and heartfelt and deeply painful and I can see how my child retreats into herself in this moments of these admissions. Also the linger effects on her last days. She’s never once told me she wishes I wasn’t her mother in these moments, she has just expressed in quiet and grief-filled way her yearning to know her biological mother.

    March 7, 2018 at 3:52 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    I think I should be very clear. I am not anti-adoption, I just believe there are many facets of adoption that can be handled better. We’ve come a long way from the way that adoption was handled but I do believe we have a long way to go to make it better.

    March 7, 2018 at 3:54 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    It’s exactly those quiet moments of grief that make me realize the depth and breadth of her struggle.

    March 7, 2018 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    Thank you Jude.

    March 7, 2018 at 3:57 pm
  • Reply stephanie videira

    So many hugs to her, such a hard thing to go threw but so glad you let her have a feelings and let her talk it out when she needs to.

    March 7, 2018 at 10:33 pm
  • Sade Tamara Lee
    Reply Sade Tamara Lee

    Wow! You are an amazing mother. This is so raw and honest and a painfully beautiful insight into adoption. Xxx

    March 7, 2018 at 10:47 pm
  • Rumbi Goredema Görgens
    Reply Rumbi Goredema Görgens

    Nicole Van Heerden

    March 8, 2018 at 8:46 am
  • Reply Heather

    I’m glad you’re giving her the safe space to talk and you’re so supportive of her and her grief. It must be so hard for you as well though.

    March 8, 2018 at 10:17 pm
  • Reply hopefulltreasures

    I love how you have created an environment, and developed the type of relationship with your daughter, where she feels comfortable and ok to tell you how she is feeling. My prayer is that we would create a similar environment, and develop a similar relationship with our Noah and any other child we may adopt in the future. Thank you for your openness and honesty, once again. As an adoptive mom, I really look up to you. I’ve learnt so much from following your blog! Megan xxx

    March 12, 2018 at 3:16 pm
  • I LOVE comments, leave yours here:

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: