Adoption evokes a multitude of emotions. Perhaps it’s joy from parenting for the first time. It could be anger from having to give up a biological child. It could be anything in between for a variety of reasons. Underlying it all, though, there are some hard truths in adoption. When we are aware of the presence of these hard truths, we may become a little more gentle and understanding with each other. Here are three hard truths in adoption to be aware of.

1. Loss

Whether they acknowledge it or not, for each party in the adoption triad there is typically a sense of loss. For the adoptive parent, the loss might be from the inability to conceive. “What would it be like to have my own biological child,” an adoptive mother might ask herself. For biological parents, it could be the wonder of what has become of their child and whether or not he or she is ok. For the adoptee, it’s probably the loss of that connection with a biological parent. Whatever the case may be, loss is likely part of the equation.

2. Abandonment

Intentional or not, there is abandonment in adoption. Children are naturally connected and have bonded at least to their biological mothers. When they are relinquished for adoption, they have been abandoned for all intents and purposes. It may be for the best. Perhaps the biological mother had no means by which to support her child. Maybe she was incarcerated, had an issue with drugs, or killed in a tragic accident. It could be none of the above. It could just be that she didn’t want to have to care for a child. The reason really doesn’t matter and it isn‘t the issue. The hard truth that needs to be acknowledged is the underlying issue of abandonment.

3. Grief

An adoptive parent may be angry that they can’t have biological children of their own. Maybe they become frustrated at some point and take it out on their adoptive child. In this case, they are expressing a feeling over their grief. Adoptees may be frustrated that they are not a part of their biological family. Perhaps they decide to run away. That could be an expression over grief as well. And biological parents may grieve because they miss their child. Maybe they regret giving them up for adoption in the first place, and they know it’s not something they can undo. Regardless of the reason, there is probably grief somewhere along the line in the process that shows itself in different ways.