4 Emotions Adoptive Parents are NOT Allowed to Feel

For starters, don't feel happy. But don't feel sad, either. That's just not allowed.

Karen White July 15, 2016

Adopting a child brings with it a lot of emotions. No one person feels the same as another.

But within the adoption community there are plenty of people who will gladly tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel. God forbid you cross paths with someone who doesn’t think your feelings are valid. You will run across people who look at you as a “savior” for “rescuing a poor, needy child” and worse, those who call you nasty names like “adoptoraptor” and say that you stole your “womb-wet” infant. (Yes, that was actually said in an adoption forum I read!)

Some days it feels like you can’t win no matter how you feel. That being an adoptive parent makes you somehow inherently evil. So let’s take a moment look at four things adoptive parents may feel, and why we shouldn’t be allowed to have these feelings.

DISCLAIMER—I fully acknowledge that there are women who were/are forced into adoption, who had children stolen from them. They deserve to be angry. But this article isn’t for you. It is for adoptive parents to laugh and feel normal in a world where there is no ‘normal.’


1. Happiness/Joy

You just adopted a baby! You have gone through years of infertility treatments, disappointments, failed matches, and maybe a change of heart. The first step I took as a new adoptive parent was to reach out to other adoptive parents in forums on websites like BabyCenter or, in more recent years, Facebook. You will meet a ton of great adoptive parents. Parents whose stories are similar to yours and you can share how happy you are. But you will sometimes find yourself being attacked for "stealing" another woman’s baby. Comments such as "How dare you find joy in your child while another woman spends the rest of her life suffering." To these people, it's just not possible that anyone ever willingly placed a child for adoption. You clearly coerced the child's natural mother into letting you adopt him or her.

2. Sadness/Guilt

Last month I wrote an article about the guilt I felt after adopting our oldest son. Over the years I have heard from plenty of adoptive parents who have expressed similar feelings. But adoptive and birth mothers alike felt the need to comment on how "narcissistic" I was for feeling guilty and then talking about it. How I should never be allowed to be a parent because by adopting a child I did something "utterly unnatural and inhuman" to my son’s birth mother.

3. Frustration/Resentment

I think all adoptive parent with any sense of reality will acknowledge that adoption is based in loss. Your child loses the family they were born into to some extent no matter how open an adoption you have. But if you dare express any frustration with your relationship with the birth family, or seem at all resentful of choices they make, be prepared for a full-on attack on social media! If you express any frustration or anger with the birth parents, you will instantly be labelled as a horrible person. You MUST think you are better than the birth family and clearly you must be putting them down to the child.

4. Security

You love your child with all your heart. But be prepared to have your heart broken because no matter what you do, your child will always return to their birth family. You are just a "fake" mother for the time being until your child grows out of "the fog" and realizes how terrible you are for keeping them from their "real" families. You can try to keep feeding them the "Kool-Aid," but eventually they will realize you for the baby stealer you are.

In Conclusion
5. In Conclusion

Now I hope to God no one took this to heart. You are enough. Yes, birth families are important, but so are you. You can be sad. You can be happy. You are entitled to feel however you feel. No feelings are wrong. Misguided or misplaced, sure, but every emotion is valid and deserves to be acknowledged. I mean heck, your child deserves YOUR best right?

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Karen White

Karen White is the self-proclaimed leading authority on being "that mom." You know the one. The PTO Vice President, room mom, baseball team mom, AND leader of well-behaved kids (OK, the well-behaved part may be stretching it . . . like really stretching . . .) When she isn’t threatening to tackle one of her boys on the ball field if they don’t run faster, or convincing her 4-year-old daughter that everything doesn’t HAVE to sparkle, she is also a wife and stay-at-home mom of three. One of the three happens to have been adopted, but good luck figuring out which one it is, since they all have pasty white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes.

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