It Sounds Like Your Adoption Experience Wasn’t Pleasant…

In what I like to call my everyday interweb adventures, I usually stop by the reddit subforum, birthparents.  Recently, an expectant mother posted there asking for advice regarding the adoption option.  Of course, in stark contrast to most of the advice she received, I posted some truthful answers about adoption in the vein of what I wished I had known before relinquishment.  In response to my reply, I was asked, “you sound like your adoption experience wasn’t pleasant. May I ask why?”

Upon reading this, my immediate response was to chuckle to myself.  What exactly does a pleasant adoption experience look like?  No matter the circumstance, how can giving away one’s child EVER be considered pleasant? My experience wasn’t the horror show that happens to so many other women, to be sure, but I would never categorize it as something on the pleasant part of the adoption experience spectrum.  I’m not sure anyone can.

The question itself (at first glance) seems innocuous.  In my experience, however, a question like this is asked to discount my input.  It is a different way of saying, “I’m sorry your experience was bad, but not all experiences are like that.” Or maybe this mother was hoping to figure out how she could avoid the unpleasantness I experienced.  The thing is, adoption is always unpleasant, for both first parents and adoptees.  It is something to be avoided, if at all possible.  The fact that this mother would ask a question like that leads me to believe that whomever she has been discussing her options with has not presented her with a full, truthful portrait of what adoption means.  That is unacceptable.

Most of the advice doled out by other first parents on this forum is equally unacceptable.  One mother advised her to seek out counseling from an adoption center and to try not to think about how her child might feel in the future.  Excuse me?  What kind of advice is that?  Shitty advice, that’s what kind.  But hey, who I am to say, my adoption experience wasn’t pleasant, afterall.

It is one thing to not get all “anti” on mothers who have already relinquished.  To a certain extent, I agree with not berating these mothers who are happy with their experience (for now).  There are times when I wish I could go back into the fog.  It is quite another thing to lead a mother questioning their ability to parent their child down the adoption primrose path.  It is not okay.  It is not okay to let another mother believe that adoption can ever be pleasant.  With all of the sorrow, grief, and despair that first mothers feel, even in a “happy” adoption situation, how can we ever mince words and give encouragement to the option of adoption.  I would never wish all of this angst on another human being, and essentially, that is what many first mothers do.  It is wrong.  Our role in giving advice to other mothers should be to present the full and honest picture of what adoption is, let mothers know how soul crushingly difficult it is throughout the rest of our lives.  To present it as a solution to a problem is wrong, especially when what they need to make an informed decision is the absolute truth.



  1. teradanielle/blackout

    “Try not to think of how your child may feel in the future” ?!? I am flabbergasted, and yet this implies more than I was ever told–that she may actually have pain caused from being given up–and that pain and anger will be directed at me, her mother, never the infallible adopters who “did me a favour by taking her off my hands” (their words), who pulled out all the stops to make sure it went through. I was barely 19, what did I know about much of anything really? Still child enough to believe the adults were all only looking out for what was best for me and my “their” child. And when that is the only message you ever get, and you have little life experience, it’s so easy to manipulate someone. You are right, it isn’t acceptable. I was told, like I’m sure you were, like I’m sure we all were and are, that our children will always be happy they were adopted; and because they are going to be happy, we are going to be happy. They lied.

    • leenilee

      Exactly, I swear to god it never once crossed my mind back then that my child could ever have issues related to being adopted. Adoption was absolutely presented as giving my child a guarantee to a great life. Now, I have no idea how happy he is and may never know. What I do know is that if he is happy, it is in spite of being adopted, not because of it.

      • teradanielle/blackout

        yes, in spite of it, not because of it. And if I ever manage to find peace, it will also be in spite of it, not because of it.

  2. Hanne Andersen

    Adoption is NEVER a “happy” experience for all mothers and for many children. For mothers as time goes on the utter devastation gets worse. You don’t know until reunion (if that ever happens) that you will never see your grandchildren and that your child only wants you in their life for information and then leaves you.

  3. phaydramorgan

    Reblogged this on Adoption: Second Generation Birthmom and commented:
    I’ve heard this. It’s interesting when people say to me ” you experience sounds like it was negative, but that’s not the norm, you must be anti adoption” and…I laugh. I laugh because the whole time I was in the ” open adoption” looking in you would think I was the picture of happiness. I was smiling in all the pics of me and my son, you would never guess just how much pain was hidden behind that smile. That’s the way you have to be, because if you are honest about your continued grief, adoptive parents get uncomfortable. They withhold visits. They stop sending updates. They threaten to close the adoption. Open adoption relationships are fake. On both sides. And adoption, is never a ” pleasant” experience.

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