Dear adoptive parent, I am saddened for your child

Dear friend, or perhaps I need to more accurately say former friend,

When you said to me, years ago, that you were going to adopt a child internationally and I either needed to support you or no longer be part of the conversations…

I dreaded this day when friendship might no longer be possible.

I recognize that you have researched adoption agencies, flown to another country and back, and participated in umpteen online groups that seem to qualify you as the expert in all adoption everywhere.

I acknowledge that you have poured time, money, and the better part of a decade into your quest to become a parent. I validate your love for this little girl, and I honor the genuine bond you have formed with her.

You love her. Your husband loves her. And yet, you are not happy.

You are a parent many years past the time you had hoped to become one, after a lengthy adoption quest preceded by a failed attempt to adopt a foster child.

I will never forget how you told me that you were glad the foster child realized her mistake in not allowing herself to be adopted by you, that you expressed not one iota of compassion for a young girl caught in a system that failed her yet again.

Instead, your only commentary to me was vindication that this child admitted you were right.

In all our years of friendship, I have never heard you speak this girl’s name again.

Instead, you have a foreign-born model, younger and newer. Pliable. One who will call you “Mommy” and coo ecstatically at your every movement. You and your husband delight in molding her in your images.

You love her, more deeply than a rational human being could deem possible.

And yet, she will always wait for the other shoe to drop.

When she asks about her real mother

When she says that she wants to go back to the country where she was born

When she hides herself under the quilt, sobbing because classmates call her “Chinese eyes”  because people like Rosie O’Donnell mock “ching chong” on national television

When she watches your disgust and refusal to eat “Asian food,” the food she would have grown up eating had she not been removed from her family

She will realize your love comes at a price.

Shut up.


Be grateful.

Love only you.

You may think post-adoption will be easier without pesky foster child social workers and inspections and those interfering first parents, but you’re wrong.

For your daughter, love will always come with a price and a choice.

You’ve been an adoptive parent for a relatively short time, so perhaps with time you will expand your thinking. After knowing you for a decade, however, my instinct says not. You are defensive, insecure, possessive, and threatened. You have something to prove and exacting standards for the people in your family.

It is no longer any of my business because we have likely parted ways, and I may never get to see your child again.

But I still cry, thinking of her.

Love is not enough.

Providing for material needs is not enough.

Teaching her to love what you love is not enough.

You can never change her skin, her race, her genetics, or her history. Part of her will never belong to you, and you will come to hate her for it.

I beg of you, across the distance and in this letter you will never see

Sending love born of years of experience and research

Blame me, resent me, shut me out of your life

(Ten years of friendship, and you throw it away overnight)

But please

if you consider this child to be your daughter

never make her choose

between who she was born to be

and the girl who needs you as a mother

I beg of you

Please prove me wrong.

6 thoughts on “Dear adoptive parent, I am saddened for your child

  1. I wish more APs would get this. I try to explain how important it is to truly grieve their losses before adopting. How important it is to listen to first moms and adult adoptees before they bring a child home. That they need to be prepared for a child that is different, a process that is different, a child with needs that are different than their own. This letter is spot on. We adopted domestically, and yes those “pesky” first parents are here. I wish more people adopting internationally would acknowledge that a large part of why they adopt internationally is to avoid contact with the family. We instead are working hard to maintain relationship with our kids first family – it’s hard at times, like all relationships. I’m trying to gather even little things for them, like their dad’s grandma’s recipes. Things I have from my family that mean something to me, I try to get when possible for them. You are absolutely right that part of my daughter will never belong to me. I’m okay with that. There are valid reasons she isn’t living with her first family but those aren’t reasons not to have relationship especially as she grows. I try hard to honor the fact that she has 2 families – much like I did as a child of divorce who was cut off from her dad and his family and adopted by a step dad. I’m rambling, but thank you for this letter. I’m going to share it among those who will probably be offended and totally not get the point.

    • Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. Of course I’m not offended. Listening to voices like yours reminds me that people really do get it. But I caution you–no matter how hard you try, there will be pieces you don’t get and mistakes you’ll make. It’s part of being human. I hope you’ll continue to work hard on your own issues so that you can be a soft place to land when your child needs it. That you can focus on her needs instead of yours. Blessings to you.

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