gallery Dear Adoption, I’m Trying to Unravel the Mess You Made



Dear Adoption, I’m Trying to Unravel the Mess You Made

I don’t have a bad adoption story. The family that adopted me were wonderful, loving, Christ-centered people. They gave me unconditional love, a childhood filled with traditions and memories, in a nurturing environment. But, it was hard, really hard, because I always missed my mother. My parents were very respectful when they spoke of her and they prayed for the day I would find her, never threatened by my search.

I relinquished my daughter at age 19, the exact same age my mother was when she relinquished me, to a couple that I truly love. From the very beginning they wanted me in her life. They never stood in our way and not only considered me family, but referred to me as her mother. Our adoption is the most “open” I have ever known. It was never hard until she became an adult, and NONE of it is her fault. Any insecurity she feels is because she’s adopted. That’s on me.

Just recently, after a lifetime of searching, I located my mother. It was nothing I ever expected. It was beautiful and painful and healing and heartbreaking all at the same time, because we fit. And, she’s a lovely, kind, intelligent, woman of faith. She would’ve been a wonderful mother! To realize this is devastating. I was told it was a “better life” when, in reality, it would’ve just been different. I missed her every day.

I spent the first 45 years of my life believing adoption was something brave and beautiful, even when it separated me from my mother and then again later from my own daughter. I now understand that to believe the myth is to sweep away the immense pain that MUST accompany and follow the destruction of God’s plan. So, I’ve been unable to stop the bleeding once I realized the decisions that were made FOR me as an infant, and, even worse, the decisions I made FOR my daughter were, in fact, a tragic mistake. We were told it was a “selfless decision”; that my mother ‘loved me so much” she gave me away. But, don’t people see what this does to a child? Love=Abandonment. And, I believed them. I believed them when they told me I wasn’t good enough to parent my child and that she deserved better than her own mother.

So, today I weep. I weep for the lost years as I gather up the twigs and branches of our family tree that was decimated by adoption. And, I’m at the center of it all, carrying around this heavy load of grief, and guilt. But, I can see redemption… It’s settling around me in the nest that I’ve made.

Stephanie is a New York adoptee, recently reunited with her family of origin. She is also a first mother; her daughter lost to adoption in 1990. Theirs has always been an “open adoption”. Stephanie is an advocate for family preservation, adoption reform, and the right of every single adult adoptee to have restored access to their original birth records. She’s also a wife, a mother of 3, and has 1 grandchild. When she has time, she blogs at: Bleeding Hearts: Uprooted and Transplanted by Adoption


  1. I’m adopted too! I also had a loving family, who did everything possible for me. But something WAS missing – my idendity. I’ve found my birthmother rather quickly and she passed at a young age, and was not motheringmaterial, but not an unkind person. So there was no other option in my case.

    I only had sparse information about my biological father and only just recently found out, who he actually was and I’m now in touch with my family on his side. A brother and a sister as well as cousins. You can read about the journey here (translation possible).

    I can relate to the pain you feel about your own adoption but even more so that you’ve done the same to your daughter. That I don’t understand how you could ever do. But at least you own up to it and I’m sorry for your and her pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Deborah! Thanks for reading and sharing your journey. I always tell people when I help them with their searches that to know our truth is better than knowing nothing at all. What we discover won’t always be what we hope for but it’s OUR STORY! I’m so glad you’ve discovered yours. I’ll be sure to check out your blog! Thanks again! Love to you.


    • Jeannie, thank you. I’m so thankful for the adoptee’s I’ve met that have shared similar experiences. It’s a journey and as hard as it is, it’s also part of healing.
      Thanks for reading!


  2. Beautifully spoken. Thank you for sharing your truth. I am sorry you have had to walk through so much pain. I too am building my nest and am grateful for a loving heavenly Father who will NEVER leave me. Sending warm hugs, Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Amy. I see really beautiful things emerging from all of this, as we sit tight in our nests and wait to see what’s in store. It’s gonna be good.


      • I always worry, I adopted my great grandchildren, the older boy knows who his parents are and I allow visits, the younger girl doesn’t, she was only 3 wks old when I got her. But I am always honest about who their parents are. Sometimes I feel guilt that I took their children, but both were serious drug addicts. There were safety issues. But I hope the children will be happy, that is always my hope. Adopted 2 yrs ago, but had them for 3 1/2.


  3. Stephanie my love … I believe in my heart that I am a strong and powerful woman. Sadly, I am not strong enough, nor am I powerful enough to make all of this hurt that is in your beautiful heart, go away. I wish I could. You know that I love and support you, no matter what. <3. anne … one of your many Arizona mommas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne!! AHHH!! You’re so sweet to me. No words to convey how important each of you mothers have been on this journey. My gosh! As if two wasn’t enough!😊 Clearly, it takes a village. Your words mean so much. Love you, momma.


  4. It’s nearly impossible to grapple with the harsh reality of what adoption really IS…when it’s all you’ve ever known since your first breath of life. Your journey has been incredible and hard. You describe it beautifully. This community is fortunate to have you fighting so hard for awareness and equality. Bless you, Steph, and every twig in your nest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You made me tear up! How lucky I am to have you in my corner. Thanks for being so supportive (and also hilarious) Your presence in adoptionland makes everything brighter.. Love to you.


  5. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am wondering something. Do you believe that no pregnant woman really “chooses” adoption? Do you believe that they are all manipulated into it? Does your biological mother regret placing you for adoption, or does she feel it was the right thing to do, even amidst sadness over the loss of you? I feel vulnerable saying this on this forum, because I am in the minority, but my husband and I just completed our homestudy and adoption profile submission and have been preparing to adopt. After 9 years of infertility and tons of praying and research, I sincerely felt God call us to adopt. That said, I’ve never wanted to “take” a baby from her mom, but I became convinced that the mom we’d be matched with would be the “right” match: a woman who finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy and that she has CHOSEN adoption for her child, after deeply considering parenting and perhaps abortion. That would be the ONLY match I could ever want to have–I would always wish for a baby to remain with her mother and hope that if I become a mother through adoption, that it is PURELY from the first mom’s intentional, uncoerced choice. While I long to be a mother, I do not desire it more than my desire to do the right thing and surely not at the expense of another woman forsaking her child. I hope my sincerity has come across and you will help me by providing a thoughtful response. Thank you so much.


    • Your sincerity definitely comes across. Thank you for asking the question. I will let Stephanie respond but I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your comments and question. Feel free to email if you need anymore insight.


    • Hi J… I come at this from a different perspective. I was adopted as a two week old baby and am in the minority when I say that I am grateful to have been adopted. I didn’t have those feelings of being being abandoned. I never felt any desire to meet my birth family. I was happy where I was and I felt certain I was where I was supposed to be. Later in life, I did meet my first mother and she told me what my life would have been like had she kept me. If she had kept me, I’d have had big issues from that experience. No upbringing is perfect and I’m grateful to have had the one I did instead of the one I didn’t.

      I’m not writing this convince anyone else that their perspective is wrong. It isn’t. It’s just theirs. My perspective isn’t wrong either and I have adopted friends who feel like I do. I think people are affected by their circumstances differently. No right. No wrong. Just different.

      All this to say that I don’t agree that the baby is always better off with the first mother. I have friends who have adopted children born of drug addicts. There is nothing anyone can say that would convince me being raised by a drug addicted mother is better than an adoption by mentally healthy parents. I also don’t think being raised by someone who doesn’t want you is healthy for a child.

      I salute your thoughtfulness about adoption. What a wonderful, refreshing thing. Just wanted you to hear another perspective that’s as valid as the rest.


  6. Hi, J. Thank you for your open and honest comments and questions. I sincerely hope I can answer them in a way that will help. First, let me say that your search for answers and understanding, with so much compassion, is appreciated and it sets you apart from many other potential adoptive parents. To be a parent to an adopted child requires so much more than most people realize. This will greatly benefit any child you bring into your home.

    Your post, more than any other, leaves me in a very conflicted place. Everything I fight for is to preserve families, to give mothers all the supports they need to parent their children, and to eliminate any coercive forces that might prevent that from happening.
    That being said, I’ll try to answer your questions as honestly and sensitively as I possibly can.
    I know that girls/women who relinquish their children are usually doing so because of lack of supports and resources. I do know that not every woman wants to parent their children. But, adoption is not an alternative to abortion. There are women who carry to term, and those who don’t, women who want to have a baby, and those that don’t. For the women that choose to continue a pregnancy, very rarely will they carry a child to term then WANT to give away their child. This, typically, happens when they feel backed into a corner, in fear, with lack of support. What I believe we have a responsibility to do is care for those in need, and that includes scared young women that want to keep their precious babies.
    The adoption industry does a beautiful job manipulating and coercing women into relinquishment. They spin it to make mothers feel they are being brave and selfless.

    (Examples of coercion: referring to a mother as a ‘Birthmother’. This term separates their true definition as mother, it tells them they are nothing more than a vessel or an incubator for someone else.

    Making an adoption plan. This puts pressure and obligation on the mother so she won’t disappoint the potential adoptive parents.

    Pre-birth or in hospital signature of TPR. A mother needs time to make a decision that irrevocable.

    Money paid by potential adoptive parents to the mother at anytime during pregnancy (manipulative)

    Potential adoptive parents having contact with her prior to delivery, or in the hospital. It’s pressure for the mother to not disappoint them.

    Promises of ‘open adoption’ in an effort to appease the mother, yet having no intention of keeping those promises.)

    Ok.. Back to your questions..

    My mother regrets her decision. But, like me, she believed it was the best decision at the time. Also like me, she didn’t have family support. We have discussed this at great length. We would both do it over if we could, but we can’t, so we are determined to enjoy each other for the rest of our lives.

    I will end this with a few thoughts. I’d really like to challenge you to consider foster adoption. This is the very premis of National Adoption Awareness Month (November). To bring awareness to the thousands of children languishing in the foster care system. Every child deserves permanency and love and there are so many that need it right now.

    My last thought, and one that I have poured myself into over the last few years is this idea that ‘God calls us to adopt’. It’s been important to me to find scripture to support this statement, one I’ve heard so often in my life. Nowhere in scripture is there any reference to infant adoption. The sin is premarital sex, not motherhood. He loves mothers and He loves family. Even Moses was still nursed by his own mother and in the cases of true orphans (both parents deceased), a child is raised by kin or within their village or communuity. I believe that God is sovereign and perfect, and that He doesn’t make mistakes, which also means He doesn’t put children in the wrong womb. He knows the beginning to the end, and He has a plan for a child born in difficult situations. And I believe His plan is a mother and her child -together. The word adoption in churches is conflated with the concept of ‘adopted into the family of Christ’. Spiritual adoption is nothing like domestic infant adoption, which causes great trauma to both the mother and her child at separation.

    One more thing. Thank you for your obvious concern for mothers in this process. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story and comment. I hope my passion and strong feelings about this issue weren’t offensive, because that’s never my intent.

    Please feel free to add me on FB (Stephanie Mays Staats), we can message or talk more about it if you’d like.



  7. Hello, I am a mother of three children. All adopted. My first a private (domestic) infant adoption. It is an open adoption and a relationship that I cherish and am extremely grateful that my daughter has(and that I share part in as well). I admit that 15 plus years ago when we all met we had no idea the scope of emotions adoption entails. I appreciate your open, raw honest thoughts on your experience and I pray that beautiful things can come from your “nest”.

    That said, I do worry about my daughter. I worry she feels she is missing something in her life, though she’s never expressed it. I have had very open discussions about this very topic. I pray daily that if she finds these feelings she knows she can vocalize them, that’s it’s ok and that I won’t be offended. I will do all in my power to support her. I also worry about her first mom, someone I feel as much love for as any member of my family, I consider her as such in my heart. I am so grateful we have an openness with her but I worry she feels pain. It hurts my heart to think about those I love hurting.

    After I read your moving post I just kept thinking, now that we are here, in the thick of this life, what do we do now? My heart says to just keep loving, keep talking, keep being open and honest. I hope it is enough.

    (My younger two were foster to adopt and siblings, the younger with special needs. A different adoption path with its own unique challenges.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda, I apologize for taking so long to respond.

      I commend you for not just scratching the surface, but for digging deep, wanting to protect and prevent your adopted children from pain.

      Adoptive parents must recognize that adoption comes from loss. For one family to be formed, another must be destroyed. I think my parents understood this. They knew to fully love me meant they accepted the pain that came with it. To fully love me, they wanted me to be whole. And the only way that was possible was to give me freedom to find it, to have the tough conversations, to realize that maybe, just maybe, no amount of love from them would ever be enough to fill the mother shaped hole my first mother left.

      Not every adoptee experiences this loss. It’s a crap shoot. But, to be prepared for that possibility is the most precious gift you will ever give your child. I love my mom so much MORE for it. I am truly one of the lucky ones.

      Prayers and peace to you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I too have been struggling through the pain and grief of being abandoned and adopted. Reading your words has honestly brought peace into my heart. I have been searching for my biological mother in Russia as well and quite honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever find her. However, I feel that if I do, I will experience healing that i haven’t yet. Thank you again


  9. I am both an adoptee and a ‘birth mother’. I have been through two reunions, one at 32 with my bio- mother and my ‘half’-brothers and another at 59, (3 years ago) with my bio-father’s family and my ‘half’-sisters. The latter has been amazing and healing. My relationships with my own BM is ongoing but fraught for both of us. A long and sad story which tonight at least there is no time to tell it. At the time that I discovered my real father’s identity (not as I had been told or endlessly researched), within perhaps 36 hours I also discovered that the little boy I had given for adoption when I was 15, had died at age 34. This devastated me in a way that will be with me for my remaining days. The adoption was coerced in many of the ways you so well describe. The fallout of my own adoption and then coerced relinquishment of my child and then his death is but one tragedy, of many, different circumstances but a horrific breach of a fundamental bond lies at the heart of adoption and all parties need to remain aware of that.
    Often white westerners from affluent nations want white babies but they are scarce. Why? Because women now have alternatives in first world access to birth control/abortion/income support for single mothers….fundamental changes which allow the woman to choose. When given options, mostly they choose to keep their babies. Desperate women in undeveloped world are now the source of babies for adoption. (Don’t get me started )
    Adoption IS NOT the great alternative to abortion.
    I have learned over the years that I cannot talk about any of this to non-adoptees and I don’t anymore, but adoption sites, where one can access the experience of other adoptees, I found invaluable.

    During my more recent searches and DNA discoveries I have also seen that there are at least five generations of maternal separation in my maternal line, for one reason or another….I don’t know if others have reported anything similar. The field of epigenetics, inherited trauma and other effects on DNA is interesting in relation to adoption, which I imagine would certainly leave its mark . I do know that have the double adoption whammy we have is more common than we might imagine. Food for thought…


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