gallery Dear Adoption, The Physical Abuse Didn’t Kill Me but The Emotional Abuse Did


Dear Adoption, The Physical Abuse Didn’t Kill Me but The Emotional Abuse Did

I spent my first three years of life bouncing back and forth between family members before being adopted into the home I grew up in. I know not many people remember when they were three but I do and I’m guessing the strength of my memory is because of the trauma; I don’t remember anything good. I remember always feelings afraid, worried, worthless and sad. But I did know I was with my family and even though it was not a good life, there was something good about that.

When I was adopted I was scared and I didn’t want to leave family because at least it was familiar. If I knocked something over I’d be beaten. If I spoke too loudly, got sick, or breathed wrong, I’d be beaten. I wouldn’t call it comfort, but there is something better about knowing the future instead of not knowing.

As it turns out, I didn’t have much to worry about. The family who adopted me continued the abuse. Sure, they changed it up so there were no bruises, scrapes or burns to explain away. I really think they wanted to save someone to elevate their egos and adoption gave them a means to do just that. They beat me down emotionally every hour I was awake and I did not sleep very much. I was too slow, too dumb, too needy, too damaged. “Don’t you know how lucky you are to live here, with us?…Thank your lucky stars, it could be a lot worse and you could be dead…”. Sometimes I wished I were dead.

When I was a three year old being pushed down the stairs, I knew the exact moment I would hit the concrete floor and the pain would sting. I used to count it out in my head.

When I was a five year old, I never knew what sharp word would cut through my heart at any given moment.

Push me down the stairs any day. I can heal from that and I have so many times. I can count the seconds and I know when the pain will begin and when it will end.

The cruelty of words is the bruises don’t show.

The family who adopted me enjoyed my downtrodden facial expressions because they would then explain publicly that I had “been through so much” before they “took me in”. When I was thirteen, I actually laughed when my adoptive mother said that at church. The way in which she turned her enraged face to silence the truth my laughter might reveal startled even the good church going friend she was talking to. But she quickly collected herself and poised her face back into the perfect church lady smile and they continued to discuss how I was often locked in a room for days as a child and how I now have a beautiful room with wallpaper, a toothbrush holder and one doll (my adoptive sisters had more dolls than I could count). I hated that room with the wallpaper and I felt more locked up in there than I did when I actually was locked up.

Finding joy is not easy for me. Sometimes the only thing I’m joyful about is being on my own. It is a lonely place. But it isn’t as lonely as I ever was in any of the families I was a part of.

I hate bad parents. Biological and adoptive. My own childhood isn’t what makes me the most angry. What makes me the most angry is how there are still people having children and adopting children who are cruel and abusive and are “raising” their kids to possibly have a life like mine.

I’m sorry to all the kids who go through what I went through. I’m never having children.

I don’t talk about my childhood very much. When I do it surprises people that I wish I was not adopted. The physical abuse from my biological family was really bad and it may have killed me over time. But the emotional abuse from my adoptive family was worse and it did kill me. It killed me and re-kills me every day of my life.


-This piece was submitted anonymously by a Canadian domestic adoptee.


  1. I am so sorry to hear this ! People can be so cruel !! But being cruel to a child !!!!!I just don’t understand !!! I hope you are ok now, or do you still live with your adoptive parents ? I wish you all the luck and love in the world , you deserve it !!!!!!!


  2. I did not have physical abuse.

    I don’t know if I had emotional abuse.

    I was placed with my adoptive parents at 1 month of age. Mom was loving? She stayed home with me until I was 6. She loved to work, and did to like to stay home. She would take me to the public park. This was a big effort on her part. She would take me shopping for clothes, for her.

    When I was 6, she went back to work. Life got hard for me. She had to leave me with her sister, and her 4 older children in the summer, so she could work.

    Then she went to work full time, and had to leave me with the neighbors after school, and different places for the summer, so she could work.

    We did not have any money, so I had to share a room with Mom, while Dad slept in the living room on the sofa.

    Mom had to go out shopping late on Thursday nights. Mom had to go to Bingo 4 nights a week too.

    Mom could not adopt any more kids because she had endometriosis.

    Mom turned down a baby boy, about 1 year before she got me, because he was too old.

    Mom did not want anyone to know that I was adopted.

    Mom told me my parents said that I was dead. Mom told me that I had a very Irish last name, but she did not tell me what it was.

    Mom said she was my only mother.


  3. I was taken off my biomum when I went to hospital with a spiral fracture of my right femur, age5 months. I went to flint green children’s home. By the time I was 4 I’d been fostered out and been returned . I was put up for adoption and went to live with the Cashmore family and the adoption papers were signed when I was 5. The smacking started almost immediately. Then one day he said smacking doesn’t work and he was going to use this wooden clothes hanger. The beatings were regular and most of the time for the silliest reasons. One time it was because someone had gone in the loft and moved something around. I got blamed no matter how many times I said it wasn’t me. I remember a lot of occasions of having my clothes ripped off so he could beat my bare bum and when I got too big for him to hold over his knee and beat at the same time my adoptive mother helped him.
    One time I shouted out I was going to tell the police – he put me in the car wearing only a nightie and drove me to the police st , he said go on then- but you will be in more trouble because you a very naughty girl.
    The school I went to knew something wasn’t right, they’d even seen my bruises, so they called them to a meeting…after that I was moved schools. It went on even after I’d started growing into a teenage girl.. one time he was trying to drag my clothes off and all I remember thinking is you’re NOT seeing my bum anymore! Soon after that they called social services and told them they couldn’t cope with me anymore. Within a few months of that I was removed back into care. Not because of what they’d done but because they didn’t want me anymore.
    My life’s been one horrible experience after another- where beatings were normal and I expected them if I’d been ‘bad’
    I’m left scared of strangers , I can’t talk to people. I don’t go out. Oh by the way I’m 43 now. I have mental health issues. I have 2 grown up daughters. My husband died when I was 29. He was a violent alcoholic, I only left him when he hit our oldest daughter , she was 3 at the time. I could live with the beatings, but NO WAY were my children!
    So that’s a bit of my story. Thanks if you read it. Tina . (A product of society)


    • Tina, Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry you were treated so horrifically. You deserved better from everyone. You have value and your story has value because it’s connected to you. I hope you’re able to find ways to nurture that scared little girl inside you. You are worthy of so much more than what was given to you and inflicted upon you. And you are a true mother who protected her children. Sending so much love your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for writing this ..

    I am in the process of adopting my 13 year old foster son. I was his nurse for many years . he’s a 4 organ transplant with a host of other medical issues. He’s doing better medically. That was the easy part for me. The physical abuse has ended and thanks to God he has no residual effects on his body.
    It’s the psychological abuse he suffered that presents toughest hurdles to over come.

    Because of his medical issues followed by or rather compiled with the abuse he has suffered, my son has not had a childhood..

    I am determined that his life be full of love, fun and happiness from here on.. the world is a tough place but my son will, from now on, have the arms and words of a mother’s comfort..
    I’ve been given a blessing. A true angel to love and care for. I am one lucky lady..


  5. This narrative reminds me of that horrible bit of doggerel about sticks and stones and broken bones and words that wouldn’t hurt ‘me’….Yes fractures heal and bruises fade and physical pain subsides -or seems to, but its those words that do the most damage as all psychological pot-down does-particularly to a child who is already vulnerable. It colors our whole psyches black and blue and is as indelible as any tattoo, and far more painful. Those who live though this cycle of violence never truly heal from it … we learn to cope as best we can while we pray fervently for surcease and escape… May this abuse have left your life and may you have found love ….


  6. I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve actually began to research why it seems parents treat their adoptive kids so badly and apparently it’s because they can’t form a bond with them. It isn’t natural love like with a biological child. I always felt like my brother could do no wrong he is babied yet he is 6 years older than me. I am a good kid yet my whole life I have been screamed at being told I am horrible things. They always put me down and then act as if nothing happened the next day. Just yesterday I told my mom it isn’t right that my brother is cheating on his girlfriend and she turned it into my relationship is too serious and is unhealthy and then she started putting me down and when I began to cry she screamed that I am a drama queen and manipulative, but this is just one of many accounts. She made my dad sleep on the couch for speaking up for me. He rarely does and now I see why. When I woke up the debit card was on the counter with a note saying if I wanted to go buy some clothes I could. But I don’t want gifts. I just want to feel loved and cared for and I never really felt that living here. I feel that parents who adopt can’t form a bond and then feel guilty and try to buy away the guilt. I have also been told things like I should feel lucky and I have been told I am too far gone, but I’m a good kid, a better kid then their birth son.


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