gallery Dear Adoption, You Haven’t Saved Everyone Who Was Adopted But You Saved Me


Man In The Shadow

Dear Adoption, You Haven’t Saved Everyone Who Was Adopted But You Saved Me

I was hurt badly and the police said they couldn’t even guess my age. They thought I was as young as 3 or as old as 6. I was exactly 7 1/2. It was my half birthday, the last day I saw my mom or anyone in my biological family.

I always liked my half birthday because when my birthday passed every year without any party or gifts, I would think “They are just waiting until my half birthday”. Then when my half birthday passed without acknowledgement I’d decide now they were waiting for my actual birthday. The only hope I had went around and around in a six month cycle from birthday to half birthday and so on and on and on.

My mom had many bad relationships with bad people. Sometimes someone she knew would treat me with kindness. I liked being left alone best. Kindness made me scared and hopeful. I had been duped by kindness too many times. When I was ignored, at least nothing really that bad was happening to me.

I know I’m lucky that I wasn’t killed. I know I’m lucky that I only went to two foster homes. I really feel lucky even though that surprises people.

My first foster family could only keep me for a couple months and I knew that when I moved in. They were kind and that really scared me. I didn’t speak to them for more than a week. But they kept being kind and they never hurt me. I spent most of my time worrying about my mom even though I was really, really scared to go back to her.

My second foster home started out scary too because they were the kindest people I had ever met. They were an older couple who had a son they were adopting from foster care. He had lived there for more than 2 years after his mom left him at the hospital. He was noisy and was always banging toys together but they just let him play and nobody ever got mad. Nobody ever screamed at him. Nobody ever hit him. Sometimes the woman would take something from him because she was worried he could get hurt and he would get very mad. She would say, “It’s my job to protect you and keep you safe. You can be mad but I won’t let you hurt yourself!”, and then she’d wink at me.

I started getting used to living there and sometimes I would even begin to feel comfortable. Comfort also scared me. Bad things happen when you get comfortable. When you let down your guard someone comes into your room at night while you are sleeping or your mom doesn’t come home or you get punched in the face and kicked in the stomach. It was so weird because my comfort made me feel like I was melting and I kept trying to refreeze myself so I could self protect but I kept dripping and I kept thawing. And I was so scared.

So I decided to kill myself.

When she found me I was sitting on the bathroom floor and my wrists and ankles were bleeding (I didn’t know you can’t kill yourself by slitting your ankles. I was 7 1/2 and ankles and wrists went together like knees and elbows so I thought I needed to cut there too). She didn’t scream but I could see that she was scared on her face. She took the razor blade out of my hands and said, “It’s my job to protect you and keep you safe. You can be mad but I won’t let you hurt yourself!” and then she winked at me and held my hands. I tried not to cry but I did anyways. I barely cut myself and even though I was bleeding so much not much damage was really done I guess. She drove me to the doctor so I could get checked out. My case worker was there and I thought that meant it was time for me to go live with another family so I felt myself icing up and the frozen feeling made me feel good and sad.

But I was wrong. My case worker didn’t take me away. Instead I went home.

Nobody in my family wanted me so I was adopted a few years later. I asked my adoptive mom why nobody wanted me and she said they just couldn’t care for me but that I was not an unwanted person. She said there are a lot of reasons people make choices like that but none of them were my fault. I still have to remind myself of that as a 27 year old. When I was 15 I asked my adoptive parents why they took my brother and me into their home. If nobody wanted us why would they want us? They explained how they wanted to provide love and safety to kids without love and safety. I asked them if they tried to have their own children. My adoptive mom said they tried to have children for 9 years. When they couldn’t they decided if they were going to be parents it would be through foster care. They didn’t even plan to adopt any children. They just wanted to take care of kids who needed to be taken care of.

My life didn’t improve right away because I was adopted and got to live with such a nice family. My life was hard and it is still hard. I live with a lot of scars on my body and on my heart from abuse and I have pretty big abandonment issues. My mom died because of the way she lived and I think if she was still alive I would still be worried about her every day and I would still be wanting her. I never stopped wishing she would come pick me up even though I liked where I was and I never stopped worrying about her until I knew she was dead.

I hear a lot about adoption. I hear good stories and bad stories. I don’t think anyone will read my story and have the word “good” come to their mind but I do know that because I got to go to a safe foster home, and be adopted by a kind family, my life was saved. You haven’t saved everyone who was adopted, Adoption, but you did save me.

If you are struggling with or entertaining suicidal thoughts, please seek help ASAP! EVERY life has value; YOUR life has value. National Suicide Prevention / 1-800-273-8255

This piece was submitted anonymously by a domestic adoptee currently living in New Mexico.


  1. ‘ … I was so scared. So I decided to kill myself.’ & ‘ … I never stopped wishing she would come pick me up … ‘

    The two statements made by the young man who at 27 is still searching ways to find peace in th chaos which has been his life, one which for him, as well as others of us, will never disappear and for which their may have to be only acceptance that these things happened with the only resolution being that we move on and perhaps help others to do the same.

    I know his two statements only too well… In the first it was not fear but the pain I suffered from the society which allowed my parents to abandon me and my sibling and then a court to not only separate me from her and my brother, but to steal my identity … and to put me into the hands of even more abusive so-called ‘parents’. To this day, many, many decades later I still crave my own parents and siblings and other family in spite of knowing the story of my beginnings and the reasons for my anguish.

    To the anonymous author I extend my deepest empathy and hopes that he will come to some positive resolve over what he was involuntarily a victim of. Of he hasn’t yet done so, I would encourage a DNA test to help him know more about his own roots and to perhaps allow him to meet at least some of his genetic family.

    In any event, best wishes for a happier life to come. You at not alone, and telling you story is catharsis for you as well as help for others.


  2. HUUGGSSSS! And healing to you! I am 51 and have known for 10 years now that my birth mother died 3 years after I was born. She committed suicide. Oh what I would do for just 1 hug from her. Stay strong and speak life and love to all people you encounter, including yourself! What you give, will come back to you tenfold, when its given with openness and honesty.
    Thank you for sharing!
    OH – and it is GOOD you realize that you were treated wrongly!!!! Some people don’t know any different and carry bad traits onto their next generation. I believe you will not do that! HUGS!


  3. Thank you for sharing your story. May your life’s journey bring many blessings to you, most especially healing, and a wealth of friendship and love.


  4. Thank you for an honest account of your experience, and you’re right, it sounds as if adoption did save your life, and I’m glad. I wish you happiness now and in the future. As someone once said to me, “The worst is over.” No matter what life gives me, I will never be a helpless child again. In the U.S., we have lots of opportunities to connect with other adoptees, adoptee-safe therapists, and use non-talk ways of healing from our experiences. Good travels and blessings to you.


  5. Your story is such a good reminder that even when you recognize the good, there is a backstory that doesn’t go away and it is part of your life forever. With it comes understanding from which many feelings and attitudes exist. This is something I have learned and understood more over the past several years through a classmate who was adopted, and as an adoptive parent, I am grateful. May you be blessed as you continue to navigate the life you are making.


  6. “,,,my comfort made me feel like I was melting and I kept trying to refreeze myself so I could self protect but I kept dripping and I kept thawing.” This is wonderful imagery. You have told your story very well, cribmate. And the fact that you cared about your mother no matter what until the day she died is also telling. Adoption did not make that feeling go away, even though you had a “new mother.” Raw and honest. Thank you.


  7. Thank you for your powerful testimony. Every experience is important and it helps all people in the adoptive cycle to put their own experience into perspective. Take good care of yourself and always do the best you can. And, when you need help, ask for it because, as you have shown us, there are good people around.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am a 29, male, from Los Angeles and I connect deeply with your story. When you talk about about feeling comfortable being a scary feeling I know this feeling all to well. I have been living on my own for almost a year and all of my flaws and vices are starting to show themselves. Your courage to speak your story, gives me courage to fight for another day. If you read this just know you’ve got a brother out there wishing the best for you. ✊✊✊


  9. Healing from childhood trauma is a slow process. Sometimes it can be hard to see that any healing has taken place, because it happens so gradually over the years. Perhaps taking an inventory of how you acted and felt when a young child versus your 27-year-old self may reveal that you’ve been healing, thanks to your hard work, to your will to continue on, and hopefully in part to your adoptive family? At the very least, you have taken a big step in appreciating the safety you felt and the fact that you continue to live. Best wishes to you.


  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I never would have thought that a child might be scared to become comfortable, but it makes so much sense the way you’ve described it. I’m about to become a foster parent and I really appreciate how your story is giving me more empathy for the kids will be coming into my care. Thank you also for telling us about the impact your foster/adoptive mom has had on you – I found that to be really encouraging.


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