gallery Dear Adoption, I’m Not As Happy As You Think I Am


Dear Adoption, I’m Not As Happy As You Think I Am

I have spent my life posing as the “happy adoptee”. I have also spent a large portion of my life wishing I wasn’t adopted. If only I didn’t have to fake so much happiness over my adoption simply so my (adoptive) parents and family wouldn’t feel bad.

Being adopted can be good (it isn’t more frequently than most believe), but it puts a lot of pressure on the one who is adopted.

While it’s true much of my life as an adopted person has included many wonderful gifts, it’s problematic how being adopted can make one feel they are a gift. Gifts make people happy and because I was the gift, happiness became my responsibility in life.

I cannot say my family did anything blatantly wrong, however, I wish they had known the burden I carried. I wish I could have told them something in me was broken and that it wasn’t something they could mend or love away. If they knew that, it might have alleviated some of the profound pressure no child should feel.

Dear Adoption, an adopted person you know may profess happiness over being adopted and there may really be some happiness in their lives. However, because we (adopted people) lost first, there is also great sadness, confusion, and a heavy burden.

I put a lot of energy into communicating my happiness and gratitude so I could keep my family happy, fulfill my “role” as one who was gifted to them, and deflect from a deep, festering sadness buried underneath a forced smile.

You need to know this, Adoption (and adoptive families), there is likely a brokenness beneath the surface of an adopted person you know and love. The way you continue to parade around the “gift of adoption”, the more damage you’re doing. Be more careful and sensitive; be aware of the multiple, ongoing ways in which this damages us further.

I’m tired of being happy. For too much of my life I’ve worried I’ll collapse under the weight of this burden.

This piece was submitted anonymously by a South Korean adoptee, full time student, and future attorney. 


  1. Thank you so much for this. I know my son, who is eight, feels a lot of pressure around this and pressure generally. I have learnt that I can’t tell him that I am proud of him because as he told me it puts too much pressure on him. So I do a mock faint instead and we both know what I really mean 😉 thank you for putting it so well and for reminding me about that pressure and burden. Wishing you well

    Liked by 1 person

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