“I Feel Like a Beast, but I Don’t Love My Adopted Child”

Dawn Davenport


parents not attaching to their new adopted child

What to do when you don’t love or even like your newly adopted child?

Please share your thoughts and advice for this new adoptive mom who is struggling to attach to her new child. If you have experienced anything similar, please let her know.

Dear Dawn, I am a mother of nine children born to me (ages 20 months to 18 years), all homeschooled, and have adopted my husband’s cousin as of 2 months ago. We did not know her prior to this and the adoption moved very quickly once the state determined that her mother would not get her act together. She is 3.5 years old.

I think she would have an easier time overcoming her attachment issues if I could overcome mine. Everywhere I read, no one has a problem with loving and sympathizing with their adopted child, but I do. I feel like a complete beast. I am civil to her, often affectionate, and try to be fair about her rights in the family, but I am unable to fake expressions of love and do not like how the integration has to be so sudden and total.

I feel like if I was joining a family I would be quiet and shy and try not to make waves and let people get used to me. Instead I have to treat her like the sister to my children from minute #1 and everyone has to act like she has always been here.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, especially of how awful I am. She is a normal little girl, but I am choking on what is required of me. I listened to about 24 of your podcasts preparing for the adoption, especially anything about attachment and parenting, but now that I’m living it, it is a lot harder than I imagined. Do you have any resources on how to help adoptive families form the bond.

Attachment is a Two Way Street

I am so glad you reached out to us for help. You are wise to realize that attachment is a two way street. Yes, we talk a lot about the child attaching to us, but parents also have to attach to their child.

You are Not Alone

The first thing you should know is that you are absolutely not alone. The second thing you should know is that there is help. This whole adoption happened very fast and wasn’t necessarily your choosing. It sounds like there was a need and you stepped in, but you wouldn’t have gone out to seek this opportunity.

I’m not a mental health professional, but it sounds like you struggling with two issues: the rapidity of change and the lack of a real choice. Both are hard to stomach. And let’s face it, you are also adjusting to life with 10 kids, which is no small feat.

Time is a Blessing

My first piece of advice is to give yourself time. With a pregnancy, you have 9 months to adjust to the idea of a new child and to fall in love with this child. Even after the birth for many people the process is more growing in love rather than falling in love. It sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself to love this child immediately. Change your expectations to allowing time for you to grow in love with her. Think in terms of 9 -12 months rather than 2 months.

Growing in Love

Adopting a 3.5 year old is more like the process of dating than the process of giving birth. When you give birth, the child is helpless and unformed (more or less). A toddler is neither helpless nor unformed. This child has almost certainly experienced trauma and loss. She is grieving and confused and acting accordingly.

You need to get to know this person just like you got to know your husband when you were first dating. That takes time and effort.

Growing in love would be enhanced if you can spend some one on one time with her. And yes, I do know how hard this will be with your schedule.You probably don’t have much one on one time with your other kids, but you did have this time when they were infants and you were involved with the day to day feeding and caring for them.

Be Kind to Yourself

You need to take very good care of yourself during this initial adjustment period. If there is any way you could get extra help for the next 6 -8 months, I would strongly recommend it. Also, lower your expectations during this adjustment period for your house-keeping and even your homeschooling. One of the blessings of homeschooling is that you have the flexibility to slack off just a bit and then pick up when things settle down.

Fake It Till You Make It

While you are growing in love, fake it till you make it. Continue to care and nurture this little being. The very act of caring and nurturing helps with bonding.

Although what you are experiencing is not terribly uncommon and you are not a beast, I strongly recommend that you get outside support and counseling help you through this adjustment period. Call your adoption agency and ask if they can help you or can recommend an adoption competent therapist. Also, Creating a Family has resources that can help you find a good adoption therapist.  If a therapist knowledgeable about adoption issues is not available, then just go to a good counselor who can support you through this huge life transition.

Resources to Help with Attachment

I don’t want to overwhelm you with resources, but I would suggest finding time to listening to one of our Creating a Family Radio shows on attachment at least 3 times a week. Subscribe on your phone and listen while you vacuum, garden, or cook. Start with these:

“I Don’t Have Time for All This Education”

You may be tempted to say that you don’t have the time to spend doing all this stuff with 10 kids, homeschooling, and life in general. You’re right, you don’t have time, but you and your husband have to work together to create the time. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you, your family, and this child. The time spent now will pay off in spades as she ages.


First published in 2014. 
Image credit: teriyakidonut

29/02/2016 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 116 Comments

116 Responses to “I Feel Like a Beast, but I Don’t Love My Adopted Child”

  1. Avatar Anonymous says:

    My husband and I are parents of 3 biological daughters a married 20 year old, a 16 year old and a surprise daughter that is 15 months old. In 2012 my husband and I after trying to conceive since 2005 decided we should adopt, we went through all the trainings and got to the point that we were looking for a match when my husband received order to relocate which had been unexpected. We moved to our new location and put adoption on hold. About a year before we were up for new orders we made some friends who Did Foster Care and asked if we knew anyone who was looking to adopt, which opened up that door for us again. We started the process again, and again it did not work out. We received new orders and we were off to our new location, almongst our move and the craziness that had been happening in our lives I found out I was pregnant at age 40! huge shock for me which I had not mentally prepared for. After we moved we got a text asking us if we would take our friends previous foster son who is age 5. My husband and I said we we would. We again took classes to get licenced for foster care, I was 3 months pregnant at the time, fast forward to 3 months post partum our Foster son moved in. It has been a really hard ajustment. On top of my extreme sleep deprivation over the last year and Covid it has been really hard!
    My foster sons placement is ICPC and everything has been a mess no communication and not much help from our agency when I ask. Both my husband and I have not attached to him and it seems like over the past year I feel less than I did in the beginning. I worry that it will always feel like I am babysitting someone else’s child and that he will see the difference in how we feel between him and the baby.
    My husband and I feel like we are stuck between a rock and a hard place I feel like if we refuse the adoption he will be damaged mentally and if we keep him he will be damaged mentally. Not to mention the judgments of everyone. I just want to do what’s best for all of us and not sure what that is. I do know that none of us are really happy. I don’t expect a perfect child but I do know that he deserves better than what I feel I can give him.

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      Dear Anonymous,

      There sure has been a lot of hard changes going on for ALL of you in this experience. I’m sorry for your struggles – it’s painful to feel as if you cannot do what you know the child needs for you to do. I hope it helps when I say that you are not alone – it’s not at all uncommon to struggle to attach to a new member of your family, however they come to you, when there are also so many other hard things happening for you at the same time.

      My first suggestion is to find a safe, reliable confidant — a counselor or therapist who understands trauma and adoption issues and is competent in post-partum and/or post-adoption depression. Your health care provider should be able to help you find someone, as should the caseworker for your son’s placement.

      As far as communication with your caseworker, I recommend that you craft an email saying as much of this that you feel you can say and ask for what resources and supports they can offer you to help you and your spouse think through issues for the best interest of the child and your family. We have a resource about communication with social workers that you might find helpful: Tips for Getting a Foster Care Caseworker’s Attention. Document everything and escalate the email up the supervisory chain if you don’t get the support or response you are requesting.

      Finally, I think you might really appreciate the community of adoptive, foster, and kinship parents, birth parents, and adult adoptees we have in our Facebook group. Many of them are also military and can speak to your situation with specifics to support you in healing and finding the right path forward for you and your family.

  2. Avatar Donna K says:

    The adopting parent stated the problem herself: her belief that her adopted child should be quiet, meek and obedient, and sit back and not cause issues with her new family. After all, they are giving her a home to live in and a new loving family! Shut up, sit down and do not cause them stress! Fit in and never complain!

    She considers her adoptee to be an ungrateful ingrate.

    Unfortunately this is all-too-familiar when older children are adopted. Their new parents forget that this child has another family that they might well remember. A grief process must be allowed to take place.

    That adoptee probably had no say in who she got as her new parents. Somebody else made that decision, and essentially foster kids are told by social workers to forget their original families, go home with this new one and love them! Courts and many adoptive parents expect this to happen because they say so.

    This parent should not have adopted. She is more concerned with what SHE wanted.

  3. Avatar Anomymous Misanthropist says:

    I would slap in the face the OP and 99.9% of the commenters. Apart of some extreme cases, not loving your adopted children means just a thing: you AREN’T suitable to be parents. You should have taken those poor children back… Many potential good parents won’t have the possibility to adopt because of you and your selfishness. I pity these children: in a few year most of them will have mental problems, end up addict or commit suicide. And OP has 9 (9!!!) BIOLOGICAL children, which is already an insane thing of its own! But this comment will probably never pass… Or maybe won’t be read by anyone, because this thread is old. I’m disgusted anyway: you’re despicable people.

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      We exist to serve those who wish to learn, who struggle, and who desire to do better for their children. We choose to serve folks like the OP with compassion and to reserve judgment because we all know that parenting is really hard. We count it as a privilege that folks like the OP come to us with their concerns and struggles and we believe that they and their kids deserve the best support and education we can offer.

    • Avatar Wade says:

      For real!!!!!!

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        The struggle of someone who is trying to attach – be it, parent or child – is indeed very real. And very painful. We are so glad that the OP felt safe enough to trust us with her struggle and that we could direct her to supports.

    • Avatar JR says:

      [edited to meet community standards]uneducated Anonymous Misanthropist. Isn’t it convenient that you don’t even have the guts to leave your name when casting stones on others. If you feel you can do better, why don’t you offer to take on those innocent children that are in question. It’s easy to judge others while sitting at your computer. [edited to meet community standards]

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        JR, while we agree that Anon. Mis.’s opinions are uninformed, we don’t subscribe to name-calling. Education is why we exist – to support and equip parents to meet the child’s needs. Thanks for reading.

  4. Avatar Laura says:

    I also wish my biological mother would have just aborted me. It’s rare to find loving people, though they are out there. None of these monsters should be adopting. They shouldn’t have had any biological children either. Humans are so stupid.

    • Avatar CKK says:

      I am so sorry for you! I am sitting here reading this and crying. My children were adopted by the step father who has never loved them and only wanted to discipline but never love. My children feel like they have been thrown away like trash. By their biological and step father. I will be praying for all children who feel this way. Just know that you do have a Heavenly Father God, who loves you more than anyone could. Pray and ask Him to wrap you in His arms of Love.

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        CKK, what a kind and thoughtful response from your own experiences. Thank you for sharing. I sure hope you’ll take some steps toward healing for you and your children – seek counseling or therapy for the hurts that your children have experienced. It appears you have a strong faith in God – know that He often gives the blessing of counselors and therapists to us for our healing. Best to you!

  5. Avatar sadmama says:

    Wow, all of you struggling to attach to your adopted child, you are not alone. I am sad to hear this, but glad to know my feelings are not unusual. Right off the bat, when I adopted twin boys, I knew something wasn’t right. Once I gave birth to 2 children myself, the feeling became stronger. I don’t feel the same about the adopted children as I do the children I gave birth to. I feel horrible about it, but I did not attach to the adopted children and they don’t seem attached to me. I have been seeing a therapist and she tells me to just do the best I can and accept the situation for what it is. It’s the worst feeling though. Especially reading about these adoptees that know their parents don’t like them. My twin boys are 8 now and I hate to think I am ruining their lives.

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      Dear Sadmama,

      Thank you for so transparently sharing your experience. I’m so glad you are seeing a therapist for support. It sounds like you have some good tools. May I also suggest our online community? We represent a broad range of experiences and relationships to and through adoption and it might help you to connect there and keep hearing that you are not alone! Check us out here: http://ow.ly/9DLu30i8BRm

      And don’t forget to check out resources like this one (of many on our site!) to help you practically in the effort to keep forming attachment with your children: http://ow.ly/NU8N30i8C6Z

      Best wishes to you all. Thank you again, for sharing.

    • Avatar CKK says:

      You are. You took this on, your choice not the twins. My friend has adopted 2 children and could not live than more if they came out of her. Quit being selfish, learn how to love. I feel sick for the twins, you are creating a life of pain and agony for them. May God help you.

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        CKK, We exist to help parents just like sadmama. To give them tools and resources and to learn healthy attachment strategies. Building attachment takes time and effort and is a two-way street: http://ow.ly/DuD950uRTHC

        It also takes healthy doses of grace and room for both failure and success. While there may be pain now, we are quite hopeful that with those resources parents like sadmama don’t have to stay stuck there in that pain.

      • Avatar Katie says:

        This is not helpful. People are in pain desperately seeking support. You can’t force feelings so don’t chastise people who are riddled with guilt. I’ve done more for my adopted child than anyone I know for their biological children and he couldn’t care less. I’ve encouraged a relationship with his birth mom and she screwed it up. I’ve spent every day for five years reiterating to him that what happened was not his fault but treating others with utter disrespect is. He’s a complete narcissist and it’s way beyond normal selfish kid behavior. Again don’t chastise people for feeling sad that they’re not bonding. Again you can’t force it. People come on these forums trying to relate to other people who may be feeling the same pain. They don’t need to be told they’re monsters.

  6. Avatar Michael Jura says:

    I too am struggling with this. It’s nice to know that we are not alone. We are in the process of adopting my two nieces (2 & 12) and have two of our own bio kids (12 & 14). My nieces are coming with a lot of baggage (from witnessing domestic and drug abuse and experiencing neglect) and it is tough. I can appreciate what has been said and am just looking for ways to make our situation better. What kind of things have worked for others? How do you get a 12 year old to “blend in” more with the family.

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      You are absolutely not alone! If you haven’t already, check out our online community for some peer-type support from our other members who have lived through similar experiences. You can find us here: http://ow.ly/uE2x30fHBAN

      If I were in this situation, I think I’d make it less about getting the 12 year old to “blend in” and more about learning who that child is, what makes her tick, what she needs, where she is with all of these big changes and “baggage” that she brings with her. It’s an important time to be about the business of making her feel loved, accepted, welcomed, and safe. I’d also consider getting her some therapy to have a safe place to process what she’s experienced and how she works through this transition. We have some good resources on how to find adoption-informed therapists here: http://ow.ly/he3n30fHCSa

      Additionally, here’s a great podcast that offers some really simple, practical and fun ways to build attachment: http://ow.ly/XfCq30fHBNe

      Best wishes to you. I hope to see you over in our Facebook group!

  7. Avatar Terri James says:

    I tried to leave a comment and you didn’t like what I had to say. I am an adoptee. It tickd me off that what I had to say wasn’t good enough to be on your post. For these warped adults that go out here and adopt little people and end up hating them; by gosh take them back so that they might have another chance at love. Whether you know it or not we know when we’re hated whether it be age 3 or age 53!

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      I’m sorry, Terri, we have no record of a previous comment being posted. Thank you for sharing your obvious passion about children finding love and permanency. And for being a voice for the kids.

    • Avatar CKK says:

      That was so good. But so bad for you. There truly are people who will love unconditionally like they profess to while trying to adopt. I truly believe if you cannot love an adopted child, you probably should not become a “true” parent. Because obviously your love has limitations, rules and boundaries. So buy a dog people, do not put a helpless child through a lifetime of hell.

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        Learning to love unconditionally, or as unconditionally as we imperfect humans can attempt, is a skill that takes a lifetime to learn. I’m not sure that any of us should be exempted from parenthood because we love imperfectly. Creating a Family exists to strengthen families with resources that will help them build healthy attachments and grow together, even if it’s imperfect or idealistic when they begin. When choosing to adopt and/or foster, that often means using specific tools and resources to help those children move toward healing from their hurts – so that love can grow.

        • Avatar Donna K says:

          There is no such thing as unconditional love. Love most definitely does – and should – come with conditions.

          Conditions like: do not abuse me and expect me to love you. Do not neglect me and expect me to love you. Accept me as who I am, not what you want to make me into.

          I am an adoptee who endured abusive adoptive parents who thought adoption meant they could order up a child the way one would a hamburger. I was abused for years for not meeting their expectations, which they put down to ingratitude on my part. (Would “ trying harder” prevent me from needing thick glasses and braces to fix my crooked teeth? They thought so). I spent years listening to how I wasn’t pretty enough, not popular enough, not smart enough, lacked the singing and dance talents my mother had expected me to have, failed to advance their social agenda, refused to pursue the career path they planned – the ridiculous litany I heard for years. This was teinforced with physical abuse.

          What’s worse, I believed it. I thought I was letting these wonderful Christian people who had taken me in out of good hearts down. After all, everybody told me what a lucky little girl I was to get those parents! I was a teen before I realized other people didn’t treat their children this way.

          Understand that adoption is like birth. You get what you get, not a designer baby ordered off a menu. Be prepared to accept that child for who they are, not what you wish they would be.

          Or do the kid a favor and do not adopt

          • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

            We will have to agree to disagree on several points. We exist as an organization to educate parents in order that they can become stronger, healthier, and better prepared. That mission at its core means that we believe people can learn, grow, and change to accommodate the needs of the children whom they love. We remain committed to the mission for the sake of the kids who deserve safe, permanent, nurturing homes.

  8. Avatar Leah says:

    To all you women who did adopt and feel like a beast for hating these little people, perhaps you should. I was adopted in the early sixties at the age of 3 weeks. She doesn’t like me, let alone love me. I grew up thinking everything was just fine, for a while. Though was always scared for some reason. Church 3 times a week, excellent grades, honor roll, excetera. Never good enough. I knew something was missing all the while.They told me and my brother at the same time, I was in 2nd grade, he was in kindergarten. I acted brave and said I’m okay with it. I was horrified, later went to my room and cried myself to sleep quietly that night. My brother right then went all to pieces. She always favored him, he’s still her Golden Child. I’m the one that made the straight A’s, National Honor Society, etc. He complains all the time now, says he was never loved, this that and the other thing. Anyway he’s telling the truth for my daddy my adopted dad did not like him; Point Blank. I look back at the photos, he was the one with the pet, the one with the instrument in school, the one with the store bought clothes, the one with a smile on his face. He doesn’t like me either much; she made good and sure of that. The only daddy I ever knew; finally left right before my 16th birthday!! Oh, how sweet! No party, nothing. She dragged us to another state where I started a brand new school my senior year. When we got here I thought, oh my God …who is she? I was scared of her more than ever. It was horrible. I did manage to graduate. About halfway through my senior year I was placed in an emergency child shelter for a few weeks and then a foster home. Let’s just say the man in the foster home was anything but father like. I ran away so many times, those were the happiest times of my life! I had one outfit to my name and the shoes on my feet and they had holes in them. I was 17 and literally lived on the streets. For you see the day after I graduated high school I went to live with my dad in Missouri. His new wife was jealous of us… Imagine that! He and my mother could not have children though he had gotten this lady pregnant. Of course after 2 weeks of living with my dad and his new wife, she made it a living hell for the both of us; so I left there too. After a few years of living on the streets and yes I do mean the streets, I came back to Tennessee. I tried to make it work again and again but it didn’t. I look back now and see she just couldn’t love me. Sometimes I really feel sorry for her. I would ask my friends, what’s wrong with me?! They always said, “she’s jealous.” I always thought of what!? I thought she was perfect. I also thought I was the one that was always messing up, though I look back now and see without the care of my adoptive dad, that it was a mistake to be left alone with her. The mental abuse was sickening. I never could do anything to please her no matter how hard I tried. There would be times I would use my last dime to buy her a Christmas, birthday or Mother’s Day gift for that fact. It went in the garage in a box or was never seen again. Oh I take that back, I did see a few of them again for she gave them to me as gifts years later. How funny. I was terrified to have children for thinking she would treat them the same way and I wasn’t going to allow it. After dad left so did his side of the family, after we got to Tennessee she made sure her side hated me too. I can go on and on but know you have horror stories of your own! Both of you women, those who so selfishly adopted and then hate; as well as the children who were adopted that were hated and knew it. I do respect her some what, after all.. she did take me to church and I know God. That is the one thing I am thankful for from her. I love her too, though everytime I tell her, she says “okay” or, “me too.” So ladies; there ought to be a new law enforced in our world!!! By all means; if you DON’T LOVE, let alone LIKE your adopted child, for the love of God take them back so they might have another chance!! Don’t let it ruin a young and tender life or heaven forbid your precious adult life while you are the one pretending to be queen bee in front of your family and friends. Your family and friends will get over it, that little baby girl or boy that you have and hate… Chances are; they never will…………

  9. Avatar Bethany Miller says:

    Don’t feel bad. My adoptive mom doesn’t love me either.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Oh Bethany, I’m so sorry. No child deserves this!!!

    • Avatar Megan says:

      You are absolutely not alone. I adopted my husband’s son from a previous relationship and was also thrown into it because the mother was unfit. He came to live with us when I was 8 months pregnant with my son and it has not been easy. My adopted son is a very difficult child. I try so hard not to show favoritism but it’s difficult. I love my son more. I feel like a monster too but I’m glad that I’m not alone. I’m also glad that there are resources attached to this post.

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        Thank you for your honesty and openness. If you aren’t yet a part of our Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/creatingafamily/), I think you might feel some support from other moms who’ve been where you are now. It’s not easy and there are things you can do to help improve attachment and connection, by following the links in this post to our website to find even more.

  10. Avatar anon says:

    we adopted 2 siblings, we also have a bio child. I have attached to one of the adopted kiddos and and trying my best with the other, but to be honest, there are ZERO maternal feelings there. I am trying to ‘fake it’ but I feel like a monster. We spent 7 years chasing what we felt was God’s will for our lives and I feel awful for this little kid who loves us and I just go through the motions. I do my best to express myself evenly and fairly amongst all 3, but I know that kid has or will eventually see through my pathetic attempts. I was so prepared for the kids not to attach to us and never thought I could feel this way. Especially being a mother already.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      anon, I am sorry you are experiencing this and can feel your frustration, confusion, and sadness in your comment. The major point that you need to focus on right now is that attachment, be it the child’s attachment to the parent or the parent’s attachment to the child, is not a fixed emotion. It can and does change, but to change it you need to get into counseling for yourself. You aren’t a monster–you are a mother who is struggling with an issue that can improve. From my experience, it likely won’t improve, without counseling. Try to find a therapist for yourself that has some adoption training or experience.

    • Avatar Momma6 says:

      I have been struggling too. I hate myself for it. I have two beautiful adopted girls. Sisters. I love them but there is something missing. I don’t know what or how to fix it. I know also that they are going to realize this when they are grown and o have no idea how to change this because there is just some deep unconditional connection missing that I can’t fake although I sure try 🙁

      • Avatar Momma6 says:

        It has been 3 years since the adoption. Both have attachment issues and I think I have my own. I want the best for them. I really do. I just never imagined it would be so hard. I don’t understand why I am failing so miserably at this. It isn’t just me. My whole family finds it a struggle yet we do our best to be fair and include in everything. But it takes a lot of extra effort.

        • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

          Another thought that might be helpful for you to consider, is seeking care for post-adoption depression. This page might help you think through the issues you are feeling, to help you make a plan for your family and for your own self-care: http://ow.ly/Wt9u30fAkZK

          Again, thinking of you and wishing you well.

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        I’m so sorry that it’s been so difficult for you. Have you considered getting some therapy or counseling for yourself? It can be so helpful to work with someone to process your thoughts and feelings to address the things that you feel are missing. We have a great resource dedicated to helping families find adoption-informed therapists that can walk with your family through the struggle: http://ow.ly/nkxj30fAkQR

        I’ll be thinking of you.

  11. Avatar amber says:

    hello i want to give my baby boy and girl for adoption, i just do not want them to suffer so i need a very loving and suitable home for them. [contact info deleted by Admin]

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Amber, please contact either an adoption agency or an adoption attorney to talk with them about adoption. Also, make sure they have someone who can help you evaluate all your options, including how you can get help in raising this child. It helps to have someone help you think through all possible solutions before you settle on one. If you then decide that adoption is best, they can help you find a family who is ready to adopt.

    • Avatar Joy says:

      As an adoptee, Don’t do it! Just read the confusion and pain listed above. My mother would probably tell you the same. To be honest adoption is a very permanent solution to a temporary problem and in most cases temporary feelings.

      Adoptees are four times likely to commit suicide than other children. That breaks my heart. And no one talks about it because well, maybe that would affect business or give adoptees more rights.

      You see the problem is: Dogs are treated with respect then “Birth Moms” and children. I couldn’t legally and morally adopt a puppy that was a day old now could I?

      You need support. You need to be empowered because your baby will only be cute and little for so long before mothers that adopted realize A) we do not belong to them B) We express interest in roots and where we come from and seek you. C) We start throwing tantrums because we have always known 1. These parents don’t love us and are “Faking” 2. We are getting bigger. 3 Our identity has been altered. ( It’s all fun taking pictures and listening to your parents exploit you so they can recieve complements and money – to sitting in a doctors office not being able to Effectively communicate hereditary illnesses because you’ve been chosen to play some part that you never additioned for, never asked for, is legally binding and just living somebody else’s lie)

      It’s like never having your heart broken but yet it broke. There are no pieces to find and pick up because there are none. It’s being born with a broken heart literally.

      When people tell your child to follow his or her dreams – That dream will be you.

      You know it amazes me how mothers are told that by giving up your baby ( a customized extension of yourself) specifically and genetically for only you you, are being courageous. Keeping them and receiving them as gift that was bestowed upon you and rolling with the punches that’s real courage and strength.

      And if anyone tells you different well…. They simply haven’t been adopted.

      • Avatar Mamaof4 says:

        I have adopted- I had 3 biological children and adopted a daughter. She is as much my daughter as my biological children. There is NO Difference. I feel her mother gave her a wonderful gift of life by choosing adoption. I’m sorry that you had a poor experience.. truly heartbreaking..my daughter’s biological mother is the hero in my book.. I can’t imagine the heartbreak she suffered so her child could have what she could not provide. And I will ALWAYS tell my daughter that. I. can only speak from my own experience – just as you speaking from yours. I am so grateful to her mother.

      • Avatar Samantha Houston says:

        I was adopted. I disagree with you. Every case is different. That was YOUR situation. Not anyone elses and certainly not mine.

    • Avatar AS says:

      I am so glad to find that I am not alone. My husband and I adopted a 7 year old from Asia. The child was adopted and returned once from domestic family. He has been rejected by his biological parents and the second couple. Despite all the trauma, He is a healthy, super active, very well adjusted and happy kid. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him immediately. My husband and him have developed a bond already that I can see from miles away. In my case, I can’t seem to feel that joy, love or bond that I am supposed to feel as a mom. I went through 5 ivf treatments with no success. After almost 3 years I am still grieving my loses. I am not sure if that is preventing me from bonding with this kid. I look at him and I see no physical resemblance or anything that makes me want to hold him. At times I have though about just separating from my spouse to let him enjoy being a father. That was always his dream, perhaps my failure of not giving him a biological child makes it harder for me to accept this kid. I am seeing a therapist as it is all new. As time goes by I can’t seem to see my feelings change but I hope I am wrong. I feel like a failure and many times regret going trough process and allowing myself to be in this situation but I wanted my husband to have his boy and to become a father. It is extremely difficult to fake my love around others as “he is a lovely, happy, adorable kid”. I can’t see that. Any suggestions?

      • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

        AS, you grief over your inability to have a biological child can absolutely interfere with your attachment to this child! Infertility is a huge loss for many (most) people and deserves to be grieved. I am so glad you are seeing a therapist. If this therapist does not specialize in infertility grief, consider also seeing one that is experienced in this area. I would also suggest that you work with your therapist on specific strategies to help you start to bond with this child. Attachment is a process and you can develop this with this child. Please, for your sake and for his sake, keep trying.

      • Avatar Sapier says:


        What you just wrote, is like reading something out of my own diary. I am in the same exact position. I have a child in our home for about a year now, she too is international and came to us at 9 years old. We’ve had her for a year now, and I have tried time and time again to “try and love her”, but the feelings are just not there for me. I too, struggle with infertility and have wondered if this has affected my bond towards her. I just wanted you to know you are not alone in your struggle and I too have been seeing a therapist.

  12. Avatar PC says:

    Hi. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this blog. For the first time since adopting 1 year, 4 months and 22 days ago I feel hopeful and less alone. I have felt such guilt–oh my God the GUILT, that I don’t think I was seeing things clearly. I am calling my agency this week and if they can’t help me I’m calling a therapist. I pray I can find one that can help me.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      PC, you are not alone and help is available! Please let us know how you are doing after you start therapy.

  13. Avatar Corcoran says:

    I want to say that I am thankful for these posts. We have 2adopted foster children and yes they both came with a lot of baggage. Our oldest was difficult to raise but over time we did bond. Our second is a whole other story. She has been a very “strange” ( for lack of a better word) child since day one. I used to tell people she was like a Ferrell child. She would growl at me instead of talk to me. Every her facial and body gestures were odd and uncomfortable. After 8 years I have nothing left to give her. My emotions toward her are no longer in existance. I am truly numb towards her. I feel like a horrible monster saying this but at the same time it feels empowering to let it be known. I am contemplating given her back to foster care or having her institutionalized. She is beyond what I can handle or care for especially now that she is heading into her teen years. ?

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Corcoran, I doubt any of my words will help much. Please seek out an adoption trained therapist–for you as much as or more than for your daughter. I hear how weary you are and you need support.

  14. Avatar Agnes_36 says:

    I adopted a 1,5 year old girl a year ago. She is 2,5 year old now. She is Gypsy and Romanian. Our whole family is blue eyed and blonde. We have an earlier adopted son who was born also in the same year (2013). The girl was born a preemie, two months earlier than she should have to. When we took her home, she was only moving forwards on her belly on the floor, then, after hard work, she started crawling. Now she also sits on her own but she didn’t when we took her. As she has been diagnosed to have cerebral palsy, she still does not walk (she will be 3 in November!) and her physical development has been estimated as the one of a 10-month-old! She is extremely intelligent, speaks well and is extremely manipulative. I have problems loving her after more than a year together, as she needs constant attention, constant working with, rehabilitantion and special care all the time! Our first adopted toddler (a son, adopted when he was 7 months old) has FAS but I do love him dearly.
    She has made great progress and I believe she could walk easily right now, but she simply does not want to. She was extremely spoiled by her foster family (where she stayed for a year and a half) and she was not motivated to move her body at all, was served with all the toys and the food any time she wanted. When we got her, she cried each time we provided any care of her and this was a way of manipulation, as she is extremely intelligent. Everybody thinks she is beautiful and sweet, as she has big black eyes and curly hair, and I do know how much care and attention everyday life with her requires from us, how mean and manipulative she can be and how much she wants to control the members of our family. She is jealous of our other adopted child and cries out loud when we hug or cuddle him. She believes she is the center of the world and that everybody is her servant. She does not want to exercise to be able to walk, there is completely no motivation in her to do that. When you let her, she would just lay down on the floor and stay in this position. Now I am fed up with all the exercising forced on her every day, I hate her and I have enough of her. She will go to the kindergarden in September so that I could finally live normally but I think she will not start walking until she is 5, taking into account her eagerness to do so or rather the lack of it. We do not live in the USA but we are from Poland, where post-adotion counselling is not very well-developed so everything is so hard for us now. We asked the adoption center and some psychologists there for help but I think now they treat us as some monsters and did not help us much, anyway. I was even thinking of terminating this adoption but I have heard it is extremely hard after such time…anybody has here any experiences with adoptiong a disabled child whom he/she did not manage to love at all?

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Agnes, your family needs help and needs it immediately! I’m not a psychologist, but this situation sounds abusive. I know you are scared and feel overwhelmed, but it sounds like you are taking these feeling out on a tiny child, and are reading in feelings and emotions that belong to you, not the child. I think you need to go back to the adoption center and be very honest with them about how you are feeling. They can guide you on how to either improve the situation or find a better place for this child. Please–for your sake and especially for this child’s sake, get help NOW!

      • Avatar Agnes_36 says:

        Well, we talked at the adoption center a few months ago but they did not help us at all. I was really honest about my feelings and this is what they told us – to send the children to the kindergarden as soon as possible so that I could have some rest. They also told us to stop exercising with her for two weeks and we did so, but this is not the solution in the long run as she must exercise in order to make up for the time she was not being properly worked with. This is what the specialists we have say. I followed all the pieces od advice the adoption center gave us, they also visited us at home. I agreed to meet them once a month as they offered me. Well, that’s all what they said. Also that we should not consider terminating the adoption as this could cause us trouble as far as our son is concerned. So we decided not to try this at all. Well, what else could I do then? I did not go to work for a year to stay at home with her and rehabilitate them and, well, she does not want to walk after all this time, even though the specialists say she should have started half a year ago. I feel completely stuck right now…

        • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

          Agnes, I’m sorry your adoption agency was not more helpful. Would they agree to continue to meet with you on a regular basis? Is there therapy readily available where you live. You truly need to be seeing a counselor regularly right now.

  15. Avatar L says:

    Wow, I wish I had seen this thread when we adopted. I felt such guilt over not feeling this or that and I even called the agency to ask about it. They sounded really horrified with me but I wanted to know what the worst case scenario was because our child was raging and hitting etc and we felt the whole thing was maybe a big mistake. But then, little by little, we didn’t.

    I want to share this, not to minimize adoption issues at all but, family is complicated and it’s not just with adopting. We have a bio child and you know how they plop the baby on the mom and you get a couple of seconds with the baby like on TV? Well my first thought was “I feel nothing but fear.” Everyone else was smiling and laughing and I was like, “what am I supposed to do now?” I continued to feel that way many times throughout the early years. I was bonded but I also felt like this outsider was now my nonstop responsibility and I was so tired and just wanted to sleep and I didn’t feel like the other moms and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
    I assume this was all a kind of long term postpartum depression but I felt like a really terrible person.
    Now fast forward to our international adoption. You can imagine how disorienting it was for our child, and there I am just pretending as if again but this time not with a bio child. Of course it was even harder.

    I’m sharing this to say that it really really did happen slowly at times with not only the adopted child but with the bio too a bit (whenever the child was difficult –like most of the time, right?) and I now see that it is something that ME as the mom needed to work through. Of course I felt close to the bio child and that was much easier but I feel so close to all my children now because they are my children.

    In any case, I worried endlessly about what they were feeling and what I was feeling about the them (sometimes way too much, sometimes not enough) but I just hung in and whatever the feelings I was the MOM and I really was a very good mom, and now it feels much more normal to not have things all back to normal again. Normal is gone and I’m like, good riddence!

    The main thing is to find someone to talk to about it (EMDR was helpful as a form of therapy).
    It got a lot better for the family but none of it happened in a time frame that was close to ideal with either bio mom stuff or adoption.
    Anyway, that’s how it worked for me.
    With love, L

  16. Avatar Full Spectrum Mama says:

    SO get this.
    My love for my child – who was adopted and had a very challenging attachment disorder – grew more gradually than I could bear until THERE IT WAS…and IS. My biological child, who I had from pregnancy on, was a very different story…
    Good luck and love and thanks for your brave honesty,
    Full Spectrum Mama

  17. Avatar Mercy says:

    It is very important to raise this issue, and I completely feel that the issue is not addressed at all when adopting. I also disagree with much of the advice given. I had this problem and went to see an adoption therapist, but she really did not have much to say b/c her speciality was bonding, but only the one way- child to parent. In the end all she said to me was that it was a choice to make. And this has not been entirely wrong, but it is not much as a resource. I think I have found thing strategies that work, but by trial and error as this is not a topic anyone wants to discuss. I hope some of them may help some of you.

    First thing to recognize is that especially when adopting older children, and especially when you have a biological child already is that b.c of their traumatic start to life,they are probably NOT going to be all that wonderful to be around. This was the case with 2 school age children we adopted. They were encouraged to move in in summer for more bonding time, but in retrospect all this did was overwhelm the family and make it more difficult to bond. The kids did not have any trouble bonding with us, which was one good thing, but imagine the feeling when I did not feel the same.

    Anyways we are now 4 years in and I did some things which are probably not what an adoption worker would prescribe, but they did work for us, so maybe they will help some of you….

    Two things upfront which have been mentioned were important. Deciding that I WOULD love them, even if it took a bit, and the “fake it til you make it”….very important openers.

    From there I realized that I everytime I headed into a feeling of hatred, or resentment, I was a bit burned out, so first step was to give myself a break and get enough sleep to make better choices. Little things like day camp, afterschool care, etc, so I would have some reprieve from dealing with the difficult behaviors really helped . Then I looked at reducing the time I had to parent, but doing a super job of parenting when I had them. So perhaps they would go to afterschool care some days, and when they got home, I would be ready to be a great mom. I would have dinner ready, some fun activity and bedtime planned out. I would lay it on heavy. My motto was – minimum exposure, maximum love. Sounds bad but it worked. I could be a great, loving mom for a few hours. I was not mad at them b.c I had had a break. I could get my other work done and give them the type of full on attention they needed, and in turn their behavior SLOWLY improved. I feel it was a win/win even though some might argue it is not right.

    The other thing I focused on was the best and the worst. What was the time I actually liked/enjoyed. For me it was bedtime. They went to bed very well and I love to read stories and at this time they seemed ready to be good- get in the bed and do what they had to have the story. No behavior problems b.c they were lying there listening. I felt like a good mom b.c we were all exisiting in harmony. Then a kiss goodnight, an I love you, 3 trips to get water or whatever else they asked to “prove my love” b.c these types of kids do that….and all were asleep and I felt GOOD. About myself and the kids and what I was doing b.c we had a nice moment. All of us, not just them. So then I took whatever moments that were good and fun and I tried to make our life filled with these good moments and they grew bit by bit and made life good again.

    The other thing I did was minimize what I hated. Much of this was terrible behaviors, and yes, I knew where and why they came up, and I felt for the kids, but still, dealing with it was not good for the bonding on my side. So I worked on one thing they did that drove me nuts. One thing at a time. We would talk and try and work to change what was the worst thing they did. The thing that hurt the family or drove me nuts….one at a time…until they started to be more pleasant to live with, more pleasant to be around, and then….you guessed it, they were easier to love.

    I looked at the worst time, which for us was morning. I poured all my smarts, all my reading all my energy into figuring out how morning could improve. Tried every trick in the book and I managed to get a nice, loving, morning routine. I am not a morning person, so this was especially difficult, but even now, I wake up and say to myself “can you be the best mom in the world for 1.5 hours?” and I know I can b.c we have a good routine, a good plan and we pull it off most mornings and the kids make it to school sent off by a mom full of love, with their lunches made with love, and no rushing. Then they have a good day and so do I because nothing NOTHING will make you feel worse than not loving a child who is in your home and has had so much trauma already. But what I found was that if I pulled off 1 hour of greatness, even when I did not feel the love. I felt good. It helped to counter my guilt about not bonding. Then the children were also better. They were more loving, they improved their behaviors and became more fun to be around, all these things together eventually compounding into us living a great life at home, and into me actually loving them….

    We still talk and work on behaviors. I still have days where I let them go play somewhere so I can be my best self when they get home. And I know this reduction of time together is the opposite of what all the adoption literature tells you, but it worked for us, it worked for me and if you are lost in this big mess, you might want to try it.

    Minimum time, maximum love….
    Be a great mom, for 5 minutes, one hour, one morning….and eventually for life…Best of luck!

    • Avatar Lynn says:

      Thank you for the things you said in this thread. It made sense and made me feel not so alone. I was wondering if you would be willing to privately email me to talk some more about this subject… I really struggle with this bonding thing and the guilt that I feel. My child has been w me for 5 years. Three of those years were as a foster parent and now it’s been two since we finalized adoption. Our child was 8 when we got them and is now 13. I feel like things should be better by now.

      • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

        Lynn, I would strongly urge you to do two things:
        1) Join the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/creatingafamily/) It’s a closed Facebook group so that only those in the group can see the posts. You are not alone and others in the group can help.
        2) Get yourself in therapy as soon as possible. It would be helpful if the therapist had training in adoption issues, but this is not a requirement. You can be helped.

    • Avatar Gretchen says:

      Thank you, thank you! It’s nice to know I am not the only one. We adopted a 3.5 year old girl and everything happened so fast. We meet her in July she moved in August and we adopted her 8 months later. It’s so hard cause everyone else loves her and thinks she is so cute and thinks what we are doing is so great. And that makes me feel even more like crap cause most of the time I don’t want to be around her. But we do have good moments and I hold on to those. And I like the idea of big love in small doses. But again thank you. It’s hard to explain to people so I don’t, and that’s not good to keep it all in.

      • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

        Please consider getting some counseling to support you during this time and to help you establish a greater bond with your new daughter.

    • Avatar MD says:

      Thank you so much for this post! I love your ideas, and feel like I can definitely work on implementing them.

    • Avatar Michele says:

      Mercy, how can I get in touch with you? Your comments resonated with me greatly and being further down this road than I am, I would love to hear more of your story if you are willing…?

    • Avatar Val says:

      I love every bit of this. THANK YOU for sharing your story. You’ve given me hope.

    • Avatar Salea says:

      I’m weeping
      I needed this. I don’t feel anything towards my adopted son somedays but resent. Thank you
      I’m trying this starting today
      Min time max love and “can I be a great mom for an hour”
      Got it. BLESS YOU

    • Avatar Angela says:

      Mercy, I feel like I don’t have to say anything cause you said everything I feel. Has it gotten any better? We’ve only been at this a month and it’s Foster to adoption, I just feel like I should have more feelings for her. She’s a good kid, and they told us she would gravitate more towards men than women. I feel myself trying less because she doesn’t try at all. I feel like such a horrible person

      • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

        I’m sorry Angela. It sounds very frustrating and I’m sure disheartening. Have you talked with your foster care worker about ideas for building attachment with your foster daughter? We have a lot of practical resources and tools to help you out if you are interested. This page is a great starting point: http://ow.ly/79Qc30jvTPZ

        We also have a very active online support community full of folks who are or have been where you are. We’d love to see you there: http://ow.ly/OITf30jvTZV

    • Avatar Michelle Schaffner says:

      Mercy, We have 7 bio and adopted 4 brothers from Haiti 1 and 1/2 years ago. They are now 8, 10, 12 and almost 16. I have been in counseling as I was in a living hell ready to dissolve. Your methods are the only thing that helped me. The adoption community is in denial that this is the only way to survive for some of us. Write a book, I will buy it.

  18. Avatar Sarah Wilson says:

    I am so glad to have found this site.
    I’m a single adopter of a three year old girl who has been with me for nearly two years. I still feel no bond or attachment to her even though she’s bonded to me. I really don’t know what to do because I don’t feel any love or likeness towards her and feel like such a mean person. I met a partner earlier this year and we’re now expecting our own child. I’m so worried that my feelings will be even worse once I have my baby. I’ve tried talking to family but they just got angry saying that I need to carr on being her mummy. They don’t realise my full feelings and how much I wish I had not adopted her. Please help.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Sarah, I am glad you felt safe enough to share these feelings here. I can only imagine how hard it was for you to share. I can not stress this enough–you need to get to a mental health professional immediately. I am not blaming you for your feelings–feelings are what they are. However, what you are describing is a form of child abuse. I doubt you are physically hurting your child, but your inability to love her and attach to her is causing deep psychological scars. No matter how you try to hide your lack of love or bonding with your child, she is picking it up on the deepest level, and I promise you it is causing damage. You need help deciding if this is something you are willing and able to work very hard to overcoming. If you are not able to start to love and feel connected to your daughter you, need help deciding what is in her best interest moving forward. I can’t stress enough the damage you are causing her each day this continues. I also can’t stress enough that this is something that can improve significantly with the proper help and your strong desire to fix it.

      • Avatar Sarah Wilson says:

        Thank you so much for getting back to me. That is why I’ve got in touch because I’m so worried about the impact on her. I feel so stuck because I want to do the best for her just don’t know what to do. I hate the thought that it could be a form of abuse. I just want her to have a happy life. I’ve been referred for some cognitive behaviour therapy but not sure how this will help.

        • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

          Sarah, you don’t have to know now how it will help, just get yourself to a good therapist and start work. I’m glad you’re going for help!

    • Avatar Lisa says:

      I feel so much sympathy for you and the child. I’ve got 5 children. Four of then we adopted. I know that I can’t save the world but I wish that we could take her from you…not in a negative way.

      • Avatar Cathy says:

        I too think Sarah was brave to reach out and acknowledge her attachment issues with her daughter. That is a very hard place to be, caring for a child 24/7 when you don’t feel that deep love and sense of connection. My concern is that Cognitive Behavior therapy is not the right approach to this type of issue. I would recommend working with a therapist with deep expertise in attachment issues, which is not typically going to be a CBT approach. I wish the best for you and your child and hope you have moved forward on this since you first wrote in November…

  19. Avatar C says:

    I am so glad I found this board. My adopted daughter is 4 years old now and has been in our home 18 months now. Like many of you I have been taken off guard by my ability to bond to her. There are days I resent her in my home so much I don’t know what to do with myself. I have one bio son age 13 and love him more than I can express. He is my whole world. Have gone to attachment therapy which has not been helpful. It seems it is designed to help the child attach to me, but does nothing to help me attach to her. Siting around playing with toys with another woman and the child is not helpful at all. I have tried to express some of my feelings to the therapist but the focus continues to be on her attaching to me which I do not think is our biggest problem at this point. Like some of you have expressed I feel like a monster. How can I dislike a little girl and resent her so when she is the one who has had the difficult life and been through so much. I no longer want ti come home from work and leave her at preschool until the last possible minute to get few minutes of peace from her. I know I need some help just not sure where to get it. Have terminated attachment therapy for the time being and am trying to get an individual therapist for myself. I feel like my being honest with her therapist was a mistake. She does nkt understand. The child is not in danger and is taken care of, I just dont have a lot of postive feelings and am concerned with how the therapist is scrutinizing our family right now even though I have asked her for help. I dont know if I can truly be honest with someone who does not understand. I am tired of people who judge these feelings. I know she did not ask ti come into my home and trust me if I knew things would feel like this I probably would not have done this, but now I just want help making it all okay. I am not looking for perfect, just okay would be awesome. I would love to be able to relax in my own home and not feel like I am on edge all the time.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      C. A couple of thoughts:
      First, please know you aren’t alone. Also know that this situation can be helped. I’m not a mental health professional, but I think getting a therapist for yourself is a great first step. It would be very helpful if the therapist understood adoption issues, but if that type of training is not readily available, I would get a really good family therapist.

      Second, as hard as it might be, I think you should reach out to your adoption agency. If they are a full service agency they may have social workers on staff that have experience with parental attachment issues and can help.

      Third, Creating a Family has a course on Importance of Parental Attachment Styles in Adoption in our Online Adoption Education Center (https://creatingafamily.org/learningcenter/). We also have lots of other courses that may be helpful to you on attachment and post adoption depression (which may be a factor on what you are experiencing).

      Fourth, please join the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/creatingafamily/) It’s a closed Facebook group so that only those in the group can see the posts. You will find others who have walked in your shoes and survived.

  20. Avatar MJ Hughes says:

    I understand how you are feeling. We recently completed an international adoption that took 3 years. The pictures and video we got in the beginning were when he was an infant. I knew after the long process he still would not be that same child we had the video of. I tried to mentally prepare myself that he would not be a baby anymore, although I desperately wanted him to still be. I think he is connecting to me more than I am to him because of my disappointment that I have lost knowing him in his babyhood. I feel guilty that I am struggling so much. Every morning I wake up and ask God to help me better mother and every night I have to ask for forgiveness for blowing it again and not being the mother I want and need to be. It’s only been about a month that we adopted him, so I’m hoping I can grieve our loss and connect with him like I need to. I feel guilty that he’s such a precious child and for some reason I can’t feel that deep, overwhelming love for him like I expected to feel. I hope it comes soon.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      MJ, you aren’t alone and there is help. First, reach out to the social worker that you felt the most connection to at your adoption agency and share your concerns. She/he can and should help. Second, join the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/creatingafamily/) Many people in that group have been exactly where you are right now and have survived. They can help. By the way, it’s a closed Facebook group so that only those in the group can see the posts. We can also post questions anonymously for you if you want to not share your name.

  21. Avatar Lisa says:

    We adopted a 4 yr old 11 years ago. We have never bonded, never felt love. Now we count down the months til she turns 18 so we can part ways. She has severe RAD and thousands of hours of therapy and intervention has resulted in zero progress. We don’t love her and are eager to reclaim our lives sans he drama and sabotage. This relationship has put our marriage of nearly 30 years in jeopardy as there is so much daily stress its just hard not to become bitter. After all, we are human too. We will wish her well and hope for the best for her life. Fingers crossed! PS She has openly said she doesn’t love us and cant wait for her childhood to be over with. I have a new philosophy. Work on you! Make yourself the happiest human that ever walked the earth and guess what …your great attitude will be an example for all to see….even your resentful adopted child.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Lisa, I can’t imagine what it must be like for your daughter and for you. I urge you not to give up on family counseling.

  22. Avatar Maria says:

    Wow, No one has posted since July 2014 and its March2015, I hope someone is out there that can help me and there is still some activity on this board, We adopted a little nine year old girl and have been home just about four months and I am really feeling horrible, The attachment is not going well, but like one poster said or maybe more, The child may be attaching but I feel like I am not, Sometimes the whole family feels they have to hide in their rooms to get some time alone, because she will follow everyone around and its like she thinks we are running an orphanage and everyone has to do the same things at the same time and everyone has to have the same things, She stares at me constantly every single thing I am doing, I feel like I am in a fishbowl, My husband doesnt have nearly half the problems or see them!! I feel like a monster and I am the one who pushed for this and I feel like what did I do to our familly, I feel her personality is already formed at nine and this is what we have to endure, Control, manipulation, sometimes not telling the truth, I have no idea how to parent alot of the behaviors because our Bio children never did stuff like this, Pouting, sulking, biting, seeking constant attention, I am her sixth Mom where she is coming from two foster homes and two orphanages and her own bio Mom, I get depressed and think every day what did I do, I am afraid to go to a therapist like anything you tell them they will call the state on you or report you, I dont trust them, Alot of my friends said not to adopt and warned me how hard it would be, so I cant even talk to them about it because they will say I told you so, I feel like I am just venting problem after problem, She comes to me and tells me to do her wash, When this is a child that got one dress a week and they washed it on Sunday< I resent her telling me to do her wash, or if there is a tiny staiin on her clothes or a little rip in something,she has to tell me,like she cant wear it, Like our children or myself never wore anything that had a little stain on it or a tiny rip, I dont get that part, There are so many parts I dont get, Our facilitator says Oh, as long as she isnt rocking back and forth and banging her head then she sounds good and its just going to take time ,Thanks for the support! and I feel like I am just left in the ocean in a boat with one oar, Its so hard and I never ever in my life dreamed I would feel like this. Same thing as one poster stated, Just thought would have all these loving feelings of taking care of a orphaned child, It didnt work that way, , I also keep thinking how easier a toddler would have been,to adopt, but from reading these posts it doesnt seem like that is the answer and some Moms have trouble with toddlers too, Waiting for a year or more seems like such a long time to feel down and upset with yourself for feeling this way, You wake up everyday thinking, Oh no, what will today bring, There is also one of our bio children that she doesnt get along with, and they fight every day about the most stupid things,that we always have to break up, where we never had any kind of fighting like that, Everyone always got along, I could go on and on and on, I need help! and am still figuring out where to go and what to do besides praying!! Any advice is greatly appreciated and hope someone is out there still!! Its been pretty inactive since July, God Bless you all, ,

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Maria, first, you absolutely need to either talk with a therapist or with your adoption social worker to get help for you and this child. I understand your fear of being judged, but a therapist or your social worker has heard this from other people, and I hope will know that you need support and concrete advice. I would also strongly encourage you to post your question on the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/40688106167/) It’s a closed Facebook group so that only those in the group can see the posts. You’ll need to join the group. There are others on that group who have been where you are at and hearing their stories can give you hope and give you suggestions of what they did that helped them.

      P.S. This is the comment section of a blog post. The Creating a Family Facebook Support Group is an active support forum.

    • Avatar Jennifer says:

      A year later- I want to respond… I was that adopted child who wasn’t loved- who had a horrible mother who couldn’t bond with me, became physically abusive and ended up giving me back to the state 6 years later. To this day, and I am now 37 years old, I ask myself what was so wrong with me? I was 4 years old!! I had been beaten, neglected, sexually abused, treated worse than an animal by my biological mother- my adoptive mother was supposed to be my “fairy godmother” she was supposed to make all the bad go away. She was supposed to be the one to protect me, hold me close and keep the monsters away. Granted I was damaged goods- but I was just a little girl. I WAS worth loving!!! I don’t know how I even came across this discussion, but I felt the need to respond to these stories of these women having so much trouble bonding with these innocent hurting children- if you think the bonding process is hard on you- just imagine how many times harder it is for these little children! They have to overcome the barriers that they have put up around thier little hearts! A lot of these children come from abusive situations, or situations where they are not shown what true affection is, because they are just another addition to an orphanage. Imagine what they have to overcome emotionally to attach themselves to you! To trust you! To truly love you!! And at the end of the day that’s all that they want, a mommy and a daddy who will love them- without hurting them! Adoption of a child is not the same as bringing home a puppy- once they start peeing and pooping everywhere, tearing up your shoes- you get annoyed and wanna take them back. It just kind of sounds the same in theory to me. They look so cute through the glass window but once you actually bring them home they aren’t so cute anymore. You can’t change your mind on children ladies! If you don’t have what it takes, then don’t take on the “burden” of adoption! Children- all children are a gift from God! And in actuality shouldn’t be a burden! I understand getting used to the unfamiliar. I had to do it time and time again- as I went from group home to group home and had to learn to bond with new girls and new houseparents over and over again! But I did form lasting friendships with a lot of those ladies! I am still friends with some of them today. If it is your hearts desire to love this child that YOU brought into your home, then you will succeed at that- and should never give up! Have a compassionate heart and imagine living with the pain that your children have lived with! Mabe that will make them easier to love! I am honestly not trying to be judgemental- BUT there are ALWAYS 2 sides to a story! P.S. Despite my adoptive mothers actions and living in foster/group care for 4 years- I was blessed to eventually be placed with a foster family that chose to love me- even as damaged as I was! It was hard for them- because at that point I felt like I was a piece of garbage, not worthy of anyone’s love- but they changed that! I am now happily married with 7 children of my own- for whom I would give my last breathe! So yes, through all the pain- there was a happy ending!

      • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

        Jennifer, you post both breaks my heart and gives me inspiration. You were NOT damaged goods–you were an innocent child who deserved a better break in life. You were infinitely lovable. I am so very thankful that you survived and ultimately thrived!!!!

  23. Avatar Angela says:

    I’ll be short and sweet. What your feeling is expected and okay. Don’t beat yourself up, assuming you’re not capable of bonding with her.
    Plan on 1-2 years to develop attachment and bonding for each year she was not in your care. Counseling for yourself is not a bad idea but may be premature.
    Resources to consider. http://www.empoweredtoconnect.org
    Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray
    Becoming A Family by Lark Eshleman
    I Love You Rituals by Becky Bailey
    As you get into doing some of the attachment activities and she responds to them, your brain will release neuro-chemicals that reward you with pleasure. That’s the biological magic 🙂

  24. Avatar Diane says:

    Attaching is a process. It takes time. So. Much. Time. Try to be patient with yourself, understand that it is normal, take breaks if you can, and know that the feelings will come in time. We are 22 months in to our adoptions, and I can finally say the girls feel like my own. Try to rest and give yourself some grace. It’s okay. It really is.

  25. Avatar Diane says:

    You are not alone. I’m sharing an entire series about this on my blog. This is so normal and you should feel no shame. You are not alone. I totally understand.
    God bless you.


  26. Avatar Susan Sinclair says:

    I’d just like to add that I totally agree with the comments that parent bonding with the child should be raised in the adoption training.

    There was no mention of this in any of the training materials, and I had no idea at all that I would be unable to attach to my child. I was so worried that she wouldn’t attach to us; it didn’t even cross my mind that I would feel love towards her. Thus, no feeling anything toward her really caught me off guard because it was so unexpected. The feeling is so terrible it makes me want to die because I think she’d be better off without me.

  27. Avatar Susan Sinclair says:

    We adopted a 3.5 year old nearly 3 years ago and I’ve never felt connected to her. I have been gentle with myself and have feigned affection with her. I simply just don’t like her. Some days are better than others. It mostly feels like I am a servant to a stranger.

    I’ve just come to the conclusion that all I can do is help her as much as I can and accept that the feeling of love may never come. My husband has bonded with her and she has him wrapped around her little finger.

    I think one of the most unpleasant experiences being an adoptive parent is going to birthday parties and having to deal with insensitive comments that put be back in a downward spiral. I know people don’t mean to hurt me, but I really cringe when I hear comments like, “Oh, I’d totally adopt if I couldn’t have my own kids.” It makes me feel as if I chosen something second best. The other comment I hate is, “You must have a really big heart. There’s no way I could love a child that wasn’t my own.” Or the big heart comment frequently gets followed up by, “Raising your own kids is hard enough.”

    • Susan, comments like that are so darn insensitive!

    • Avatar Ann says:

      We adopted 15 months old boy just 4 months ago. My husband is almost fine with him, but I feel the same as many commenters here – no love, servant to stranger, angry at myself, etc. we have a bio child too whom I love to pieces. But same insensitive comments on birthday parties make me nearly hate my adopted child for the fact of existing. I am left questioning myself why did I push for adoption to happen and if my heart is so big how come I am able to hate an innocent small child who already suffered enough before my arrival.

      • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

        Ann, 4 months is a relatively short time to adjust to the total upheaval of your life. However, given your feelings I strongly urge you to contact the social worker at your agency for help. I also think you would benefit from seeing a therapist to help you adjust to your new life. It doesn’t help, at this point, to beat yourself up for initiating the adoption, but you do need to get help as soon as possible for you, for your family, and especially for your new son.

  28. Avatar Abraham Cottrill says:

    You have hit my fear squarely on the head. We are looking at going into the adoption process again. Our first girl came to us when she was 6, and the paperwork is underway. Though the emotional bond has been long completed, it was a bit rough at the beginning. We also had a 17 year old boy come as what we thought was a permanent foster placement. That placement broke due to safety concerns. Now we are looking again, and have been presented with a 16 year old boy. I thought I was up for this. What i am finding is alot of fear and anger, and mostly concern about me not bonding, or it ending up being just another foster placement for this boy. And I feel like a beast for having these concerns.

  29. Avatar Megan says:

    Having not been in the same situation I cannot pretend to know what it’s like, but I do know that in the infertility world in general (and in pregnancy and post-pregnancy worlds too, I find), people are only just starting to open up about “what really happens” and I think that opening-up is SO important. It makes such a difference when you find that you’re not alone and that you can actually hear how other women are getting through it – and hopefully some of that guilt goes away too!

  30. Avatar Hope says:

    As a bio mom and an adoptive mom, I can tell you bonding can be challenging for either /both. I actually had more issues bonding with my bio than with my adopted. It is work and doesn’t just happen. I think the response was great. Though like another poster mentioned, the statement about “if I were joining a family…” is concerning. First that’s not really an appropriate expectation for a child, or anyone coming from trauma of who knows what. Plus I think it is unfair to think any one person mighty respond in the same way that you or anyone else would.

  31. Avatar Teresa says:

    I am so glad to see this post. I hear that this is a common occurrence but there really aren’t that many resources out there for this. I have really struggled to attach to my adopted children even though they very quickly attached to me. And since we have biological children too, it is hard not to compare myself and even harder when I know they can tell the difference. Parenting my bio toddler and infant in front of older adopted kids who never received the care and affection they needed is very hard. And they want that kind of attention/affection now and trying to fake it with older kids–very hard. I have sought therapy but I couldn’t find a therapist that had dealt with this, so I chose one that works with adopted/foster kids. I have sunk into a pretty heavy depression and feel like we have completely ruined our lives. We have very, very little outside help or support. With five kids, I would be a tired momma anyway, this just seems to make it 10 times harder. In theory, I know we did the right thing but day to day, it is a constant struggle.

    • Teresa, I’m sorry you are struggling and glad the blog gave you some comfort. I’m even more glad that you are in counseling. You didn’t say how long ago you adopted. It takes time to bond and attach in adoption for both kids and parents. In addition to counseling, I strongly recommend you do some reading and/or listening. We list some great books on attachment in adoption . We have interviewed most of the authors, plus lots more, on the Creating a Family show on this topic as well as on the topic of parental attachment. You can listen while you cook dinner or vacuum or whatever. You can find those shows listed on our Attachment Resource page.

  32. Avatar marilynn says:

    A lot of the families I reunite are parents who lost their kids in CPS actions where the parents fought and lost and had their rights terminated like I’m guessing your husband’s Aunt or Uncle must have.

    You guys did the right thing to keep her in the family of course. You buckled down and prevented her from being adopted out to another family. You are good people. Why do you have to go whole hog and treat her like she’s a sister to your kid’s when she’s their 1st cousin 1r? Would it take pressure off you, your husband and your kids to just treat the situation and her as who she is which is a cousin that you have parental responsibility for? Yes they will be raised as if they are siblings but they are not. You’ll rear her the way a mother would but your not her mother and they are not her siblings your all cousins and your family and you’re in charge and everything will be fine.

    If God forbid something tragic happened to you and your husband where would all your kids go? Could they become wards of the court? Wouldn’t you want some members of your family to step forward and raise your kids for you? Would you want that aunt or cousin calling themselves your children’s parents, just because they were raising them? They’re your family, they have their titles and rolls already doing a different job and more work just makes them more awesome and wonderful but it won’t take away your parenthood (other than legal parental authority).

    It’s so cool what you did and she may really love growing up surrounded by all her cousins in a big family home. You did the right thing and this way she’s got a shot at having a relationship with her parents if they ever pull it together and think how much less threatened you are by her absent parents than someone who adopted with the goal of becoming a mother. Seriously you are the perfect person to adopt because you are not doing it to become a mother or get a child your doing it because that child has a need and so does his cousin and your doing it to keep a family in crisis from being separated forever.

    Don’t beat yourself up maybe you just need to look at the same situation differently cause what you did is beautiful and YOU are going to teach her how family should have each other’s back when things go haywire. You are a very good roll model. Don’t worry. Most people who relative adopt I have met don’t go trying to say their kinship changed because of that. They don’t call grandma mom, not that I have met.

  33. Avatar Anon AP says:

    I think this speaks to a continued need to improve and expand PAP education. Difficulty attaching – especially to 3 year olds, who are not known for a degree of passivity and compliance – is absolutely something known “out there”. It would be great if people were both introduced to the idea that this could be an issue and pointed in the direction of good resources before the need for help arises. It’s sad that the mother is feeling so strained and guilty right now, and I sincerely hope that good therapy, adjusting expectations, and time will help everyone involved.

    One thing that I can imagine being tricky is a fear of disruption if one asks for help. In the post-placement visit period, it’s the ideal time to ask for help, but I think there’s sometimes a temptation to show a strong, got-it-together face to the social worker during follow-up visits. What a loss of an opportunity to talk to a knowledgeable person and get help.

    Good luck to you and your family, letter writer. I hope you can find a solution that brings you all peace.

    • AnonAP, you are preaching to the choir on the need for pre-adoption education. Education, both pre and post adoption, is my life’s work. I have found that it isn’t unusual for education to be lacking in kinship placements–after all, the child is a relative, so what education can be needed–right?!? ARGHH!

      The good news is that this mama found a safe place to share and a place with lots of education. I pray that the experts interviewed on the radio show/podcasts are speaking to her heart and she and her family are starting the healing process. It is not at all too late. (I’m becoming an even bigger believer in post adoption education! :-))

  34. Avatar Cory Hodgerson says:

    It’s been 2 months. Change your expectations. You are putting way too much responsibility on a 3.5 yr old to fit into an overwhelmingly large family. That has to be intimidating for a toddler. Try to spend one on one time with her.

  35. Avatar Ginta says:

    I am in the same boat- a month away from finalizing first adoption of a child I am struggling to love. Through talking to other adoptive parents and reading Creating a Family Facebook posts I came to realize that it is a very common struggle for adoptive parents. Before this child came to into our lives I was so passionate about the idea of adoption, I envisioned how I would snuggle poor neglected orphan in my arms all day long. In reality I dread the time when she gets home from school and look forward sending her off to a week long summer camp. I feel like a monster, but I know I am not one. Because of the same experience adoptive parents have shared with me I have a lot of hope for the future. If I though I was the only one feeling this way, this adoption would have been disrupted a long time ago. It’s been a year with her in our house now and I am starting to have tiny moments of affection toward her. I believe this will continue to increase with time, but right now I feel your pain!

    • Ginta, I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough transition. While it is not uncommon, especially with older child adoption, it does take active work to resolve. You and your daughter need to be working with an adoption trained therapist. Creating a Family has resources on finding such a therapist.

    • Avatar Denise says:

      I am a month away from finalizing an adoption of a 6 year old boy. My husband told me it was him or the child a week after we had him at home because of the child’s behavior towards me such as pretending he was going to punch me in my face, jumping on top of me, hard, and twice peeking in at me through the bathroom door: he caught him once and corrected him but he then caught him a second time. I felt that I could not give up on the child and now I am a single mom and will have to adopt alone. Wow but being on my own was not what I had expected.
      We have good days but overall it is so hard. He is okay with others but very mean and defiant with me. We go to counseling weekly and I have tried the techniques for ODD children but I hate my life now. I had to cut down my work hours because I do not have help and also had to stop training jobs that supplemented my income. That and no help from my spouse means that I use retirement savings every month.
      I just do not like his irritating obnoxious laugh or his personality in general. I want to love him but I cannot even like him. Right now, feel like If I had to do this all over again I would not. Being a single mom of a child who you do not love or like is not what I expected. I am very spiritual so I believe that I must do the Christian way to forgive and accept and sacrifice because he is only a child, but I am not in a happy place. I have a therapist as well to talk to so I am getting emotional help but you cannot force love. And of course everyone is so happy for me and tells me how wonderful it is and I cannot tell them how I really feel. I know that my “son” is also going through a horrible time because he was placed for adoption by his biological mother who said he was ruining her marriage and his stepfather who had take care of him a while but his fiancée refused to take care of him anymore. The biological father said he could not take him and he had a failed placement before me. He has not been in the foster care system but that will be where he would end up if I do not end up adopting him and I cannot imagine a good ending for him at all. I feel that I have to sacrifice in order that I can give him hopefully a more stable life. I pray that with continued therapy and work on both our parts that we can eventually love each other and have a better life than we have right now. But I am so scared … What if it never gets any better? He just wants to go back to live with his stepfather and half brother and who can blame the poor little guy. And I am sure if his mom wanted him back he would want to be with her too. I wish he was easier to like but he is so abusive in the way he treats me that it is very difficult for me to care about him .
      Sorry for this long ramble. Thanks to others for sharing their feelings so that I could share mine

      • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

        Denise, this is a much more complicated situation than a comment in a blog can address. I am very thankful that you and he are each seeing a therapist who can give you advice based on knowing you and the child. If you are working with an adoption agency, reach out to them as well. One thought I had: I realize you don’t want him to go to foster care, but one advantage of having him “in the system” is that you would receive financial help to offset the cost now and in the future of providing the services that he needs. Also, you could request respite care, which it sounds like would be a huge help to you. I have no idea what is involved with getting him into the system and there are clearly disadvantages as well. Talk with your counselor and adoption agency about this before you decide.

  36. Avatar Melanie says:

    It is hard not to compare, but there is always adjustments when new family members are added, via marriage, birth, or adoption. You are not alone. Post-partum in adoption is just as real as post-partum in giving birth.

  37. You are right on Dawn with your advice. My one son and I did not bond right away and it was hard. I had a biological son already and once the new boys came it was hard to get attached. I knew I didn’t want these boys to stay in the orphanage but falling in love with them once they came home and the chaos started was not as spontaneous as I had thought and I did go through a time of feeling nothing but guilt.
    I did work out in the end with a lot of help and support from friends giving me creative ways of dealing with things. Support is so important as is unity between you and your husband. My experience led me to write a book called “From Half to Whole” and it is about our journey and how we survived. there wasn’t always love in the air! Good luck I wish you well.

  38. Avatar anon says:

    I’d add that personally, I’ve found that adding to the family via adoption and birth are just different – please refrain from trying to compare the two. You might not have the same relationship with your adopted child as your biological ones, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have something good nonetheless. It took me a looong time to come to a good place with my adopted child on this. I tried therapy, research, etc, but the bottom line is that you feel what you feel, and there’s no magic fix for this, only time. I’m always glad to see this discussed, because it seems rather taboo in adoption circles, and I always feel isolated and judged by it.I hope this person finds some support to get through this tough time.

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