Dear White Woman Who Returned Her Adopted Children

(and anyone else who thinks this is acceptable)

Sunny J Reed
Apr 27, 2018 · 4 min read
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In response to an article explaining a woman’s decision to actually return her adoptive children only four months after bringing them to her home, I’ve composed this letter addressed not only to her, but to adoptive parents who excuse this unconscionable behavior.

Dear Every Adoptive Parent Who Thinks This Is Okay,

You promised to love your adopted children like your own, thinking adoption was the solution to whatever inability you had to bear your own biological children.

You underwent the process to obtain someone’s children, tiny human beings with souls already marked by uncertainty and insecurity. Children who, from birth, were subject to separations no being should ever consider humane.

For a short moment in these children’s lives, you provided hope and excitement. Even at young ages, children learn vulnerability is a liability and don’t offer it easily. But with their adoption, they believed they’d found a home.

But after only four months, for whatever reason — but my guess is that it was the side effects of their trauma and unstable upbringings — they were actually given back.


Like defective property.

It doesn’t take a logical leap to imagine what likely happened. These children, abused or simply suffering from depression and anxiety, probably:

  1. Disrupted your household with “extremely angry outbursts”
  2. Acted out
  3. Didn’t respond appropriately (with gratitude) to material possessions
  4. Inherited genetic traits not compatible with your expectations

Adoption was an option when you wanted to create a family, but would it be an option if your biological children were disappointments?

Instead, you blame the system and not yourself.

You say:

“I had post-adoption depression.”
No, what you had was buyer’s remorse.

You say:

“None of it was the children’s fault. Their behaviour is a result of their life experience. They are not responsible for anything to do with the breakdown.”
No, but now they’ll believe they’re responsible for you returning them.

You say:

“We were euphoric about things; about our hopes and our future…”
You mean: “You had imaginary expectations that the children failed to fulfill in four months.”

You say:

“I felt [the system] placed the children with us and ran for the hills. I felt abandoned.”
Just like the children you returned.

You say:

“I can’t do anything now for the children we lost…”
You could have kept them.

So now, to alleviate the guilt you’re likely feeling, you’ve decided to fundraise to “prevent” this from happening again, even though you could have prevented it by not giving up.

Selling your wedding dress to raise funds to help charities support the same children — actual human beings already damaged by trauma from sitting in foster care — you returned is unacceptable. Hiking miles upon miles won’t erase the lifetime of damage done to these vulnerable children. Each step won’t erase the permanent harm done to these young beings, who no matter how well adjusted they become, how much they flourish, will be unable to forget the adults who failed them. Who nonetheless, will blame themselves for somehow failing you.

This is what you did by returning the children you promised to love:

  1. You reinforced their sense of unworthiness.
  2. You subjected them to a lifetime of self-hate
  3. You told them that love isn’t permanent and trust isn’t safe

There are real adoptees who fear that being returned can happen to them. That if they don’t “act right,” they’d get “sent back.” By excusing your actions, by blaming the system and not yourself, you’ve reinforced to adoptees and foster care children that they can again be abandoned.

It was four months. Barely enough time for a young child to adjust to new settings, to learn the language of your home. But you, the adult, couldn’t handle it.


Adoptees and Foster Care Alumni Everywhere

Sending adopted children back really is an option for people, one that some adoptive parents actually consider. This is an awareness message to let people know THIS. IS. NOT. OKAY. When I read this woman’s interview, I’d had enough of adoptive parents getting away with this and having their stories framed to excuse it.

You do not send children back.

You do not give up.

Please consider sharing this letter to end this practice.

Sunny J. Reed is a New Jersey-based writer. Her main body of work focuses on transracial adoption, race relations, and the American family. In addition to contributing to InterCountry Adoptee Voices and Dear Adoption, Sunny uses creative nonfiction as a way to reach a wider audience. Her first flash memoir (‘the lucky ones’) was published in Tilde: A Literary Journal. Her second piece (‘playground ghost’) is featured in Parhelion Literary Magazine. She is currently at work on a literary memoir.

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