Here’s Why Adoptees Seem Angry

And what we talk about when we talk about loss

When too many external forces tell you how to feel, frustration happens.

I’ve got a not-so-secret for you: Many adoptees are pissed off and are still waiting for their happy endings.

I’m not one of them. I’m one of those realists who believe that the only happy endings are the ones we create ourselves and even then it’s not foolproof.

But what I want to say is that there’s something unspoken about adoption that fails to grab the public’s attention for some inexplicable reason, but I think I know why.

Adoption is seen as a #BraveLove, a happy footnote to an otherwise bleak beginning. Someone needed help, someone provided it. The end.

That’s wrong.

Adoptees are mad because they live with this:

Transracial adoptees are mad because they live a lifetime of confusion:

And adoptees are mad because stuff like this happens when they express their pain:

Behind every expression of anger is hurt. For every family that’s gained a member, adoptees have lost.

Lost a birth mother. 
Lost a birth father.
Lost a heritage.
Lost a history.

It’s unspeakable when an adoptee discusses grief. It’s like they’re…traitors. Traitors to their families who saved them, traitors to the ones who loved them like their own. Who could ever speak ill of people who gave them homes?

There’s a difference between hating your family and hating a system that neglected your needs. And I think that point is overlooked when adoptees express anger. With so much one-sided focus on the happiness that should happen after an adoption’s completed, we sometimes forget that negative side effects exist.

When engaging with a hurting adoptee, remember that a new family can never replace the original one. Remember that in adoption, sometimes not everyone wins. Remember that painful voices matter, too. Compassion unites us.

There’s a new adoption movement underway and it’s fueled by adoptees who’ve been silenced. So please: #JustListen.


Sunny writes about transracial adoption, race, and the American family. She also contributes to Intercountry Adoptee Voices, an adoptee-led site supporting research by intercountry adoptees. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.