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« Here We Go Again | Main | One Wish For Our Son »

June 04, 2007



GREAT post Paula.
Thank you for being here.
Poss. xxx


I think this is such an important point. Though I'm not an adoptee, I can relate a little bit because of my parent's divorce. For the most part, I feel like I've "dealt with it," and yet there are certain points in my life (such as getting married, having my own kids, etc) that bring it back to the forefront of my mind. It's something that never completely goes away.

Thanks for your always thoughtful and thought-provoking posts.


having exerienced more loss than i ever imagined, i agree, loss really never goes away. however, i think adoptee loss is different in that society thinks the replacement (adoptive parents) should make all the pain go away. good post.


Thank you Paula for this post because it so true of our society at large to not give space for people to continue their grieving process. As you say, grieving losses in one's life is a lifelong process and can be triggered at different times. May we make room in our own lives for that grieving process and in turn giving other's the freedom to grieve also.


Very well said. This should be required reading for every prospective-adoptive parent ... as the others have said, we do avoid the issue of grief - we allow it for a moment, but then expect it to be over and done.

Like Kendra, I can relate in that my parents divorce when I was 6 continues to imact me now, almost 30 years later. And while I know it isn't the same, I hope that my own lifelong grieving will help me empathize with my children when they have times of grieving their first parents.


Great post. It seems like the idea that a child will grieve, on some level, FOREVER, is often overlooked by adoptive parents, as well as society as a whole. Your analogy between a parent losing a child and the losses of an adoptee - that somehow there is a time limit on grieving - is spot on. Thanks for the very insightful post!


Is it just me or do others find it hard to believe that people think that grieving about all sorts of things happens once or in a limited amount of time? In terms of adoption, when I hear people talk about the grieving period at the time of initial transition, I assume that it is implied that they are talking about the initial reaction, but not assuming that it is done forever. I have not met anyone who thinks otherwise so far...but maybe I am assuming too much.


Paula, This is REALLY good. I mean REALLY good. I wish the world could read it, to see how grieving is forever a part of the 'forever family'.


And another fantastic post. I wish you would write a book, and that it would become a #1 best-seller so maybe society would quit promoting adoption as win-win.


I think Western society doesn't deal with grief well overall, period. With adoption -- they just don't seem to "get it," most people. I don't know if it's not logical enough or what. ??? When I've mentioned the possibility of adoption loss with my son's behavior issues, the first question out of most people's mouths is: "When did you adopt him?" I can tell with that one question that with my answer, they won't give that possibility any credibility. "He was four months old." So, because he was 4 months old, he didn't feel a loss?? I can tell that he felt a loss with going from his foster mother to us; that was his SECOND loss in a very short time.

The one person who validated my concerns was a Dr. who's originally from India. Maybe I'm reading too much into the East/West dynamic, but she, without knowing much about adoption per se, completely understood about my son having that connection with his first mother and grieving that connection.

Grief makes so many people uncomfortable, no matter what type of grief you're talking about. Something so nebulous as a "first mother" -- ohhhh, they just have no idea what to do with that. How complicated, how it doesn't fit into prescribed labels and boxes.

*sigh* I don't know when people-at-large will "get it" when some within the adoption community don't even "get it." I've stopped trying to explain that part of why Nate may be acting out to people because explaining this to people who truly will not "get it" and receiving "The Look" is annoying and just makes me angry. Understanding and validation is something I get through bloggedy friends. The world-at-large -- *shrug* -- I dunno.

Don't mind me. I'm in quite the cynical mood lately. But I do feel for ya, even if I haven't lived it from your exact point of view. *hugs*, friend.


Another facet of the burden placed on adoptees due to the fact that society in general and especially adoptive parents still believe(s) that APs can replace a child's biological parents. I've never seen someone suffer a grief that is less recognized and supported than adoption-related grieving is. I think it's prudent to ask why that is! Most every other tragedy that a human being can face, is duly recognized as such by society. Not so with adoption loss (both for adoptees and first parents).

This is a great essay, Paula. Thanks.

Paula O.

I think many of you hit the nail on the head - in that, generally speaking, our society does not fully recognize nor understand (and sadly, some refuse to even acknowledge its existence) the grief, loss and trauma that is inherent in adoption.

Angi, I've had many similar conversations and experiences that mirror what Judy spoke to, regarding people who simply don't find any credence in the fact that an adoptee can have any challenges later in life from an adoption that took place as an infant. Most times when I have mentioned the possibility of grieving and mourning the loss of certain things in my life and usually the response I am met with is, "How is that possible when it was so long ago and you don't remember anything? Plus, you had two loving parents who raised you, what do you have to be sad about?"

When people find out that our son was still an infant when he was adopted many people say, "Well, at least you got him young enough so that he won't remember anyone or anything." Usually my response is, "Imagine that your son or daughter was removed from YOUR home and family at 8 months, do you think that wouldn't affect him or her later in life?"

It is my hope that little seeds of information and awareness through people - first parents, adoptive parents and adoptees - sharing their stories that society will one day hold a more representative view of the full spectrum of experiences that adoption encompasses.

Zoe - your assertion is spot on. I absolutely agree.

Thanks for the comments, everyone - esp. those who shared part of their own personal stories.

Elizabeth - I'd love to see a book from you, too! :)


I like your blog. I came across while searching for places to get the word out about my new site, but really enjoyed reading your posts. My husband's sister (32) is adopted from Korea and we adopted from Guatemala last year.
Good post above. Adoption is always complicated and wonderful as it is, always starts with some type of tradegy. I have trouble calling our daughter's birthmother "birthmother". I usually say her mother and sometimes people correct me, but truth is she does have two mothers. Maybe not two mothers who are parents, but two mothers.


This post is so wonderful. Please don't ever get so discouraged by the naysayers that you ever go away. We need your voice so very much. I am so thankful that we have access to so many voices with different truths. I can't guess what our son will experience as a person who joined our family through adoption, but I want to know what it potentially could be like, or at least be thinking and watching for it. Because I love him... so very much.
This particular topic is really close to my heart because our son was 3 days old when we met him and I really feel that he didn't start to get comfortable and trusting with us until he was about 6 months. And even now, at 15 months, I sense another shift in our relationship, I can tell he feels more trusting and confortable. But whenever we tell people this we get the whole "oh, it is likely this or that or you are making too much of it. He was too young to remember." No, I am not. He misses(d) hearing his first mother's voice. He didn't know us and he is/was grieving. And it is perfectly fine for him to process that. It breaks my heart that he felt/feels that way, but as his parent my job is to do whatever I can to help and hopefully understand some part of his experiences and be willing to listen to HIS expression of it.
It really upsets me when people let their own fear be their guide; which is how I interpret the majority of this negative stuff.
Sorry for the long post- but thank you so very much for your sensitive, thoughtful writing.


It's crazy, I was just telling my mother this two nights ago, that the reality is that grief is part of adoption.

I think the reality is that anyone who experiences major loss as a young child will revisit the loss and process it to the level at which they are able throughout their life. Why would adoptees, who have experienced multiple losses all at once, be any different?

As a parent, I am learning that empathy is one of my greatest tools in allowing Khai to have his own feelings.


Absolutely iincredible post. You have done it again. Every a-parent should read this one!

Paula O.

Jan, I completely agree about our children having two mothers. Hopefully more people will recognize this too and not feel the need to correct us. Thanks for stopping by.

Thank you, Marnie, both for sharing part of your story and for your kind words. The fear is so foreign to me, I honestly cannot fathom it, but I realize that you're right - it is a very real feeling that exists amongst and even drives some parents attitudes and beliefs.

Jena - I agree with you 100% about the ability to be empathetic. My father especially continues to grace me with his empathy. It's been one of the biggest gifts he's given me in helping me feel validated and secure in my feelings - and one that has enabled me to feel incredibly safe in talking to him about virtually any topic.

Hi Cheryl! Thanks for reading - I appreciate it!


Wonderful and thought provoking. I applaud your honesty. Every adoptive parent should read this.

Paula O.

Hello, MeDenne! Thanks for the kind feedback - I really appreciate it.

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