Helpful Advice if You Don't Like Your Adopted Child

Written by: An Anonymous Adoptive Mom

Written by: An Anonymous Adoptive Mom

So here I am, writing a blog post for an organization that I’ve loved for years, about a topic I never, in a million years thought I would write. 

What happens if you don’t like your adopted child?

Here’s the deal, nobody goes into adoption thinking, ‘I’m not going to like my kid.’ Most people walk into adoption with heart eyes, determined spirits and a faith that cannot be shaken. But a very real side of adoption is that many adoptive parents struggle to attach and bond to their children. 

Okay, no big deal, just fake it til you make it, you’re an adult, that’s the least you can do for a child of trauma. Put on your big girl panties. “That’s parenting”, they say. 

I am here to tell you, as an adoptive and bio mom, it can be very different when you struggle to like your adopted child verses struggling to like your biological child. The last thing an adoptive parent who is struggling with their adoptive child needs to hear is, “That’s just parenting!”. I know the difference, and I’m here to tell you, it’s not just parenting.

The biological children we are speaking of most likely did not endure trauma from conception. They were not born with withdraws, they were not abused, neglected or abandoned by their primary caregivers which can cause a gaping hole in the development of their brains. Reguardless of the adopted child’s circumstances there is a 99% chance that your biological chid and the adopted child you are comparing them to are just not the same. So please, please, do not compare or minimize an adoptive parent’s grief by saying, “That’s just parenting.” 

Okay, stepping off my soap box to the main point of why I’m here today. I have struggled for years to bond, attach and actually like my child. But there is hope and I cling to it.

You see, I too went into adoption with heart eyes. I believed I could “do it.” I judged others who were struggling with their placements, thinking in my heart, ‘You are the adult, you can put their trauma before your pain.’ 

And then I met my child. And every single thing about this child completely unnerved me and my family. Their trauma caused a very real hyperactivity presence in my calm and controlled house hold. Family dinners went from my favorite time of the day to dreadful experiences where my husband and I kept pouring more wine. My other children went from sweet and cuddly to hiding in their bedrooms in fear of coming out to the chaos that surly awaited them. Our faith went from 98 to 9. 

We questioned everything we knew. 

But even in the hard, even in the pain of crying out and wanting out, we realized something deeper. 

We were experiencing our own trauma and we needed to help ourselves before we could help our child. We were exhausted and beat down and only had an ugly shadow of ourselves left to pour into this very fragile and insecure human. 

We realized, even though our child’s world might be crazy, we did not have to be crazy. We could center ourselves. Yes, it took a hell of a lot of strength, but we could stabilize our reactions and emotions to be the solid foundation of love our child needed. 

And I’m here to tell you all: it can be done and you are not alone.

You can bond and attach and like and love your child who at one time drove you absolutely crazy. 

Here are a few things that have helped my family and a few resources following that I would suggest any weary adoptive parent to look into:

  1. Do not make a habit of talking bad about your child. Yes, there is a time and a place to seek counsel, prayer and accountability for pain and trauma, but when we make a habit of gossiping or speaking ill of someone those thoughts will become what we believe. 

  2. Following #1, make a thankful list of your child. What do they do that you like? Even if it’s small, even if it’s that you like they way they pet your dog, start small and each day add to the list. Gratitude begets gratitude and one day your heart will rejoice in who your child is.

  3. Find an activity you both can enjoy and map out some time for the two of you to get away and play! Playing bonds hearts, theirs and yours.

  4. Karyn Purvis. Enough said. But not really because there can never be enough said about KP. If you aren’t up to date on trauma based parenting then please order The Connected Child, watch all of KP’s online videos and please, begin a trust based relationship with your hard to love child. It can change everything. 

  5. SELF CARE, SELF CARE, SELF CARE. Therapy (for you), date nights, vacations, going to the movies, hiring a housekeeper if it’s in your budget, massages, anything that helps you release your thoughts and focus on something else!

  6. Exercise. I’m not kidding. I was never really into working out until our child came home. I went from sedentary to working our 5-6 times a week. Depression can block serotonin from making it’s way to your brain, working out can open those gateways and help get those feel good emotions back to your brain!

  7. Daily vitamins, seriously, google depression and vitamins. I love the D and B family and have a big crush on magnesium! 

  8. Medication. I’ll be honest, I haven’t actually gotten on any meds but I have many people in my life who have started taking anti-depressants during or after the adoption precess and they swear by them!

  9. Don’t believe for a second that you do not love your child. If you are committed to your kid: that is love. Some people struggle with like, but like does not equal love. My definition of love does not have anything to do with emotions, and when we start to confuse the two (like and love) is when we can start truly demonizing ourselves and seeing a future without that child.

  10. And lastly, if you are a person of faith, hear this: do not allow your current state of well being and joy to be based on the emotional and physical circumstances of your home. This one took me a long time to do. But eventually I came to the understanding that everyone’s lives go through seasons of suffering and we can find peace and strength during those time. Expand your prayer life and enter a journey of thankfulness just because God is good. Don’t focus your prayer time solely on your child. Allow your heart to open up to the creator of the universe and the goodness that He is. Realigning my soul truly helped me be able to make space for love and patience for my child. 

Podcasts I love that I’ve found helpful: