4 Things I Wish I Could Change About Adoption.

I adore adoption but as my child gets older, there are things I regret about adoption, things I wish I could change about life as a family formed by adoption. Here are 4 things I so wish I could change-for my daughter’s sake.

4 not so great things about adoption

If you know me, you know I’m a huge advocate and fan of adoption. I love it not only because it’s how my favorite person on the planet came to be my child, but I also love it because adoption is, to me, the most special and magical way to form a family.

Yes, I glow when I talk about adoption, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are too many fabulous things about adoption to count, but I’ve also learned since being an adoptive mom that there are some things about adoption, and international adoption in particular, that are less than ideal.

If you are an adoptive parent, I’m sure you can relate to these adoption issues. Here’s some of the downside to adoption that most parents don’t talk about.

1. Lack of medical information.

The lack of medical information was a given when we adopted our daughter. I knew it going in but like anything, you don’t really grasp the reality of something until it’s upon you. She’s getting older and it would be helpful to have a complete picture of her medical history. Her doctors would welcome it and so would I. I wish I knew what conditions I need to watch out for. Does diabetes run in her family? What about osteoporosis or asthma?

2. Biological Traits.

If you have a biological child, you have some family traits to use as an educated guess. If everyone on your side of the family grew to over six feet, you’d have a guess of your child’s growth. How tall will my daughter likely become? Is there another growth spurt coming or is this probably her adult height? I have no clue. We all guess about how our child will develop but it sure would be nice sometimes to have a little bit more info to help me make my guesses a bit more educated.

3. You Can’t Undo the Loss.

I truly thought that I’d love my daughter so much that I’d somehow inoculate her against all the hurts that come with adoption. I now know this: I can never truly fill the hole that being adopted has created. I don’t think she’s conscious of it yet but all the class projects of family trees, all the talk of cousins who look “just like their mother”, all the unintentional talk of biological traits in science class probably helps keep that loss afloat.

No matter how hard I love her, I can’t erase the fact that I am her mother because of loss.

4. Never Knowing Her Birth Family.

My daughter is from China, and as you probably know, China has no information on birth parents. There are no records of who her biological parents are. No records of where they lived. There is a only a blank space where a picture of her first family should be. Before I adopted from China, I thought this was a good thing. I stupidly thought that not having a birth parent in the picture made the adoption easier and cleaner for us as adoptive parents. (Again, stupid things you think before you adopt). Now I would give anything to be know who her biological parents are. I wish I could help her fit together the puzzle of the people who gave her life, where they are, where they came from, but I probably will never have that gift to share.


There’s a strong chance she will never know her birth parents.

My daughter doesn’t seem to care about her birth family information right now. But she’s only 13 and that will, more than likely, change. If we had access to birth parent records, she could make a decision on seeing that information or not. But since we don’t have those records, there is no choice to make. Her biological history will more than likely remain a mystery.

Now don’t get me wrong, I bring these up to share the reality of adoption. I’m still a huge believer in adoption, but as I’ve spent more time being an adoptive mom, I now also understand that along with the magic,  there are some challenges with adoption that I only wish with all my mothering heart I could change.





  1. says

    #3 is such an astute observation. I’ve never thought about it, but yes, there has been a loss of some kind. At the same time, YOU are a “gain”… an extra, a bonus, a plus that she will always have. Thanks for sharing this…

  2. says

    Interesting perspective! I’ve heard that some children want to learn about their birth parents and some do not. It never occurred to me about the biological traits, lack of medical history, etc. I often think that adopting a child makes them yours (so to speak) and all things disappear. Thanks for opening my eyes!

    • says

      I think maybe when she’s older she might be interested but until now she doesn’t seem to care. She does have friends who are adopted and so into learning about their biological background. We’ll see what happens!

  3. says

    Wow, I did not know that about China. A full medical history would definitely be helpful!! I’ll have to remember this list for the future 😀

  4. says

    There are so many children in this world who need good parents. Your daughter is very lucky to have you. And I’m sure you her as well.

  5. says

    What a beautiful heart you have. And how very helpful this info is for other adoptive parents. You are a treasure. 🙂

  6. April says

    I am a 34 year old woman, a daughter by adoption, at birth, to two amazing people who were always up front about my adoption. You did an excellent job outlining the deep truths about adoption. All of what you shared is true BUT knowing someone WANTED you so much is an amazing feeling too. I’ve always felt special instead of different because of how inclusive my entire family had been throughout my life. I believe that to be the key.

    • says

      I so truly appreciate your comments. It is enlightening to hear the voice of someone who was adopted. I hope that my daughter will feel the way you do. I tell her I loved her enough to work really hard to get her. I hope she knows and understands that one day.

  7. Kerry E says

    This is very touching to read. I was adopted by a cruel woman when my Mother died after giving birth. Then my father died at 14. It’s a painful thing to experience but I know she loves me. And I her.

  8. Lindsey says

    This was such a good read, so many unknowns when adopting a child. It takes a strong person to take on that challenge.

  9. says

    I was adopted in a way, my mom was pregnant with me when she met and married my dad. I have no clue who my biological father is, and frankly, I rally don’t care. The man who raised me was my DAD. The only things I would like to know would be medical history, genetics, racial identity, etc. For that, I plan on getting DNA testing done through 23andme. Not only will it tell me racial identities but it will tell me which diseases I’m at risk for because of my genes. Maybe this could be a way to augment your daughter’s medical history and give you some knowledge along those lines?

  10. says

    We adopted three children through domestic adoption. With each child there is a different level of openness. From one having visits with the biological family and another one there is no contact or family history what so ever. I will tell you I truly cherish the openness, and saddened for my child that doesn’t have that. You have touched on some very valid points. Adoption is a wonderful thing, but there is no denying that it happens because of a loss. Thanks for sharing. Blessings to you and your family.

    • says

      Becky, I so appreciate you sharing your story. You have a unique viewpoint since you have children with different levels of birth parent info and contact. I too wish that I could give her that gift of birth parent information. I had no idea how important this was until she got older.

  11. says

    Really beautiful. I love the way you weave the positive with the drawbacks. I agree with all four. We adopted domestically but the circumstances of their removal are such that they may never want to be in touch with the birth family. At least they’ll technically have the option, though. I know it all depends on who has also taken the DNA test, but hopefully your child will be able to get that puzzle piece through DNA testing in the future. My sister in law (adopted over 50 years ago in a closed situation, no information at all) was able to find her family through Ancestry.com. She is hoping to make a cross-global trip sometime in the future.

    • says

      Thank you for reading, there are so many things about adoption that get overlooked I think by many people. Appreciate you stopping by!

  12. Kerrie says

    Thanks for the article, I’m a newly adoptive mum to a 22 month old little boy. He’s been with us since he was 8 months old. I think your points are very valid and have given me some thinking points. I am very lucky to have my sons records from birth. Thanks for the honest article.

  13. PatricIa says

    I enjoyed reading this. I love knowing my background and where I came from to share with my children. You can and probably do allow her to experience the culture of the people she came from.
    One point that you made about teaching and the family tree is that often in divorce this is a difficult project for children of adoption and divorce too. It can make them feel less than and although it’s great to share family interest I do believe the teacher should handle this sharing privately, with great tack and encourage children of uncommon families to love that uniqueness of their lives and know that many others share their experiences.

  14. says

    Beautiful post! I’m not adopted, but have a close family member who is, and even though he doesn’t admit it, I think he still struggles with the hole that not knowing is birth family has left for him. Thank you for sharing this!

  15. says

    I love this! This is why open adoption is such an amazing thing. I understand in your situation it’s difficult but if people have the option, even a semi-open adoption is a healthier option all the way around. I am a birth mother and we have an open adoption. I am there to provide medical information, family history, answer questions he may have about the placement, and most importantly to firmly back up his adoptive mom as his MOMMY. Thank you for your amazing article. It is so important for people to see the good and the bad of adoption!


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