Failed Adoption: The Parents Who Change Their Minds

failed adoptionWe often hear stories about happy mothers and fathers who have brought their adopted newborn boys and girls home for the first time. We read about the celebrities who successfully adopt older children from far-off countries. We also hear the sad stories of adoptive parents who are left with fallen tears and empty nurseries because a birth mother has changed her mind.

What we don’t often hear are the stories of those whose adoptions fail. “In as many as a quarter of adoptions of teens, and a significant number of younger child adoptions, the parents ultimately decide they don’t want to keep the child.”

Joyce Maynard revealed on her blog “that she’d given up her two daughters, adopted from Ethiopia in 2010 at the ages of 6 and 11, because she was ‘not able to give them what they needed.’” If you read her blog, you not only feel her anguish and grief, but you can also sense her resolved understanding; she feels she did what was best for the girls and her family.

Zia Freeman, an adoption counselor in the Seattle area, said, “We [give parents] a huge list of behaviors to expect and they’re not fun. But I’ll have parents come back and say to me, ‘I sat through those classes and heard you say that, but I still believed it wouldn’t happen to me. That I wouldn’t get a kid that wouldn’t respond to my love.’”

The TODAY Moms article I’m writing about also had other stories of “disruptions,” which is what a failed adoption is called. These adoptive parents spoke of intense aggressions, sexual misconduct and abuse (an adopted 4-year-old girl was grabbing one mother’s crotch and sexually abusing her 18-month-old daughter), withdraw, manipulation, and other negative attention-seeking behaviors (“running directly into traffic or screaming that she was being kidnapped in public places”) from their adopted children.

When you adopt a child, aren’t you agreeing to accept this child as your own? Can you choose one child’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health over another’s? Perhaps …

“For children older than 3, disruption rates range between 10 percent to 16 percent; for teens, it may be as high as 24 percent, or one in four adoptions … [for older children] it’s significantly higher because of the complexities of parenting a child who already has life experiences and certain behaviors. When we’re rejected and traumatized early in our development, it changes the way we function and respond to people.”

Thinking of the affects a “disruption” can bring upon the adopted child, including trust issues, low self-esteem, and additional behavior problems, I imagine it’d be very difficult to decide to give up – a life-destroying and life-changing decision.

What do you think? If faced with extreme difficulties, similar to those mentioned above, would you give up your adopted child?

What do you think?

Failed Adoption: The Parents Who Change Their Minds

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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  1. heather says:


  2. monette3 says:

    I haven’t ever been in that position, so I hesitate to judge, but I have to say that reading that article I couldn’t help thinking that adoptions failing because of disruptions reminds me quite a bit of taking a difficult dog to the pound. Except, children and dogs are not the same thing. It is sad that people think they are above or exempt from the normal process an adopted child goes through, and even more sad that the child is the one who is punished for it. Tough situation!

  3. And NO not all children who face such a heinous thing are ‘damaged’ as the previous poster suggested. Those people adopted me when I was an infant. Their actions speak more about what type of people they are rather than what I am.

  4. I was one of those kids. The incredible hurt and anger of that betrayal is enough to be justifiable homicide yet I am not a murderous person, since I know that God is the Father to the fatherless and HE will repay.

  5. Sharon says:

    When you adopt an older child wouldn’t you assume they are at least partially ‘damaged’? Most teenagers are hard enough to handle as it is and throw in no stable relationships, abuse, etc. and BAM that’s a psychological disaster.

  6. P.S. I wasn’t saying that the people who gave back their children didn’t love them. I’m sure they did. It’s a very hard job and not something imaginable on any scale.

  7. There are thousands of children just like your girls and no one is ever equip to handle them. Who ever takes on the job just has to realize they will be giving-up their life and sometimes sanity for these poor children It’s not an easy job. No one could ever know what it’s like until they are in it.

  8. I adopted 3 sibling foster children all with FA Attachment disorders etc… It has been 12 hard years and a big sacrifice. We love these kids and have dedicated our life to them. If I had to do it over I would choose to let someone else do it or would have only took one. Adopting them caused damage to my son 10 at the time and is more than a full time job. No one knows the children have all the damage until the adoption is over because it can take a while before you discover why they are so disruptive it took my girls 8 mo. before they told me that in last foster home the 18 yr old son had molested them. We know the damage it cause’s to give back children who go from home to home so we kept our kids because we love them. I was worried that they would just go from home to home if we returned them because they were so disturbed. And were willing to take on the burden. I absolutely understand anyone who can not bear this burden. Just when they calmed down and life was bearable they became teens and that started it all over again.

  9. Melissa says:

    My husband I took on two children through fostercare that we had full intentions of adopting. They were a sibling pair, girl 9 and boy 12. We were mislead and told these children only had minor issues. The amount of mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse they had dealt with was not fully disclosed. They had severe behavioral issues, tempter tantrums, violent outbursts, tried to physically harm each other and me, threatened my husband and my pets, pushed my mother into traffic, and so many other things I cannot even begin to go into. I loved those kids and wanted more than anything for it to work. There was no way we could keep them. I have to work full time, and my husband is disabled. We were not equipped to handle the situation with them. We had no choice but to have them returned to foster care. I continued to go to the meetings with the caseworker to make sure that everyone knew that these kids needed a more specialized home with people who could properly handle their issues. I love them still, but there is no way we could have made that work.

  10. jess says:

    you sound like a child molester-er

  11. Susannah says:

    I just have to say that as a parent of 2 adopted children, one with major mental health issues, I think the title of this article is a misnomer. No one changes their mind. They still love their child and want to provide for them as best as possible. However, something is forcing their hand, be it safety concerns or other things.

  12. rebecca says:

    You are an idiot I am sorry you are as soon as I saw that I went oh god that poor child was abused and doesn’t know it is wrong. But you descided not only were they just an f-ed up raper baby but should be put back in the original situation so they could get some more training. I hope to god you have no kids and if you do I hope your spouce lover what ever is a lot smarter than you although I doubt it if they are with you

  13. Dannielle says:

    You are just sick. Give a child to a child molester??? I hope to God you don’t have kids of your own. If you do, you’re probably the kind of parent that when a kid bites you, you bite them back harder to teach them a lesson.

  14. Real kid? Adopted or not they are all real children and news flash, your little birth child can have all or more of the issues you are describing. Why would you even generalize like that….look up famous people who are adopted. Our world would not be the same without the presidents, inventors, world leaders, actors, teachers, scientists on that list!

  15. As an adoption social worker with one of the largest counties in the nation, I see this all too often. We do a great job at recruiting people to adopt our older kids but a horrible job of providing them with real support after the adoption. We are making progress, but not fast enough. My heart breaks for the kids who are tossed away over and over like an unwanted puppy. It is not the kids faults but the grown-ups for failing to properly educate the parents and SUPPORT them through the often challenging journey of adoption and parenting.

  16. its so sad i couldn’t imagine putting my baby up for adoption but whatever is best for the CHILD is the most important

  17. meggiepoo says:

    My adopted cousin is one of these children. She came from a very unstable home with no father. She was adopted by a Jewish family but they chose to send her back. When she was 8, my aunt and uncle adopted her. Years later, she had a teen pregnancy and never even told my uncle she was pregnant. My aunt and uncle also divorced when she was a young adult. She just turned 26 and is a single mom to 2 beautiful children. She was also in a serious car accident last fall that has left out of work for close to a year now. Her life has been far from easy but I’m so proud of her. She has graduated from high school and is now a great mom to 2. She is currently pregnant again and recently got engaged. So happy for her that things finally seem to be turning around.

  18. ErinF says:

    Also, "real" kid? That really makes me sad. I know plenty of happy, healthy children of adoptive parents, and to both parties, the parent-child relationship is completely real.

  19. ErinF says:

    I think it’s more than extreme to call the 4-year-old evil (she’s a child who is modeling the abusive behavior she has been a victim of) and to suggest that she should be victimized by a child molester yet again. Children who behave like this have been through horrible things, and need special care and rehabilitation. It’s not their fault that this happened to them. If they don’t receive the appropriate care, what do you think will happen to them as adults?

  20. ErinF says:

    Oh, that’s so heartbreaking on all sides. A lot of these children have been through so much, and not everybody is equipped to take on the resulting psychological and behavioral issues. This would be such an agonizing decision to make when deciding what would be best for the adopted child and the family as a whole.

  21. Dahlia says:

    OMG an adopted kid sexually abused the real kid?!?!?!?!? WTF!!!!!!!!!!!! If I was the mother I would beat the adopted child and find a child molester to give the evil child to so that kid can see what its like to be sexually abused. Never adopting any kids! Its stupid to want to adopt a child over a year cause who knows how they will respond to you. You think you’re doing a good thing by adopting a child, helping them out, but the child will just disrupt your life, steal from you, and be ungrateful. who needs kids like that when you can have your own and raise them the way you want. seriously…

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