Adoption breakdown

A Guest Post

My adoption has been breaking down for years- in fact, I’m not entirely sure that it was ever cohesive enough in the first place for words like ‘disruption’ and ‘breakdown’ to feel applicable.

My mum hasn’t phoned me for over a year. To be fair, I have seen her, because I have invited, persuaded and gone out of my way to include her in my and indeed her grandchildren’s lives.

But this one fact- that she can’t bring herself to pick up the phone, feels to me like the last in a long line of straws.

Adoption disruption and breakdown is often written about from the perspective of adoptive parents at their wits end after trying everything in their power to keep their children (much wanted, no doubt) in the family fold.  Often in the face of hugely disruptive, destructive and violent behaviour. No one comes to the point of breakdown quickly or lightly.

I was a pretty ok child, relatively speaking and would consider myself and alright adult. I’m muddling through parenting children and enjoying a career I have worked really hard to get.

If I was my parent I would be pretty proud really.

I am my own parent, because the ones that adopted me lost interest early on.

For as far back as I can remember I have tried to forge a relationship with them- particularly my mum- I was always terrified of being left again- that if I didn’t do what made them happy, they would take me back and get another child, a better child .

My parents didn’t want to parent, they wanted children, because that’s what people do. Sadly for them, they couldn’t in the conventional sense have what they wanted, so they adopted my brother and me (one of each, the nuclear dream) attempts to shape us into miniature versions of themselves were often thwarted but eventually my brother has taken over the family business (not what he wanted to do with his life) and I stayed in the mould of education long past when I would have liked to.

My mum has never enjoyed having children, to her, we were just some smaller people who demanded things that she couldn’t give, like time and love. An inconvenience that took her away from her real passions- gardening, baking, arranging the church flowers and watching sport on TV- solitary pursuits for a solitary person- not keen on sharing and quick with her fists when irritated.

My mum recalls my first year with her like this:

“You cried and cried and would only stop squawking when I fed you scrambled eggs” or

“You were a little sod, always up in the night, always wetting yourself”

Bearing in mind, I was a baby, I wonder what she had been expecting or indeed supported to prepare for.

Not for our family, the sharing of amusing anecdotes or “wasn’t it adorable when you….” Always space for a negative though.

Always another bruise on our self esteem.

There were many times in my childhood when I could have phoned social services- reported them, changed the situation, but I didn’t know that it was an option. We put up and shut up.

And on and on into adulthood, the emotional blows keep coming, recently over a pub lunch, my mum casually dropped in mine and my brothers birth names, apropos of nothing, like dropping a grenade onto the table she neither knew nor cared that this might be a ‘thing’ for either of us (my brother has never traced his birth family)

Of course she had told both of us growing up that she knew nothing of our former lives.

I’d like to think that its not out of cruelty that she operates but a kind of lack of self awareness and empathy. She is not the kind of person to get that other people have feelings nor does she think she has to be careful in any of her interactions. She has done an incredible job of pushing me away and this time, I don’t think I’m going to keep hurting myself by going back.



Author: Adoptee Corner

I was adopted from care in the UK.

4 thoughts on “Adoption breakdown”

  1. Hi, I’ve found your posts really helpful and powerful. thank you. I am the editor of Adoption Today, the membership magazine of the charity Adoption UK. We’ve been working hard to include more content from adopted people and I would be really pleased if you would consider writing something for the magazine. The next issue will focus on the move from foster care to adoption. I liked the comment you left on JJH’s blog recently and wondered if I could possibly print that or a version of that? If you’d rather not then no worries at all. Best wishes, Sally


    1. Hello Sally, thank you for your comment. Yes, I’m happy for you to print the comment on JJH’s blog or a version of it in the magazine. I can add to it if you want or you can use it more or less as it is. If you make editorial adjustments please could I see a version of it beforehand? Thank you. You can contact me on here through the contact form – if you include your email I should (I think) be able to get back to you via email.


  2. I am very sorry for your experience. However, I do think it’s quite common for adoptive parents not to be very interested in their adopted kids once they are adults. Although mine took care of me well I got the sense that once we were out of the house at 18 they had done their duty by us – which in a sense they had. I don’t think adoptive parents can ever have the same bond with a kid as birth parents who bring up their own kids but I guess there are plenty of adoptive parents who would say that’s not true. I wonder what other adopted people’s experience is.

    Liked by 1 person

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