Tuesday Topic: When You Don’t Like Your Child

Today’s Tuesday Topic was sent to me by a reader via my One Thankful Mom Facebook page.  I debated about the title, and then decided to be raw and honest about her question. I would love to see many of us reach out to this mom, share our own stories, and offer ideas that might help her.

Here is her question:

How have you overcome any bad feelings you have towards your adopted kid(s) that have had so many hard behaviors to live with? I ask because I am in the middle of TRYING to attach to my 6 yr. old adopted daughter, but her behavior just makes me really not like her at all. She has been home almost a year, and I feel like we are just stuck in this rut where I am just giving up and tolerating her until she turns 18!

I don’t know if you can relate or not, but from your blog it seems ya’ll have been through the ringer with behaviors, but yet you still seem so loving and so attached to your daughters. What specific things did you do to overcome this? I know it is mainly work of the Holy Spirit, but sometimes I am just so discouraged, and it helps to talk to others who are further along than me.

I often don’t reply to topics until all of you have had the opportunity first, because I don’t want to hinder the discussion, but I want to share that in the most difficult times, it is a very real struggle for me to maintain the feelings of liking.  As parents, we feel so much shame when we don’t have loving feelings toward our children — even as I’m typing this I find myself afraid to say it publicly.  I can assure you that I know many adoptive mothers who have challenging children and this is a common problem.

I will hold off on sharing some of my solutions until we’ve gotten to hear from you – hopefully many of you.  Let’s serve one another today and be honest with our thoughts and suggestions.  Feel free to comment anonymously if that helps – although I do want to encourage all of us to let go of the shame.

The rain is pouring down this morning which helps me focus on writing.  Aunt Michele is back from vacation, so Dimples spent the night at her house and, with the morning being so dark, the other girls are still sleeping.  I’m going to focus on sorting through all of my Sensory Processing posts for the book.

Please leave a comment – we really do want to hear from you.  If you have a question you would like me to present as a Tuesday Topic, please leave it as a message on my Facebook page or email it to me at [email protected]

Encourage one another,

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

105 Comments

  1. dorothy
    June 26, 2012

    Hey Lisa – Thanks for posting this. 🙂 I have had moments with every one of my challenging kiddos where I had to step over the automatic 'feeling loving' because I am your mommy camp of parenting and venture into the more difficult 'choosing to love' the ones who are really hard to even have lunch with. It's been 12 years since I first realized my 'feelings' were getting me into trouble with my parenting relationship – and it's been way better for me to realize that that though my feelings may be valid – they are not the basis of my love and relationships with my traumatized kiddos. I have to keep taking myself back to the post on Love is enough in adoption…if you can love this way.
    (http://urbanservant.blogspot.com/2011/10/love-is-enough-in-adoptionbut-can-you.html)

    Keep asking hard questions and talking about reality of life as family.

    Reply
    1. Kelly O'Brien-Fairley
      August 7, 2019

      I’d love to see that link but it’s not showing anything

      Reply
  2. Ashlee
    June 26, 2012

    My daughter is 4 years old and has been with our family for 18 months. She was born in Colombia and spent her first 3 years in an orphanage. She is struggling with an attachment disorder. We have made a lot of progress, but the going is rough most days and I struggle most with the question of how to like her when she does everything in her power to be unlikeable (hitting, spitting, scratching her older brother; hiding from me; whining about everything). This is currently my best approach: since her moods are directly related to how much positive energy I exhibit and copious amounts of unconditional love, I actually try to focus on myself! I take good care of myself through eating well, getting as much rest as possible, spending some time alone everyday, and telling myself that I'm not going to let her bring me down. I give myself pep talks to maintain my happiness and have fun with my boys (10 months and 6 years), even if my daughter chooses to not participate. She comes around eventually and opens up so much if I can keep it going. It is tricky, especially since I'm still nursing our 10 month old through the night 🙂

    Reply
    1. Kelly O'Brien-Fairley
      August 7, 2019

      I take a similar approach knowing that I can set the tone for the house if I take care of myself first.

      Reply
  3. Marissa
    June 26, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this question because it's something that so many adoptive parents MUST feel, but are afraid to talk about.

    I have a child that's loved by everyone he meets. He's the favorite of his teachers, a good friend, and generally beams everywhere he goes. I spend a lot of time struggling with this child's behaviors and I grieve often the fact that I don't "feel the like". I spend so much time wondering what is wrong with me.
    My son has been home for almost four years and it's actually gotten harder for both my husband and I as he's gets older.

    I've come to appreciate that this isn't something that I can control. I've decided to take it as an opportunity to learn how to fully respect and appreciate people that I might now always like much of the time. Luke 6:35. No, my child isn't my enemy, but it's the same fundamental principle. I try to look at it as a gift, an opportunity.

    Reply
    1. SouthrnMom
      June 30, 2012

      Marissa, thank you for this post! We are only one year out but my husband and I too feel like it is getting harder, rather than easier. I really appreciate your perspective on this.

      Reply
    2. lloydstrovas
      January 19, 2015

      Hi Marissa,
      If you don't mind sharing, how has your relationship with this child changed since you posted this. Has it gotten better? I ask because we have a sweet foster toddler that is loved by everyone. But, when he is home, his behaviors can be very intense. People don't "believe" that he can do the kinds of things he does. I know he acts out because he feels comfortable and safe, which is a good thing. But it has also made the bonding process more difficult than expected. People say that time will heal, but what if it doesn't?

      Reply
    3. Amber
      February 1, 2017

      I experience the same with my adopted son age 3. Every family party or group event we go to everyone loves him but at home he is horrible. Always acting out, bad attitude, and major tantrums makes it very hard for me to attach to him in any way. We have had him for 22 months now and I still feel no attachment. I care for him but I don’t feel anything like I do with my bio kids. I feel horrible about it but not sure what to do.

      Reply
  4. Marissa
    June 26, 2012

    Because this is a topic that I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about, I wanted to say more. 🙂 I think adoption literature needs to talk more extensively about this aspect of attachment disorders. Attachment disorders create a 2 way street of dysfunction and so much of it is out of the parents' control. Why are we ashamed by something that is so far out of hands, so psychologically normal? We are supposed to forgive our kids for their attachment disorders. We say it isn't their fault, which is true. Therefore it's only reasonable that we forgive ourselves for a normal reaction to attachment disorders that we aren't responsible for.

    Reply
    1. Jk
      February 5, 2017

      So well said!

      Reply
  5. Kayla
    June 26, 2012

    I think it's really normal for people to struggle with liking or loving a child in their care. It is HARD to have a stranger come live with you and just feel instant feelings. I think it's really important to be gentle with yourself, to give yourself some latitude and not get hung up on expectations. Give yourself permission to be involved in a courtship with your child rather than a head over heels, whirlwind romance. The other thing I think has always helped me when I was struggling with my kids was to watch them after they had fallen asleep. Seeing your kiddo in that innocent sleep, stretched out in their beds, makes them seem more loveable and for me, instantly reminds me that they are really just babes trying to find their ways. It helped to erase the struggles of the day and is a nice silence that somehow speaks to my heart.

    Reply
    1. dsno
      December 9, 2016

      Yes,yes,yes. I can look at my sleeping 12 year old ‘naughty’ boy, and can feel a flood of hope and love. It helps me to ‘start over’ the next morning. Pray for strength.

      Reply
  6. Elizabeth
    June 26, 2012

    Boy, do I think this is the elephant in the room as far as adoptions. I've been pretty open on my blog about how it is difficult for me to attach to my children initially. It just seems to be how I am hooked up that I have never felt the same kind of love for my newly adopted children at first as I did with my biological children. With my first adoption, my son spent a great amount of time raging and trying to inflict as much harm on his new parents as possible. I knew why I was finding it difficult to like, much less love him. But my second adoption took time too, even though my new son had very few negative behaviors and was like an infant. It really adds to the guilt you already feel if the child isn't actually doing anything negative. By the third adoption, which are just at the beginning of, I was at least prepared for how I would react. I find forcing myself to do all the things that we good adoptive parents know we should encourage in our children to facilitate their attachment to us is a good strategy. The trouble is, we don't have someone else forcing us to do it, and often the exact things we need to do are exactly what we don't want to do. It's at this point it becomes a slippery slope. I will offer hope, though. That first son? The raging one? Well, I don't know if he has become any easier to parent, but I will say that I feel the same head-over-heels-in-love-with-him-feeling that I do with my other children. This is actually a two-edged sword, though. Because I truly love him so much, when it seems we are making no progress or have regressed in areas that we thought we had managed to conquer, it hurts. It hurts far more and far deeper than it did when I was still pretending to like him. This parenting thing is hard. I just have to trust that God does have good plans for us and trust that the refining process (for both of us) will yield something incredibly beautiful in the end.

    Reply
  7. Laura
    June 26, 2012

    This is what I have concluded- after years of such massive shame and guilt about my feelings toward my adopted daughter… love truly is not a feeling. I have to talk to myself in my head all day long sometimes and remind myself that, when I feed her yummy food- I am loving her well. When I clothe her with pretty clothes- I am loving her well. When she sleeps in a warm comfy bed- I am loving her well. When she is safe, educated, included- I am loving her well. I rarely feel kind feelings toward her. My feelings, should I only use them to define what kind of a job I'm doing, cause me to drown in the guilt and shame. They cause me to feel hatred toward myself. We canNOT manufacture feelings. They are what they are. We can't change them by wishing them away. We CAN act loving- and choosing to do is- IS loving. Its hard- and I have to return to this and remind myself of it constantly.

    Reply
    1. Cari
      June 27, 2012

      Laura…your response here was so good for me to read. I struggle daily with the shame and guilt and the wishing away of "whatever" regarding our daughter's that has been with us two years this month. I still do not feel the feeling of love towards her as I do my other five kids {2 who were adopted as well}, but as you said I continue to CHOOSE to act loving even through the continual attitude and behavioral issues. I totally get what you are saying about talking "to myself in my head all day long" to work through this on a daily basis. The guilt of how all of this has/is effecting my family can really weigh on me some days.

      Reply
    2. jen
      June 27, 2012

      I heard an adoptive mom once write "love is an action, not just a feeling" and I agree with what you wrote-e you can't hurry love, but kind and loving action reinforce that bond and over time, lead to the true heartfelt love i now have for my ons, adotped at 18 months and now almost 4.

      Reply
    3. angela michelle
      July 14, 2012

      Thanks for this comment. Sometimes I feel that my love for my adopted daughter is in some ways stronger than my love for my biological children, because that love exists even without much "like." My adopted daughter doesn't make it easy, doesn't give me positive reinforcement, but I show my love for her every day.

      Reply
    4. Josey
      February 12, 2013

      Thank you for this! I have been struggling with my feelings of guilt for 4 long years. I give my adopted daughter, who is 14, pretty clothes, food she enjoys, things that she loves and see that she is warm and dry. I do my best to keep her safe and happy. I guess that maybe I can cut myself some slack and maybe stop feeling like I am just a bad person!

      Reply
      1. Carol
        May 29, 2013

        I have been asking for the last 5 years is this the year I will love my adopted girls ? What's wrong with me. Everyone thinks they are great but me. The one who had to do everything for them. Please help I need someone to talk to

        Reply
        1. Chantelle
          October 23, 2013

          (((((hug)))) You're not alone!

          Reply
        2. Kelli
          January 22, 2014

          1 Corinthians 13:4-7
          New International Version (NIV)
          4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

          Love is an action word. I am a teacher. I love all my children. I dont like all of them. But I find things about them I do like and focus on that. I am also a foster mom. I have failed big time in the past with showing love toward our first child. My hubby loved her the moment she was dropped off and I didn't…..I couldn't. It was like my heart and body shut down. She only stayed 2 weeks and honestly I was relieved when she left. I considered stopping fostering. Maybe I wasn't cut out for this. Maybe this was a mistake! But I truly felt like God had put this desire in my heart years before and He was calling em to do this. So I regrouped and tried again. I gave up control, fear of the unknown, fear of what others would think of me. I walked, one step in front of the other, moving forward and not stressing over a thing. When things went wrong, I let it go. I just trusted that He had a plan. Each day got easier and I am enjoying my foster care journey. If you have adopted, there was a plan there. Doors opened and they became yours. That wasnt by accident. Love is an action word, a commitment. Its not a feeling. God loves us and is committed to us even though we daily let Him down. We dont deserve it but He freely gives it. SO remember, you can allow yourself to be the instrument God uses to show love to your girls.

          And find one thing each day that you like about them. It could be that they brushed their teeth…like that. I have one child in my classroom that drives me bananas. But he is an excellent artist. Doesnt listen, cant stay in his seat, makes simple tasks difficult, but I like the way he draws. Actually I love the way he draws. I focus on that. It gives me something positive to say to him. In turn he sees that I enjoy something about him and tries harder.

          Praying for you. Praying that each day you discover one more thing you like about your girls. HUGS!!!

          Reply
        3. Marci
          August 7, 2015

          Oh thank you ladies. I am struggling so bad! I simply want to feel for my adopted daughter the way I feel about my three bio boys. But I don't. She simply drives me crazy. It's negatively affecting our entire family. On the outside…. to others….she appears as this darling sweet little thing. But they don't live with us….with the lying, manipulating, non stop talking, bossiness, etc. I am starting to show physical signs of stress. This is eating me alive. I was once an organized fun happy mom….I'm becoming irritable depressed and anxious. Not sure what to do????? Praying God will change my heart soooooon. Please keep your stories coming. Finding some comfort in knowing I'm not alone.

          Reply
          1. Chantelle
            January 12, 2016

            (((hug))) So many of us relate.

          2. littlesuzer
            February 4, 2016

            i'm in the same boat! i know this was posted a while ago but i was desperate to read something that i could relate to. I have a biological child was is just absolutely amazing. Then i have my adopted daughter (7yo) who is sweet, helpful and at times a good girl. But she can also be manipulative, a really good liar – she's two faced. It is so hard for me to love her. I can't get any emotion out of her most of the time, its like talking to a wall. I get to frustrated and feel like im getting no where. Enjoyed reading all these posts because i know i am not alone.

          3. LostInTexas
            July 27, 2016

            I am sooooo grateful to have found this page. I thought I was alone! I am going to begin seeing a psychiatrist because I can not dal with the stress and guilt anymore!

        4. hurtbymyson
          August 8, 2016

          I understand and can relate to the reality that a child that is hard to love and that you just don’t like can be devastating. The wondering if and or when it will ever change. I know. I adopted two boys from Ethiopia 8.5 years ago. One has assimilated into our family wonderfully. We love him and he loves us. The other…well, he is the opposite. He is very difficult to like and I have had to come to terms with the fact that I just plain don’t like him at all. I want to like him, but that isn’t reality. he has been in counseling for a while and finally cam out and admitted that he does not love us nor has he ever loved us. This may sound terrible, but since my husband and I have known this for a long time, it is actually good. Now we can be honest with each other. Keep loving your child and be there no matter what, but know that RAD screws things up. You are not a monster for not liking this child. Do everything you can to like them and trust the Lord for the rest.

          Reply
    5. Beth
      June 17, 2013

      Thank you, Laura, for your post. I have been struggling to attach to my 12 yo adopted son for three years now. I wake up each day hoping "this will be the day" that we turn a corner. But I have just recently admitted to myself that I really don't like him most of the time. To make things worse, it was love and attachment at first sight with his 13 yo brother. I continually beat myself up for being such a terrible person…who doesn't like their own child? Thanks to you and others in our position, I am realizing I'm not alone.

      Reply
    6. Noel
      July 9, 2015

      So good for me to read this tonight. Very encouraging to me as I navigate this life with our newly adopted son. Bless you.

      Reply
    7. Tired mom
      September 10, 2015

      Totally identify with this post… TAKES MORE THAN LOVE TO ADOPT A CHILD, in my case I adopted 4 kids: 3 girls and one boy, I am having real trouble to like the oldest one who is a 7 year old girl, all of them have discipline and some other issues but I just cannot stand her, I cannot kiss her without feeling as an hypocrite, but after reading your post…. I do things for all of them that shows love. Thanks for sharing

      Reply
  8. courtneycassada
    June 26, 2012

    laura – i really appreciated what you shared – about loving her well by the things you are doing to care for her!

    lisa – thank you for opening this "can of worms!" you know i struggle in this area. i have let go of the shame. but i also feel as if i've shut down recently towards him. i hate that. but, for this time (transitioning to summer with 6 kids at home) feel like i need to (it wasn't an intentional decision, i can just tell it's what my heart has done) in order to love and be what ALL my kids need. but, it scares me, i don't want to get USED to being "shut down" to him. i need to still ACT like i like and love him – even if only for my other kids. ugh…so hard…

    i wish i had some tips or advice. i don't. just understanding.

    Reply
    1. mjdebardeleben
      April 24, 2015

      I get it!

      Reply
    2. Shauna
      June 10, 2015

      I feel the same way. Ive had her for 8 years. I keep wondering when my feelings will be better. I've taken my daughter to counseling. I've gone to counseling. It helps me minimal. I feel so much guilt. She gets on my nerves just being around her. I try to focus on what I do for her and anything she might do well. She acts terrible to me . Everything is an argument annd she lies about everything. I shut down at times too towards her. I don't know what to do. I'm looking for a counselor again since the other one moved out of state. I think it helped her a lot but only lasted about a month at most. I'm at a loss. It does make me feel better to know I'm not the only one.

      Reply
  9. Mama D's Dozen
    June 26, 2012

    Pray. Pray. Pray some more.

    Seriously. It is not easy to have loving feelings towards someone who does not respond to your love. It is even more difficult to have loving feelings towards someone who actually spews hatred towards you (verbally and behaviorally) in response to your love.

    We adopted 3 siblings (two of which have severe Reactive Attachment Disorder). The older brother's RAD was manifest in "I love everyone (except my parents) and everyone loves me." (He is no longer in our home due to abuse of the younger sister.) The younger sister's RAD is the "inhibited" type, which manifests in withdrawal and depression. In my experience, it was much harder for me to find love for a child that is pretending to love everyone except me; than to find love for a child that clearly does not know how to receive love from anyone. (My heart truly aches for my daughter . . . even in the midst of her RAD Rages.)

    While my daughter has pulled further and further away from us the past 4 years, the Lord has truly given me a deep love for her, despite her hateful behavior.

    Reply
    1. forever2young
      June 27, 2012

      I also think prayer is the main tool in renewing our minds. My heart is longs to scream and run away (physically and emotionally). It is by no self power that I am able to cultivate "feelings of like" towards my daughter. We are still a LONG way away from love but I'm beginning to understand that love is not a feeling at all. Love is an action. What I do each day – the way I wash her clothes, care for her hair, make her lunch, greet her when she comes home from school. My prayer tonight and every night as that God would make my heart of stone into a heart of flesh and that he would release my sweet daughter into freedom.

      Reply
  10. Beth Templeton
    June 26, 2012

    Lisa, so thankful that you are creating a place for this discussion to happen and I pray that this precious mom will find some help and hope in all these responses! We have 7 children, 4 adopted as older children from Russia. And one in particular who has been full of rage, almost all of it directed at me. So, this question of how do I be a mother in such a difficult situation is one I have thought about a lot and pray about often. For me, keeping my focus on the Lord and what He is saying and doing has been the key to opening up attachment to my son. When I focus on my son and the current difficult behavior I find myself sinking in depression and strife. But when I wrest my eyes away from the problem (kind of like being drawn to a horror film! We know we shouldn't watch, but we do anyway!!) and set my gaze on the Lord, I find I see my son differently. This may sound more spiritual than practical, but I am telling you– it is the most effective practical thing I have ever done as I've sought to love a difficult child. Maybe this post I wrote about Fighting will be helpful to some of you who are also in this position. May God's love for us be so real every day that we are able to let it overflow in our homes! http://hopeathomeblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/good-f

    Reply
  11. Lu
    June 26, 2012

    Hi can I ask a question, I have no experience of adoption but have been following a few different blogs now as a close family member and a close friend are both hoping to adopt and I wanted to learn more, what to say, how to help etc please noone be offended by my question that is the last thing I would want to do but one of the things I have wondered about is if the feeling for an adopted child are different to those for a biological child and if u have a mix of both is it possible to fel the same and treat them the same?

    Reply
    1. shannoncl
      June 26, 2012

      Lu- I'll try a simple answer I'm sure others have more specifics. I don't believe it is ever 'the same'. Why? Do you love you mother 'the same' as your father? Each of our children need and deserve different love. they each have different gifts and challenges. That is true for ALL children. I think adoptive parents speak about it more because we NEED to and we are trained to look for the challenges / gifts in our kids.

      Reply
    2. Marissa
      June 26, 2012

      Having two bio kids and three adopted kids, it's not purely about adoption in and of itself. My oldest two have no attachment issues. They are so easy to like because they know how to be part of a family. My oldest son is extremely challenging. He's tried to beat me up, thrown things at me, spit at me……you name it he's done it. I am as close to my oldest adopted kids, despite the challenge, as I am my bio kids.

      Attachment disorders are brutal. We've dealt with PTSD and a new diagnosis of schizoaffective bipolar disorder. On the day to day, I find that attachment disorder affects our family and general well-being more.

      Reply
    3. Mama D's Dozen
      June 27, 2012

      Great question, Lu. Thanks for asking.

      I believe that a lot of it has to do with whether you adopt babies or older children. Because babies are "needy", the parents spend a lot of time taking care of the daily needs; and the baby obviously allows the parent to take care of their needs.

      When adopting older children, they may push away any attempt at "taking care of them". Their hearts may already be hardened, so that they reject any and every attempt at showing love to them. Clearly, this does affect a parent's "feelings" for their child. While they can "love" their child deeply; the day to day feelings for a child who rejects you every minute of every day are going to be different than the feelings for a child that loves you back, wants to snuggle, responds to your love, is obedient, etc …

      I have 10 bio. children. I adopted 3 siblings (brining them home at ages 6, 9, 12). I do absolutely LOVE them, but the feelings for them . . . the attachment to them . . . is very different than with my bio. children. However . . . it is absolutely possible, and essential, that I do my very best to "treat" all of my children the same (even when the feelings are not the same).

      Laurel
      mama of 12 (ages 10, 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 21, 23, 23, 25, 26, 27)

      Reply
    4. Mary (Owlhaven)
      June 27, 2012

      Depends on the child, the age they came to you, and the 'fit' between child and parent, I think. I have 4 bio kids and 6 adopted. Three of the adopted kids felt exactly like my bio kids in my heart within days of coming home. The bond was very quick and easy. One other child who came home at almost 2 resisted attaching at first, and took a year or so to settle in and FEEL to me like mine. (That was partly because of the pushback he initially gave me– attachment is a two-way street after all.)
      The other two adopted children were 9 and 11 on homecoming. They have been home nearly 5 years and I've begun to realize that those relationships may never *FEEL* exactly like the other whom I've parented since a very young age. I love them and care passionately about their well-being, and they care about me too. But since we didn't have an extensive shared past during their younger years, it feels different, and takes more work to interact in a loving way with each other.. We've talked openly about it and acknowledged the difference. And I have hopes that once they get past the turbulent teen years, our relationship will be even stronger. Love IS there, and even on tough days when they resist and fight me, I CHOOSE to show the kids love.. But I suspect it will always feel somewhat different…. But that's OK– when it comes down to it, love is an ACTION not only a feeling.

      Reply
    5. kelly
      August 30, 2013

      i hope i am allowed to jump in. i am the mother of a biological on earth, a biological special needs that is now in heaven and a adopted child. i don't think I treat any of my children the same.
      my first born stole my heart.
      My second born won my heart
      and my adopted third baby healed my heart.
      they are all loved so dearly and differently and endlessly. …After having a special needs child who couldn't communicate at all, our adoption bonding seemed so light and easy to me.
      At some point I dropped all expectations and realized it is not about me. i walked into our adoption like that and found myself wrapped around our precious third precious blessing.

      Reply
  12. Mnks mom
    June 26, 2012

    This is a topic which deserves several discussions. I have faced this not only with the adopted child but with other family including those with dementia. The bottom line is that we love because we were loved first by God. This takes something more than I am capable of doing. I can practice love but I need the I in-dwelling holy spirit to give me the right attitude and to submit myself to unloving behavior. This goes beyond making boundaries because people have very real problems that prevent them from displaying appropriate behavior. I find dealing with the immediate situation and not looking ahead helps me. Lisa's advice to find a prayer partner is also wise. It may never get easier, but like any muscle you exercise, the cumulative effect is that you do develop efficiency and confidence that you can do it again.

    Reply
  13. Joy
    June 26, 2012

    My eldest son (all three of my kiddos were adopted together as as sibling group) does NOT appear to have significant attachment issues – nothing really obvious at all, other than maybe a high need for control, but it sounds like that was the case before us, and is pretty much a temperament trait for him. He is vibrant, bright, gorgeous, and enthusiastic about everything. And he is very, very different from me. So on top of the fact that I did not know him for nearly the first four years of his life (and I suspect that my feelings toward him would be a lot different had I been able to experience his baby & toddlerhood), I also struggle with understanding and accepting his boldness, intrusiveness, limited instinct for sensitivity toward others, at times inappropriate energy levels/pushiness, etc. Some of these are temperament and personality, some developed from his early upbringing where there was more opportunity and tolerance for these qualities (again, so very different from mine). Regardless, I hoped I would feel differently toward him on year into our relationship – I actually started off with more positive feelings than I experience now.

    I cope by reminding myself to reach out to him physically, and with eye contact and kind words, hoping that this will become more natural over time – and in the meantime, trying to meet his needs so that he feels a sense of safety, belonging, and love in our family. I also remind myself of how this adoption came together, as I do not doubt God's hand in it. I know that this boy has fantastic potential to make use of his gifts and talents, and so I also try to focus on how delightful it will be (as we very much believe and hope) to see his future unfold.

    I continue to be painfully aware of how poorly I currently meet his needs, and how often I don't WANT to try harder, but ultimately I do want to keep trying, and building a relationship, because we are his family, and he is ours.

    Reply
    1. Lbmom
      May 25, 2015

      As I read your post my entire being sighed and ached as we seem to journeying as one on the same path. Three years post adoption and I feel so little for my two whom we adopted. Set against the backdrop of three biological kids over whom I am crazy only shows me how great is the gap in my heart and how weak is my love.

      I rest some days now in where I am, yet the angst inevitably returns. Aching to like, feel something more positive than I do, be released to love as I was designed to love.

      Reply
    2. Beth
      February 13, 2017

      Can you update on how you are doing today? We have a sibling set of three ages 4, 3, and 2 who are our foster children. We may adopt, but I too struggle as the oldest sounds a lot like yours. I don’t connect, often am annoyed with him, and wonder if it could get better. He too has great potential, is very smart, and could really go somewhere in life. This phase is not my favorite, and I don’t want to just wish the days, months, or years away. We also have four older (ages 11-17) biological children. I know that part of my problem is now being back in the preschool years after having already done it before. I’m encouraged however, by the strength and wisdom by so many on this post.

      Reply
  14. peaceliving
    June 26, 2012

    Wow. I'm so thankful for this blog and the way that people open up so honestly about adoption. We are foster parents and are planning a future adoption (or two) and I think it's always healthy to go into something with both eyes open. Thank you all for your honest sharing.

    Reply
  15. Bethel
    June 26, 2012

    This topic has been one the hardest issues for me. We adopted two brothers almost five years ago. One of the boys, despite his awful rages, was very easy to bond with. The other brother has been a challenge for me from day one. He has a tender, sweet heart and yet he annoys me to no end. That is hard to write. Hard to admit. Hard. Hard. Hard. I went to bed the other night feeling so defeated because I just couldn't get my own stuff together enough in order to parent him well. I was short & irritable with him and said 'no' to almost everything he asked of me. Yuck! After, once again, turning it over to the Lord, taking care of myself a bit & being very aware of my words and my tone, we've had a much better week! Today he had a really rough morning at VBS and I found myself having loads of compassion for him and going to bat for him as it was necessary. Those are the times that remind me that I have come so far on this journey. Thank you, Heavenly Father–only by Your grace!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa patton
      August 6, 2015

      Thank you so much for being so honest. I am beating myself up and feel so defeated every day because we are in the middle of adopting our foster daughter, and I just dont like her. The thing is she is not terrible. Her behaviors are not so bad. But she annoys me beyond words. I am extremely protective of our 9 year old adopted daughter and thought that was it, but I've come to realize i just dont like our foster daughter. Its horrible to admit it but it's true. Now I don't know exacly what to do since we are almost through the adoption. I thought my feelings would have improved over the last year but they have not. I've prayed and prayed crying out for help. I want to love like Jesus but its just not happening. I am so thankful I am not alone in my feelings.

      Reply
  16. Kim
    June 26, 2012

    We've only been home for 2 1/2 months, and I struggle with this BIG TIME with our oldest son (age 8). I've been crying out to the Lord about it, and one day I was reminded that LOVE is a verb, an action word. It's what we do, not always what we feel. I thought about the fact that I do extra loads of laundry so he can wear his favorite t-shirt, cook Ethiopian food a couple of times a week, give as many hugs and kisses as he will tolerate, etc. So the feelings might not be there all the way yet, but to me at this stage in the game, I'm working on showing him love and praying that Holy Spirit will transform my actions into real Love. I blogged about this very thing a couple of weeks ago, and there were some very helpful comments. If nothing else, it's nice to know I'm not alone. http://likethelove.blogspot.com/2012/06/love-mean

    Reply
  17. Michelle
    June 26, 2012

    Cannot agree more with others. Thank you for a safe place where I don't feel alone. I love what you say about shame and this has been key for me. The minute I allow the shame voices to take over I get in trouble fast. Amazing how fast I feel attacked in this area. We just finalized our adoption in May of our 16 year old with RAD (and a list of other "Ds" to follow). All previous placements failed, including 2 adoptions ending with 3 years of hospital and residential treatment prior to being ours. The behavior has been extreme coupled with just being a teen….it has sent me to the edge and back of the feelings of not liking my child. 🙁 It has been key to allow God's grace to cover me regarding those feelings. I work to process the feelings through exhaustion and being human. Having the right people I go to who fill me with truth and help the shame voices stop is HUGE. For me, it helps to listen to Dr. Purvis OVER and OVER again so I break for my child's hurting heart. All these help the feelings of love and compassion be stronger than the like or enjoyment. I have to push myself to like in many ways. 🙁 Overall, as I work to understand my God and my broken heart that pushes Him away, makes me realize I am not much different than my kiddo in many ways.

    So thankful for vulnerability! Thank you!

    Reply
  18. HannahK
    June 26, 2012

    It would be great if we could all experience the same warm, affectionate feelings toward each of our children. But at the same time, it may come as a relief to know that there is NO command anywhere in the entire Bible to *like* anybody—not our children, not our parents, not even our spouse. We are told to love. We are told to respect. We are told to honor. These commands involve behavior rather than feelings. But you are not in sin if you don't like your child—so long as that lack of feeling doesn't take the form of bitterness or anger or impatience or rudeness.

    It is perfectly possible to love a person, even to the point of death, without ever *feeling* like it. Ideally, the feeling will be there too, to help motivate the love we give, but we can really and truly love somebody whether the feeling is there or not. The golden rule does not say to do unto others as we *feel* like doing unto them.

    Often, the feelings will (slowly) begin to follow when the actions lead the way, and we can pray that they will follow quickly. But even if the feelings don't follow as we hoped, God is pleased when we are following *Him*. When we love the unlovely, we are following in the steps of His Son—and we do not have to pretend that the unlovely really *are* lovely at the moment. If we love our enemies as Christ commanded us to do, we do not have to pretend that they are not, in fact, our enemies. And sometimes, sadly, even our children can set themselves up as enemies for a time. So we can we do? Conquer them with LOVE.

    We love because HE first loved us. Likewise, we cannot wait until our children are lovely before we love them, just as we cannot wait until our children are healthy and strong before we feed them. Love is the "food" that will slowly strengthen them to bestow love themselves. Just as we sometimes have to make our kids eat even when they say they aren't hungry, we also have to fill them up with love, even if they seem like they don't want it from us.

    The more love we give them (through our actions), the more love they will be able to give. And the more love they are able to give, the easier they are to love. And so on. It's a snowball effect, but it sometimes starts so small that it can be hard to tell that the snowball is actually growing and not just rolling around aimlessly out in the cold.

    Remember that love, as many of you have already pointed out, is not just a feeling but an action. "Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends." When we think of what love looks and feels like, we should think less of sweet Norman Rockwell family scenes and more of Christ dying on the cross for the people who spat on him and beat him and mocked him. It is that kind of love that makes the Norman Rockwell scene ultimately possible. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. But now, because he died for us sinners, we are able to sit down in peace at his table and feast with Him and with each other, as dearly loved members—adopted members—of His family.

    (PS–I found this article on loving kids to be really, really helpful: http://www.armenianbiblechurch.org/food%20corner/

    Reply
    1. blessed
      June 27, 2012

      This whole thread has been sooooooo helpful for me. And I am not an adoptive mom (yet) but one who often struggles with my bio first born. I think this past year as things started to disintegrate between us, I fell into a trap of expecting my "rights" as her mother that maybe nobody dreams of expecting from an adopted kid. My rights to be spoken to respectfully, to be treated well, to be acknowledged as the loving supportive parents I am to her–and we're not dealing with RAD, just pre-teen stuff! And yet adopted or bio, they are all just kids, working through their own heart issues and learning and growing–so these kinds of discussions are soooo helpful for getting my heart fixed on what is really going on and what really matters. . . .

      (how do you all make long comments? anytime I try it tells me my comment is too long and I have to make multiple comments.)

      Reply
      1. blessed
        June 27, 2012

        (cont.)
        Also, I have to remind myself that when I get upset at my daughter for not treating me "the way I deserve" (that's what I'm thinking at the time) that I myself become the unlovable! I find myself pouting, speaking harshly or rudely, being demanding. . . i.e. self-centered. How can I expect her to love and respect me when I am acting as much like a recalcitrant toddler as she is? (ok, I'm not that bad, but sometimes it feels close!)

        So, maybe you adoptive moms have that much under control, but I have figured that demanding my "rights" to be treated certain ways is just bondage, and the more I can let go of those expectations, the more free I am to love as my daughter (and the rest of my family) needs it. (The principle works great to marriage too! And with my MIL! Lol)

        Reply
  19. Mary
    June 26, 2012

    I have definitely experienced this. For me it's never been about love, but oh my goodness the liking. I didn't even realize how much my pre-adoption parenting involved "liking." I would tell my bio kids, Mommy doesn't like that kind of behavior. As an adoptive parent I had to stop saying that because it felt like my daughter LIKED that I didn't like the behavior! Our son struggled significantly less than our daughter.
    Here's what worked for me:
    1. Remind myself that her feelings, her actions and choices, had nothing to do with me personally. They came out of her hurt, loss, trauma, pain and abandonment. I could've been the Queen of Sheba and she still would've experienced those feelings that led to the behaviors that drove me crazy!!
    2. Remind myself that she did not ask to be my daughter, to come to America, to leave her country, culture, people, language behind to come live with us. I would try and put myself in her place. What would I be feeling? How would I be rebelling? In what ways would I be seeking control?
    3. Reminding myself over and over again about these things really helped me approach her from a place of grace, NOT pity, but true grace and mercy. I would imagine what my bio kids would do if they lost my husband and I, were sent to an orphanage, and adopted by people who didn't look like them, sound like them or act like them. What would happen in the hearts of my bio kids if they were adopted by a couple in Ethiopia?? And what would I want for them? I would want their new parents to be patient. To stand for them and fight for them. I wouldn't want them to be allowed to live in bad behaviors and poor choices, but I would want them to met with compassion.
    4. One day it hit me…she probably doesn't like me sometimes (or most of the time!). But that doesn't change the fact that we are mother/daughter. And almost like a marriage, I completely and totally believe that God brought us together and I wasn't going to let anything separate us. I am the grown up. It's important for me to be real with myself, allow myself to really feel what I'm feeling, but at the end of the day, fight for my girl's heart!

    I'm so glad this topic came up! It has been stirring in my heart to blog about this. No one wants to talk about it!

    Reply
    1. Steph
      January 7, 2014

      Mary, how long have you had your daughter and how old is she? My daughter is 5 and she has been with us for only 7 months. But I am at a low feeling of guilt and discouragement that I do not love her like my two bio kids. It is so awful to say, but she irritates me constantly. I feel like my blood pressure must be going through the roof because even when my words are patient and I have a smile on my face, I am about to bubble over. I have thought about your four points (I am responding to you because I feel I could have written the above post) over and over. Mostly I wonder, though… will it get better? I used to be so happy and at peace with my family. I used to be so happy with myself as a mother. I want that back.

      Reply
  20. zehlahlum
    June 26, 2012

    This has been probably my biggest struggle. The behaviors are challenging, but for me, to not have those feelings for my daughter that I have with my sons is brutal. I had no idea going into the adoption that it was possible for me to struggle to attach to her. I wasn't expecting love at first sight, but neither was I expecting *this* two years in.

    I've written about this a lot…lol. It's pretty much the whole blog, but a few that talk about this really specifically are:
    http://www.zehlahlum.com/2011/05/love-takes-all.hhttp://www.zehlahlum.com/2011/03/caw-caw-sqawk-si

    If I could tell someone who was feeling this one thing it would be: hold on, you are not alone.

    Reply
    1. Emily
      February 16, 2014

      I know you posted this long ago – I'm wondering if you still blog on attachment? Is it closed/

      Reply
      1. Lisa Qualls
        February 17, 2014

        Hi Emily. If you look at the bar running along the top of my blog, you'll see a tab that says, "Trauma and Attachment." If you click on that you'll find all of the posts I've written that I've tagged as being related to attachment and trauma issues. The question from this particular post came up again last fall and that post is here: https://www.onethankfulmom.com/attachment-and-trau
        I hope this helps. If you have a particular question, I would be happy to use it as a Tuesday Topic. Thanks so much for commenting.

        Reply
    2. Shauna
      June 10, 2015

      Hi, I would love to read your blog as well. I just decided to research this since I'm struggling so much with this and found this blog today. I tried to click on your links but it says private.
      Thanks for your advice.

      Reply
  21. Melissa
    June 26, 2012

    What a great topic! As someone who doesn't like her 5 1/2 year old who has been home 3 years, this is something I try to be very honest about on my blog and in conversations for the benefit of others who are struggling in their adoptions._We may be the minority but our son does not outwardly struggle with attachment. Our bonding issues were on the side of my husband and I. We were both so frustrated with him, we couldn't bond. We could not figure out how to balance discipline with bonding and discipline always seemed to come first. (continued…)

    Reply
    1. Melissa Dunn Corkum
      June 27, 2012

      Oops, that should say, "…doesn't always like…"

      Reply
  22. Melissa
    June 26, 2012

    …Taking Karyn Purvis' research seriously has helped us tremendously and we even went through the training to become trainers in Trust-based Parenting. I think the biggest thing she says that helps me in this topic is make sure your see yourself on the same side as your child. It should be you and your child working together to heal him rather than you against your child's behavior._It all sounds good on paper but I know it's so hard when the rubber hits the road. I'm almost ashamed to say I feel more attached to the two teens we're adopting and only spent 2 weeks with than the child who has been in our home for 3 years.
    Thank goodness for grace!
    Melissa http://www.thecorkums.com

    Reply
  23. mrsungeek
    June 26, 2012

    Our two children, now 12 and 14, came to us at ages 3 and 4 1/2. At first was really hard for me to feel feelings of love toward two kids that swore at me, kicked me, hit me, threw stuff at me, and screamed at every "happy place" that I was not their mommy. Of course I was their main target. Our social worker said she had never seen kids that disturbed. It took a lot of self control on my part to respond gently, lovingly, and playfully to all that abuse. Add to that some negative experiences, like their birth mother accusing us of physical abuse to the social services, and I was a PTSD mess myself!

    Over the years, however, the feelings of love came as I acted lovingly towards the kids no matter how they acted. It's amazing how feelings of love follow actions of love. And it goes both ways. They have healed so much. Yes, we still have difficult times, they still have FASD and traces of RAD, are going through puberty, and have new contact with the birth family. But I truly can say I love them as much as my birth children. Differently, just like I love my birth children a little differently, but sometimes I think I love my adopted kids more, because of all the extra hard work I put into it.

    One thing is a bit scary to me though. Because of all the really difficult years of numbing myself to the abuse in order to function as a parent, I still feel a bit numb. I don't get as excited about things as I used to. I'm more cynical and less confident. I don't even know if I'm capable of feeling love like I used to. But I am able to show it. And I guess I'll just have to keep asking God to help my feelings to follow my actions. Only He can heal my hurt heart. Only He can heal my kids' hurt hearts. We have that in common.

    Reply
  24. bags15
    June 26, 2012

    thank you for posting this! it's hard to go on everyday when you are constantly rejected! i am thankful for everyone's comments, especially the ones that bring us back to God and His unfailing love! i also appreciate what you had to say Mary, it makes sense and yet, sometimes i forget where my little guys have come from and the struggles they have had to overcome. and, to approach them from a place of grace, so true! thank you everyone, these are hard discussions, but it is important for us all to support one another, to know we are not alone! God will get us through each day and i look forward to the days when i can truly love our little ones like Jesus.
    but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 19:14

    i need to be reminded of this daily, Jesus really loves the little children!

    Reply
  25. Katie Patel
    June 26, 2012

    THANK YOU to everyone who is being so honest. I totally agree with the poster who said "this is the elephant in the room" with respect to adoption. It helps so much to know that you aren't alone, and that others struggle with the" shaming" voice that whispers constantly "you aren't doing this right". "if you would just (fill in the blank) then she would act better" .
    And so helpful to hear from those of you "in the trenches" so to speak, that love is ACTION….doing laundry, picking cute clothes, brushing and fixing hair, buying favorite foods, helping with school, taking to playdates….etc. That those things count….that I am loving, even if its not the level of "feeling" that I long for….I can keep pushing through and DOING and trust God for the rest.
    So awesome for all of you to be sharing like this….thank you Lisa for starting the subject!

    Reply
  26. jferguson
    June 27, 2012

    We have two home grown kids and 6 adopted as older children ( 4, 4, 3, 5,7, 8) – china and ethiopia. Our children are now 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 18. We have experienced most issues- attachment, grief, early sexualization, some violence, lots of behavioral stuff, academic difficulties, etc. Perhaps a few things helped-
    This has always been about the children. We knew they would comewith huge baggage and prepared for much worse than we got. None of them have burned the house down yet (OK so one tried- but he repented and tried to put out the fire- so I don't count that.)
    We assumed we would have attachment issues- that is a given- We try not to get humg up on the diagnosis or sweat about it. As I write this I am lying down arm in arm with our last liffle one- she came last September at 8 years of age.. For most of this last 10 months, I don't think either of us were crazy about the other one. That is gradually changing. She comes in every morning for a cuddle and I look at this little one and am so glad she is mine. Love will come with both of us as long as I don't give resentment or self pity houseroom. – That is my daily challenge

    Reply
  27. Carly
    June 27, 2012

    This is truly an honest emotion and took a lot of courage for this weary mom to ask. Thank you for tackling this head on. Lisa, I have talked with you about this before, if you think this is too long to answer on your blog, I will not be offended, but, I do not think there is a short answer for this dilemma…

    I am a mom of thirteen, eight bios and 5 adopted children with special needs (FASD, Bipolar Disorder, and, you name the ‘disorder’- I have at least one who fits the bill and cocaine babies we are not sure of all their issues yet.) I have been where this mom is! I am still there sometimes today! I may be there again tomorrow or the next day, or the next! I do not have the answers to this-to be honest, but, may I share what the LORD has shown me in our circumstances?

    It was a morning my husband and I were teaching High School Sunday school at our church. We were in the book of Romans and there was a reference to Hosea. As I listened to Dave tell the story of Hosea and Gomer, the Holy Spirit whispered to me to come visit. He showed me this story in light of our adoptions… Hosea was told BY GOD to take a prostitute as his wife. Yowza, that couldn’t be easy. Someone who was unfaithful, unloved, not cared for was to become Hosea’s wife. My adopted children have come from the foster care system, they have been unloved, uncared for, abused, and have not a clue what faithfulness means, only a loyalty to birth family who has caused so much pain. We were told, also by GOD to bring these little guys/gals into our home- no matter what their pasts. So, we have added these blessings, not because we have a need to be loved by them, that doesn’t matter (we pray it happens, but not a prerequisite/condition for us loving them), KNOWING they are hurting and in their hurt cause pain for our whole family.

    Like Gomer, our children have not been ‘faithful’ and at any given moment, behaviors and sinfulness and pain/anger/fear oozes from their little lives and sometimes makes us uncomfortable, is sometimes inconvenient, can sometimes be dangerous and angry. It is hard to distinguish between the behavior and the child, and sometimes I do not like them, or their behavior. I am over the guilt, I have bios I have felt the same way about. In these times, I look for the Truth. I ask myself questions. I pray. And, sometimes the answers to those prayers are harder than the issue where it all began. Just like Hosea, GOD tells me to search for my children (meet them at their well), to find them (make myself vulnerable by entering into their pain WITH them) and then, to do the impossible- to love them. Well, impossible for ME! But not impossible for Him! I am to love them the way GOD loved Israel- the way HE told Hosea to love Gomer. Not waiting for her to love Hosea back, no conditions, no ifs, ands or buts… just love Gomer with the love of the Savior.

    Reply
  28. Carly
    June 27, 2012

    Did I miss the part that said I was supposed to LIKE them??! I don’t think I did. Again, liking them is not a prerequisite for obeying GOD telling me what to do! I am to love these little guys/gals the way GOD loves unfaithful me. Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as GOD IN CHRIST forgave me. I can be kind even when I am not thrilled with behaviors. I can be tenderhearted when I allowChrist to love my children through me. And I can forgive them without waiting for them to know they have sinned, without them wanting to be forgiven, without them asking or confessing. I can even tell my children, “I will always forgive you, no matter what you do.” I can do this because Jesus doesn’t ask me to do anything He won’t enable me to do. It is not the character trait I was born with the first time, but at my second birth, it became part of my character, because I am HIS. And, while I did not cause their issues, I CHOOSE to help them heal and deal with those issues for the long haul. Loving them is a CHOICE- and one I have to make daily-especially when I don't like them.

    I ask myself if I have been taking things personally and holding on to things I shouldn’t. I go to my bathroom and see the Q-TIP taped to the mirror to remind me each morning and evening to Quit Taking It Personally! (Thank you, Sarah Padbury from Project 1.27!) and I confess MY SIN against my children and against my LORD. I ask JESUS to help me see my kids from hard places with the Eyes of Eternity and remember what my goals are- are they to have perfectly behaved children to parade around, or are my goals to be CHRIST to them and help them to see the love of our Heavenly Father- beyond the neglectful abusive biological father they have known? Of course, my goals should be Eternity, but sometimes, I am tired, weary, abused by hurting fearful children. This is when, sometimes I need someone outside to tell me what beautiful children GOD has brought into our homes- not necessarily to have an easy, fun-filled life, but to be made more like HIM, to be sanctified, made useful for HIS purposes, not mine.

    I was whining on Facebook about ‘loving to be spat upon and called names first thing in the morning’ and my friend, lovingly reminded me of what is important. All she said was, “Jesus was spat upon.” I was undone. I pray that I won’t miss the forest for the trees with my kids from hard places. I pray the biological kiddos will not resent the lessons we are learning as a family and individually in the difficult times. I pray that I will continually look ahead and not become the pillar of salt so like who I WAS, but, no longer am! And I pray that the love I have for my kids turns into like some time. And, HE IS FAITHFUL! “I know the plans I have for you, not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope…”
    Blessings Dear Moms/Dads/Families, you are being prayed for!

    Carly

    Reply
    1. Bethel
      June 28, 2012

      Thank you, Carly…. I love this!

      Reply
  29. Laine
    June 27, 2012

    Thank you for this post and for all who commented. Struggling with these issues myself with several of our children who come from hard places. Your comments have lifted my spirits and remind me of what I know in my heart but sometimes forget in the daily battles, rely on my Savior, Jesus Christ, for the strength to overcome my weaknesses and find ways to love the child with my actions when I am struggling to "like" them.

    Reply
  30. [email protected]
    June 27, 2012

    I think this is a very real issue for many adoptive families. Our son who was an older child adoption has been very challenging in this way. He can charm everyone he meets but saves his defiance and manipulative behaviors especially for me. It hurts. It is fatiguing. It is trying. The approach is that I can love him even if I don't like him. By that I mean I can meet his physical and emotional needs in a loving way. And also when I don't feel it…I fake it. We're two years in and we are making baby step progress. Know you are not alone.

    Reply
  31. Marissa
    June 27, 2012

    I've got a question: Can you adopt again knowing this? Knowing that there is a child in your family you don' t like? I feel like a "good enough" adoptive parent. I'm not great, I'm not horrid. I'm just above horrid, enough to allow approval of a home study and give a semi-decent life to a child. For some stupid reason, I've I feel like I'm unworthy of adopting again because of my imperfect feelings towards one of my children. But I want to adopt again someday (years from now). I know if social workers, teachers, friends, fellow church-goers knew that I didn't "like" a certain child much of the time, they would deem me one of those people that simply shouldn't adopt, despite the fact that I'm a mostly loving parent.

    I suppose the question should be, how honestly do we go out into the world, especially when it comes time to do a home study? The truth is, so few of the people conducting home studies have adopted. They don't "get" adoption. If we were to be honest, they would gasp in horror.

    Reply
    1. erin
      January 2, 2014

      Totally agree. I relate to this perfectly. Thank you!

      Reply
  32. Fiona
    June 28, 2012

    I have often had the same struggle to find love for my daughter. I have found myself thinking about how I am like her in my relationship with God; when I choose my own way, rebel, am not thankful and act badly etc… She is broken and her behaviour is an outward sign of the pain and brokenness that exists inside her. Just like me. This helps me to continue, and to try to express love to her even when I don't feel like she deserves it. Since God always displays love to me even when I don't deserve it either. When I realize I'm not so different it makes it easier somehow.

    Reply
    1. Nancy
      June 28, 2012

      thank you fiona… you have stated it perfectly for me :o)

      Reply
  33. Ann
    June 30, 2012

    I wanted to add that it isn't always the adopted child that makes a parent feel this way. One of my bio kids was a VERY difficult infant and toddler with allergies, constant hives, strong willed personality, temper tantrums etc. I remember telling our playgroup one time that I loved him but I didn't like him–they all looked at me with horror. People didn't understand. He humbled me as a parent so much–very difficult time. Then I heard a speaker at a conference that reminded me that God CHOSE me to be his mother. God KNEW how hard he was going to be, but God has a special life plan for that strong personality (King of the world??) And even on days where I felt like I couldn't do it I needed to remember that God CHOSE me to be his mom. One of the things I worked hardest on was having positive time together–just small interactions, playing together, light-heartedness, dancing etc., looking into his eyes, smiling at him. Now, several years later I not only love him, I also like him A LOT 🙂 He's still my MORE boy–more of EVERYTHING–but I want to encourage others to keep working on the relationship and remember that God placed that child in your arms for a reason.

    Reply
  34. Leslee
    July 1, 2012

    I'm chiming in late on this discussion and have only scratched the surface of this issue – and have only had a chance to read a few of the posts here – but it is nonetheless very close to my heart.

    Having adopted 3 older children three years ago I struggle with "like" daily. Especially since I have two bio kids that I do "like" – a lot. The "elephant in the room" is almost always present. My heart is continually reminded that His grace is enough. "Three times I pleaded with the Lord that it should leave me, but He said to me 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" So allowing my feelings to be and trusting in His grace and power are what get me through. Knowing that He will use even this for His glory and His good!

    Reply
  35. Mary Themom
    July 2, 2012

    Our children came into our home at age 11 (girl) and 13 (boy) and are now 17 and 19. Both have RAD and many other serious emotional and mental disabilities. The 13yo was fully grown (5'9" and 210+lbs) and very aggressive and raged often. It was hard to get close to him. He didn't want anyone, especially a mom, anywhere near him.

    I compare loving older children to being more like falling in romantic love than loving an infant. You both have to work at the relationship. The kids HAVE to be taught how to reciprocate love and have a relationship (otherwise they just feel entitled to all the privileges that come from being a functioning member of a family). Katharine Leslie was my favorite attachment guru that helped with this.

    Basically I mostly had a "fake it 'till you make it" attitude. I'm ALWAYS caring and I try to forgive myself for not loving them unconditionally. I provide all my kids with what they NEED – even when therapeutic parenting makes the kids hate me and other people think I'm a horrible parent. I kept reminding myself that their pushing me away is because they are afraid and traumatized, and it's nothing personal.

    I have developed genuine affection for my daughter although she's VERY hard to live with. It helps that she has become attached to me – to the best of her ability after years of attachment therapy. I am not attached to her brother. I tried. I tried so hard, but it's like being in an abusive relationship, and when he moved out I felt relieved. I feel a little guilty about that, but I know I did everything I could.

    I blog about this a lot.

    Reply
  36. Jen
    July 3, 2012

    What you do when you don't like them is to keep on loving them. You love them with your actions, words, responses, with all that you do and say towards them. It is sacrificial love. It is healing love. It is really really hard, laying down your life and picking up your cross love. And you keep on doing it over and over.

    AND, you make sure to take care of yourself and your marriage. You HAVE got to get a weekend or week away with your spouse and refresh spiritually and physically and emotionally so that you can get back in there and love.

    AND, (you probably don't want to hear this, but it is necessary to say and hopefully helpful in the long run) – if she's only been home for a year, she probably isn't really healed and attached and you are probably needing at LEAST another year of VERY high structure and VERY high nurture while you continue to help her heal. PRAY PRAY PRAY.

    AND, it is SO AMAZING and a wonderful gift from the Lord when you realize for the first time that you are actually enjoying being around your child and LIKING them! What joy comes with the realization that there IS finally truly relationship there. What joy when they do (for the first time) say "I love you mama – and they mean it!

    Lord willing, it will happen, but do not despair or lose hope because it has been almost a year. I actually found (with both of our large sibling adoptions) that about a year in is one of the harder and more desperate times when I started to get discouraged and when crazy behaviors seemed to increase and when we just felt hopeless. Now, 5 years and almost 3 years in, we are in a completely different place and all of the crazy attachment issues seem like a distant memory. really.

    I recently wrote a little blog that has a little to say to this matter and you can find it here: http://hisgracehisglory.blogspot.com/2012/04/adop

    Hope you are encouraged to press on!

    Reply
  37. Ash
    July 10, 2012

    Has anyone that adopted an infant had any extensive attachment issues with the infant attaching to the parent. I feel a nudge from GOd that adoption may be in his plan for us. We have 4 year old twins and a ten month old baby. My husbands biggest fear is attachment to the adopted child. He feels he could not love an adopted child as much as our biological children, what would you say to someone that has these concerns? After reading many of these comments it mAkes me second guess this calling because of my own fears. I appreciate any input. Thank you so much!!!

    Reply
    1. mjdebardeleben
      April 24, 2015

      That is a true reality!! But, God is bigger than our fears.

      Reply
  38. Heather
    December 30, 2013

    I felt as though I were all alone in this. All your comments have been so helpful. Thank you for your honesty and grace in sharing your stories. Truly a blessing to have other women know what it's like.

    Reply
  39. erin
    January 2, 2014

    Thank you for posting. My husband and I are on the brink of losing our minds. Our once very strong marriage (and still us but is under the test) has been suffering, we both feel such regret and somewhat resentment for eachother in our decision to adopt. We once had a wonderful family with 3 children ages 8, 12, 17, when we decided to adopt. We were so passionate about it. We eventually did adopt a sibling group girl 13 & boy 9 (now 10). Its been about 8 months. We did not know of any mental disorders even though we found out later they had to know he had them. He seriously strangled his sister once, he attached our older bio son twice (alhough he is so much smaller he didn't hurt him) and has been diagnosed with RAD and disassociative disorders. Most of the time he is well behaved. He is more very passive defiance like lying and sneaking, won't do what we asked but doesn't talk backor argue. He doesnt even care when he is punished, there is no emotion at all really. He just says ok to everything and then does whatever he pleases, he will lie without even flinching. He will even lie to try and get other people in trouble on purpose. All this has been so fustrating for us. I once was a happy mom who woke up and wanted to make pink &blue pancakes and build gingerbread houses etc., now I find myself asking the kids to wait one more min (which turns into llonger) so I can try to convince myself to get up and be happy. I grieve for my old life and I know that is selfish. Most of my time and energy and thoughts are consumed by how I can make this all work. My husband is too. He said, he feels so bad about disliking a child but we feel almost resentment for him because its always about him. Its a really hard place for us and we literally get on our hands and knees and pray. What have we done? What do we do? Why is something we intended to be a good thing threatning our very well being. It almost sounds crazy that one small innocent child could wreak so much havoc. We feel shame & guilt and confusion. Whats wrong with us that we not only can't bond with this child but we don't really like him (ugh, he's just a child:(((). We struggle with that so much, its not like either of us to even understand how someone could say that. We need help and hope to find some soon. It does help knowing we are not alone. They should really have RAD training programs for parents AND full discloser to adoptive parents, especially to people with other children. I pray that one day he will recieve and give love genuinely. He deserves it, I just don't think he has any clue about what that is. 🙁 & we're obviously not doing a great job at teaching him.
    Please excuse the grammatics & typos I'm texting from my phone. Thanks for listening and sharing.

    Reply
  40. Steph
    January 18, 2014

    Is anyone willing to give an update? Has it gotten any easier? We have been home 7 months with our 5 year-old and we wonder if we will ever be as happy as we were before she came. Our older 2 bio children are so easy and we love them so much it overflows. I am constantly blaming myself for doing this to my family. Why did I think we needed to "save the world" by helping this child? I need some support.

    Reply
  41. Josey
    January 21, 2014

    We have been home with our adopted daughter for 5 years now. We struggle with her extreme issues as well as lying and taking things that don't belong to her. We have found out since she has been home that she is an FAS baby. Something that I had specifically said I couldn't handle on our paperwork! There are many days when I just don't like her. Her open defiance is something that I find very hard to handle. We can do something nice for her and she expects more. When she doesn't want to do something, she does her shut down act. We actually had her tested for seizures because it was so bad! But, that isn't it. Her teachers have experienced this when they tell her to do school work and she doesn't want to. She has alienated her siblings so,now, my husband and I have come to the decision that we have 2 families and not one big happy one. However, we made the choice to adopt and are trying our best to make her life good. We feel that she would have done better if she had been adopted by a wealthy childless couple. We have days when we don't understand why God opened the door for us to adopt and days when we wish He hadn't . I know that I have to just trust in God to make things right. My adopted daughter can choose later in life whether she wants to be a part of our family or not. I have decided that I will do my best and so has my husband.

    Reply
  42. Edgar
    February 9, 2014

    I have read most of the comments here and find myself agreeing with much. After raising two children, one my bio and one step, my wife and I adopted 2 foster children. It was hard with my step daughter, we didn't really bond. So at 18 she went to live with grandma. I did show her love even if I didn't feel it. I cared for her a lot. Now we have a 4 year old girl that I do love and adore. We have bonded, something I wished with my step daughter. The case is different with my adopted 9 year old son. He had ADD and I just don't really feel love for him. He is a good kid with a good heart but his ADD makes it worse. I often have to repeat things over and over. He has a hard time focusing and often forgets what he needs to do. He is sneaky, lies and doesn't accept responsibility. I end up yelling and being very frustrated with him. Yet, I know God has given him to us and I do love him. I do much for him but i just don't have the feelings. I pray this to God and ask him to change me. It has been a tough 1.9 months. I am glad I found this where I can find some comfort.

    Reply
  43. Heather
    March 2, 2014

    I've been struggling with my lack of kind feelings toward my adopted step daughter for many years now. Woven her dad and i were dating she was 2-3 years old and i just absolutely adored her and felt more loving feelings toward her than my husband at times. When i became her full-time mom and realized she'd been parented in such a way that was so different than i grew up with, it really made it hard to see past the issues. I became markedly less affectionate after a couple of years because it felt like no matter how much i gave it was never enough…. she's VERY needy, but also one of the sweetest little kids you could ever meet. She is now 10 and in the throws of puberty and is defiant, disobedient, disrespectful, and downright unpleasant. She threw a temper tantrum like I'd never seen just a day ago that lasted 45 minutes and had no end in sight. I have now two bio children who are 3 and 18 mos. and all her issues seem to take away my time from them which only leaves me feeling resentful and i have struggled so much with these feelings, it eats me up inside and i hate it. I've been to two counselors and finally realized that i can't manufacture these feelings…. i can just be there for her and provide for her and act toward her like i act toward my bio children. It's SO hard though, especially when i make that one on one time and she's SO angry and unreasonable. Makes her really hard to love. And what's worse is it seems all her negative feelings are almost entirely directed at me. It is such a relief to know that I'm not a horrible monster for what's going on and it is just an unfortunate side of adoption that sometimes happens.

    Reply
  44. Carly
    April 22, 2014

    We adopted a 3 year old about two years ago. She's exhibits many behaviors associated with disinhibited reactive attachment disorder in that she acts like she's known people she just meets for years and cries after seeing people leave she just met.

    When we are on vacation, she attaches herself to any family she can find and tell me to go away. If no family is nearby. I usually let her go, as I figure she has something she needs to work out on her own, but stick around nearby and keep an eye on her. I check in on her frequently to see if she 's hungry or needs anything, and she says no. Then I see her 15 minutes later eating all the other families food and drinking out of their water bottle and acting like she's part of the family. People think this is so cute, and I find it very annoying and hard to love a child who shows such indiscriminate love towards everyone. It's like she's trying to use everyone to get what she needs from them.

    Other than this, she's a pretty good kid but very demanding and bossy. The kid acts like she's in control of every situation and starts pointing her finger and telling everyone what to do.

    In short, it's been two years and I still don't really feel any love for this human being. I look at her and feel sorry that she lost her birth mother and I provide for her but I can't initiate many warm feelings toward her. In fact, I feel a lot of annoyance toward her and her constant chattering and bossing me around. It's really not a good situation, but I love my husband and don't want to leave him. My husband is very attached to her and treats her like a queen, giving in to her every demand.

    Reply
  45. Joy Jo
    June 21, 2014

    I know lots of the discussion on this topic has been up for a quite a while. I happened upon this site by chance after going to bed early because of being frustrated and grumpy with one of my foster kids and not wanting to take my grumpiness out on anyone in the family. We are foster carers and have 2 kids who have been with us for 6 months so far with the goal of permanent care (this is the closest thing we can do to adoption of local kids in our country). I find myself feeling guilty a lot of the time for not being drawn to the older child in our care. I can relate to what people have been saying about the artificiality in affection etc. I often feel that the 8 year old girl in our care is pretending. She and her little brother are also very indiscriminate when we go to church or social functions, latching on to people and being sweet as pie. When my husband and I share things that are happening with close friends or family, most people say, thats just normal parenting – some of it may be but a lot of it is not. There are moments when I think, yes we are getting somewhere, and sometimes I wonder if things will get better interm of bonding and what do I do about making a decision if they don't? Am I being fair to the kids if we have not bonded and they are stuck with us until they are 18? Reading the past posts has been really helpful to know we are not abnormal in our feelings or alone in this, we are on our knees daily asking God for his help to parent these kids well, and to love them.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 22, 2014

      Joy Jo, I'm so glad you found this post and it encouraged you in the midst of a low time. This topic ( and similar ones) have come up in Tuesday Topic posts more than once. Give yourself time, lots of time, and don't feel guilty about feelings – I know we want the warm, loving feelings – but that could take a long time. I am praying for you this morning.

      Reply
  46. d051980
    October 8, 2014

    this is exactly what I needed today. Although I didn't legally adopt her, I am stepparent to my 16 yr old daughter. 7 years of all out struggle for us to bond and me to like her. I was the bad cop, where the other 2 parents couldn't be, and she hated me for it for 7 yrs. 10 yrs in…She is thankful now for my role.
    We got our foster license in 2010. Our first placement I fell head-over-heels (6 and 2 yr old boys – sibling set). We thought it was adoption potential, how naive we were. The placement lasted 7 months and eventually it was return home…the "complex grief" lasted over a year…

    Now…we are into our 3rd month of foster-to-adopt…the probationary foster period is soon halfway over…and I feel like I am managing a juvenile parolee in my house. He turned on the charm for our first visit with him, he amped it up when he moved in, everyone thinks he is amazing, that "we are exactly what he has needed his whole life…what he has been missing"…but us…his "future legal" parents…we are ambivalent. The son I always wanted, that legally the odds are in our favor, I stand at a distance imagining hugging him. When he realized I was his parent, and not his "buddy", he turned cold. I don't hug him, I think about it, I dream about it, but right now, only he initiates. In his mind we have too much structure, we care too much about him, and he hates that we remind him he is not an adult.

    The guilt is amazing. Especially after how much love I felt (and still do feel) for our first foster placement. Especially watching bio kids curl up to parents, not think twice about if they are safe or not (even when they aren't being parented safely).

    Thank you for reminding me that love is a verb. Our placement is sheltered, clothed, learning life skills, is protected (as much as we can), and challenged when others just "let him be". *sigh*

    Reply
  47. Anonymous
    December 20, 2014

    I adopted my daughter 6 years ago. She is almost 16. It has been a very rough road. She has very inappropriate boundaries with the males in the family. She has been diagnosed with FAS. This was one of the things that I had told the adoption agency I didn't feel capable of dealing with. I also believe that she has some form of RAD. She is increasing difficult and I have had to get the police involved as she wouldn't stop her behavior. i have sought help with social services an have taken her to our doctor for some things. She was tested for seizures and found to be fine. Having lived with her for 6 years, I see behaviors that are scary. I don't like this child. I see that she has what she needs to be comfortable but I have nothing more to give her. I don't want her in my home anymore because I have see her hurt my granddaughter and I believe she has hurt her dog because her dog was afraid of her. She takes other peoples things. She knows she isn't suppose to it that doesn't stop her. All of her teachers think she is so wonderful. She is developmentally delayed and in a special needs class but she seems to be really smart and good at manipulating sometimes. We don't have the resources to get her the help she needs so we are just trying to survive until she is 18 and can be placed I. A group home where they can see her for who she is. Most of the family won't come around because she has such weird behavior. She is very possessive of our home and doesn't like anyone to use her bathroom or sit in her chair or call us "theirs or my" mom and dad. I just am at a loss as to what to do. Just trying to survive…..

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 20, 2014

      I am so sorry for the depth of your struggle. I am praying for peace and strength for you right now.

      Reply
  48. cari
    March 1, 2015

    Ii believe this is a parent issue not just biological parents or adoptive parents but all of us. We have to come to a few concessions on this topic to really focus on how to overcome or manage. The first concession being that biological parents face this struggle just as adoptive parents do. If they did not we wouldn't have kids in foster care. We all dislike or even hate our children at times.

    The second concession is that love is not emotional based like we want it to be. When you say, "I don't feel like it or I don't feel love…" You are referring to an emotion and emotion is not how to give love. We do this with our spouses, right? We feel an emotion but that isn't sustaining. After marriage we have to admit that we are choosing to love that person. I believe strongly the same is true for parenthood. Especially when you are talking about adoption. You chose this. You chose this person this little person to be entrusted to you. No one said it would be easy or fun or you would click right away. I often feel like many feelings of attachment you mention are similar to going through starvation. You only get those wonderful little moments every so often; enough to keep you going to the next one but it could be days, weeks, months until your heart is fed again. In the meantime, you are an adult who has control over your other emotions and we must make the conscious choice to love a child everyday. So what does that look like?

    Similar to agape love described in the bible, you have to chose to forgive the child and yourself, to start fresh everyday, to encourage and mold the child, and to continue to embrace (or if the child has reactive attachment disorder other enforcement that is appropriate).

    The last concession we need to acknowledge is that biology has nothing to do with how your child is. This may sound harsh but it means that you could have had a biological child but you can't save any child from things which can cause behaviors like Autism, mental health issues, genetic disorders, sexual molestation or assault. There are a Slue of things which can have negative impacts on kids and we can't protect kids from everything. Just see your child- adopted or biological as just your child and know that dealing with any issue is normal.

    I can't stress how much you have to be willing to show yourself mercy, forgiveness, and humility. The kids you have adopted where a choice and at that moment when the adoption was final- you had to think that this was a blessing such a special moment. We have to coach ourselves to feel that way after the moment is gone. If a child is too much, ask for help. It literally does take a village to raise a family. Just admit this and ask for new interventions. New therapists, a Big Brother or Sister, a nanny or a parenting coach. You have to make concious adult decisions to love the child and all of those things hell that effort be supported. You can do this. I believe in you!!!

    Reply
  49. Sarah
    November 5, 2015

    I'm so glad I've found this post! I adopted my three year old daughter in January 2014 and I still feel no bond or attachment to her. The guilt that I don't like her is eating me up and causing me severe anxiety. She isn't a naughty girl but I feel like I'm so negative towards her. Any advice would be great. Thanks

    Reply
  50. Jackster
    December 19, 2015

    Thank you all fot all your honesty. Itd helpful to know others struggling with having a non bilogical child. we have a child from permeant care . He had been with us for 6 weeks and its been toughest time of our life, he responds to my husband but not really to me, I know I represent his mum who's let him down, he constantly has meltdowns crys over the smallest things and constantly presses my button, I
    Praying fir gods strength and help as I find I am not giving him same love compassion to
    My other biological child, I am trying to like him however he constantly irritates me . I find myself most times being really firm setting boundaries and constantly telling him off for the wrong things he does. I go this as he came thinking he could say and do what he wants when he wants. My daughter gets irritated by his lying and he presses her buttons constantly which then she reacts which leads to him having a meltdown, we used to live in a peaceful household now it seems there's tension in the household constantly. I know it's been a short time but I'm concerned I'm not attaching to him or want to be around him. How do you feel something and act a way when its not there. please anyone help .

    Reply
  51. Annie Camp
    January 2, 2016

    Wow, I just stumbled upon this thread and it is an answer to a prayer. I am struggling daily with the issues that are present in our family dynamic and in my relationship with my two sibling adopted children. At times I cannot stand either one of them, and rage in my head that I feel stuck with their problems and I grieve for my former family with two birth children and a neat and tidy life. I know it doesn't help to look backward and it wasn't a fairy tale then either. The feeling that we aren't making ANY progress is defeating and difficult to buoy up against constantly. They don't remember their parents and their ability to understand what it means to respect their parents (us) seems lost to them. They have done the best they can, I suppose, and so have I. My husband doesn't seem to struggle with lack of bonding, but I have. I resent upturning our family and wrecking our finances to help these two and they give me lip and grief. Yes, reminding myself that God so totally assisted and directed our desire to adopt these two, it was quite a miracle. But it hasn't felt like a blessing. The guilt over my only feeling love toward them on a very occasional basis is certainly not healthy. I will work on letting the guilt and shame go. But just to find a conversation online about this has been a huge breakthrough! I was wondering why ALL the conversations I found were to help support the adoptive kids, but I thought WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS!?!?!?!?!? Thank you everyone for being honest and creating this space to communicate our honest feelings and difficulties. God bless.

    Reply
    1. anon
      January 12, 2016

      Annie, I totally know what you mean about the grief for your former family and a neat and tidy life. and my husband don't appear to feel as I do and I have additional guilt over that. Hang in there!!

      Reply
  52. Brittany
    January 3, 2016

    I currently have a child with some very challenging diagnoses and subsequent behaviors. There is no doubt in my mind that I love him – deeply. I went through a 48 hour period where I had decided to ask for him to be moved, and I wept at the mere thought of it. I truly adore this little boy. When he is at his best we could move mountains. But when he is acting out and I am at my worst (my health has been failing for about 6 weeks, currently I have pneumonia) I can hardly be in the same room with him. It is not fair to him and it is absolutely a sole reflection of my inadequacies – not his. But I don't know how to repair it. I am anxious to hear what others have to say on this topic. I never thought I would be in this position. How could anyone not like a child?

    Reply
  53. anon
    January 12, 2016

    I just stumbled onto this post and am very curious to read the comments/feedback. We have had a foster child for 2 weeks and have two bio children. I am really struggling to find positive feelings for this child. I know she needs my love and care and I think we are caring for her well and providing much needed stability. But I do not like her. I'm embarrassed to even type it. She annoys me and my children, whines constantly and wakes multiple times a night. I find myself praying for her reunification not for her positive future, but to get her out of my house!

    Reply
    1. Lee
      November 6, 2016

      Anon –
      Have you made any progress for positive feelings towards your adoptive child? Do you have any insight for me, or direction? I am in the same boat today and feel uptight, guilty, anxious, and I find that I want to stay away from my home because when I get home, my feeling of guilt and annoyances, and anger and resentment all return. I feel like I want to take my two bio kids and leave my husband and our adoptive girl. When she calls me “mom,” I cringe and my heart stops. I feel like I may implode if I don’t talk to someone.

      Reply
  54. Anonymous
    July 9, 2016

    I just came upon this site and am thinking why didnt I find this sooner as many people wrote above, But after reading what Josy wrote and having the same feelings, Wondering why did God open the door to adoption to us and then wish He didnt or maybe more why is this happening?,, ( That is gut wrenching honesty) Thankyou for sharing what I couldnt say, I go thru these feelings very often and cant understand what happened.
    , In our situation I feel God Blessed us in answering prayers for adoption but when it became so difficult and we had ( many of the problems you are all stating) they are so similar) mostly the behavior issues, God also found another way for us and our adopted child and our family. Which I am grateful and still cant believe it but still feeling guilt over it. So I feel what is the correct way to do this? When you are feeling guilt both ways?
    We adopted a beautiful child and our family really couldnt understand or know how to parent the post orphange behavior problems that we were told would go away, They didnt go away and our bio children suffered as well as our marriage.
    We didnt know what to do and never quite saw behaviors like that in children. . ,
    In talking to other adoptive parents we knew we werent alone and also knew we had a long road up ahead of us if we were going to forge thru this. , ( We were told we would need lots and lots of counseling for our child and our family so we could all learn how to handle the behaviors and we were told we wouldnt know if these behaviors would change even with counseling or not.
    After talking to who I feel God sent to us at the right time, a Holy Priest for counsel at the time we were going thru all the problems, The Priest counseled that we needed to think of Prudence for our whole family.
    The Priest told us a story where He said his own family fostered a child when He was younger for six months and it didnt work out for their family but the foster child then went on to thrive in another new family., He didnt understand why and what their family was or wasnt doing and why the child did so well in the new foster family but the child did.well
    . This is our story now.
    After alot of thinking and believing this Holy Priest wasnt a accident that We came across and that He spoke of his familys experience and the counsel He gave us, we came to believe that finding another family ( readoption) would be best,
    We did it all legally with lawyers and it did take a little time and alittle money, Nothing is free as with adoption, Everyone wants to get payed for their work and services. . . We found an adoption lawyer and thru the Grace of God a family who was wanting to adopt. .
    . Our adopted child barely shed a tear when we said good bye when going to the new family. . I was amazed at the same loving God who brought us to adoption was able to open the door that we were able to find a new family that was thrilled to adopt even though they were aware of the many problems and issues we were going thru and they were still very willing and very excited to proceed with the adoption, Some people are blessed with this kind of gift I believe. or have the knowledge on how to work with behavior problems in children .or not have it bother them as much is all I can think of. We werent one of those familys. We tried though, very hard. We didnt want to see this happen but we knew we couldnt let our family life continue on the way it was.
    . Last we heard everything was going well and the new family didnt seem to have the problems we had,
    I dont know how long that will last, It is different family dynamics( the new family) so I think that helps too. . There is so much to the puzzle. BUT that said, I commend every single person writing on here and sticking it thru because there are many days that go by that I am riddled with guilt in not following thru with what we started, ( promising a forever home for a child) and feel much guilt, but I also couldnt get past the guilt that we knew our bio children were experiencing every day with all the problems and havoc our family was going thru and took away as one poster wrote ( the former tidy family we had),
    I felt so bad for our bio children that seemed so many moments in the day had to be focused on our adopted childs behavior issues. Our bio children needed attention too and their was only so much to go around. .
    . We often second guessed which way was the best way to parent which particular behavior situation, We had raised children but this was all new to us., These kind of behaviors, nor would we know how long would they last or if and when they would ever go away. . Every day got worse instead of better, It affected our whole family. This affects Mothers and Fathers and adopted children and your bio children,
    It has been some time now and some healing has taken place, Its something you dont forget but rather something you have as part of your history and life and will wonder forever what went wrong, Was it us,? Was it our parenting? What did we do wrong? keeps resounding in your mind. Is it possible that familys are mismatched and also many adoption lawyers now see that much of the adoption work coming to their law firms now are instead of placing babys and children in adoptive homes much of their work now is consisting of readoption of children adopted from the foster care system or from children adopted internationally? But if so this information does not make it out to social media or especially to familys contemplating adoption or fostercare.
    I know each family has to do what they think is best for them, No one can make that decision for them, I never ever thought I would be a parent to do this after a adoption and never for a second thought that I could go thru with finding a new family. Its hard not to be judged too harshly by familys who are all sticking in there and parenting thru the difficult behaviors every day , Its hard and your efforts I know will be greatly rewarded and God is Blessing you all, but I knew this was not best for our family or for our adopted child.
    We couldnt do it anymore, ( fake it to you make it and all kinds of helps to get us thru were not working and we wanted to do the best for our adopted child as well as our whole family). , I am not on here to tell people to do this, I commend and admire so many of you for doing what you do every day. I believe we may have been a instrument in Gods hands to bring our adopted child to another family, I wont ever know the reasons why we went thru this while on this side of Heaven. It doesnt make sense. Every parent who has adopted or who are fostering knows what you have to go thru to adopt,foster, the scrutiny, the homestudys, the waiting, the finances, medicals and on and on all for it to end like this, ( but thru our own choosing) But never imagining for the outcome to turn out the way it did or never thought our adopted child would ever act the way we experienced.and us feeling so helpless. .
    I just wanted to share this with anyone new who comes to this sight because I didnt see this kind of story posted,
    I too felt like their was something really wrong with why I was feeling the way many of you expressed. I felt like why isnt this adoption working out,and many of the above feelings we struggled with.at various times. Trying to bond and trying one on one time, We went thru the manipulation ,the bossiness , the controlling, the biting, pushing, lying, destroying objects in our home ( that were claimed to be accidents,)? How many times? that we just didnt know what to do anymore.
    When God sent this family I felt it was a answered prayer. For them and for us. As I mentioned we heard things were going very well with the new family and its been a while now. Thankyou God for whatever He allowed to happen. We are happy and hopeful and feel that our decision to do this has helped everyone,
    I guess what I want to say is either way their is much guilt, If we kept parenting our adopted child I felt guilt for our bio children and the havoc in our home but also finding a new family also creates guilt.of not being committed.( but at the same time you need to listen to your intuition too) We followed up on that.
    I just wish that at the time,we had more information about adoption before we went into this, Many agencys are so anxious and have good will and good intentions and want to find good homes for children but can sometimes paint a rosy picture or diminish serious behavior problems to just a child being delayed or just give it time and dont paint the whole picture of what some of the problems adoptive parents or foster parents may encounter. . Parents are so wrapped up in the excitement of adoption/ fostering etc, that this very important part that these poor children have in behavior issues may be overlooked leaving parents unprepared and then feeling so distraught on what to do on how to make it thru another day. . .
    , I was so confident that I thought these, behavior issues,with adopted children would never happen to our family and that they only happen to Other familys because they must be doing something wrong and that our family would have it altogether,so to speak, Was I ever wrong and a great great lesson in humility was learned. ,
    Its tragic that these children have to be put in orphanages and foster homes in the first place, Its extremely hard on the child as well as the family. So much of this is glossed over in any adoption literature from agencys and adoption websites to adopt and people involved in adoptions, I am happy there is this discussion on the internet just to know that parents are not alone and not all adoptions work out,that you have a fantastic adoption. and instant love and bonding with your child and that people are being honest to the core, ) even if its behind the screen of a computer. It is still therapeutic to many parents just to see you are not alone.
    Some agencys feel their job is complete when the adoption is complete and the adoption is finalized, Then parents are left to flounder on their own thru various counseling not even sure if you are getting the right diagnosis for your child and getting the right psychological counseling. This all takes its toll on the whole family structure. and the new child you brought into your home,
    Suffer the little children, Let them come to me scripture reads. I wish we could have had a better outcome. This will be with our family and our once adopted child all our days and we can only continue to pray our once adopted child is still thriving in the new familys home.
    God Bless you all for the parenting you are doing every day if you can do it. If you cant sometimes when God closes a door He opens a window. .

    Reply
  55. tricia
    November 7, 2016

    We adopted our daughter when she was 2 years old from Foster Care. And, she is my grand niece. At first, we thought she was a little different (I can’t even explain her strange behavior) when we met her for the first time in Foster Care. We believed that she just needed love and all would be right in the world. We soon learned that no amount of love and care would be enough and it still isn’t and she is almost 17. The shame I feel for not liking her has been debilitating. After years of her seemingly deliberate betrayal, bad and odd behavior by her, I have absolutely no trust in her. Time after time I start to believe she is truly sorry for what she has done (because I want to believe), she does something even worse. I didn’t know what RAD was until years later. Being in the same room with her makes my stomach tighten and I get nauseous. I love her very much but have pretended to like her for years. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone!

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  56. Cannotlearntolove
    December 19, 2016

    I’m glad I found this website. I am a new mother with a toddler and another on the way. About a year ago we got a call asking us to foster my husband’s 10 year old nephew. Being Christians and family, we said yes without much contemplation.

    From day one I’ve struggled to connect with him. What I didn’t expect was the total loss of the family I had for 3 short years before he came. My husband and I hardly have time together because he is always around and always trying to get my husband’s attention. I was happy he seemed to connect so we’ll with him at first. But eventually I really started to resent him constantly trying to be with and talk to my husband. He also throws a tremendous amount of fits for an 11 year old, and is very whiney. Sometimes I want to tell him that he really is a bigger baby than my 2 year old, he’s pouting over something everyday and it gets old fast. I find him very unlikable to have around, in my house, and in my family. I want to love him but it feels like my heart gets harder each day. With each negative occurrence I start to want him gone just a little bit more.

    His mom is very close to losing custody, and I am brought to tears thinking about it. No one else in the family can take him, my only hope of escape is her doing her treatment plan and getting him back. I feel forced into taking in a child that seems to be taking over my beautiful family and turning it into something hard and terrible instead of the beautiful, safe home it once was.

    I feel so evil every day that I start to have hateful feelings toward him. I keep praying for God to change my heart. I never knew I could be so unloving. It didn’t even occur to me that I might not be able to stand being around him when we said yes. Now I feel stuck with no way out. I feel that as a Christian, I cannot say no if we are asked to adopt him. I find myself seeking other ways out in my mind, knowing I can’t so this for 8 more years. I’ve actually considered divorcing my husband when we get in little fights over him, because then I wouldn’t have to take my nephew! Or taking a full time job, even though I’d rather be a full time stay at home mom with my bio kids, because at least that would be less time around my nephew.

    I need help. I feel awful that I can’t get it together and build a loving family with him included. But I’ve been trying for a year to change my feelings for him and it just gets worse. I am losing hope.

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  57. Chris
    January 19, 2017

    Yes! My husband and I are in our early 60’s. We have 2, of his grandchildren for a little over 2 years. They are foster children in our care. We have not done anything legal, that’s another story. My husband and I raised our 4 sons, and he had another son by a previous marriage, but we did not have contact with him or his children because of him moving all over the country and not wanting contact with us. Now they’re with us, and I never thought it would be like this. I had no idea how hard it would be.
    My husbands and my relationship was fine before the kids, but not now, especiially this last year it’s been rough. You would think it would get better with time, but not so, it’s gotten worse.
    The problem is, for me, he puts his relationship with the grandaughter ahead of our relationship. He feels he has helped her so much with her past, and needs to spend the best part of his evening with her, and a hundred other little things.They go for walks together and talk, even the physical affection he gives her annoys me. I feel like he thinks we’re just coasting and I don’t need him like I use to. I have to admit I’m jealous.
    My granddaughter is manipulative, and uses him for her advantage. I’m a christian woman, and shouldn’t feel this way, but I can’t help it. I’m always confessing my bad feelings, asking the Lord for help, but it just comes back. I feel like leaving.

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