Is my anger the problem?

What Feeds Adoptee Loss and Grief

There’s a rarity in the world of adoption that must be addressed. I’m addressing it as an adopted person, but it can apply to the adoption triad. That rarity is the unknown reality of bitterness that lodges secretly beneath grief and loss in my adoptee heart. If you examined the garden of my life, you wouldn’t be able to see it, for it twists its gangly roots around relationships, beliefs, and life purpose.

Bitterness is:

  • anguish
  • hostility
  • pain
  • sarcasm
  • harshness
  • resentful

Often, bitterness whispers, “You’ve been through the worst hurt. Eventually, I will keep you from ever being free to heal. I will leave a relentless sour taste in your proverbial mouth. The Bible says that I’m poisonous and will defile many through you” (Hebrews 12:15)

Now, friends, I must ask, “Why didn’t anyone in the world of adoption tell me about bitterness? Why didn’t someone draw me aside and gently tell me the truth about its existence? Why did they not intervene when the darn thing was choking the life out of me? Why didn’t they give me the name of a counselor that could identify and help me recover?

The answer is that others assume that an adoptee’s anger is the root problem and they’re all terrified by it. Ask adoptees and foster kids who silently believe it may be a life sentence. Ask parents who’ve been pummeled by it. Ask adoption professionals who don’t dare mention it to prospective parents. If we were to interview adoptees and foster kids, the majority would say that they just can’t get rid of it. It follows them everywhere, like a leaky exhaust pipe.

However, adoptee anger is not the problem. Anger is a secondary emotion that covers a deep wound, like a scab. It is God-given and is not the source of an adoptee’s struggles.  The late author, Lewis B. Smedes says in his excellent book, FORGIVE AND FORGET: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve: Anger is a sign that we are alive and well.” (

Imagine a lineup of possible sources for unresolved grief and loss.  What if we ask those in the lineup about to identify what lays beneath the surface of adoptee loss and grief? One participant would saunter forward, and with a pride-filled voice announce: “My name is bitterness. I am like a bubbling fountain laying beneath the surface of your loss and grief. My purpose is to keep you stuck in sadness.”

What are we to do with this, friends? Can we educate ourselves about these topics and be willing to lunge forward into forgiveness? It would be scary, like standing on the high dive platform before deciding to jump in. But, oh, if we do, we will be washed clean from bitterness and healed from loss and grief. 

Please join me on my site and listen to my podcast as we delve into these topics and learn the hard work of recovery both individually and together. 

So, let’s decide to make bitterness itself a rarity amongst us, rather than our awareness of it.

Check out my podcast! 20 Things Adoption Podcast (Spotify, Google, Apple, Stitcher, Siri etc).

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