What Adoptive Moms Can Do When Their Kids Throw Pie In theIr Face

How Adoptive Moms Can Reverse Their Child’s Misplaced Anger

I’m going to ask you to do something in regard to your adopted child’s anger that will likely seem crazy, but hang tight…it will make sense after you read the prescription for helping your child process misplaced anger and find healing from pre-adoption loss. 

First, think  about your reaction to your child’s outbursts, rages, and rejections. Do these scare you? Do you wonder if you’re doing something wrong as a mom? Do you feel helpless and hopeless about how to deal with it? 

You’re not alone.

 Let’s take a close look at the world of adoption literature for the last few decades and give accolades to Nancy Verrier for her best-seller, THE PRIMAL WOUND. If your adopted child is a teen or adult, he/she may carry the dog-eared book around for quick reference. Why? It’s a validation of not being crazy and proof that actual words can be wrapped around the deeper-than-death loss.

Ms. Verrier’s proposition states that if adoptees are validated concerning their loss, they will heal. That discovery came 20 years ago, yet the majority of adoptees who’ve read it are still stuck and unaware that healing from un-grieved adoption loss is a possibility.

Ms. Verrier took the adoption community a long way in the journey toward adoptee healing by teaching us the value of validation. She validated the wound, but there’s another validation that must follow on the heels of wound validation–the validation of adoptee anger. 

Did you just gasp? Did you wonder if you misread what I just stated about validating your child’s anger? Did you look inside and question if you’d ever have the energy to withstand that additional pressure?

Those reactions are understandable. You may perceive I’m asking you to have an unexpected cream pie thrown in your face in addition to being rejected. No way.

Understand What Your Validation Says To Your Child

First, I’m asking you to understand what validation of your child’s anger means to him. For starters, it means this to many adoptees:

  • You’ve heard my cry.
  • You won’t leave me in my pain.
  • You are for me.
  • You’ve been traumatized…I am so sorry you had to experience that.
  • You won’t abandon me in a crisis.

Let me add here that your child is likely confused about his/her anger, for it seemingly can’t be controlled. It explodes without invitation, like a bomb.

Your child may think that “they are their anger.” They may conclude, “I’m just an angry person.” Or, they may wonder if it’s a character defect passed down from unknown biological generations, or even a spiritual generational curse.

Validate “Flung” Anger

What I’m asking you to do is validate your child’s anger even when it’s flung directly at you. In order to accomplish this, you must be self-regulated, and a gifted adoption-competent therapist can help you develop that skill.

Back to your child’s healing…for healing to occur from Nancy Verrier’s famous primal wound, a scab must form, which gradually becomes like a crusty umbrella protecting the wound.  

Let’s agree that the scab for the primal wound is anger–a God-given emotion to protect and warn us that something needs attention. Does this concept not clarify the next step after validation of the wound?

When your child is healing, the scab will itch, but don’t let it get pulled off. In other words, your child may want to short-circuit your healthy validation of anger by throwing more rejection or  or slipping into relapse.  If this happens, don’t give up.

Another function of the scab is to create such an atmosphere for new growth. The scabby umbrella makes new skin feel safe and nurtured. This occurs where the wound once was. 

As you incorporate your knowledge of the healing process, you’ll also need to provide regulating statements for your child. By regulating, I mean that you’ll validate the flung anger but then help your child bridge emotionally from the past hurt to his present-day reality. It’s basically teaching “that was then, but this is now.” 

Again, sessions with an adoption competent therapist will help tremendously. Check out Bryan Post from The POST INSTITUTE. postinstitute.com/tag/bryanpost.  

Here is a list of Adoption Competent Therapists from the Center for Adoption Education and Support. I think the world of them. https://adoptionsupport.org/member-types/adoption-competent-professionals/

Keep in mind as you help your child regulate his/her emotions that usually the core emotion is fear. The majority of adoptees look at life through a lens of fear. Fear of abandonment. Fear of rejection. Fear of being invisible. Fear of being thrown away.

Now, I’d like you to buckle your seatbelts and read some anger statements that my research proved true of many adoptees. 

  • Hell, yes I’m angry. I have a right to be.
  • It’s not my fault.
  • My first mom kicked me to the side of the road and went on with life.
  • You are a loser.

Next, let’s turn the angry accusations into validation and regulation.

Turn Angry Accusations into Validating and Regulating Statements

The old axiom that “practice makes perfect” applies here. I’ve concocted these examples to help you practice your validations and regulating statements: 


Yes, you certainly do have a right to be angry. You have experienced the greatest loss anyone ever could–the loss of your first parents in the parenting role. This all happened before I ever saw you and I want you to know that I understand and am here for you whenever you want to be angry about it.


Of course, losing your first parents in the parenting role is not your fault. You had    absolutely no “say” in the decision. You were an innocent child and your voice couldn’t even be heard. No wonder you’re angry about that. Remember though, that my voice for you will now will always be for the best possible outcome. 

Moms, be sure to not tell your child that he/she was placed for adoption because the first mother loved her. Remember that your child, no matter how fancy the adoption ceremony and no matter the age of your child, sees the disappearance of the first mom as rejection, pure and simple. 

To equate the first mother’s decision with love confuses your child about the possibility of even knowing what love is or how to receive it from others, including you.


I can’t imagine what that felt like for you. Do you actually see her kicking you to the roadside? Where is the road? What does it look like? And, how did you respond when you were kicked to the side? Did you scream? Did you curl up in a ball? I just can’t fathom what you felt then. Right now, though, there is no road or anyone that will kick you to the side of the road. In fact, I’m at the side of your road now and I’m you’re number one cheerleader. I will never, ever abandon you.


I know that is what you’re seeing. You see me as the mom you didn’t want, for all your body wanted was to be close to the mom you lost. I can’t imagine how mixed up inside you must be that I’m now your mom. I want to assure you that as your mom, I am willing for you to think I’m a loser if that will help you let go of that confusion and anger. Know that I will always love you no matter what you call me.

Moms, please know that when your child calls you a loser, he/she is really saying, “I am a loser.” That hatred is basically toward self.

Put On Your Yellow Rain Slicker

The last topic here is a tool for your own self-regulation. It was shared with me on my FB page–What Parents Can Do When Adopted Kids Reject Their Love.

When your child flings rejecting, hateful, and angry statements at you, imagine putting on a yellow rain slicker–your yellow rain slicker.

When the hurtful remarks come like pelting rain, they will have no power to hurt you. They will roll off you, like raindrops.

And so, looking back over the decades of adoption literature, thank you, Ms. Verrier for validation of the adoptee wound, but moms and adopted kids are moving on now–toward creating new growth beneath the scab of anger.

We now know that the secret ingredient for reversing misplaced anger is validation of “flung anger.”

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The Unwanted Adversarial Relationship

Do Adoptees and Foster Kids Have A Right to Be Angry?

Hell, yes, we’re angry.

Excuse my French…I’m just a veteran adoptee, finally free from adoptee anger’s choking grip, and ready to hunt bear.

As you might have surmised from the opening statement, this will not be a feel-good read. No warm fuzzies or heart-shaped emojis. No steaming bedtime tea and cookies.

This is a wake-up, hope-drenched, revolutionary strategy for healing the unwanted adversarial relationships between adoptees and mamas.

Okay, here we go.

Stick with me, okay?

Hold on tight, grip the saddle, and prepare for discomfort.

Adoptees Have the Right to Be Angry

We adoptees and foster kids have every right to be angry. (from now forward, I’ll simplify the addressee both adopted and foster kid by “adoptee.”)

We’ve been kicked around, abandoned, lied to, judged, misunderstood, labeled, shamed, pitied, abused, misrepresented, ignored, shunned, marginalized, orphaned and sent away with our few belongings in a black trash bag.

Up until now, our anger was the hot potato in the arena of adoption.

No one dared talk about it because the solution wasn’t in site.

Adoption agencies hide our anger in the bushes, hoping that eager, naive, prospective parents won’t  find it. After all, they’d lose clients and reputation, but most of all, money.

Truth be told, adoptive and foster parents, are probably terrified of adoptee anger, for they can’t spank it away, teach it away, woo it away, or love it away.

For adoptees, we fear our tiger-like anger originates from a hidden character flaw, possibly from a missing generation. If we hear others talking about “the bad gene,” we wonder if it’s us.

Our anger can’t be separated from the frail, cell-based, DNA-informed, providentially-placed essence of who we are.

And, without either desiring it, unresolved adoptee anger binds mamas and kids together, in a seemingly impossible situation.

However, each must learn to navigate individually, with the common goal of healing from our own part in an un-invited, adversarial relationship.

And, so, we are on a common journey through what we’ll call “the river of rage.”

Our Common Journey

There’s a river of rage rushing through our adoptee veins,

like freight trains.

Even though the raging river never stops, we adoptees aren’t aware of it because we’ve secured our Bose earbuds.

We’re far from understanding or even caring why our mamas say the raging river’s rip tide is sucking them under.

But, truth be known, it obliterates their trails, washes out bridges, and tosses dead logs to the bottom for them to slip on.

During times of drought, the raging river may appear dried up and mamas might have the courage to wade into it’s shallow waters.

But, then suddenly, it splashes them in the face, blocking their view of what lies around the bend—a huge waterfall, which can only be survived by treading water.

Gradually, if we adoptees get motivated to remove the ear buds, we’ll realize we’re in the  raging river along with our mamas.

Our Common Challenge

So, what’s the answer?

We need to focus on the other bank. The bank of hope that the adversarial relationship can be healed. That there’s a way we’ll be able to digest truth, not only in our heads but in our hearts.

For mamas, the other bank is believing that trying harder is not the answer and that you are enough for your child.

This focus will be your savior when faith disappears, like a morning mist. On days when you believe you can’t go on. On days when you wonder if you made a mistake adopting your child.

And, what about adoptees and foster kids?

Focusing on the other bank, we’ll adhere to the fact that we can successfully process our loss, grief, and anger.

But first, let’s talk turkey about our real enemy.

Our Common Reality

I lived a lifetime believing my adoptive mom was my enemy.

If not, why would I strut off, half-cocked to high school, wondering why she was crying puppy-dog tears? Why would her presence feel like long fingernails over a blackboard?

And, God knows how much she wanted to be a good mom for this beloved baby whom she’d waited a lifetime for.

Mom had no way of knowing the newborn me, who was angry as a spitfire at my first mom. Newborn me wondered why she kicked me to the side of the road and went on merrily.

It’s not difficult imagining what must have gone through mom’s head and heart when hearing my pre-adoption traumas of rejection in the womb, birth mother disappearance at birth, and ten days without human touch in an incubator.

If it were me, I’ve would have said, “I can parent a baby well, but a special needs baby?

Could she handle giving a frail 5-pound baby girl a bath? What if the baby slipped from her grip?  How could get the failure-to thrive status be removed when I refused to eat?

It’s important here that we understand the real enemy in our mama/child relationship.

Our Common Enemy

The real enemy is not adoptee anger, for anger is a gift from God and must be managed.

Misplaced adoptee anger is our common enemy.

Misplaced anger seeks to devour the relationship, to chew it up and spit it out. It’s from hell, not God. It’s from Satan, the arch enemy of God.

It loves lies and deception, such as:

    • Your mother is such a loser.
    • You should have been able to stay with your first mom.
    • Your life is a mistake.
    • Why not end it all now?
    • There’s something wrong with you.

You see, fellow adoptee, on the day you were born, Satan was there, saying, “I will destroy you no matter what.”

It was then that God said, “Oh, no you won’t. She’s mine.”

So, mamas and adoptees, focus on the other bank.