Why Does My Adopted or Foster Child Hate Me?

Dear moms through adoption,

I just received another note from a discouraged mom. “My daughter hates me. Will I always be second best? Will she always reject me?”

Perhaps you are feeling the same?

My heart goes out to you moms.

How I wish I could talk to my own mom again and tell her that I didn’t know what I was doing. I lashed out at her uncontrollably almost a daily basis, yet she took it and kept loving me.

With my anger, I thought something was wrong with me because no one else that I knew had as much anger as I. Why was that?

The anger comes from a deep sense of abandonment by our birth moms. Even in the most wonderful of circumstances, even though the parents had a fancy ceremony, even if the parents were there while the birth mom gave birth, we still feel abandoned.


In addition, there is a deep loyalty to her, even if there was trauma in the womb or after birth. I know of one case where a mom fried her toddler in hot oil. When the child was hospitalized, for some crazy reason, they allowed the mother to visit. And, guess what the first thing was that the child did? She lifted her arms in glee and called “mama.”

Yes, our love for our birth moms (and dads) is cellular. Of course, our birth mom’s womb was our first home. But, she kicked us out. That’s how it feels.


Your child’s anger doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you or that your child doesn’t want to love you. We do want to love you but we just can’t get past the flood of emotions. They’re like an avalanche, pounding down on us.

This whole subject makes me think of Jesus on the Cross when he said,”Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

That would describe us,  moms. We don’t want to throw the avalanche on you, but we can’t help ourselves.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that we know that you are there for us, and because you are, you get the brunt of our anger.


Of course, you must know that our anger is at our birth moms. We are angry as hell that she disappeared from our lives. If you try to point this out to your adopted child, he or she will deny any anger at birth mom. Why? We fantasize about her. Perhaps she is a queen living in a palace? We envision her as everything.


The only advice I can give is  to help your child learn to regulate her emotions. How do you do this? Here’s my understanding of it and as I explain, realize I am still an angry adoptee in recovery:

  • TELL THE TRUTH. “You are very very angry.”
  • VALIDATE THE EMOTION:  “I know that’s what you need right now. It’s okay to be so angry. You have been through a lot in your life.”
  • SEPARATE THE PAST FROM THE PRESENT: I don’t believe in blaming adoption for the intense anger. If it were me, I would just refer to hard things that your child has gone through. “You may be remembering something from long ago that really hurt and you’re feeling those strong feelings right now. “I wasn’t able to be with you then, but I am with you now and want to be with you as you work through these feelings. I am here for you and always will be.”

Moms, you need support of those who are in the trenches like you. May I refer you to one of my favorite resources for parents? Confessions of An Adoptive Parent. Check it out. You’ll realize you’re in good company, even though you’re going through difficult times.

Last of all parents, I want to assure you that there is always hope. Adoptee anger is not a terminal disease.We can learn to work through the issues and grow because of them.

Hang in there, moms.