How Angry Adoptive Moms Are Changing The Game For Vulnerable Children.

This is a post by our brand new Community Manager, Michelle McKinney. She’s an extraordinary blogger and adoption advocate, and we are excited to have her on our team. You will see her show up often in the comment section of blog posts as well as on our Facebook Page. Michelle is also a member of our Oasis Care Team.

You don’t change the world by staying quiet, being nice, or playing by the rules. Just ask adoptive moms. The passion, energy, and voice they have can, and will, change the world for vulnerable children.

Angry woman screaming

My husband attended a breakout session for an organization doing crazy awesome things in the world for orphans. This question was asked: “So who made this happen?”

Leader’s answer: “It’s usually angry adoptive moms who make things happen.”

Ah, yes! Angry Adoptive Moms. That would be me on some days. OK, Many days. But on other days, I’m just a normal mom. Loving my kids through the good and the ugly. Cooking, cleaning, feeding, footballing, driving. That’s the life of a mom. Then there are the OTHER other days. We moms with kids from hard places, are just sad. Burdened. Deeply depressed. And yes, angry.

We quite LITERALLY took on the burdens of the world. Poverty. Orphans. HIV/AIDS. And it’s huge. Bigger than us. It hurts. We can’t do this hard thing alone. And yet, too many are. It is true we adoptive moms can be angry. In your face. Pushing our agenda on you. Preachy. Sounding arrogant at times. But here’s why…. We don’t have the energy to hide our feelings and our insides anymore. Hiding them is a luxury.

We can’t afford it.

There are children starving, dying, tortured…and all without a mom and dad to care. This is not OK to anyone. But we as adoptive parents are living with the results of such autoricitys. And we have become rather zealous…perhaps fanatical. Here’s why:

  1. We want more orphans to have forever families.
  2. We want more non-adoptive families to help adoptive families.
  3. We want our kids to live in a safer world. Safer with their extended family.

Safer with their teachers at school. Safer with friends, which means first safer with friend’s parents. Safer at church. Safer with their coaches. Safer with their doctors. (We know more about the effects of trauma on development than most doctors) Safer means those people mentioned have been educated on my kid’s “special” needs (which are usually invisible to the outside world) and provide a healing and grace-filled environment for our kids to flourish.

Not just seeing their bad behaviors, but trying to understand the reason behind the behaviors. There is a reason. They are not bad, spoiled or catered to. My 4 kids have had more loss in their short little lives than most of us could ever imagine. They may not remember a particular bad event, but their little brains have been wired to survive any threatening circumstance. And anything new is a threat. EVERY, SINGLE time. They can’t help but be driven by this instinct. We are compelled beyond ourselves to help them find healing. But we see US and OUR failures. And yet….inspite of our weaknesses…to be blunt…we’re doing something about it. We know our messiness. Our anxiety. Our flaws. Our horribleness as moms. Seriously horrible. I told my 4-year-old the only reason I was letting her go with Grammy one day was because I didn’t want to be with her.

Horribleness right there. I knew it was the wrong thing to say, and yet I said it anyway.

Wikipedia’s definition of “horribleness:” me.

Perhaps you’ve said something similar to your bio daughter. No one is perfect. But your bio daughter hasn’t known the loss that my daughter has. She’s ACTUALLY been left. For good. Abandoned. By her biological mother. These words carry much more weight and harm. We are angry because we see YOU and your AWESOMENESS. Seriously, some of you are rockin’ the mom thing.

Like you’d never say what I said to ANY child. I hear a lot of, “Not everyone should adopt!” Agreed. But why are we so quick to throw that out there when confronted? Why can’t our response be instead to ask how we can help those who are? Several years have passed now since the Haiti earthquake. My son is Haitian. So I have good reason to believe someone in his biological family died, lost a leg, an arm, a child, a mother. Someone. Or many. Perhaps that’s why he was born in the Dominican. I remember the responses from several mom friends with the number of new orphans that were created. “I’ll take one!” Really? If someone dropped one at your door right now, really?

Because if that’s true, then why haven’t you? There have always been earthquakes and famine and, and, and… There are orphans right now BEGGING for YOU to take them. And if you aren’t willing to adopt, then you can do something for the families who are. But where are these families to help? Adoptive moms and dads are so weary. Beaten down. By extended family members, schools, doctors, systems and yes, our kids. But we’d actually take another one…or four. Because we’ve seen too much. We know too much. And often we’re chastised for this seemingly insatiable habit of bringing one more home. So yeah, we’re angry. The anger we feel from the injustice is fed by the passivity and the excuses. Things are said like it wouldn’t be fair to our OTHER kids. Who is it really LESS fair for? Is it more fair for another child to be raised with no parents and starve, be abused, never know love, be forced into prostitution as teens and forced onto the streets? We’re angry because we want justice for children. We are angry because we want grace.

For our kids. For us. We’re angry because we want help and help is no where to be found. We’re angry because many of our once close friends and family have quietly slipped out of our lives because we’re simply too messy. We do make others uncomfortable. We do make others mad. But adoptive parents are missing a huge piece in their life and that is non-adoptive families.

If anger is the catalyst for an orphan to become a son or daughter, if anger is what it takes for an adoptive family in crisis to have a healthier family stand with them in the fire, then so be it.

Question: Got a question for Michelle? Have some additional thoughts on this post? Have a story of your own? Share with us in the comment section below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Monica Hall

    Love, love, love this post!!!

  • Rebecca H

    Wow! Thanks for being real and honest. I appreciate your boldness and saying exactly how it is for so many of us!

    • Thanks for the encouragement. We are definitely not alone on this journey.

  • sarw27

    I so appreciate your putting it out there that we are angry and — THAT’S OKAY!!! Being an adoptive parent is very isolating so it’s a game changer to read blogs like this and connect with other adoptive parents. Nobody else “get’s it”.

  • Jamie Johnson


  • I was the biological kid. My parents adopted several children, almost all from other ethnicities and many with serious special needs. I loved it.

    People come to me regularly and ask how I am the way I am, and I just smile and point at my family. They changed me in all the best ways! (Well, mostly 😉 )

    I’m now 27, and one of my 21 year old special needs sisters is living with me, and I feel this post so hard. Because I’m no longer the one initiating or able to seek people out? My friends group has seriously diminished. I have few people who know how to deal with both of us, and even fewer who are able or willing to just have her over for a bit so I can have a night out. Blessedly, my parents are not too far away, but it is still hard.

    I will also say that you HAVE to have people who check up on you! If you don’t, then small things can become big things, and you don’t have the support for it. My mom got depressed, isolated herself, then suddenly, three years later was in the hospital recieving last rights from our priest. And no one had any idea. It tore my family apart, and even now, ten years later, we are trying to recover. Mom’s health has improved…. But we are still isolated because a strong family is hard. A broken one is even harder.

    So, you can be darn sure I’m the angry “mom.” I will argue with her dietician, find new doctors and psychiatrists, hunt down a good, supportive gym, find her good people to be around. It’s hard. Especially when even those paid to care either don’t care or are so overwhelmed they can’t really care.

    • Hang in there Brianna. We are cheering for you!

    • Karen F Anderson

      Bless YOU…sibling! Wow! What a job you are doing! I also dream of someone who would just take her so I can have a night out. I can’t even go to a church small group! Can’t leave her and can’t take her.

      • I totally understand. Blessedly, I can take M with me some places. But the people who would keep her for a night out are the people I’d want to be with.

  • Jessica Obermeyer Archer

    Do you know of any support groups for adoptive parents who’s children became too violent to keep in their home? For us, our adoptive sons violence to the point where I had broken bones. We need healing. Our oldest son and his wife (pastors) have stopped communicating with us and said they don’t “believe in reactive attachment disorder”…

    • Where are you located? We don’t know of many localized support groups (actually there are a ton across the US), but have created an online support network called Oasis Community. We’re opening enrollment this coming Monday. Visit to learn more about it.

    • Hi, Jessica. I’m one of the care team members on Oasis. I’d love to talk to you sometime. I’m also a pastor’s wife. I get the hurt when it comes from family and when it comes from the church. Mental illness is real. It comes packaged differently for everyone. But it is as real as diabetes. I’m truly sorry. There are churches out there that get this. There are pastors out there that get this. I just wish for you it wasn’t your son and DIL. Find your people who will get you through. They are out there. Praying for that for you today.

  • Carla De Jong-Bron

    My mother in law said last week she can’t relate to my 2 boys. The one is just naughty and my other very introvert boy who feels uncomfortable outside the close circle my bio children forms arround him…she thinks it is useless to try and communicate with him. In short she doesn’t like them..there is also a race problem why she can’t relate to them. She blames me for addopting them and putting her previous son through all of this. I can not remember me forcing him to do it… we and our bio children agreed to the adoptions. She makes me angry…very angry. Almost to the extend that I am willing to say I hate her for not giving unconditional love to my 2 precious boys. I will fight for them and people like my MIL I just cut them out of my life. I made a choice and I chose my boys

    • Oh goodness. Sorry this has happened. You made the right choice!

    • Sorry, Carla! You did make the right choice. It is harder when it’s family. Sometimes our friends make the best family. And that’s ok too.

  • Kia Macpherson

    This makes me a bit cross as someone who applied to adopt and was refused because my own biological children were the wrong age. The process has also increased in me a fear of social workers who i feel afraid of because the reality is that they can decide i’m not coping at any moment and remove my children without warning, accountability or real justification.

    • This is interesting. We’d love to hear more of what’s happened to you.

    • Mary Anne Harper Joyce

      I understand Kia. Something needs to change in this system. We also were badly burned by our social workers. In their ignorance they broke our hearts and nearly ruined us and the little boy involved. When trying to fight this I was told by the social worker “You can try and fight this but you’ll never win. No one does.” This system needs to change.

    • I’m sorry, Kia. So sorry. Keep fighting. We are with you.

    • Our social worker did me one of the greatest disservices of our adoptive journey. Sadly, she was operating out of her own ignorance. I recently gave a TEDx talk in hopes of raising that awareness and pulling support for adoptive parents. If social workers, and our friends and family, are better educated, it helps all of us AND our adoptive children.

      • Michelle Sackett McKinney

        Yes!!!! Way to go for the TED talk!!

        • Thanks, Michelle! Did you watch it or are you just cheering for my having done it? Given your obvious connection to this issue, I hope you’ll take a gander!

          • Michelle Sackett McKinney

            I looked at your website to see if I had seen it. I don’t think it was you. I saw where it said you will post the talk soon. But looks like you are a busy woman!!! Congrats on all your efforts!

          • You’re right, Michelle. I haven’t linked the talk on my website yet. If you search YouTube for “Your adopted child experienced trauma, now what?”, you’ll find it. Would love to hear your thoughts if you watch it. (I think Disqus flags the link for moderation, so I didn’t want to hyperlink here.) Thanks!

          • Michelle Sackett McKinney

            I just watched and thought you did fabulous! You gave some great practical help to non-adoptive families and told your story beautifully. So thankful you shared your story to the world on behalf of the rest of us.

          • Thanks again, Michelle. My deepest prayer is for it to help those struggling similarly.

  • Leslie Resnick

    Thank you for the courage to say this!

  • Amera

    Hi Michelle,
    Wow , I’m in Sydney Australia and have just subscribed to “confessions of an adoptive parent ” . Yours is the first blog that I have read this morning . Things are no different even on the other side of the world. Adoption is very hard for us in Australia, and its pretty much near impossible unless you foster first . So we are pretty angry for those reasons and more . I adopted in 2012 .

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      So glad you are joining us from Australia!!! Love it!!

  • Karen F Anderson

    Oh wow! This is one of the best I have seen! Thank you for putting this into words! My life daily! I live furious. I’ve read one other thing written for therapist, to help them understand why we come off so ANGRY! We spend our days that way, for so many reason. And we angrily makes posts and put out there private issues, trying to get the world to understand our kids, and their daily lives….what they need and what we need. People still don’t get it because they haven’t lived it.

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      Thank you, Karen!

  • I have not heard of it! I will look when I get on my computer. My phone won’t let me open the link. Thanks!

  • Miriam Missy Matson

    Resonates!! Any community support for single adoptive moms?? We are the loneliest misfits on the planet. Working as the sole support of the family, homeschooling for children that are very far behind academically, and dealing with bonding issues all by myself!!! Friends have left. Would love to connect with other single adoptive moms.

    • Dawn Goebbels

      You could check out Sandi Lerman’s Families in FLIGHT Facebook page. She’s a single adoptive mum. I’m a single fosterer.

  • Debbie Smith

    It amazes me that our society will foster an animal before it fosters a child in need. Why don’t we have a support group for people who can foster or support those who do.. Oh I have a child needs a overnight stay spot til mom’s out on bail
    Oh I have twins removed from home needs fostering for four months while parent in rehab… Pets get better care than kids in our world today.

  • Sue Demers

    I am an adoptive mom. I agree with this article and the comments people have posted. I would love to talk to someone that is an adoptive because I fear bio-mom’s wouldn’t understand what we go through or are going through. I just want the kids to have the best home, best parents and to be the best people they can be but sometimes my emotions take over. I love our children as if I gave birth to them. I just need to know I’m not alone.

  • Madpenguin

    Psht I was adopted and I can tell you my parents didn’t feel that way. My adopted family was…..well to put it mildly, less than, well, even just ok. I think if my parents were angry, they were angry they got me.

    • LouanneMason

      I am so very sorry.

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      So sorry to read this. It should never have been this way. I hope you have been able to find some kind of healing. Please hear me say that you are indeed lovable and valuable and so worth it. You are. No matter who tells you different, this is the TRUTH. May you find peace and have someone wrap their arms around you today to speak this truth to you.

  • Deanna Jones Falchook

    I am the mom of 8 kids and 5 internationally adopted. YES YES…our passionate advocacy can change lives and generations. BTW we should be angry…There is no excuse at this point that there are still 160million ish orphans. TY for this blog post..LOVED IT.

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      Yes!! There are STILL 160 million orphans in the world! Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Heather Wolfe Taylor

    My husband and I wanted to foster a child in the state foster care system. We are stable, well-off financially, raising a bio son, and have no criminal or other questionable history. We found that the requirements to be approved were insurmountable. It was weeks and weeks and weeks of three-hour-long classes, and if either one of us missed one (because our son was sick, because one of us was traveling, because the babysitter canceled on us) we would be rejected and have to start again in six months. We attended three of the classes, and then my husband got assigned a business trip, and we realized that there was absolutely no way we could pull off the entire series. Maybe when we retire? But I doubt it.

    I was very disappointed that we couldn’t do it, and it bugs me now when I see signs up advertising “become a foster or adoptive parent.” We would love to. The beaurocracy made it impossible for us.

    • Hi, Heather. I hear you. The red tape is daunting for sure and makes it seem impossible. I don’t know what state or what agency you went through, but it really does depend on the agency. There is usually more than one foster agency in your area. Every agency is different and for the most part can make their own rules outside of state rules. I also know from others that they are so desperate that they are sometimes willing to bend the rules. So if this agency said no, take it as a no from that agency. Not a no for fostering. Call another agency and tell them what happened and see what they say.

      • Heather Wolfe Taylor

        That’s actually good to know. I had assumed that the Dept of Child Services was the only way to do it. But i googled it just now and it does look like they also contract with some private providers. We will look into it.

  • Momof5

    I was adopted at birth. My Amom was always angry too, but she was angry and said cruel things because she resented me for not being like her nieces. I think there’s resentment for the pain and loss of infertility. There’s anger when the child rejects you and cries for their mother. There’s bitterness in realizing you believed the lie that adopting would be the same as birthing. Tell the truth, amoms; you’re not angry that children are hurting. You’re angry that even after buying children, you’re still hurting. Do yourself and your family a favor by being honest and getting some therapy.

    • jbwriter

      Your comment would probably be the closest to the truth about my adoptive mother that I’ve ever read. But I can’t make a blanket statement and say that all adoptive mothers have serious issues that need to be addressed before even considering adoption. I believe many go in it with their whole heart and best of intentions (especially with children that have been truly abandoned) Adoptive parents are fallible human beings just like the rest of us and are bound to also make mistakes. What has always troubled me though is how do those who interview prospective adoptive mothers like mine and this adoptee, “You’re angry that even after burying your children, you’re still hurting”‘ prevent our unfortunate life experiences to play out for other innocent adoptees? My adoptive mother told her only biological child that she should have never adopted children, because she couldn’t love them as her own. After already losing my birth mother, I should have never had to hear or felt those painful words.

      • Momof5

        Not all amoms, I Grant you, but many. Bitterness, anger, and resentment seem to be common themes in the amoms I’ve met. The gal who wrote this blog has a serious savior complex, declaring she has taken on the burdens of the world! That’s us adoptees….burdens of the world, evidently. But thank goodness this selfless humanitarian has sacrificed herself to save us. All she asks of us is our eternal gratitude and loyalty. All she asks of the rest of the world is blind admiration and the singing of her praises.

        Yeah, I know this narcissistic Amom like the back of my hand. The sick ones are all the same.

        • jbwriter

          This is the first time in over a year I have read any adoption-related articles. I made that choice because many of them just make me sad or conflicted. I only left a reply to you because I could relate to your feelings on such a personal level. I couldn’t possibly ever put into words how much damage my adoptive mother did to my self-worth among other things. Sometimes, it helps to just hear someone who had a similar rough journey. I felt nothing one way or the other about the author when I read this article.I just wish she would be angry for those adoptees who are placed in homes that aren’t any better than their birth families. In my particular circumstances … it would have been a toss-up which one was worse. And we have all heard and read heard horrific stories of abuse and know it’s not going away anytime soon. Take care; I hope you feel my hug.

          • Momof5

            I’m glad I could validate your experience and thank you for validating mine. Hugs to you as well!

          • We are truly sorry you had a horrible experience. Truly. We know it happens some and it should not be this way. A mother of any kind should never say such things to their children. You are valuable and priceless just the way you are. We want you to know that we believe that with all our being. Actually we don’t just believe it. We know it.

          • jbwriter

            Thank you for your kind words, Michelle.

    • We are truly sorry for your hurt. We are very honest and we believe that EVERYONE does indeed need therapy at some time in their lives, if not their whole life. Many of us also chose adoption as our first option. And not as a savior complex, although it does sometimes start out that way. But then we quickly learn our children are the ones who save us. We will continue to fight for justice for all children no matter how they came to us, biological families and adoptive families. We care about them all. This article was not about being angry with our children at all. Your experience should never have been that way. But we will continue to fight injustice, and that means we just might get angry too.

  • Leigh G

    As an adoptee, I dispute that there are 130million orphans…there may be 130million children in orphanages, but so many of these third world orphanages were built to house children marketed to adoption. Often their families are not abandoning them but coerced by lies and half truths about giving their children a better life …they don’t understand that adoption would be forever. Put your anger into changing adoption from a multi billion dollar industry and into a social service effort to get US children out of foster care. Provide better reunification processes. When no extended family can or should care for kids, get them into forever families so less of our children are aging out of foster care without the love and support of family. Stop the money in adoption! There would be less orphans, I can guarantee it. Why are so very many international countries stopping adoptions? Because the money breeds corruption. There is no reason why adoption costs tens of thousands. No reason why the US needs to give tax credits to pay for inflated adoption costs. Put your anger into getting the right changes done.

    • Well some points I agree with you on, but not all of them. Whether their bio parents are dead or not is not the point. There are 130 million that aren’t being taken care of by their biological families for one reason or another and therefore someone else needs to. And although I’m not an advocate for orphanages being built because of the point you brought up, we do still need orphanages. In a perfect world, unification would be the best. But we don’t live in a perfect world. And therefore adoption is the next best thing. Only a few horrific cases of abuse and lies have hurt the majority. The majority are good in a broken system. The bad ones have made a broken system even harder. And it does need to cost that much money because there are tons of steps in the process. The money doesn’t go to just 1 individual. Again, in a few cases, this has happened. But when it’s done right, and there are a lot of laws now in place for this, only a couple thousand dollars goes to one place and that is to do a certain job. And that gets spread out to multiple locations and governments. So much of the money goes to travel and lodging in international adoption. Nothing is going to be perfect. But that doesn’t mean we throw it all away. We advocate for better systems and for kids to be in families. It’s both.

  • Sarah Mouracade

    I’m an adoptive mom too. There are many things I resonate with in your post, and I’m glad to know other adoptive moms are raising their voices and challenging adoption myths. We need more people like you. Thank you. But I’m afraid categorizing us as “angry” hurts, rather than helps, our cause. Don’t get me wrong, I too feel the world is unjust often. But I wonder if equating loss with anger is the right tactic.

    I’d also concerned with the concept in this post of these children being “burdens of the world.” What a sad way to think of a vulnerable child, if not also false. On top of that, there’s a mention to them seeing “anything new as a threat.” I agree these children carry loss in ways most of us don’t. But I’ve seen many adopted children, mine included, learn bravery and courage, not reactive fear, to new experiences. I believe there is hope for new ways of processing, especially with the right guidance and support.

    Nevertheless, thanks for the thoughtful read and happy holidays.