I'll take my comment elsewhere....and add to it

The issue of "responsibility for the emotional welfare" IS a huge burden placed on children by parents, period. I agree that an adoptive parent could be more inclined to engage in this harmful behavior but no more so than a single parent, divorced parent, widowed parent, a parent who's experienced the death or loss of a child, or for that matter a natural/first/birth/bio parent or their damaged adopted adult children.

Since offspring have a natural tendency to "care" about their caregivers or parents (even if they're undeserving for whatever reason) it's very difficult to convince them their parent's issues are not their problem. If they're able to do this though, especially without severing the relationship with the guilty parent, it can be very liberating!

In my experience people (most of whom are biological parents raising or have raised their own or their partner's kids) who are prone to neediness and selfish ego driven behavior, when it comes to their children, don't want to realize what they are doing and why. You can tell them til you're blue in the face and most of the time they'll refuse to own and/or change their behavior. It always comes back to but.. but.. but, poor them.

When I speak of my experience I'm talking about real live people I know in real life situations. The reason I'm so aware of these circumstances is I become involved in them emotionally and/or physically. Sometimes it's from afar with there never being a possibility of me becoming involved or saying something but other times my "ear" is solicited with words of encouragement or advice to follow. Although I'd like to say that my "help" is, well, helpful it usually does no more than supply a sounding board to get it all out as it's easier said than done, this separation from parent's problems without separating from the parent. I know it's easier said than done because I struggle to do it myself with my own mother.

When it's the most sad is when I can see it happening with a non adult child. When I'm forced to watch the selfish behavior of a parent and the effects of their behavior on their child. There are nine children I can think of off the top of my head that "survive" this crap every day. I subtly (and not so subtly at times) do what I can but there is no changing people like this, it would appear. Their personal problems and needs will always be more important than their children.

A recent rather stern conversation with a parent of some children I'm close to left me frustrated and feeling helpless. Everything we talked about ended up coming back to him and his problems with his own father demonstrating a complete inability to see himself through his own kids eyes and how his actions negatively affect his daughters. Watching his wife, these kid's mom, allow her children to be subjected to this emotional abuse is even more infuriating.

The other kids are children of divorced parents who allow "step" parents to mistreat them, children of a widowed mother who carry the burden of their mother's emotional welfare every minute of their young lives, and one child of a single mom who could not get her act together for her now grown son and is so far unable to do so for her 8 year old daughter.

So, we have kids of a widowed parent, a married couple, a divorced set of parents who've introduced new caregivers, and a single parent all of whom have children that are biological to them and are carrying the weight of their parent or caregiver's emotional welfare.

My point is that although I do agree that adoptive parents could be more inclined to make their children, grown or not, responsible for their parent's emotional well being it is in no way exclusive to adoptive parents.

I believe it's a personality flaw or an unwillingness or inability to truly look at themselves and their behavior, not biological connection, though outside influences such as adoption can certainly exacerbate what's already there.


  1. I agree, there are many parents, biological, that have those issues. I don't think that anyone wouldn't agree.

    I think that the point that you are missing is that while not all adoptive parents are like that, there are more of them, in comparison, than in biological families. This is the inherent issue with adoption. The mother/father who is infertile and who believes that they are "destined" to parent and then adopt, well, frankly they often don't work through those issues before adopting. This leaves the child vulnerable to being the "replacement" for infertility. Not a good place to be.

    I think that all parents are prone to being foolish and forgetting how much children absorb and how they respond. Which, sadly, can balloon when you add abandonment, self-esteem, etc.

  2. No offense Lori and I thank you for commenting, but where is there proof of the following?

    "I think that the point that you are missing is that while not all adoptive parents are like that, there are more of them, in comparison, than in biological families."

    If you mean I miss the point that there are MORE adoptive parents than biological parents like this than then yes, I disagree.

    Know what, if we're waging guesses on what type of parent like this there's likely more of my bet would be on parents who have children, bio or not, to save their crappy marriages or to "have someone to really love them". This circumstance applies to both adoptive and non adoptive situations which serves to support my guess.

    No matter what kind of parent, and there's so many categories these days, it's wrong to make your child, grown or not, responsible for the parent's emotional well being.

    Adoptive parents, just as much as other parents, should take a good hard look at their motives and behavior and figure it out.


  3. Good post. I think it is denial. My mother has all these issues with her mother, but doesn't seem to recognize that she did exactly the same things to me and my brother. While we have gotten over it, she hasn't. It's super frustrating when she complains to me about her mother. But it wouldn't do any good to point it out to her.

    Completely agree on your response to Lori. Inability to deal with emotional baggage isn't an adoption thing.

  4. I agree that baggage in a parent-child relationship is absolutely not exclusive to adoption.

    About 80% of Adoptive Parents adopt because of infertility. There has been a lot of research about the strain of infertility on, especially the woman, the couple, and their relationship. Research points that many times adoption is the utter last resort. They've also found that agencies expect couples to have resolved their infertility problems before adopted--when the couples (or individuals) have not. One researcher said it can result in "idealized expectations" placed on a child. How that child will complete the family and close the chapter of infertility for that couple.

    Not all parents enter into adoption agreements with children with unresolved emotional issues. But some do. When you take a child who has already experienced such a severe loss and place them with a couple who is trying to solve their own losses with an adoption--that is just not fair.

    It's not to say infertile couples cannot adopt when there is a child truly in need. But they deserve help and wholeness before adopting. Adoption is not a "cure" for infertility--or any of the pain they've experienced.

    I totally agree with you. No matter where you are in life, an AP, a Step-parent, a single parent, or a married parent etc. We have to make a point not to let our baggage be carried by their children.

    The first thing an a-aunt said to me when I reunited was "remember, your parents couldn't have kids." --as if me reuniting was taking away the only chance at a daughter my parents would ever have. As if it was my obligation to put my own feelings and needs and acknowledgement of having two families aside because it might hurt someone else.

  5. I agree, Campbell.
    Thanks for cutting through the crap.
    Yes, children have a natural tendency to care about their carers, of whatever stripe, and to take on their burdens. It comes with the territory.

    I would also like to point out that in (way too) many cases where a young women was 'obliged' to relinquish, it was to protect her hyperventilating mother's 'emotional well-being and her family's so-called 'honor'.

  6. Excellent point Anonymous!

    I'd go further to add that more often than not the "hyperventilating mother" was biological to the relinquishing mother.

  7. (totally unrelated, but I just now noticed your blog's URL. Campbell's Scoup--how clever!)

  8. (sorry to post again) or maybe I read it wrong. It made me think of "Campbell's Soup" but spelled "Scoup" as in "scoop."

    *sigh* Sorry, I'm rambling. I just spent two hours in a department store with my toddler and I'm tired lol.

  9. Loling here Amanda : )

    As in scoop is exactly right!

    Sidenote... I had way more teasing about Campbell's Soup growing up than I ever did about being adopted ; )

  10. I'm not trying to be argumentative but comments like this:
    "I think that the point that you are missing is that while not all adoptive parents are like that, there are more of them, in comparison, than in biological families." make me crazy.

    Have there been studies to proove this? This type of comment is hurtful especially since there is no proof (that I am aware of) that it is true. If there is a study of some sort, please reference it! I am not saying it couldn't possibly be true, I am saying this seems like more of an opinion written as fact. Please tell me if I am wrong.

    Generalizations like this are dangerous. Just as dangerous as assuming a young woman cannot be a good mother because she is young and single. (and yes I am aware it was prefaced with "not all adoptive parents like like that"). However, the assumption is that many, if not most, are and unless there is something to back that up, I think it is an unfair statement.

  11. Relationships are prone to all kinds of shenanigans, so parents visiting their baggage on their kids certainly won't be found only among adoptive parents.

    I wonder if what predisposes a parent to display this kind of behavior doesn't have something to do with the number and intensity of stressors in the parenting or other close family relationships. So the more "whole" a parent is emotionally, the less likely he or she is to expect emotional support from the children.

    If stress is a factor, then I would say adoptive parents enter the parenting relationship with a good bit of it, even if they don't recognize it themselves, and could be why some believe more adoptive parents behave this way toward their kids.

    I'm not saying I necessarily agree, but I can see how this might be the perception. Does that make any sense?

  12. @ Third Mom, sure it makes sense! The perception in my opinion IS accurate but the claim that there are more adoptive parents that are like this is not accurate.

    As I say in the post I believe it's a personality flaw or an unwillingness or inability of a parent to truly look at themselves and their behavior. Outside influences such as adoption can certainly exacerbate what's already there, but there are a multitude of other types of outside influences that are more common than adoption.

  13. "I'd go further to add that more often than not the "hyperventilating mother" was biological to the relinquishing mother."

    Yep. Missed that. Glad you added.

  14. @Campbell, please review the Psychology Today's articles for the last three years on adoptees and parental problems. There is a massive amount of information there. Also, I said in comparison.

    In comparison is the use of comparable samples of parents. This means if you have a 4% population of adoptive parents, you take the number of biological parents, the number of adoptive parents - a sample that represents the whole not the whole - and you will find that the issues are there in greater number - comparatively - than not.

    Also, you missed the point - I actually agreed. I think that far too many parents do not see that their issues are not their kids problem and laying them on the kids just makes new problems.

    Thank you.

  15. Lori, I saw that you agreed far too many parents put their issues on their children, it's the comparison I'm having trouble with.

  16. @Campbell, maybe it is the scientist in me talking but the numbers are there for the public and some are even in non-scientific simple language. The thing is this, if I wanted to write a psych paper on adoption and adoption issues, I would not put it know? I put weeks into papers and I read hundreds of articles, research papers, doctoral thesis, every week.

    Seriously, simply go to the library, do a boolian search using the key words - psychology, behavioral, adoption - and you would be amazed at what you can find - and I am not talking the internet stuff - real, published articles by people that study this stuff all the time.

    I don't say stuff to hear myself talk. I don't care what parent type it is, parents do this crap all the time - it is wrong and unhealthy.


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