Adult Child Estrangement Is Much Like An Adoptive Child Wondering Why They Were Put Up For Adoption

AUDIO VERSION: (For those who prefer to listen.  Transcript below but, may differ ever so slightly from Audio version)


First of all, let it be said that under NO circumstances am I saying that Adoption issues are the same as Child Estrangement issues.  They are 2 different animals.  One child has no choice while the other one does.  Adoption carries no ability to make that decision, the parent does.  Estrangement is purely the adult child’s choice.  Both carry very different sets of issues to be dealt with but, this comparison is purely being used as an analogy.  Sadly, even an adoptive parent might find themselves victim to an adoptive child’s whim of estrangement as well.  It’s sad for all concerned.

For parents, Adult Child Estrangement can be much like the idea of an adopted child, wondering why they were put up for adoption.  They live with the questions of “why” it happened and what would it be like were they to have had their birth parents as part of their lives?  In the same manner, many or most parents of estranged adult child or in some cases, children, live with those same questions of “why” and go without answer.  The difference is that there’s no other child to take that child’s place while an adopted child often has an adoptive set of parents or parent to take their birth parents’ place.

Not that it makes being adopted better than being a parent with an estranged child but, it does fill a void for a lot of adopted children.  That’s not to say that every adopted child gets a wonderful home but, it’s to say that for the most part, there is a semblance of a family for that adopted child while the estranged parents especially if the estrangement is with an only child, has nothing left to fill that void.  These parent may also be denied access to grandchildren as well which is much like a kick to the gut, twice.

If one is to take this analogy, point by point, one can see that an adopted child or children will often utter that their adoptive parents are their “real parents”.  They are the ones who raised these children, mopped their foreheads while sick, sat through some fairly intolerable school concerts without thinking of them that way because their child was part of it, sat up nights, worried about that child, helped with homework, gave them love, a home, clothing, attention, food, support, helped with homework and so many other things that it would take a year to write it all out.  What doesn’t happen in the case of an estranged adult child are those same types of memories.  These children don’t give credence to those things from their parents and will walk away with pure disdain for their parents in general, leaving the question of “why” behind for the parent(s) to lament over with self-blame, guilty feelings and tearing themselves to shreds as both people and parents.  They are also left empty, holding that bag of grief as they ache while watching other parents with their adult children and perhaps even grandchildren.

Let it be known that this isn’t to say that every adoptive child has had a perfect life with their adoptive parents.  Nor, is it to say that every estranged adult child has had a supreme upbringing either.  There are lots of cases where even an adopted child will go searching for birth parents in the hopes of finding what they feel that they were missing all along with their less than stellar adoptive parents.  In the same way, a lot of estranged adult children will pull the plug on their biological parents because of abuse or neglect.  It’s note worthy however, that these types of cases are more rare than common in spite of what oftentimes, spoiled children want you to know.  A lot of these children have no true excuses for what they are doing or why.  They’ve simply convinced themselves of it being the case in order to justify their actions or, shall we say, lack of them.

As I was cleaning out my estranged adult child’s closet the other day, I ran into her childhood things that she’d packed way back at the back of her closet.  Of course, I cried.  How could I not?  Belongings represent memories of times gone by.  They were happier times when I’d fill the living room with gifts on Christmas Morning and birthdays, full of toys and everything or anything she wanted that I could possibly afford to give her, including going into debt which often took me half of the new year to pay off while foregoing my own needs for new boots or coats, driving a car that was on its last legs and ready for the scrap yard, making stews, sauces and soups as many ways as I could to stretch a buck in order to pay the debt off each year.  I had memories attached to each and every item that I pulled out.  It was at that point that I suddenly realized that my tears were not hers.  She had made the choice to walk away and not look back at either me nor any of these belongings that she’d left behind.  In other words, she’d willfully made a choice to not have her father nor I as part of her life.  It wasn’t the other way around.  I hadn’t given her up for some reason or another as some biological parents are either forced to do or, decide to do.  It was her who had made the choice, not me. As a matter of fact, she’d left her entire past behind her, including what is left of both sides of her families, her old friends and her belongings.  It seemed as though she’d taken a giant eraser to her past and wiped it all out.

Out of sheer emotion, I stopped cleaning out that closet, shoving it all back in again, made myself a hot tea and sat down in my kitchen to think.  I felt the anger rising in my stomach and chest at her.  For perhaps the first time since she left some over 8 1/2 years ago now, I was feeling the rage, untempered with hurt, pain and grief.  None of any of those emotions feels good to feel but, it’s part of the process of inner growth as an estranged parent and the hurt, wonderment as well as the grieving process that one goes through.  After all, this is similar to a “death” of sorts and there are stages to grieving that we will all go through to one extent or another.

What I did discover though was that there were things that an estranged parent needs to take into account which may help them through this process.

Your child made this decision, not you.  

As much as it may still hurt and you’re likely grieving that loss of your child or children, realize that it’s your child/children who made the choice to walk out on you.  It wasn’t the other way around unless, of course, you can account for abuse or neglect that you’d heaped upon that child.  For the most part though, many of us as parents of an estranged child or children are sitting back, wondering what we did to them to have them make such a decision.

STOP IT RIGHT THERE! Your child or children have chosen this for themselves.  You didn’t kick them out or tell them not to ever grace your presence again.

You did raise that child/children.  You ARE their parent whether they admit it to themselves, you or anyone else or not.   

Adopted children might be or become curious as to who their biological parents may have been and to have the question of why they were given up for adoption answered but, they will more often than not, tell everyone that their “real parents” are the ones who raised them, gave them love and provided a good life for them.  You have done that for and with your child.  They were lucky to have had you and what you gave them, whether they agree with that thought or not.  Again though, if you had been abusive, neglectful, an addict or something that your child has a right to squabble about, it’s time here to admit it and apologize, offering up family counselling as a handshake method of trying to put it back together again with your child/children.

Most of these estranged children have fabricated tales and lies about you within themselves to justify their choices in walking away from you.

Whether your adult child has found a controlling partner, has gone over to drugs or drinking or some form of addiction, the truth is that they’ve been mind controlled but, they’ve made a personal choice for themselves.  They have likely either created a fairy tale about their “bad childhoods” on their own or with the help of a mind bending partner or friend in order to help alleviate their own guilt about walking out on you as they have done.

Their choices are about them and their own wants and needs versus anything that you’ve done or, not done for them.

As hard as it may be to fathom why they’ve done it, the reality is, most of these estranged adult children have little to gripe about by comparison to those who have truly been through the proverbial mill with parents but, are still there for them, with them and are trying to have a relationship with them.  Even an adopted child may go searching for their biological parents out of pure curiosity but, their “real parents” are those who raised them, cared for them and fed, clothed and housed them.

In my daughter’s case, many of her friends came from broken homes, parents who weren’t around for them, made to be little slaves around their households, given great responsibilities, not given the amounts of everything that she was given or, they had addictions and abusive attitudes.  Some were shove down the stairs, hair pulled and so much more that it’s impossible to list it all.  Yet, every one of her former friends (she also dumped all of them as well) are still part of their parent’s lives in big ways and have relationships with them.

How is it that my daughter, who never had anything remotely close to that done to her, can do what she’s doing to us as her parents then?

No parent is perfect.

If your estranged adult child has given you the guilt trip about how imperfect you were as a parent, keep one thing in mind here.  No one is “perfect” in anything that they do and that includes your child as a child.  We are all human and none of us are omnipotent. All of us have made and will make mistakes.  Stop letting your child implant that idea in your head, heart and mind and start realizing that for every flaw, fault and wart your estranged child has cited to you, there are parents out there who still have their children around them who have done far worse.  This is purely your estranged child’s way of convincing themselves that they have reason to do what they are doing.  They don’t have it.  They only have what you allow them to have from you.  Don’t give it to them.  Remember, they weren’t perfect either and this action of estrangement certainly proves that much.  Let them own their own choices, not you.

The surface has only been touched upon thus far with plenty more to go but, if you have comments of a respectful nature, please include them below.  More will follow in future articles.

From my little corner of life to yours….

Be well. Love and Light.  You’re not alone so….

Have a great day or evening to the best of your ability.








Published by ponderinglifetoo

I'm a wife, mother, artist, photographer and bookkeeper. I love writing out my thoughts in journals but, am finding my way to sharing these with others now.

7 thoughts on “Adult Child Estrangement Is Much Like An Adoptive Child Wondering Why They Were Put Up For Adoption

  1. Wonderful post but I was wanting to know if you could
    write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you
    could elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!


  2. Did you see the article about the son who was lounging at his parent’s home well into his mid to late 30’s? They had to get a court order to get him out finally as they couldn’t afford him anymore. He also went away and hasn’t returned yet. Ingrate is what I call people like that. They are out to sponge off of others. There WILL come a day though when your son realizes how much you have done for him. Hang in there!


    1. Thanks. He was 19 when we kicked him out…solely due to behaviours.There was no way we were going to let him stay until he was 30!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also know someone who got kicked out of his home when he was 19, solely due to behaviours. He’s still the same person but, through age, has learned how to manipulate others. I’m so very sorry. I always hope that they will turn things around. Who knows? Maybe, they can? XO XO XO


  3. I did kick my son out…after several years of behaviours that just seemed to get worse and worse. I was just hanging in there, trying to get him to a place where he could move out on his own with a job and a car. We finally hit the last straw with his behaviour and ingratitude and kicked him out. From then on, he completely disowned us and created a new “family” for himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The assumptions and comparisons to adult adoptees are not that good in supporting your argument. I as a mother, what I did for my children was my responsibility as a human being. My good and bad behavior as a mother I own completely, I am consistently bringing up my failures to my adult daughters and sincerely apologizing for what I said or did. I create dialog about my failures as a mother explaining the current consequences to my past mothering behaviors and they correct me sometimes saying I am off on what I thought the damage to them was or they tell me what the consequence is and I accept it, telling them that I regret this or that behavior from my past. Every parent makes terrible mistakes, to fix them now involves swallowing pride, saying sorry, being open and admiring who my children are in-spite of my past as a mother. I own every mistake and try to repair it with sincerity, as I had no functioning mother to learn from.
    Saying that you suffered financially every year to provide Christmas presents for your child was your choice alone, and you should own that. I am estranged from my biological mother as she wants nothing to do with me, I am estranged from my adoptive mother because of her alcoholism, cruelty and domination. Although she has never asked me why I am estranged, because when I am around her I want to kill myself. I’ve always thought that she was a terrible adoptive mother, a fabulous mother to her biological sons and a generous, loving grandmother to my children. I have never kept my children from her as that is wrong, and not my decision, that decision has always belonged to my children as it is still their decision to maintain their own important relationships. I have my own life and am fortunate that my daughters still like me as adults.
    When you talked about unpacking your kid’s closet, really got to me as my mother would throw everything away when I was at school. Maybe it is now your time to live and grow for you as a person. You will always be a mother but most importantly you have a life to live for you alone. Thank you for spilling your truth to help others as your narrative has helped me to reflect on my own life, my own pain and most of all we need to forgive ourselves for what we did or didn’t do…It is all we can do. Sincerely Rainstorm

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rainstorm…I am so sorry that you’ve had this experience with your adoptive mom and the ensuing estrangement that has happened between you both.

      As the adult child of an alcoholic family, including my own mother who could be so cruel and abusive, I know the damage that it does to one’s psyche. Of course, we are all in both individual circumstances and we all have different personalities, don’t we? How we take and ingest that “abuse” from a substance abusive parent is going to be varied, isn’t it?

      That said, I want to address something that you’ve said here (in gist).

      You’ve said that you apologize frequently for your role as a parent to your children and take responsibility for your own actions as a parent. I applaud that fully. However, could it possibly be that you’re now perhaps, “over-compensating” for your past foibles and your children recognize that they may have cause for putting you onto your knees? I ask that question because while I don’t know you or what you’ve done or who you are as a person, I also am seeing that perhaps, “consistently bringing up my (sic your) failures to your daughters” *may* be a point at which such constant admissions could possibly be a launching pad for your daughters to bring these things up over and over again or use them as “bargaining chips” so to speak to potentially get their own way???? Again though, I have no idea what you’ve allegedly done as a parent but, this is to say that while apologizing and tossing your pride to the side, could you possibly be leading your daughters to see you as a fault-riddled person? Just my thinking and nothing more but, it’s based upon having had a lot of therapy along the way as well as Ala-non and before then, Ala-teen as well.

      In Ala-non, they talk about Alcoholics Anonymous and how there are 12 steps. One of them is to make reparations with anyone you’ve wronged. I’m sure that I needn’t explain this to you as you’ve likely done this already for yourself but, for the sake of others who may be facing a similar situation, making amends does not mean that we endlessly point out both our faults, warts and faults, along with constantly apologizing for them all, does it? It means, making reasonable attempts at saying “I made a mistake and I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you though (insert injustices here) and I am trying hard to be a new and better person.” We then, leave it there. We don’t live our lives endlessly bringing up and apologizing for what we may have done wrongly to those people, should we? It’s akin to saying, “kick me….I deserve it”.

      I’m happy to hear that your adoptive mom is able to see her grandchildren. You’re correct that every parent will make mistakes. Your own children will make mistakes with their children but, I hope that you don’t own their mistakes as well by justifying their mistakes as your inability to be a flawless parent so they know no different??? Perhaps, some counselling for yourself might be in order here??? Just a thought. Nothing more.

      As for my decision to give my daughter everything that I could and go without for myself. Yes, you are correct. That was my choice. I don’t regret it at all though. I gave her what I could give to her but didn’t expect this reaction from her at all. I do believe that it made her feel “entitled” to getting most of everything that she wants now. That’s on me because I did that to her. I set that precedent for her. I do own that in every way. Thank you for pointing that out again though I already knew it. (These pieces can’t be endless, can they?)

      Having said all of that, I am so happy to hear that you’re not, at the current time, the parent of estranged adult children and instead read this as an estranged adult child, yourself. None of us ever know when or why these estrangements can happen and as I’ve been so careful to say in every piece that I’ve written, I was not talking about situations such as your adoptive mom’s alcoholism, cruelty nor abuse. Those types of parents do exist and they’re not what is being talked about here for obvious reasons.

      I think that you ended your comment beautifully by saying, “we all need to forgive ourselves for what we did or didn’t do.” Perhaps, it’s time for you to let up on yourself a bit now too???

      I wish you every happiness! Meant with all sincerity.

      Thank you for your comment and sharing with us all what you have been through and are going through.

      Sincerely and with huge hugs!


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