Why Some Adopted Kids Reject Mom

By Paula Freeman
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Kelsey Garrity-Riley

If you feel rejected as an adoptive parent, you are not alone. Understanding why some children reject Mom can help lead to healing.

“I hate you, and I want to hurt you!” my daughter screamed. “I wish you had never adopted me!”

Responses such as these left me feeling deeply rejected. Later I learned I wasn’t the only adoptive mom who has felt this way.

When the bond between a child and biological mother is broken, some children try to protect their hearts from further trauma; they resolve to never have another mom. They still need a cook and chauffeur, but fear emotional intimacy. The thought of losing another mother is simply too much to bear. Thus Mom becomes the target of her child’s rejection because she’s the greatest emotional threat.

Countless adoptive parents experience this, yet there is hope! Consider these ideas:

Reframe your view. Understanding the cause of an adoptive child’s rejection helps unite the parents and prevent them from misinterpreting and punishing a child’s behaviors. It also releases women from the shame and blame they feel for not being a “good-enough” mom.

Responding in a matter-of-fact way to rejection can help reduce a child’s fear of intimacy. Ask God to give you compassion for your child and her need for emotional protection. Your child needs and wants a mom, even when she doesn’t act as though she does. I learned to calmly affirm my love for my daughter and offer her a chance to redo her behavior.

Seek professional help. Godly counsel from a professional with experience in adoption issues can help reveal the complex emotions that often sabotage healthy parenting. Unaware that my daughter’s rejection reopened emotional wounds from my past, I over-reacted to her behavior and then felt consumed by guilt and depression. Counseling helped me stop blaming myself for my daughter’s behavior and respond to her in a way that was healthy for both of us.

Be gracious. Dads, understand your wife’s vulnerable position and graciously support her. Believe her when she says your child behaves differently with you. And moms, be as gracious to yourself as God is toward you. Rely on the Lord to keep your soul at peace, even in the face of your child’s rejection.

This article appeared in the March/April 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled “Why Don’t You Love Me Back?” © 2014 by Paula Freeman. Used by permission.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.