Clipped Wings of Adoption

"The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings” – Unknown

Sarah is a relatively new parent. She is single and her child is a little over a year old. Sarah and her child are doing very well together. They live in a quaint little home in an adorable southern town. She has frequent contact with her family and many friends. Having chosen an extended maternity leave for herself, she busies herself during the day with mothers groups, walks in the park and visits to the library for story hour and completing crafts at home.

If you were to meet Sarah, you would have no idea that she suffers from an incredible amount of anxiety. Sarah is terrified that something will happen to her child. She is extremely overprotective. She worries about everything and everyone and is expecting to find danger around every corner. Sarah has not left her child with anyone for the past year. Just thinking about leaving her child in the hands of a babysitter, even a trusted one, sends Sarah into a full blown hospital visit worthy panic attack.

Many of the mothers at the playgroups have criticized Sarah and told her she is too overprotective. She is smothering her child. They tell her that her parenting style is not healthy for her and certainly not healthy for her child.  Relax they tell her. Chill out. 

Sarah does not take this advice in the spirit with which it is intended. She doesn’t see the other moms as trying to help her. She finds them threatening. They are a danger. They are suggesting she is not a good mother. They are questioning her. They are talking about her behind her back. They are going to report her overprotective mothering style to the authorities.

Sarah stops going to playgroup. She is afraid of those other mothers. They represent a danger, a terrible threat to her and her child.  They want to take her baby from her.

What is wrong with Sarah?

Sarah is a first parent.

Almost fifteen years ago, Sarah surrendered her first child to adoption. Her parenting of her second child is strongly affected by the loss of her first child to adoption. Sarah is terrified, often to the point of paralysis, that someone will take her second child.  Even though Sarah has her PhD, has been a highly paid and successful professional, it makes no difference to her.

The grief, the trauma, the pain of losing her first child to adoption is with her daily and is significantly affecting the parenting of her second child.


Corrine’s eighteen year old daughter just moved out of the house.  Her daughter, like most girls her age, is attending college. Daughter moved out to her own apartment not far from the university campus. She is working two jobs, getting decent grades and she has a boyfriend.

And Corrine won’t leave her alone.

Corrine stalks her daughter. She calls her constantly on her cell – often as much as ten times a day. If her daughter does not answer, she begins texting her. If she doesn’t answer the text messages, Corrine will contact daughter’s friends via their myspace, their cell numbers or even go out looking for them.

There have been many arguments between Corrine, her husband, her daughter and her other children. Corrine’s husband resents her behavior towards their oldest daughter as he is confident that the reason daughter left home was to escape from Corrine.  Even now that she is gone, Corrine will not leave her alone.

Husband feels there is something wrong with Corrine. She needs help, medication, or something. She just “aint right”.  Husband has stopped coming home from work on time to avoid having to deal with Corrine and her obsessive behavior.

What is wrong?

Corrine is a first mother who lost her first child to adoption twenty five years ago.  While she was able to raise her second child with little emotional interference from the loss of her  first child, her daughter leaving home triggered flashbacks in Corrine.  Releasing a now adult child to the world is far too similar to leaving your child in the hands of strangers.  Corrine cannot function. Unresolved grief and trauma has surfaced due to the very normal departure of her second daughter from her home.

Corrine is struggling separating the loss of her first child to adoption from the perceived loss of her second child to life, growth and maturity.  In some odd way, by smothering her second child, Corrine is finding a way to love the child she lost to adoption.


It is said that parents first give their children roots and then wings.

What if your ability to give your child roots was taken from you? What if you gave your infant child wings at far too young an age?

How can you possibly consider allowing a subsequent child to fly?

5 Thoughts.

  1. I can totally relate. It’s the reason I believe I can’t give birth to another child, that I have secondary infertility, and the reason I miscarried. Because losing a child to adoption is too great a risk, my mind knows, my body knows. And they will not let it happen again.

  2. So hard. But you are giving your sons their wings, and beautifully. I would love to hear how you have been able to do that in spite of the pain you’ve experienced.

  3. I wonder if I am just like Corrine??? Although I haven’t went to that extent…I can relate completely! Never connected K moving out to my placing TA for adoption though! Makes me think….

  4. I was like Heather Rainbow. Couldn’t/didn’t get pregnant again. (Of course, now I am WELL past the possibility) Fear runs deep, grows in the dark of our unconscious and becomes cellular. I suspect I would have been like Sarah if I’d had another baby.

  5. I know all too well what parenting after adoption loss feels like. I’m going thru it every day.
    I have an angry child on my hands and it’s most likely due to the fact that I am very over protective and worried. I’m also a survivor of abuse – so my anxiety and fear based parenting style is hyper vigilant
    i wish i had the answer. you hear things on the news and on the web everyday – you want your children to be safe. but i think you have to give them those wings – a little bit at a time – otherwise our kids will get even angrier and want freedom at all costs.
    what doesnt adoption wreck?!

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