Adult adoptees often feel pressured to choose a side — happy or sad. Was their adoption journey a joyful or disheartening one? A stipulation forced upon them, adoptees are made to feel that their emotions cannot vary. Rather, they must be black or white.

But everyone deserves an in-between! We all need that gray area for mixed emotions. Adoptees, especially, should know that it’s okay to have simultaneous feelings. Being happy and hurt or thankful and angry or loved and lonely isn’t uncommon. So why are we as a society forcing adoptees to pick one emotion and stick to it?

Adoption Choices of Colorado wants to wave goodbye to this misconception! Understanding an adult adoptee’s emotions will allow them to speak freely and feel without fear.

Happy yet Sad Adult Adoptees

As unsettling as it is, happiness isn’t often achieved without pain. This theory can be applied to adoption on several levels. While media outlets aren’t as forthcoming about the positives of adoption, most adoptees are happy to be adopted and to have their adoptive parents in their lives. They’re glad to have grown up in a safe and loving home, one they might have been without had they not been adopted.

Despite their happiness, though, adult adoptees still feel hurt. Hurt that their birth parents did not or could not raise them. Hurt that their sense of self was harder to obtain. Hurt that they, to this day, feel different or outcast. Both happiness and sadness can be felt together. Asking an adoptee if he or she is “happy” with his or her adoption journey is a double-edged sword, for adoption is not possible without loss. And with loss comes sadness.

Thankful yet Angry Adult Adoptees

It’s insensitive to ask; but, yes, most adoptees are thankful that they were adopted. The fact that someone was willing to step in and care for them, love them, and raise them as their own fills adoptees with boundless gratitude. A gratitude that they were placed in safe and loving homes. While this loving act isn’t taken for granted, many adult adoptees still harbor anger.

Whether subconsciously or consciously, adult adoptees feel anger towards their birth parents. The parents who couldn’t raise them. Adoptees are angry that they find it difficult to articulate their feelings. Angry that they do not know their truth or identity. It’s more than possible for adoptees to feel positive and negative emotions throughout their journey.

Loved yet Lonely Adult Adoptees

Loved and lonely — the majority of adult adoptees feel or have felt this combination of emotions at some point in their lives. They grew up feeling loved by their adoptive families. Most even felt that they were treated equally to their adoptive parent’s biological children. But, no matter how hard their adoptive parents strive to love them boundlessly, erase their hurt, and offer them the best lives possible as children, feelings of loneliness were formed.

Growing up, many adoptees find it difficult to express the hurt and loss they feel, for fear of upsetting their adoptive parents. While this emotional withholding is unintentional, it creates feelings of isolation. Feelings that often continue into adulthood. Sometimes, love and loneliness go hand in hand. Being loved is wondrous, but it doesn’t prevent loneliness.

Understanding an Adult Adoptee’s Emotions

One of the hardest struggles that adoptees face is being told how to feel. They’re either happy or sad. There’s no in-between. It’s this way of thinking that is incredibly damaging to adoptees.

Adoption Choices of Colorado encourages you to think twice before making assumptions. Understanding an adult adoptee’s emotions will go a long way in helping them feel heard. Just like you, they’re human.

Adoption Choices of Colorado

For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.

Support Adoption Choices

CrowdriseAdoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.

However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.

About the Author

Patience BramlettPatience Bramlett, a University of Southern Mississippi news editorial graduate, is a seasoned and award-winning freelance writer. She is also a passionate reader, whose only wish is to live life without fear of the unknown. Her motivation and inspiration to live her best life stems from the words of John Lennon:

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

This year, she’s officially joining Adoption Choices Inc. as a Content Writer. Fueled by her love of family, she hopes to educate those looking to grow their families through adoption.

When Patience is not exploring Colorado with her husband, she’s drinking coffee, forever figuring out how to tame her hair, growing her library, and trying to break into the publishing career.




Arias, Jessenia. “Happy Adoptee? You Bet I Am!” Adoption.NET,

Davenport, Dawn. “Is There Such a Thing as a Happy Adoptee?” Creating a Family, 17 Aug. 2015,

Morey, Glenn. “Adult Adoptee Voices Are Changing Adoption Narrative.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 19 Nov. 2018,

Pin It on Pinterest