37 Parents Who Adopted A Child And Regretted It Explain What Actually Happened

If you ask adoptive parents “Why adopt?”, they might tell the story of the summer they taught their son to swim, or describe the sound of their daughter’s laughter when she’s playing in the backyard.

Everyone has their own personal reasons for making this decision, but at its core, you should find one similarity: building a family. Raising another human being and preparing them for the world sounds as challenging as it does rewarding.

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However, it can catch you off guard even if you did the homework. To learn more about that, Reddit user TooManyStars asked parents who adopted a child and then regretted it, to share what made them feel this way.

And even though the topic may seem taboo, it can help many to avoid this heartbreaking situation, so we compiled the most honest replies, and are inviting you to read them.


We adopted twins and the experience destroyed our family. Psych admissions, drug use, school expulsions, threats on our lives, starting fires, involvement with gangs, wrecked cars, etc. I could go on. It’s the one thing in my life I wish I could undo. We’re not alone. I knew one mother in town who deadbolt locked her bedroom door and slept with a knife under her pillow out of fear of her adoptive daughter. Another family had to send their adopted daughter off for a year of residential treatment.

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Actual foster parent here (haven’t adopted). I never regret the kids. I completely regret becoming a foster parent, probably mostly because of the county that I did. It’s the bureaucratic b******t and the courts and workers that don’t care about the kids that I can’t stand. I’ve had some really tough kids, and one had to move because we couldn’t keep him safe, but I’ve loved them all regardless of their behaviors.

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Before adopting me, my parents adopted a baby who they quickly learned was deaf. They didn’t feel like they could raise the baby properly so they worked with the adoption agency to find deaf parents who were thrilled to have her instead. At first I thought it was kind of f****d up that my parents would “return” a baby, but it really worked out better for everyone in the end.

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I’m the adoptee. My adoptive mom had some kidney problems that prevented her from carrying a child. Or so she thought. She was told later that she could have. She told me that had she known then what she knows now that she wouldn’t have adopted me and would have had “her own” children instead. I was about 12 at the time and it was devastating.

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I’m not a parent but I am an adopted child.

My parents would never say that they regret adopting my siblings and I but I know that they do.

My siblings and I (3 of us total) were in a really bad family situation before. We were taken from our home (for our safety) and were going to be separated.

My adoptive parents had just gotten married. They were married before with kids from those marriages and in their early fifties.

They saved us but sacrificed everything to keep us together. Now that we’re all grown, I see the burden we put on them. They severely delayed their retirement because kids aren’t cheap. They put up with years of us dealing with trauma from our previous life. They gave us everything we needed and more.

All of this while they should have been enjoying the bliss of their new marriage and closing in on the relaxation of their retirement. They didn’t get either of those things.

They got 3 damaged kids.

I don’t know why they did that for us but I am forever grateful. They won’t admit that they regret it but I can only imagine they do.

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I’ve told this story a few times, but we adopted a 3 year old. He had a few behavior issues, which we attributed to trauma and sought appropriate help. He did well for several years, but when he turned 9 he began displaying dangerous behaviors. Hurting animals, hoarding things in his room, making suicidal comments, sexually inappropriate. We ramped up the doc visits and therapy, but he was still admitted to the hospital 3 times before he turned 10. When he was 10, we woke up to our house burning down. He thought it was a party. Spent a few years in a facility, till insurance got sick of paying. They told us we could pay $40k a month to keep him there or bring him home. We have other younger children and his therapist agreed it wasn’t safe. So we refused to pick him up, and now we have a child abuse (for abandonment) record.

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Kinda the reverse for me. My mom had me and tried to give me away until I was 4 years old. My dad kept stopping her.

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A neighbor lost her only child in a car accident when child was 17. Adopted a 6 year old girl, Greta, from a foreign country a few years later when neighbor was 50.

Greta had some emotional & behavioral problems which later turned into psychological problems, neighbor tried various therapists, doctors, drugs etc. Greta ended up running away the first time at 14. And again a few months later. Her main excuse was that she was trying to get back to the family that neighbor “stole” her from. Greta really loved using that as a reason to torture neighbor.

Greta disappeared at 16 for over a year and then neighbor is getting a phone call from a hospital 5 states away. . . .Greta had given birth and seven hours later walked out without the baby but did leave neighbor’s name & contact info.

So neighbor is 67 and raising an infant. Greta comes back a year later and basically blackmails neighbor (give her money or she’ll steal the baby like neighbor stole Greta). Greta then disappears for a couple of years only to leave another baby in another hospital. Both babies were born addicted to drugs as a special added touch. So neighbor is now in her 80s and is raising two kids who have behavioral & emotional issues.

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I wouldn’t say regret. We have a girl we adopted as a newborn who was unexpectedly (by us) born with FAS. Her violence and impulse control issues as a 4 year old scare me to death for the teenage years.

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Standard “not my story but…”. My parents best friends adopted a son from Russia as a 2 year old. He is the poster child of fetal alcohol syndrome effects. Violent, learning issues, the shortest temper, the works. His poor (adoptive) parents tried everything. They are great parents and had already raised 3, (two of their own and 1 foster kid). This boy gave them every issue. He was violent and disrespectful towards them, towards teachers, toward fellow students, he couldn’t be controlled. They cried over him a lot. Legally disowned him at 17 after he stabbed their other kid with a kitchen knife

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A woman I worked with had been fostering a ~13 year old girl for over 2 years and had started the adoption process. Girl had a history of trouble with her previous fosters, but had been doing very well with them for the whole time they were fostering her. She was seeing a therapist regularly and everything was shaping up to be a clean adoption process. Then she started acting out suddenly. Hiding things, blaming my coworker and her husband for separating her from her brother, saying she deserved to live with her real mom. She started getting in trouble at school, being disrespectful to her teachers and that sort of thing. They had several emergency sessions with her therapist but the girl shut everyone out.

The final straw was when she accused my coworker’s husband of raping her. There was an investigation and she admitted to lying, but obviously they didn’t want to risk having someone who would lie like that in the house. It could have ruined her husband’s life. The adoption fell through and she went back into the foster care system.

Her therapist said that it’s fairly common for children who come from unstable homes to freak out at the prospect of stability once they have it, and begin acting out. Sad situation all around really.

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An old friend and her husband adopted a child from Korea. The orphanage told them she was healthy and her Mom was just too poor to take care of her. They had already adopted a kid from Korea and that girl is a good kid, bright and fun. So they didn’t worry too much.

Turns out they lied to them. That girl had a lot of physical and mental problems. She has severe mental delays and needs 24 hours care. She throws huge tantrums and hits everyone around. Doctors think her biological Mother was probably on drugs when she had her.

She caused them so much stress that it broke their marriage. They couldn’t agree about what to do with her. None of them wants full custody and their older daughter doesn’t want to live with her; she’s tired of getting hit for no reason. Last time I heard from her they were looking for permanent placement in a private in patient care facility.

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A family member adopted a boy when he was 2-3. The process took forever so he was a bit older by the time everything went through. They were dead set on a white boy so they ended up going through an international adoption agency and ended up going to an orphanage in Russia. I am fairly sure between trying IVF multiple times and the cost of adoption they put themselves in some serious debt. After the adoption it was obvious that much of the paper work was falsified, history of the mother was falsified, so basically a stereotypical Russian movie adoption experience.

Physically he is healthy but it became obvious he had developmental, speech issues, anger issues, and autistic tenancies. He is 12 now and my family member has done everything possible to pretend that he is fine because he refuses to have a child labeled as special needs. I am fairly certain they’ve switched schools when teachers recommend putting him in a program.

My family members wanted a perfect child and did everything in their power to give off that impression to the detriment of the kid. With the right support early on he could have had potential, but their regret and denial essentially setup the kid for failure.


Well I’m not the parent but..

I was adopted and sometimes I regret it. I’m a Korean adoptee living in America and let me tell you, I wish I was still in Korea. Besides the racism and stuff that came from living in a white community, the endless questions like “Are you adopted?” really cut deep.
Sidenote: sometimes I get the worst flashbacks ever and they’re mainly because of racism and stuff against Asians in regards to the fist parts.

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I’m not the parent. But the sibling of the adopted.

We adopted him when he has 5. Right away there was some behavioral issues but that is to be expected. I mean this kid is getting thrown into a new family and needs time to adjust.

As time goes by, he starts to steal things from me and my biological brother. Lies a lot, and then does some real red flag things like hurting our cats, hit my mom in more than one occasion.

My parents did everything they could for him, therapy, rehabilitation centers, even kept in contact with his biological sister and set up meet ups for them to stay connected.
He was just a terror to my parents, I can’t even explain how much it destroyed me to see my parents be put through everything he did.

In his teens he ends up getting arrested for robbery and destruction of property. When he gets out, Somehow the court systems awards custody to his biological mom and has my parents paying child support to the biological family because legally he is still my parents responsibility. This broke my moms heart.

We(the siblings) are all now adults in our 20s-30s and my dad unexpectedly passed away and when it was time for the funeral, we offered to pay for my adopted brothers flight and he said he would rather have the money that the flight costs then come.

The whole situation is sad. My parents were/are awesome, giving people who completely were dragged through hell emotionally by this kid who doesn’t care.

My dad did admit to me later in life that he does regret adopting him due to the stress it put on him and my mom and how his behavior took away from me and my biological brothers childhood by constantly having to deal with problems he got into which lead to a lot of attention needed to be directed toward the adoptive brother. And my mom won’t admit it, but you can see she has definitely come to terms that he just can’t be saved and he doesn’t want to be.

If I’m being honest, I can’t stand the guy. Haven’t talked to him in 7 years and don’t ever care too.


I grew up with a girl who was adopted from Africa, from what turned out to be a super shady agency. They were told they were getting a newborn, she arrived almost a year old and extremely malnourished and neglected. She was terrified of adults, and because of the malnourishment dealt with a lot of pain getting healthy again. The first year was hell, and too much for her adopted dad and he split. By the time I met her she was in kindergarten and a pretty normal, well adjusted kid with a loving and devoted single mom, but I know from my mom that her mom wouldn’t have done it if she knew she would be alone with that unhealthy, unhappy baby. She got remarried when we were in second grade and they adopted another kid a year later, a little girl from China through an agency several parents at our school had used.

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Do siblings count? I was about 5, sister was 9. Our mother always wanted a big family, but had difficult (near fatal) pregnancies. So they looked into adoption. And that was how a 16 year old (I think) girl came to live with us, on a trial period.

She ended up being a rebellious manipulative individual and as a family we decided not to continue the adoption. I was 5, so I was pretty much suckered… I wonder sometimes what happened to her.

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I don’t know if it was adoption or foster care, but when I was younger my aunt and uncle were looking after a boy. They didn’t have him for long because he ended up chasing my uncle around the house with a knife.


There’s a guy at work that adopted a demon child through a Mormon agency that found homes for pregnant girl’s offpring.

He used to lick windows in the restaurant, slither around on the floor and one time, he bit him in the balls through his Levis.

He also lit his shed on fire and tried to catapult his younger adopted sister out of a rocking chair.

I’d say he might have regrets.

Bad genes.

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My girlfriends dad openly admitted to her that it probably wasn’t the best idea for them to adopt her when she asked him about it. They very rarely see eye to eye and the whole house is full of different personalities. Even her mum and dad are extremely different and probably shouldn’t have got married but most likely only married because they were desperate. Her mum has some mental health issues ranging from anxiety to some personality disorder. Her dad is very quite and can easily temper and likely has Asperger’s or something. My girlfriend was adopted by them when she was 7 and had a very hard life before that, which would, I feel, entitle her to be with more caring emotional adoptive parents. Alas you deal with the cards you’ve been dealt and she has been dealing with it very well!

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I’m the older brother to adopted special-needs twins. They were born drug addicted and 3 months premature.

In the 6 months they lived with their mother before being removed they were physically abused severely. They came to us at 9 months old and in body casts. I was 10.

They didn’t talk until they were three. Diapers until age 5. Severe learning disabilities and emotional problems.

They scream-cried all day every day until they were 8. (This had now been the entirety of my adolescence) When they cried they would drop to their knees and bang their heads on the ground HARD. This was an all day thing.

They were violent and hateful toward each other.

They are now in their 30’s and have over a dozen children between them that they don’t care for.

I’m not going to tell you about the difficulty of having broken siblings or how it effected my development.

I am now 40 and I haven’t spoken to any of my siblings in nearly a decade. Crying in any form is a serious trigger for me. I hate children. I got a vasectomy when I was 23. I’m finally in a happy marriage but I can’t handle conflict at all. I’m cold and emotionless. I feel like my childhood was taken from me. I will never accept by adopted brothers as family.


It wasn’t me, but my neighbors when I was about 10 years old adopted a girl that was my age. They already had 3 other adopted children and 1 that was actually their own. This poor girl was 10 years old and they changed her name from something that she went by her whole life. She had a whole slew of issues, but what topped it off was when she started developing a crush on one of her adopted brothers. The mother and the son caught the adopted daughter watching him sleep multiple times. And there was a few times where she would hold him down and tickle him inappropriately. He was only 8 years old. I think the cherry on the cake was when the mom found a journal the girl had been keeping saying how much she was in love with that little boy and things she wanted to do to him. They sent her back to her foster home after only a few months of her living with them.

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On mobile and new to Reddit, so sorry if I’m doing things wrong. Lol

YES!! I (43F) was basically forced to adopt. I seriously looked at divorce, that’s how much I was against it. But in the end I looked at my finances and realized I couldn’t afford to live on my own. I have also considered suicide, but I don’t want to do that to my family.

I HATE being a mother. We adopted from foster care. She just turned 13. She annoys the heck out of me. She’s very immature for her age, not to mention the issues she came with. She lies constantly, doesn’t care about school, will do whatever she wants when she wants, no matter what we say. I “go to bed” at 8:00, basically so I can get away from her.

I feel like it has basically destroyed our marriage. I have so much resentment and anger toward my husband, it’s not even funny. We’ll be talking about her and he’ll say “She needs a mom!” And I want to scream at him “YOU SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE YOU DID THIS!” I don’t know if he was expecting me to come around, but it’s been over 3 years and I show no signs of changing my opinion.

We are NEVER alone anymore. If she’s home, she’s glued to one of us (usually me). We haven’t had sex in 6 months or more. I could go on and on, but the gist of it is I don’t like my daughter, and am starting to hate my husband.

I vowed to myself and my husband that she will NEVER know how I truly feel. She will only know that she was wanted and loved. I definitely don’t want to add to her trauma. I do have somewhat of a heart. Lol But I sometimes wonder how long it will be before I snap and do something I’ll regret.


Friend’s uncle tried adopting with his partner. They’re pretty well-off and the kid was extremely lucky to have gone from being in foster care to being in an upper-class household that went on luxurious vacations every year .

I don’t know if they were hit really hard with the reality of what it takes to be a parent or if the kid was truly a demon but the uncle and his partner ended up having to cancel the adoption with the kid because the child ended up being too emotionally unstable and difficult to control. There were a lot of issues with the child causing trouble everywhere he went and refusing to listen to anything his adoptive parents would say. There were deep-seated behavioral problems with the kid, he only wanted to do what he wanted to do and nothing else even if it ended up hurting other kids or breaking things.

I don’t know that many details other than my friend telling me about how this kid that his uncle almost adopted could have had everything a kid wanted but the kid just wouldn’t behave right. I know that it’s much deeper than that but I just wanted to share that story.


Had a really mild mannered high school english teacher who adopted a young boy from an eastern European country. The guy literally found excitement in keeping up with old pen pals, legitimately loved getting and writing letters (to show what kind of person he was, if you can imagine the type) The boy he adopted grew up to be a complete thug. He’s been in and out of jail 8 times in the last 3 years. Has pictures of himself holding AR-15’s. Self proclaimed blood. Got arrested for driving on a revoked license, got arrested 2 days later for escaping a penal institution when he would’ve gotten out after seeing the judge anyway. The kid turned out to be a total pos, and I know he’s taken years off of my teachers life.


A fellow teacher friend could not have kids of her own and her and her husband fostered a child for 5 years and went through the process to adopt him. They were two weeks away from everything being finalized and an aunt came and took the child. The kid (who called the pair mom and dad) and the couple (who thought of the kid as their son) were all destroyed. The aunt had years to come forward and never did and the judge who allowed it was a piece of work. When it comes up she never can decide whether she regrets it or whether it was just a great experience to remember. However, they never fostered again and go to weekly therapy to help them cope.


I have two adopted sisters (biological sisters) who came to live with us when they were 3 and 4. Within the first week they were calling both my parents “b***h” and using other foul language.

Over the years we discovered they both had FAS, one is bipolar and one has Borderline Personality Disorder. They made our lives a constant living nightmare. Any family event that wasn’t focused on them would BECOME focused on them, because they do anything to get attention, especially negative attention. I grew to hate most holidays, and especially my birthday, because it would turn into a great big fight.

I don’t think my mom regrets adopting, but maybe regrets how she handled things. She’s a very forgiving and benefit-of-the-doubt kind of person. I know my dad regrets it, and the majority of their biological kids do. I certainly regret telling my parents I’d be ok with them living with us.

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Not me, but some acquaintances.

Adopted a child from an orphanage abroad, gave it everything they could and it has since turned on them so violently they had to file a restraining order and eventually to disown it to avoid further contact and/or all kinds of liability.

Sadly it’s not an uncommon turn of events with adopted children…

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My parents adopted my brother after 5 years of marriage since they couldn’t conceive and really wanted a kid. They adopted him when he was almost a year old, that was mid-80s back when nobody even thought that babies need to be picked up and held to ensure correct mental development. Some time after that they got pregnant and I was born.
So my brother (3 yo at the time of my birth) had some developmental issues and having a sibling made it much worse. He became jealous of the new baby and started bullying the little me. Bullying was only the start and he quickly grew into a classic example of an abuser. We have endured 25 years of mental and physical abuse, and all the while my parents did nothing, just took it like martyrs, because they thought that they picked him so they have to stick to that decision until the end.

My brother’s behavior was one of the contributing factors to my father’s heart attack and death a few years back. My mother tried coping by developing a drinking problem. One of my grandmas died of a stroke the same day he went over to torment her.

I have left them all to rot with each other and moved out a long time ago. I don’t want anything to do with a family that sentenced *me* to a life of abuse because of *their* decisions and stubbornness. I think that man belongs in an isolation ward and not a family home.

I’m sure after all the pain he caused my mother regrets ever adopting that child.


Had a friend in school who was adopted by her step dad. (Mom was heavily into drugs and didn’t know who her real dad was, but married this man when she was a few months old. They divorced when we were in third grade and he and her two brothers moved across town. In 7th grade she was removed from her mother’s home and so he stepped in and first fostered and eventually adopted her.)

At first everything was great, but once she turned 18 I’m not sure what happened. She dropped out of highschool, claimed she was looking for jobs (which we later found out was a lie), began doing drugs, and ten years and 3 kids/baby daddies later her “dad” is now raising all of her kids and none of them have contact with her.

He said it was fine and wouldn’t have minded her living there for free had she gotten a GED a job or even tried attending the local community college. But he now says he highly regrets trying to help her because she turned out just like her mom no matter how hard he tried to help her


Not mine, but my great uncle and great aunt adopted a girl.

She was spoiled sweet and raised in utmost privilege in a mansion with servants, back when such things were possible. She goes to university and is on her final year, so she hosts a graduation party at their house. It cost thousands, with everything being the finest quality.

She wasn’t even close to graduating. She had barely passed half of her classes in her first year, but she then lied to her parents about it for TWO years, pretending to go to an expensive university while using their money for other things. They found out *during* the party and felt publicly humiliated, as it was expected.

She wasn’t disowned or anything, but they almost cut off contact with her.


Very recent story actually. Not me but my parents have been fixing up with the foster system for nearly a year to get ready to foster someone. My dad has been excited as he has always had a good heart and wants to give someone the chances he never had as a kid and so they tried to foster older children 13-15 and finally received this 15 year old girl 3 weeks ago.

Everything went well and my dad only asked if her to get good grades and do well in school. They took her out everywhere and just overall treated her the best they could (Even better than me when I was younger they joked). Fast forward to a couple of days ago and she tried to sneak out of the house and steal my dads car which left my dad heart broken. Apparently my parents don’t let her do what she wants to do (Go to parties late at night) so she tried to sneak out to one.

She is now in the process of being transferred to a different place since she can’t do what she wants. This has been a whole mess back home and has left my dad really sad and regretful about the foster system. They plan to try again soon but this first experience was hard on him.


I knew a family that adapted a kid then tried to give the kid back. They had adopted a infant little girl 1st and a few years later they adopted a little boy. At one point the little boy was innapropriatly touching the now toddler girl.


A friend did, she adopted a baby girl 10 years after having her own child, she thought she couldn’t have any more kids since she had tried for 8 years. So she adopted a baby that was from a known drug user against the advice of her mother. She ended up getting pregnant and having a couple of kids after adopting her. The adopted kid had/has emotional/behavior issues growing up. These past two years my friend has had to deal with police, social workers (child protective services), judges, juvenile detention and school personnel. For her adopted daughter stealing, doing drugs, getting drunk, running away, and lying about getting physically abused by my friend. Her younger kids have had to deal with the adopted daughters behavior and interviewing by social workers. So I would say that’s a big yes on regrets.


i have two adopted Haitian brothers, they are biological brothers and they joined our family at 13 and 11 years old. That was 12 years ago.
The younger one is currently in jail for robbery. He had just recently been released after serving time for a knife attack. The older one is not currently in jail but has been in and out for several years now.

It’s not that my mom regrets adopting them, she loves those boys as much as she does her bio kids, but she does wish things had been different.

She adopted them as a single mother (my father had long passed away) and at the age of 65. Both boys were severely malnourished and delayed, both had severe issues stemming from the trauma they endured as 3rd world orphans, and the town my mom was living it at the time was not equipped to handle them. They we immediately labelled as bad kids and there were no supports available. My mom gave it everything she got but despite her efforts she was unable to set them on a better path in life.

I think disappointment is a more fitting term. She does not regret the adoption but she is definitely disappointed with how it turned out


I was a teacher and had two families that regretted adoption. One even went back on it. I met both kids, I taught both kids. Even as toddlers they were extremely violent and a danger to the other children in the home/at school. Both parents were extremely open with me about it as I was always there for them over the years through their difficulties.


I used to have a coworker, no bio kids, who adopted three siblings, ages 4 to 9. She was very open about regretting her decision. The oldest kid had a lot of behavioral issues, took them all to therapy but no improvement. The kid even robbed her from her purse, middle boy had tons of health issues. It took a toll on her marriage and her mental health. If you would ask her if she recommended adoption, she will straight forward tell you that it was the worst decision of her life.
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