parent opinion

'2 years ago, I adopted my nephew, promising to 'fix him'. He's getting worse.'

When our adoption was finalised in 2021, and we brought, one-year-old Stanley home with hearts full of love, I knew life with four kids was going to be crazy.

He is my biological nephew and when we found out he needed permanent care, my husband and I opened our hearts and our home. And our other children Caja, then 14 and Jonty and Hendry, then four, were excited about a little brother. 

I knew it would come with challenges. He has suffered unimaginable trauma

There would be hard times, sleepless nights and more nappies to change. I’d have to take time off work and bond with my new son, help my other kids adjust too. 

Watch: A beautiful story of adoption. Story continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Being our second adoption and being foster parents, there were no rose-tinted glasses for me.

But what I didn’t expect was that less than a year later I’d feel deep regret and spend my days wishing for the life I had before.

Those feelings didn’t happen overnight, they slowly crept into daily life and the guilt they brought with them made me feel absolutely sick to my stomach.

I was so ashamed and embarrassed.

I don’t know how it started. Maybe it was there from the beginning. 


I knew he didn’t like me very much. I was warned early by the social workers. “He is not keen on women. Especially ones with blonde hair. He will be fine with your husband, but is going to be very wary of you.”

That would have been because of something in his past and vowed to work harder for our bond.

But rejection on a daily basis is hard. When your kid takes a tumble at the park and chooses to run to a stranger for comfort instead of you it starts to get you down. When they sit on the teacher's lap during music class or cuddle up to your friends at birthday parties when they need a nap it chips away at you, bit by bit.

But it’s not supposed to be about me. It’s supposed to be about him. 

I tried to talk about it a few times. Not making a big deal about it. “People have nine months to bond with a baby during pregnancy, it will come,” I was reassured.

Things got worse. Perhaps it was the terrible twos and then he became a three-nager. Maybe it was the trauma? Maybe it was me? “He needs to see a specialist”, was the advice of his education facilitators after his behaviour grew increasingly difficult.

I booked appointments, spent hours online researching. I joined groups for ADHD, Autism, FASD, Childhood Trauma. I put our names on waitlist after waitlist.

Before long I was sitting outside in the car for far too long before coming into the house. It was all too often I was the last parent at day care pick up. I was snappy. Grumpy. And felt stuck on the hamster wheel that was now my life. 


I started eating my dinner alone instead of at the family dinner table – the time of day that used to be my favourite.

One day I joined a private Facebook group about adoption breakdowns. Hundreds of parents supporting each other through the process of giving their children back to the authorities. It was heartbreaking but honestly I let myself fantasise about doing it too.

What if?

Image: Instagram

But as hard as it was, as rejected as I felt. As sad and deflated as my days had become. I loved him. He loved us and I knew I could never be the reason for more trauma in his life.


It was coming up to two years since he came home and taking a deep breath and blinking back the tears I confessed my feelings to my husband.

“I wish we said no,” I told him. “I wish our life was how it used to be. I feel like a babysitter,” I sobbed.

He was shocked and sad and he suggested I get some professional help. Which I am now. And it’s helping.

Post adoption depression is just as common as post natal.

After a while I started to tell more people. My now 15-year-old daughter, grandparents and close friends. The more people I told, the better I felt and the better supported I was, but these were people who loved me. They know my intentions are good.

But how would others feel? If I admitted those dark thoughts? Would they judge me? Think I’m a terrible mother?

You see, while it seems everyone is encouraged to talk about their feelings after birth and we are educated about that fog we can slip into and what to watch out for. 

Adoption feels different. 

When people find out you are an adoptive parent, they gasp and immediately tell you how amazing you are. 

Admitting the truth felt like a betrayal of the gift you have been given. The gift you spent years in court for. The gift you are supposed to be grateful for.

Other mums talk about missing their life before kids and the sense of camaraderie is there. There are jokes over a wine. Memories of the carefree holidays. 


I just didn’t know how that would go down if I joined in.  

 And so I didn’t.

Then last week I saw a profile on Instagram. It said “This is us at our best,” above beautifully curated photos of a happy family.

“Cute,” I thought, “maybe I should have something like that in mine.”

But as I went to change it, I decided instead to tell people about us at our worse.

I was completely honest for the first time about our adoption and how I had been feeling.


And the support I received was amazing.

Until it wasn’t.

“This is exploitation of a child so you can feel validation," one comment read. 

"What if he reads this one day? another asked. 

At first I felt just awful and considered deleting, but I'm not going to because I am allowed to feel the same as any other parent.

Listen to This Gloripus Mess, On this episode, Sue tells Holly and Andrew what happened before Lion, and before Nicole Kidman played her… Post continues below.

I’m a mum who loves all of her children. I’m a mum who wants the best for them. Wishes for a happy life and a bright future. 

Especially for Stanley. I may be just surviving that relationship but I don’t love him less or want less for him. 

Sure, I think about my life before. Sure I have regrets about having so many. Taking on so much. Sure it’s not what I imagined it would be, but I’m not alone and I won’t be silenced.

I’m no longer ashamed of my feelings and it won’t matter if he reads this because he will already know all about my feelings and how they are ok. 

We will keep our conversations open and they will know there is never any shame in any of it. 

You can follow Jonica and her family.

Feature Image: Instagram

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