Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Adopt

Conflict of Two Mom’s – An Adoptee’s Dilemma

Understanding and Connecting with Birth Families
  • Our first moms need to accept that we can love our adoptive moms.
  • Our adoptive moms need to accept that we can love our first moms.
  • We adoptees need to accept that we can love both moms.

As adoptees we are usually socialized to believe we can only love one mother, yet we are told we are adopted and that our first mother couldn’t or wouldn’t keep us or is dead etc., and that is supposed to be the end of it. But it cannot be. Bonding is a physiological and psychological process that begins in the womb and one part of the process is that babies are born loving their mothers. Then how could we not think about them? Why can’t we love both of them?

Since to children growing up, their mothers are all powerful goddesses, children believe they know everything. Therefore to an adopted child growing up, if they think about their first mom with love, their adoptive mom will know and get angry and throw them out. The adoptee knows that she lost her first family for some reason and doesn’t want to be “re-abandoned” no matter what. So, the adoptee has to stop thinking about her first mom. To complicate matters, if the adoptee thinks about her adoptive mom with love, her first mom will know and not return. All of the above is usually unconscious but causes a powerful conflict that is impossible to resolve. It gets buried.

Skip forward to adulthood. If the adoptee can overcome the fear of “abandonment” enough to search, the process and hopefully reunion will trigger the conflict of two moms and an inner battle of loyalty will often ensue. If I love this one, that one will “reject” me and vice versa.

To further complicate matters, it’s common for our adoptive parents to be terrified we will leave them for our first parents.


  • Our adoptive moms are often jealous of the love we have for our first parents.
  • Our first moms often jealous of the love we have for our adoptive parents.
  • Our adoptive moms are often jealous of the fact that our first moms gave birth to us.
  • Our first moms are jealous of our adoptive moms because they got to raise us.

And the adoptee is caught in the middle of this very powerful, emotional conflict. For the adoptee, the usually unconscious struggle seems like life and death. If I choose a relationship with my first mom over my adoptive mom, I will surely die. The fear is that terrifying and no logic in the world can get most adoptees past that without help. Also, most adoptees have rage at their first mom for leaving in the beginning and cannot trust, no matter what they are told, that their first mom won’t leave again. It is often, again unconscious, fear of being loved by their first mom that tips the loyalty scales towards their adoptive mom. This is not about who one loves more but who is safer to one’s inner child who is terrified about being left again.

  • This conflict can be assuaged for the adoptee if she is willing to dig into the conflict with some inner child work.
  • For the two moms, understanding the adoptee conflict will lessen their confusion and pain.
  • For all involved, we need to understand that we adoptees can love two moms without lessening the love one has for the other.

Source: Joe Soll, LCSW, Adoptee, Psychotherapist, Author of “Adoption Healing… a path to recovery” and co-author of “Evil Exchange” and “Fatal Flight.”  Watch the video.

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