The “Adopters Are Saviours” Narrative Blinds Us To Adoptee Abuse

As an adoptee, the news about the Hart mothers driving themselves and their 6 adopted kids off a cliff last week hits really close to home.


Link to photo credit.

So much about this situation grieves me:

  • An authority decided these mothers were the best placement for 2 separate groups of vulnerable children on 2 separate occasions.  The second placement happened AFTER allegations of abuse were found to be true.
  • The women isolated themselves and removed their family from the public eye as much as possible.
  • They placed themselves and their family in positions that held up their facade of being a social-justice-driven, happy clan.
  • Their friends, acquaintances, and neighbours felt like something was off, but most of them avoided pursuing it because it didn’t align with their idea of who they believed the Hart mothers to be.
  • The children were regularly showing signs (and in some cases, even verbalizing it to people they thought might help) of abuse and neglect.

But the thing that gets to me the MOST, is the facade they kept up, and how that facade is what prevented so many people from coming forward.  “But they were such a nice family.  They adopted those poor kids and saved them from drug-addicted moms.  They grew their own vegetables and attended political protests in the name of love!”


And that is exactly the problem with the saviour complex in adoption.  We’re so busy praising these “selfless” adoptive parents that we’re missing the abuse.  The lenses we’ve put on that positions adopters as sacrificial do-gooders is the very lens that is allowing warning signs to be missed.

I’m an example of this.

My mom abused me physically and emotionally.  She regularly hit me on the bare bottom with a belt when I misbehaved.  She ignored me.  She didn’t play with me or volunteer at my school or take me to the library even though she was a stat-at-home-mom.  She neglected guiding me about hygiene and reproduction.  She lied about my past, my birth family, and my heritage and kept vital information hidden from me.  She gaslights me continuously.  She plays the victim if I try to approach her about anything.  She uses her facade of sickness and fragility to garner an army of soldiers around her who will defend her and her lies, and who threaten and attack me for speaking out about the abuse.  And my dad?  He has stood by for the entirety of my life and let all of this happen.  (She has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is devastatingly common in adoptive mothers.)

But no one knew about the abuse and neglect, because all they chose to see was what a “nice” family we were from the outside, and surely someone doesn’t selflessly adopt a child and then abuse and neglect it.

Actually, they do.  Lots of people do.  More and more adoptees are speaking out about being abused in the very homes that were supposed to protect them and help them heal.

Many adoptees were taken from abusive situations, only to end up in another abusive situation.

But see, our lenses are adjusted to see abuse when it’s a young, single, alcoholic mother.  Her children should be taken from her.  She’s not a fit mother.

We don’t see the abuse when it’s a nice, white, Christian, married couple who “lovingly” opened their home to an unwanted child.  Oh, that’s so nice!  John and Martha adopted that poor little baby girl.  You know, I heard her birth mother was a drug addict.  Oh, she is just so lucky to have a nice family now.

You’ve heard it.  Maybe you’ve thought it.  Maybe you’ve said it.

We need to change our lenses.  Kids who are already vulnerable are being hurt.  Kids who were already abused are being abused even more.  Kids who deserve a home that will protect them and help them heal are being put in homes where they are being victimized further.  Kids with trauma and wounds are being placed with people who not only ignore those things, but deny their existence.

We can’t prevent it all.  But this heart-wrenching story tells me we can do more.   We can do better.  And we must.

7 thoughts on “The “Adopters Are Saviours” Narrative Blinds Us To Adoptee Abuse

  1. cjhauch April 12, 2018 / 5:44 PM

    Well spoken, as always! I trust these words are impacting many, amen! Bless you!

    Sent from my iPhone



    • theabundantlife April 15, 2018 / 5:26 PM

      Thanks Jane, I always appreciate your words of encouragement! 💕


  2. Joyce Holzman Hanscom April 12, 2018 / 7:20 PM

    Thank you for bringing this to the forefront. I meet a lot of women in my county jail bible study that have been adopted; in fact, a large percentage are from adopted families. Many of them tell horrific stories and it breaks your heart. I help them to go through the forgiveness process to break free from the bondage of the painful memories. I have seen some wonderful transformations when they are able to forgive. I wish we all could be loved perfectly all the time, but we are not because there are a lot of hurting people who cannot love perfectly. My website explains how to be healed of our painful memories so we can love with a pure heart.


    • theabundantlife April 15, 2018 / 5:26 PM

      Thanks for sharing this, Joyce! It’s true that we are living in a broken world, but thank God we can be healed! 💕


  3. Steve July 3, 2018 / 12:04 PM

    What a bunch of poor me pity party crap. get over yourself


    • EmpowerTheDaughters July 5, 2018 / 1:20 PM

      Hi Steve, thanks for weighing in. I’m not sure what compelled you to resort to insults and mean talk, but know that I am thinking of you and hope that you find happiness in peace out there.


    • EmpowerTheDaughters July 5, 2018 / 1:55 PM

      And, Hi, Mike. I fully understand why you would respond in such a way. Next time, just use your real name. 😉


Leave a Reply to EmpowerTheDaughters Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s