Adoption and Foster Care Quotes

As an adoption professional and mom, I have seen the struggle between love and grief from adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents & foster youth.  No one quote or sentiment sums up the experiences of all, and to put it clearly, adoption is COMPLEX and encompassess all the emotions, but here are some quotes that rose to the top for me. Please share any favorites of yours in the comments. *I have done my best to accurately quote and link the source, if I missed something please let me know so I can fix it asap.

Some children and youth continue to mourn and grieve at the same time as they embrace their adoption. This is, as many experts have acknowledged is a paradox that one can understand the losses that adoption has brought as well as the gains. – JaeRan Kim

Adoptee rights are everyone’s rights, and they deserve to be protected. DaShanne Stokes

If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever. -Winnie The Pooh

Children, after all, are not just adults-in-the-making. They are people whose current needs and rights and experiences must be taken seriously.

Alfie Kohn

Love you all the time – Alisa Matheson, Adoptive Mom

Grief is the natural response to loss, and those touched by adoption must be given permission to revisit emotionally the place of loss, feel the pain, scream the anger, cry the tears, and then allow themselves to be loved by others. – Sherrie Eldridge

Time and experience have taught me a priceless lesson: Any child you take for your own becomes your own if you give of yourself to that child. I have born two children and had seven others by adoption, and they are all my children, equally beloved and precious. – Dale Evans, adoptive mother

She is grieving, others are rejoicing.  She is wounded, others are unaware.  She needs comfort and nurturing, others are celebrating. – Sherrie Eldridge, speaking of an infant at time of placement

As a foster or an adoptive parent, it’s your responsibility to fill in all the gaps and missing pieces of the histories of the children you care foR. you MUST Hold their true, full story until they are old enough to carry it. – Alisa Matheson

Trauma is not “cured” through a “forever family” alone. The adoptive… that is best able to provide that supportive platform is one in which the child or youth’s history, including trauma, grief and loss is acknowledged and addressed. –JaeRan Kim


Mistakes. We are 100% allowed to make them. As humans. As adoptees. As adoptive parents. I did. I have. I will in the future. Our mistakes water our growth.  Kira, Kirabug

It has been said that adoption is more like a marriage than a birth: two (or more) individuals, each with their own unique mix of needs, patterns and genetic history, coming together with love, hope, commitment for a joint future. You become a family not because you share the same genes, but because you share love for each other.

Joan McNamara

We look at adoption as a very sacred exchange. It was not done lightly on either side. I would dedicate my life to this child. – Jamie Lee Curtis, adoptive mother

Contrary to what some parents might believe or hope for, children are not born a blank slate. Rather, they come into the world with predetermined abilities, proclivities and temperaments that nurturing parents may be able to foster or modify, but can rarely reverse. –Jane Brody, The New York Times Science section, 11/5

Born to someone else so quickly gets replaced with new names of practically strangers. These strangers’ names are added before bonds are made and nurture established… Names erased to be forgotten. Kira, Kirabug

We must be careful not to sanitize, sentimentalize, or even glamorize the pain of adoption; it really is miserable stuff, and it is intensely personal. – James Gritter

Kinship care is as old as humankind and family connections are truly deep in our DNA. … Children do better when they are cared for by relatives. – Lois Ann Day, Director, Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Program

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family. –Anthony Brandt

Being a white parent to children of color today means you will have to double-down on being uncomfortable as well as being fully committed to preparing them for survival in a world that gets more complex by the minute.

April Dinwoodie

The most powerful ties are the ones to the people who gave us birth … it hardly seems to matter how many years have passed. – Anthony Brandt, writing about Blood Ties in Esquire.

It shouldn’t take a miracle to find people you are related to by blood. –Jenn Gentlesk

No matter how I feel about my family, it does not take away the trauma from pre-birth/birth/relinquishment. From what I understand better now; this is part of who I am. I can’t go back and unring the adoption bell. – Hilary Shafran Snow

I. Am. Grateful. I. Am. Adopted. Every. Day. I am grateful I was one of the lucky adoptees that landed in a family that FEELS like home. It FEELS like I am exactly where I should be. I’ve always said that God is wise, and He placed me with the family I needed to be with. But as I get older, I also realize that I am exactly who my family needed.  What I am NOT grateful for is the baggage that comes with adoption.  – Hilary Shafran Snow

There is…nothing to suggest that mothering cannot be shared by several people. H. R. Schaffer

You can’t erase a child or young person’s DNA or culture and replace what was there with what feels better or comfortable for you. Foster parent’s first need to recognize that these differences matter and how they are navigated can make all the difference in service to the emotional, phycological and physical safety of children and young people. – Shavonn Smith

What we have long known about adoption is that when we don’t understand something fully and would rather look away from the hard parts, we leave children, especially those with complicated family structures with very few soft places to land.

April Dinwoodie

Every child has the right to know and be cared for by his or her own parents as far as possible. Families needing support to care for their children [should] receive it. – Articles 7 and 18, Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations September 2, 1990

I can’t think of any other human experience where the most complicated parts of our individual and collective existence live, breathe, and collide than adoption and foster care.  – April Dinwoodie

When I was a child, I loved being adopted. I liked announcing it, seeing how it made me special, unknown, different. Those very things would feel crippling decades later as I found they kept me from being able to connect with other people in ways that felt safe. I was special, unknown, different.  –Anne Heffron

One signature changed our lives. One flick of the pen. One second for the ink to dry and I was no longer yours, you no longer mine.

Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

The Beatles must have been thinking of me and other adoptees when they sang, “I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello” because those could have been my words to my mother on my first day as I was carried from the birthing room to the nursey and away from her forever. If my mother and The Beatles can leave me, you can leave me too. I expect it of you and everyone else I love.  – Tim Treweek

If my parents are my (adoptive) parents and the people who created me are my (biological) parents, I don’t have what is considered normal for a person in this world: parents.  – Anne Heffron

Adoption is complex. Adoptees are often expected to feel grateful for their placement, and folks tend to get defensive and uncomfortable when we express “negative” feelings about our experience. Claire Hudson, Project Daw

So be happy, sad, angry, frustrated, elated, joyous, isolated. You choose how you feel about your adoption journey. ⠀ Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

NEVER speak ill of your child’s first family. Their choices may look different than your own, and I am sure there can be truly horrific circumstances, but they are still your child’s blood. Focusing on the negative aspects of their family of origin will only further divide you. Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

Come to terms with the fact that there are uncomfortable parts of adoption and foster care, and shedding light on that doesn’t make us negative or angry—it makes us honest.

Mark Kuligowski

I do not believe that the current distribution of power in the adoption triad is equal. I believe that until adoptee and birthparent rights are placed at the center of the narrative, we cannot operate in the triad as equals. ⠀ Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

The fact that the public with throw money at hopeful adoptive parents, yet turn a blind eye to the needs of expectant mothers and adoptees is disturbing.  Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

Fearless love is what is needed in adoption, and I have seen it in this community. There is space for all of us in adoption.  Our hearts are big enough and strong enough to walk through this together.

Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

We are expected to ask the hard questions, and give others the space to answer. I know I speak for many adult adoptees when we say ENOUGH. Enough to the secrets, the lies, the expectations. We are here and we are doing the work and showing up. Are you able to say the same? Are you stepping into situations that make you uncomfortable? Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

If more preventative services such as housing vouchers, drug addiction classes, extra parental help, etc. were available, less children would have to enter the foster care system. These types of things will help keep families together instead of having to undergo separation and grief. Strengthening families is the key to a successful living – not tearing them apart.  Former Foster Youth

I found a family that I embraced and felt the most comfortable with at work. One of my managers claimed me as her daughter. She is willing to be there for me through good times and bad. She is my biggest support. She constantly tells me she loves me and that she is proud of me and all my accomplishments. …I trust her to be there when I need her to be or to give me advice. Family is where you make it, not always a result of birth or assignment. – Former Foster Youth

Throughout my life I had heard horror stories of foster care. It was something I feared more than the situation I was in with my own family. The stigma of foster care scared me away from trying to reach safety. However, when I was 15, I decided it was time to get help. This ended up with me being placed into care with my siblings.

Former Foster Youth

I can both love my family and miss my connection to my biological mother. I can grieve the “what could have been”, while still recognizing everything I have BECAUSE I was adopted.  Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

Within the last two years I have grown closer to them (my birth family) and made the decision to move in with my mom. I realize that many people wouldn’t give up the opportunities that I “gave up” when I moved in with her. She was gone from my life for 11 years and every day I missed her. Though she wasn’t permanent in my life, she was a part of my heart and who I am.  – Former Foster Youth

When you have pain from a headache, you take medication.  When you have pain from a broken bone, you go to see a doctor.  But what do you do when your pain is caused by sibling separation? Where do you go? – Former Foster Youth

I had hoped my siblings and I could remain in the same home, but in order for us to succeed, we had to separate. Currently we choose to communicate on our own time and we choose to limit the amount of time we spend together. In some cases this is the most beneficial way for siblings to love each other in the safest way possible. I love my siblings and I choose to continue to hold them in my heart, but I’ve come to the conclusion we grow best when we are apart.  Foster Youth

If you are feeling hopeless because of a failed adoption or foster placement, do not give up!  Find your voice and advocate for yourself. You will quickly find others who want to support you. 

Yeshi Vaughan

Sometimes life gives you a bad hand. With your cards already dealt, there’s nothing else to do but take a seat and play the game.  Dameon, Former Foster Youth

We should be so successful in helping youth build their permanent connections, that a young person feels supportive outside of their legal permanency outcome. – David Hall

From a personal perspective, I find that permanency is not materialistic, but rather purely emotional. For myself, I believe that permanency is feeling welcome and restored.  Former Foster Youth

Even though I knew my parents had made some mistakes that were inexcusable, they also were victims of oppression in other areas of life that my foster parents wouldn’t acknowledge.  Former Foster Youth

As a foster parent, it is important to meet the youth where they are at. They come with their prior experiences – both good and bad.   Former Foster Youth

Although being a foster parent may seem like a very challenging “job”, it comes with “rewards”. You get to provide a youth with a what is a stable life. You get to be the individual who can make a difference in this youth’s life. You get to be the person the youth turns to when they need support. You get to be the individual the youth thanks for contributing to their success. All in all, you get to be the parent the youth never had. Therefore, being a foster parent is challenging, but worth the effort if you treat the youth well.  Former Foster Youth

We need foster parents, and we need good foster parents. Every single new, good foster parent has more than enough power to make a positive change that a youth will carry with them for the rest of their life. In some cases, it’s a positive change that will save their life. The best thing about this is that there are no requirements to be a great foster parent other than being a responsible, caring adult with a passion for helping youth.

Former Foster Youth

Because of low expectations that society has for foster youth, restrictions strain their ability to live a typical life. For example, the stigma that foster youth are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system may concern people and are less likely to give them “benefit of the doubt”. Or because we are often labeled with bad behavior problems, adults are more likely to just give up on us.  Former Foster Youth

There is so much loss wrapped up in adoption that it is unfair to ask a child to be thankful. —Brooke Randolph

For those non adoptees reading this: most of us are fighting battles you will never have the privilege of knowing. We will nod when you tell us we are lucky, and we will smile when you tell us how blessed we are. Inside we are screaming for you to understand. We will only share the joy and not our pain out of fear of rejection. We have so much to lose by sharing ourselves with you.  Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

When no physical contact exists, adoptees will find a way to connect. For me, it’s my dreams. I can go there and be with her (my birth mother). My hope is that when I am yearning and feeling that deep connection with her, that she is somewhere feeling it too, and maybe we are both having the same dream. ⠀ Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

As an adoptee we are all aware of the duality of our lives, always wondering about the you that never was.  The vanishing twin that was lost at birth before you went on to become the chosen one, the special child.

Jack Rocco

The siblings of anger are sadness and grief. So yes, I guess I am an “angry adoptee”, but does that preclude me from feeling love, joy, and happiness within my story? Can I be angry one day and happy the next day? ⠀Have you tried to hold a singular emotion for your lifetime? It’s impossible. ⠀ Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

Adoption has made me realize that all things in life come with a duality to them, and being cognizant of that fact has allowed me to enter into new phases of motherhood prepared to face what may come. I celebrate the DNA that makes them (my children) unique, but I also celebrate the delicate tapestry that was woven for them through adoption. Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

As a child being raised in the system that’s supposed to be temporary, I always dreamed of finding a family that would love me. Instead, I spent two decades in foster care, eventually aging out.  – Former Foster Youth

Adoption starts and ends with trauma. No “perfect” adoptive family can fix that. What you can do is learn from us. Talk to your child, talk to a therapist, take education courses that are not taught or developed by adoption professionals, but instead feature birthparent and adoptee voices, or trusted adoptive parent voices.

Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

As foster parents, you’re leaving a mark on this child’s life, and the impact you have on them can make or break them.  Jessica Determan

The birth family constitutes the preferred means of providing family life for children. – Child Welfare League of America, Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services

Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful. – The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE

Preserve the birth family whenever possible. Adoption professionals should take care to explore and offer adoption alternatives to expectant parents considering adoption for an unborn child and to parents whose children have been involuntarily removed from them through the judicial process. Expectant parents should be taught about the worth they have to their children. … Every attempt should be made to preserve the family of origin, and when family preservation is not possible, to safely place the child in the extended family. – Adoption Social Worker L. Anne Babb, Ethics in American Adoption

Every society, including our own, accepts that it is generally in the best interests of children to be raised by their biological parents unless they cannot or do not wish to do so. – Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents

We can fund wars and build bombs, but we cannot empower mothers to keep and care for their children? – Jennifer Lauck

In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness. – Alex Haley

Until I hold my original birth certificate in my own hands, I can only be sure of whom I am not, not of who I am.- Robert Wilson Harrington McCullough

He who can reach a child’s heart can reach the worlds heart. – Rudyard Kipling

Somehow destiny comes into play. These children end up with you and you end up with them. It’s something quite magical. – Nicole Kidman, adoptive mother

When sharing photos of adoptees, it is important to remember to protect their story. I am not saying “don’t share”, but I am saying to be responsible and only share as it relates to YOUR story. Do not share specific information about their birth family, medical history, mental health, etc.  Claire Hudson, Project Dawn

Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year.

United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003

To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. – Cicero

Almost everyone believes that at some level birthmothers make a choice to give their babies away. …Adoption is rarely about mothers’ choices; it is, instead, about the abject choicelessness of some resourceless women. Rickie Solinger, Beggars and Choosers

Nothing that you have not given away will ever truly be yours. – C.S. Lewis

Making the decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. -Ellen Cantarow

The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears. – Ellen Goodman

Your children need your presence more than your presents. – Jesse Jackson, Adoptee

It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. –Joyce Maynard

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings. – Hodding Carter, Jr.

Foster care is not forever. Children and youth can and do return home to their families. In fact, this is the most common outcome.

It’s not what you leave to your children, it’s what you leave in your children. –Shannon L. Alder

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. – Forest E. Witcraft

My love for my birth parents in no way takes away love from my parents. It’s not a pie. —Jeanne Modderman

Who we are and who we come from matter, raising a healthy adoptee is possible but you must be willing to embrace the entirety of their story, even the parts that challenge your deepest insecurities.

Rebecca Dolan, adoptee

If I do not teach my sons to celebrate and rejoice who they are — strong. smart. handsome. important. black. — they will be at even greater risk of believing the many lies that say it is just too hard to stand up or stand out. They may fall victim to the narrative that tries to imply that they are somehow less than. —Christina Causey, adoptee and adoptive mom

Don’t try to silence me or my thoughts on being adopted. I have a voice and everything I say is truth and valid. I been through it, therefore, I know. This is my story.  —I Am Adopted

We might not share DNA, but we do share soul. —Lauren Meely, adoptee

Even if they show interest in meeting their birth parents as they grow up, you will always be mom and dad. —Taylor Walker, adoptee

All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

Helen Keller

The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. – Morrie Schwartz

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. – Angela Schindt

I am a living testament you can be adopted and successful. – Daunte Culpepper, Adoptee

A Lifebook affirms the fact that everyone is entitled to his own history and confirms who he is, and provides a sense of full identity. A Lifebook provides tangible evidence to an adopted child of his continued existence. – Mary Hopkins-Best

However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle. – Valerie Harper

Being a parent wasn’t just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life. -Jodi Picoult

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. -Richard Bach

Little souls find their way to you, whether they’re from your womb or someone else’s. – Sheryl Crow

We should not be asking who this child belongs to, but who belongs to this child.

James L. Gritter

They may not have my eyes, they may not have my smile, but they have all my heart. -unknown

Families don’t have to match. You don’t have to look like someone else to love them. -Leigh Anne Tuohy

Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it. – Fleur Conkling Heyliger

Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love. – Amalia G.

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. – Desmond Tutu

Adoption is a beautiful, burdensome blessing.

Jody Cantrell Dyer

Destiny is not always preordained. Life is about making choices. Our lives are the sum of all the choices we make, the bridges we cross, and the ones we burn. Our souls cast long shadows over many people, even after we are gone. Fate, luck, and providence are the consequence of our freedom of choice, not the determinants. When justice is served by following our principles, making good decisions brings us inner peace. ― Judith Land

A birthmother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart. — Skye Hardwick

The hardest decisions we make are often the best decisions we make. It just takes a little while to feel their benefits. But, just like flower seeds in the soil, they show themselves at the right time.— Butterflies and Pebbles

Adoption isn’t a birthmother’s rejection but an unconditional love that inspires her to put herself last and do all she can for her baby. — Mary Hines, Birthmother

Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now seems so obvious in hindsight.

Judy Belmont

If you love someone unconditionally and with your whole heart, then you will do what is best for them not you. — Talitha

Finding my birth family was the single most important moment of my entire life, it was (as) if I’d been holding my breath my entire life and for the first time I could let it out. My ability to be a healthy adult depended on the chance to sit in a room with people who look like me and to feel truly known for the first time in my entire life. —Rebecca Dolan, adoptee

Some share the same blood that pumps through one’s veins, but that does not make them family. It is the union of self-sacrificial love, willing to die for one another. That is the definition of true family. —Jesse Genualdi, adoptee

Don’t tell us we’re lucky, tell us it’s okay that we’re sad, tell us that missing people we don’t know is okay and that loving two moms is safe to say out loud. Tell us that home can be a place we start and a place we end up.

Rebecca Dolan, adoptee

Children and mothers never truly part, bound together by the beating of one another’s heart. — Charlotte Gray

To attain to a place of acceptance of an adoption decision is an honorable goal, but often an arduous journey. — Sandra Cantrell

He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.

Desha Woodall

Adoption carries the added dimension of connection not only to your own tribe but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties, and family. It is the larger embrace. -Isabella Rossellini

There are times when the adoption process is exhausting and painful and makes you want to scream. But, I am told, so does childbirth. -Scott Simon

Every child deserves a home and love. Period.

Dave Thomas

My birth mother brought me into this world, but it was my adoptive parents who gave me life. -Christina Romo

By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better. -Richard Fischer

Adoption is not about finding children for families, it’s about finding families for children.

Dr Joyce Maguire Pavao

Adoption comes from the heart, but the adoption process comes from the Law. You should follow your heart, but be sure you also follow the law. -Irina O’Rear

Children and mothers never truly part, bound together by the beating of one another’s heart. -Charlotte Gray

*I have done my best to accurately quote and link the source, if I missed something please let me know so I can fix it asap.

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I just browsed through a long list of adoption and foster care quotes and found it really insightful. Check it out!

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