Helping My Adopted Child Cope With The Death Of A Birth Parent


A Guest Blog from a Fellow Foster- Adoptive Mom

Hi, my name is Linda, and I have one son that my husband and I adopted out of foster care. Chris is now 30 years old. He came to us at just over the age of 2 and has never lived with anyone else. He was the child of parents who were both drug and alcohol addicted. He does have problems due to the addictions of his birth parents. Chris is ours in every way except biologically. He has had emotional difficulties from the time he was only 3 years of age. Life for him as well as for us has not been easy, but he is loved, and he loves us in return.

A couple of months ago our family got the news that my son’s biological father had passed away. While it really would not have been a big deal to me, it did affect my son.

Chris last saw his birth father when Chris was about 3 or 4. The visit only lasted a couple of hours.

The news of his father’s death has been one of the harder things that we have had to deal with in quite some time. Chris really didn’t know how he was supposed to feel.

“The news of his father’s death has been one of the harder things that we have had to deal with in quite some time.”

Caitlyn-Jenner-An-Adoptee-Could-Feel-Like-That-pinterest  to-the-end-of-june-book-review-transfiguring-adoption-pinterest

My husband and I have let him talk about his birth father. Chris seems to have feelings of anger as well as sorrow I believe. He wanted to talk about how horrible his birth father was. Even though his father did think more of the drugs and alcohol than his children, I do believe that he had some love for them.

I have tried to tell Chris that no matter what his father had done, at least his father chose to give Chris life. There will always be a part of the man within my son, and if my son were to choose hatred toward his father, then Chris would really end up hating a part of himself.

There has been a positive in all this because Chris met a half sister whom he never knew about. She has become a small part of our lives at this point. I think that getting to know Krista is giving Chris a chance to come to terms with his loss.

This loss will probably continue to be an issue for our son for quite some time.

As his mother, it is my job to let him talk about it but also to let him know that he has value as a human. His father was far from perfect, but he still gave life to Chris. I have to respect this man because he did give my husband and myself a wonderful child. He has problems and will continue to have problems, but he is still our son and is loved dearly.

“As his mother, it is my job to let him talk about it but also to let him know that he has value as a human.”

Questions for Your Family:

  1. Has anyone in your child’s family of origin died?
  2. How have you dealt with deaths in your child’s birth family?


Written by
Linda is a foster-adoptive mom. She resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband.

What do you think?

0 0


  1. I am currently dealing with this. My daughters birth mother died yesterday and she is only three and a half. She knows her mom and has visited with her, and I don’t know what to do. I am heartbroken because I have known her mother for year, and because I know when my daughter is old enough to understand she will be heartbroken. My condolences to your family, and if you have any insight on how to help a child get through such a devastating loss, please share if you will. Thank you.

  2. I think you may need to keep pictures of her and her mom if you have any. Maybe write a letter concerning the relationship that they shared along with how much you cared for her birth mother. I don’t know if there will an obituary in the paper but if so cut it out for her. If she has older siblings let her spend time with them so they can talk.
    Chris last saw his birth mom when he was about 10. I kept what few pictures we have and have encouraged him to know his birth sibs.
    You will be in my prayers. I know that you love your daughter very much. Always let her know that she had two moms and that she was loved by both.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and insight. I have collected about 50 photos of her mom and her service will be held on Monday so I will be sure and save her obituary and to let her know she was loved by both of her mommys. Her birth mom loved her so much and she will always know that. Again, thank you so much.

  3. You are welcome. I know you hurt for your daughter. I have always told my son that his birth parents loved him. They were just not able to raise him.

  4. I dont’t know what to do my daughter is 12 na d she dose not remember any thing but two memories under the age of 8 and here birth mother has always had a bad heart and we just got the news there is a VERY rare chance of her living through the night…

    • Chris really has no memories of his birth father at all. He last saw the father when he was about 4. The visit didn’t go well. Apparently there was a lot of cussing going on.
      He last saw his birth mother as a good bye visit about a year before the adoption was final.
      I have a few pictures if her but all the children have lost touch as far as I know.
      You will need to let your daughter know what is going on and I know it went be ready for her or you either.
      She is going to have questions and I would be as honest as possible with the answers you give.
      In our case there were drug and alcohol addictions even whilethe mother was pregnant. And his birth father did quite a bit of jail time. I don’t know all that went on but neither was able to straighten out their lives until after they lost custody.
      Even with all that they didn’t abort. And while they were not able to care for the children I give them credit for that.
      If you are a believer i would suggest that you pray for your daughter and her birth mother. Also pray with her.
      When she passes I would give her the chance to attend the funeral if possible. If not to let her get a copy of the obit.
      In our case there was no funeral however we were able to connect with a sister and brother that he never knew.
      I wish the best for both you and your daughter and I will be in prayer for yoyu.

  5. Right now I am the BIRTH mother of a 10 yr old boy who is being taken by the system and put into forced foster care. I have cancer and if one of you long timers who take care of kids for money get a hold of my child you might be entertaining the fun conversation of my death to my child. It is much more important than your silly little story. You really need to look at a much more serious side of this for these poor children who secretly waited till they were 18 to reunited only to find out that a parent died and no one thought enough of the child to take them to the funeral of the very special BIRTH mother. Think about it and at least ask or consider it when appropriate. It is not a game to them.

  6. Just wanted to say one other thing about “Death Of A Birth Parent”. The BIRTH parent is dead or dying and I feel it is very disrespectful of you to be slamming their memory in the follow up comments. There is no place at this time to be discussing their errors in life that may or may not be true. Not only that it is probably confidential information. Trust me their are a lot of lies that the social workers tell in court to get the children out of our arms and you are not there to see or experience it. Don’t say in one breath yes they died and I don’t know how to share or honor them to these special children. Share with them every thing and all the things they deserve. Never talk smack about them and about their death in the same conversations to anyone. Please it really it not the honorable thing to do. Funerals are a time for grieving and discussing life and death. Take pictures at the grave sites or what ever. Please the parents still loved their children no matter what they did in life. Thank you.

    • Hi do you think the adopted parents should attend the funeral – i just want to be left alone? Im already 18 and my biological mother died. I havent talked to her in years. I am confused about my own feelings. I do regret not saying happy mother’s day to her ( in my country on was on a sunday , she passed away 3 days after). Any advice please

  7. I am the one who posted the original blog. I am very sorry for both the loss of your son as well as your terminal illness. However I think that you may be assuming that people go into foster adoptive care for money reasons and that really isn’t true in any cases that I know of.

    We love theses children. No we didn’t give birth to them but they are still our children as well as yours. I took my son to the visits with his birth parents. Some were good and some were not. I didn’t need the workers to tell me what was going on because I was the one to see how the children reacted. I was the one to deal with the pain when the birth parent choose not to visit.

    I was also the one to encourage my son to love his birth parents.
    I didn’t know where the birth father was until after his death. I would have encouraged my son to visit him and to attend the funeral had I known. But by that point it was too late.

    I don’t know why your son has been removed and I am really sorry that you are going through this. But I don’t think anyone who posted has been unkind at all.
    We want what is best for our children. And by our children I am including both the birth parents and adoptive foster parents.

    Please don’t be angry with us about this. Be angry with the system. I hope that you are able to continue to have a relationship with your son. But please try to understand that his caregivers did not put him there.

  8. Hey I came across this whilst looking to see if anyone had experienced anything similar. My name is Tom, I am 22, I was put in care at 7 and adopted at 9, I grew up with my birth mum and remember some of the times, they were not all good memories but growing up I loved her as it was all I knew. My adopted mother is amazing and I would not swap her for anyone or go back. My birth mum was troubled with drug addictions and alcohol abuse, and I believe she was abused by a family member at a young age, she had my sister first aged 19 I believe and soon became addicted to drugs. Despite the poor upbringing part of me always wanted to see her again, and let her see the people (her kids) we became. Recently we found out she had passed away form a lung disease caused by smoking and drugs aged just 41. My heart broke. If someone had told me that I would never see her again, I dont think it would have affected me too much, but I’d wonder where she was or what she’d be doing, the fact I know she’s gone will forever hurt me knowing I couldn’t help her or see her and find out some answers. The positive from this though is that I have made an effort to contact my dad (they split up when I was young) and he has a whole family, with aunts, uncles and cousins for me as well as a half brother which I don’t think I’d have contacted without the passing. It made me realise how short life is. What I will say though is that you seem to have done a fantastic job, your son will always love you, you will always be his mother. However, at least for me, it’s painful because we are mourning what could have been, we are mourning that the opportunity to build bridges, a relationship or just get a few answers has been taken away. In time I’m sure things will settle. Recently I have felt alone. It seemed for me that, although people close were supportive of the passing, they all seemed to forget and move on very, very quickly, which is hard because I am still struggling, yet after a weekey people stopped asking or taking about it and continued as normal. All I would say for anyone is, make sure they’re really okay. It’s okay for us to miss them or wonder what life would be like if they were still here or we wasn’t adopted etc. This does not mean we don’t love what you have done for Us. My adoptive mum will always be my mum she’s done more for me than anyone ever could and I love her unconditionally, but I think that we just need time to let things heal, make sure there is plenty of love and let them know you’re there for them. Keep any photos, or mementos and this deifitley helps me I have one photo of us together which I will cherish forever. She was a pretty bad mother in some respects but I know she loved us, and I’m sure if she was still here and wasn’t affected by drugs, she would be proud. She gave birth to 6 kids who I will do my best to keep in touch with when they’re old enough. Thank you and good luck. Tom.

  9. Thank you for responding. I understand that you are both grieving for your birth mother as well as grieving the life that could have been had.
    It has been 2 years for my son and I can still see the hurt that he has.
    He and you both have the right to feel this loss. I hope you are able to share those feelings with your adopted mother. I have tried to allow that with me son. I also hope that your adopted mom can accept your biological family as part of her family as well. Chris has several cousins and they do know where he is. He also has found one uncle and they are all a part of him. That makes them my family as well.
    My thoughts are with you and your family.

    • Hi…my name is Dominique and im currently 26..I was also born addicted like your son weighing 1lb 8oz. i was raised until amost 2 by my maternal aunt, then until 9 by my paternal grandparents, and then adopted my my paternal aunt and uncle at 10..i only met my birth mother once when i was 21, her drug addiction made it hard to keep a healthy relationship but i tried until i was 24 via phone and text. She went missing and im my heart i feel as though she probably passed away..she was very sick. My biological father lived with me until 6, he was also affected by drugs and alcohol.

      I believe and have devoted my life to studying that addiction is a disease cause ny severe emotional trauma, and lack of support specifically familial.

      My birth parents were good people. My father passed away a month ago, and my heart is broken. A part of me has once again been lost. I love be my aunt and uncle, but the emotional connection and mirroring and innerstanding i got from my birth father, i always felt was missing my my adoptive parents.

      I advocate for adoptees to realize the bond they lost, and being able to recognize and process the person they couldve been and who they are. I also advocate for ipen communication, that adoptees need to be able to feel they can speak without restrain and fear of hurting the adoptive parents feelings and being ashamed of these feelings.

      The attachment loss of the biological mother and father is huge and widely misunderstood. My heart aches father who was not understood even by his own sister and father..isolated and alone.

      We as children arent possesions and thats how i felt..always in the not sure why im writing this honestly..i just know i miss my dad…and i know he really saw me..and i really saw him in a way no one else could

  10. My name is Stephanie and I was adopted. I am 35 years old and I met my birth father 9 years ago. When I was given up (at birth) my father was an alcoholic and ended up in prison. Over the last ten years has cleaned up completely. Not a drop of anything. He was a devout grandfather to his other children’s children, and had developed a strong relationship with me. From my perspective when he died (this morning) I have been very confused, almost numb. I don’t know what to feel and my emotions are ranging from angry to sad and guilty. It is confusing to know how to feel about it. I love my adoptive father as my dad, he is my rock but it is confusing to know how to feel about the death of your birth father. Every situation is different but I know that noone can help me figure this out, they can just be an ear, a calming voice, and a strength even when I think don’t need it. You are doing the right thing just being there for him. He has to sort through these emotions on his own. Sadly there is no rule book or guide book for us, we have to try to understand where we are with it.

  11. And now its my turn. My kids birth Dad died today and I will have to tell them in the morning. We had a very close relationship and one of the kids was parented on and off by him, so this will be especially hard for her. They are 10 and 6. Luckily we spent a day with him at a local fair just 10 days ago. So they have a great last memory of him. It was a good day. Tomorrow will not be a good day and I am struggling with how to best break the news. I can tell them and hug them and cry with them….and then what….this is going to be so, so hard. He had very little family in our part of the country so I will likely be the one to make many of the arrangements. So the kids will be part of any service that is held. To help them find a way to say good bye. I know this is an old post, but when looking for advice on the death of a birth parent – there isn’t much that comes up…so I hope by sharing my story here, more people can be helped by reading it in the future and knowing they are not alone. Others like the original poster, those who have replied, and myself have experienced some form of this profound loss. My heart aches for all these kids.

    • Sara, you probably won’t see this because it’s been a year since your post. But I’m trying to figure out what to do myself. My two little girls are adopted and they never met either bio-parent. The just turned 6 last week. I saw on Facebook tonight that their bio-dad has kidney cancer. I have always hoped that he and their bio-mom would get cleaned up and become safe people so that our girls could meet them, maybe when they are late teens? But if he passes away before then they will never get the chance. The entire extended bio family has some issues so I don’t want to breach our privacy and safety, but I know that one day the girls will ask about them and I don’t want them to lose the opportunity to meet. Maybe I will just go alone and take some videos of the girls to show him and have him record something for them to see when they get older?

      • Steven. It is encouraging to hear that you want your girls to have a connection with their birth family. This is not an uncommon issue to wrestle with. Transfiguring Adoption has a private Facebook group made up of other parents and professionals. This would be a great place to pick other parents’ minds and get some suggestions/advice.
        Follow the link here:

Comments are now closed for this post.

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.