Save the shock and surprise

I want to discuss something I've not experienced in the way some adopted people have. In fact, it completely boggles my mind that it even happens in the way it's described. To me it seems it should be a classic "put yourself in their shoes" type of situation. If the people doing the judging or questioning would honestly try and picture themselves as adopted, seems to me it's a no brainer.

Adopted people could very well be interested in searching for their biological people.

Doesn't seem that shocking to me. Is that because I'm adopted? I don't think so. My mom, who has said things from time to time regarding searching that I've shaken my head at, has said herself if she were adopted she knows for a fact she'd search. She even said this to me when I hadn't yet (and felt no desire to) searched. Now, this isn't to say she didn't have or attempt to hide feelings of insecurity regarding my sister's and my biological families. To this day she says things like, "well, it's the way she went about searching" or "you exchanged a letter with your biological mother and didn't tell me?!". When it comes down to it, my amateur assessment of this conflicting behavior is based in her personality and her lack of confidence in her role as mom not in an inability to understand and relate to the desire to search.

This brings me to the characters that don't get searching at all. Who are these people? Now, I'm not saying I don't understand adopted people who don't search. I do get that because I was that for a time in my life. I'm talking about people, adopted or not, that supposedly exist and say things like, "why would you want to do that to your real parents?" or "how could you want to look for people that abandoned you?". Just writing it has me rubbing my eyes thinking REALLY? To the best of my memory this has never happened to me so it's just so bizarre and foreign that every time I see another adopted person write it I'm floored.

What is so hard to understand? A person is born. They are raised by a family that isn't biologically related. Good, bad, or indifferent that adopted family isn't biologically related. The desire to know why a person was adopted may be one adoptee thing that's universal. For some, I imagine, having reliable/credible documents that relay the story would be more than enough. For some, maybe a picture or two included may be more than enough. But for many others, obviously, it's not enough. They want to meet their biological family. They need to see and talk to people who may look or walk or talk like them and I refuse to believe there's a single person who, down deep, can't understand that. They themselves may feel they'd never want to or want to bother to, but they're being dishonest to say that can't see why someone else would.

If you know someone who's adopted who's searching or talking about searching, whether as family or just as a friend or an acquaintance, save the shock and surprise. If you're a parent, expect it. If your expectation is realized, support it. Prepare yourself and check your ego. Parent from the beginning in a manner that you can be confident in, in a manner that's honest and open. Establish a relationship with your child that makes them feel safe to talk to you. Let them know that you'll support whatever approach they take in searching. If it doesn't include you, get over it! Let your kids know that you'll be there for them no matter what they find, that your love for them isn't conditional. That it's not their responsibility to protect your role as parent, to worry about your fragile ego.

We all know that an adoptive parent will never be the biological parent but it's the same in reverse. What we are to another human being whether it be a parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, friend, teacher, or lover cannot be threatened if what we are is real and good.


  1. I don't get that either. We hired a searcher to find S's family in Russia because we couldn't imagine she wouldn't want to search someday. To be honest, even if she never has any desire to search, I am glad we did it b/c I wanted to know her history as well. It was kind of weird not knowing anything about her family. Plus her children may want to know even if she does not. I hate the thought of her having no known past.

  2. Good post...I think it is something people who are not there do not get.

  3. Campbell, I would like to link this to the EDU Blog I started. There has to be input and reality from all angles. Please let me know.

  4. Kris, that's awesome really. I bet she'll be "grateful" one day that you did that ; )

    I know I would be!

  5. My mom was always curious about who her biological parents were, just not enough to move her to search until she was in her early 50s. She always said "I was just busy living my life." I think there's a difference betwen not wanting to 9at all) and not being ready to (right now) and sometimes I think people confuse the two.

    As the mother of an adopted child I do hope my son will search sooner rather than later but that will be his choice to make. Should he decide to search he will still always have my unconditional love and support.

  6. I like you. Let's be friends.

    Also, hells yeah, if I were adopted I would sure as hell wanna know about my biological family. Or, at least the me that is me would - maybe it would be different if I didn't know my biological family (which is a pretty rockin' family, if I do say so myself). But it is only human and natural to wonder where you came from, and to want to feel some connection to it. That's where religion comes from. And science. We as a race are obsessed with knowing where we came from - it's only natural that we as individuals would be as well. I can't imagine that there are people out there who think that's weird! Well, you learn something new every day.

  7. Haha Lia, you make me laugh sometimes : )

    I like you too and will keep checking up on you on your blog. I'm impressed with the care you're taking in your pregnancy. Kids are so innocent and important and deserve the best we can give them from day one. Hang in there!

  8. The more I've done work in my state to give an adopted person legal entitlement to knowledge of their lives pre-adoption, the more I've come across people who think it is weird.

    I've lost count of how many times we've been called stalkers, misguidedly curious, "just go on and be grateful you weren't aborted or put in a dumpster," or "she gave you up for a reason, she didn't want you, why would she want to talk to you now?"

    And people don't just make those comments about reunion, they make them about OBC access legislation too.

    People can be very, very mean. Legally in most states, the original family ceases to exist once the adoption takes place. My parents were very reserved about my searching and my a-mom felt like I was out there looking for a new mom. I had a-family member reminding me that during my reunion I should be sensitive to my a-fam.

    I don't recall anyone reminding anyone to be sensitive to me, the adoptee, whose destiny was orchestrated on my behalf and is just trying to work with what I got.

    I'm glad you've never encountered it Campbell. It sucks. But I've heard the "what's wrong with you?" so ofen from the nay-sayers doing the whole adoptee rights things I am used to it now lol.

  9. "I don't recall anyone reminding anyone to be sensitive to me, the adoptee, whose destiny was orchestrated on my behalf and is just trying to work with what I got."

    Well Amanda, your memory is short since you've left your comment on a post intended to do just that, remind people that it's completely normal and expected for adopted people to want to know.

  10. "I'm glad you've never encountered it Campbell. It sucks"

    I've encountered it, from the first mother side of things.
    But far less than I've encountered sympathy, understanding and support.
    Sometimes I've needed to work a little convince about the right to know, but have usually succeeded.

    I think a lot depends on how you put it and who you are talking to.

    Just sayin'

  11. Thanks for your story. I found this short video that tells a beautiful story featuring a woman who grew up in the 60s and late 70s as an adopted daughter. her parents didn't handle it well, but there truly is a happy ending. Check it out if you'd like:


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