A question for adoptees or those "who know one"

Just read how it is common occurrence for adoptees to wait until their adoptive parents die before they search for their biological people, their biological identity. I am aware this happens, even "know some" adoptees who did. They're all *ahem* much older than me of course.

Neither my sister or I waited for our adoptive parents to be dead. Most adopted people who have blogs that I read did not wait until their parents were dead. They discuss the issues involving their adoptive parents that come with searching and reunion, things like guilt and pressure, parental insecurity.

Many blogging mothers who relinquished talk about having issues with their child's adoptive parents. That wouldn't happen if the adoptive parents were dead.

It brings me to my question, well, questions.

Did you wait until your adoptive parents were dead before searching for your biological people?

If you're a mom who has a child who was adopted, did your child wait until their adoptive parents were dead before searching?

Hey, if you're an adoptive parent and you're searching on behalf of your child, it means you're not dead! Feel free to chime in as well.


  1. Adoptive parent here - I hired a searcher to find my daughter's family. I am not dead yet!!!

  2. I was given my mother's name by my afather and a few details in the years before the law changed here.I knew another adoptee who had 'acquired' their details from the Registry, say no more, lets just say their name might have been Julian! I went through that adoptee to the same source and was given mine.Then the law changed and I registered to make it known I wanted contact.My mother did the same at the same time!Given that my search had been stalled by a rather large red herring it was amazing the synchronicity!
    Reunion therefore happened after my aparents were dead, but could have happened before.Given that my aparents rejected me steadily and consistently as I got older, the information was given to me in a rejecting way so I would have had no problems with reunion.
    Had I read Evelyn Burns Robinson on reunion before mine, I would have done it differently despite having worked with others in reunion.We live and learn!I firmly believe we need to prepare carefully, to take it slowly and try not to have expectations and dreams of a perfect outcome.
    I strongly believe it is the adoptee's perogative to search not the adopters to take control of that part of the adoption story.it can be a control, insecurity issue and needs careful handling.

  3. Wow! I can't answer, but that seems like such a long time to wait. What if they wait to find their bio parents and find out their bio parents have died too? I'd be heartbroken. I think if you adopt a child, you should know the day will come when that child will want to find their birth family.

  4. My son's parents are both alive, and were aware that he had searched for me. Thankfully our relationship is not one that he has to keep from his parents!

  5. Well, I'm not waiting till I'm dead either! Wonder today how prevalent waiting till the a-parents are gone is; perhaps our blogosphere is not a good indicator of how common this might be. I suspect it isn't and there are a number of people out there stewing in silence figuring they're letting the side down. Such a shame, and so unfair, for all concerned.

  6. Not me. But I did feel like I had to have their approval before searching. The whole guilt and loyalty thing, like you said.

    I am part of the other common group, the adoptees who searched "after experiencing a major life event." The birth of my son; holding the first biological relative I had ever known.

  7. ps. I do also know/know of some adoptees who have never told their parents they reunited and are afraid to tell them. One friend's parents made it very clear that if/when she did reunite, reunion discussion would not be welcome.

  8. I did not discuss my adoption search with my adoptive parents and I do know adoptees who are so grateful for the love and care, they do not plan to search until their adoptive parents are dead. I call this the gratitude attitude. If they wait, their natural parents may die, which is even more heartbreak. I met my natural father and just recently received my sealed adoption file which helped me understand my natural mother's reasons for giving me up for adoption. She is already dead. We never met. Reading my file was the greatest gift I have ever received. The truth can heal you in a profound way. I blog at www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com. There is so much to understand about adoption I wrote a memoir and studied adoption history for 5 years.

  9. I follow a blog by an adoptee who waited.

    I did not tell my parents I had registered on reunion registries yet my parents told all of us since we were little they would help us search if we wanted to. If I had reunited they would have been included.

    In the end it did not matter I got sick - doctors wanted history - I asked mom and she petitioned the courts...the company I hired found a grave...

  10. Aparent here to two daugthers adopted from China and yes, we are searching on their behalf (they are both under 5-years).

    I do feel it is the adoptee's right to search, but we are concerned that if we wait until they are older-- that any info (if there is any) that could lead to finding their first family might be lost.

    We have to weigh the risk of searching and them being angry that we did the searching against the risk of not searching and info being lost and them being angry that we didn't search.

    I know this topic is debated by adoptees and I have had two adoptees tell me that they wish their aparents had searched because by the time they were old enough it was too late.

  11. Another not-dead-yet a-parent. We plan to help search, not to control it, but because we figure WE adopted our kids, so part of parenting them well is helping them reunite with the first parents they didn't ask to leave behind, if they want to. (and they do.) Plus we'll be able to afford it long before they would be able to on their own, and that closes the time-gap others have already mentioned. We want to maximize the chances of finding their other parents, and finding them alive and well, and then being able to live their adult lives with whatever level of relationship they want with all their parents.

  12. I'm not searching. Has nothing to do with my mother still being alive. Just don't have any burning desire.

  13. I was a little confused about the controlling aparent comment. We searched because we had current information. My daughter was only 4 when we searched. We were concerned if she searched on her own as an adult, she may have difficulty finding them or they could be dead.

    As a parent, it is your responsibility to do what you think is best for your child, adopted or bio. I am glad we have some answers for our daughter as well as pictures. I don't see it as a control thing, but something we did because we thought it was best for her. Like many decisions in parenting, it is a judgement call. It will be up to her to decide if she wants to make contact and hopefully the information we have will make it easier if she does. How far she wants to take it will be up to her.

  14. Thanks all for commenting, hopefully more will too. Nice to have you comment here for the first times Broadsnark and Trace! I've been to both your blogs.

    I can't see where there's a comment about controlling aparent? Unless you all mean Von's last sentence way up at the top.

    "I strongly believe it is the adoptee's perogative to search not the adopters to take control of that part of the adoption story.it can be a control, insecurity issue and needs careful handling."

    Not sure she means parents like the ones who've commented here, who gather info for or search on behalf of their kids to have when they're are older or old enough or before everybody is dead. Then again, who knows? Maybe she does mean no adoptive parent should search. If so, I do not agree with that.

    I would have appreciated having the option of taking any info my parents had dug up, or not.

  15. Thanks so much for your comment on my post at the SKs Pregnancy and Baby blog.

    This is a very timely question. Well, I guess it has been timely for a few years. :) My husband and I have struggled mightily, trying to determine whether it is our place to search for our childrens' moms (or families).

    In the end, we have decided to hire searchers in January. We have never wanted to take that control away from them - the power to decide when (or if, although I doubt it would be an "if") to look for their parents.

    However, we also don't want to miss the "window." The areas where they were born in each of my childrens' respective countries are not big cities and are very...I don't know...poverty-stricken. Who know what could happen in the next, say, 15 years?

    To me, them feeling like I took some of their control by finding (I hope and pray) their families or at least moms is better than the possibility of them never having anything as far as information, beyond what is in their referral paperwork.

    (Honestly, my husband and I have debated/talked this one to the death.)

    My kids are two and three and I'm taking one of their choices from them. I know this. But it is what it is. As a parent, I have to do what I think is best for them at each stage in their lives. This is what I think is best. If we make a mistake, I will explain why we did what we did and that is all we can do. But to be perfectly honest, I'd rather make a mistake in searching than have nothing for them.

    And for the love, I never, EVER want them to wait until we're dead to do, feel, express, etc., anything. I hope not to die any time soon(!), and I don't want my kids going through life feeling like they can't be who they are or feel what they feel or do what they need to do. I'm a big girl. I made a decision. Short of them not wanting anything to do with me -- which would be one of the worst things I can imagine in my life and would render it pointless -- I can take anything. I can't think of anything that would offend me, nor can I think of anything off the top of my head that would "hurt" me that badly, but even if it did, IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!!!

  16. Thanks Laura

    There are adopted people who aren't interested in looking for and/or meeting their biological families and it should be their choice.

    What kind of choice is it though if there is no information or it's all been long lost by the time they make a decision one way or the other.

    I think adoptive parents gathering info on behalf of their children is a great thing as long as it remains the child's information do with whatever they want, whenever they want.

  17. I think that the concern re the parents and searching is that some parents want to control the reunion, i.e. here is the info and we will make contact and we will be at the meeting.

    YES I have seen it happen that way. That is where I would expect the objections come into play - especially when the adoptee is an adult and lives away from home.

  18. Controlling reunion, not allowed!

    Hard for mt to imagine an adult living away from home having their reunion controlled. How does that happen?

  19. I have no problem with adoptive parents searching when the child is young. It makes sense. Get all the information you can at the time of adoption, or as quickly thereafter as possible. Then when the child wants it, it is there. The bigger problem for adoptive parents today, especially those sympathetic enough to search, is seeing need and wounds and anxiety about adoption in their child that might not be there. It is a delicate balance, to give the adopted child the opportunity to express their real feelings about adoption, positive and negative, and expecting the child to follow a script from some book or theory on how "all" adoptees feel.

    I think that waiting for the adoptive parents to die is, well, dying out. The people I know who have done that are my generation or older, people in their 50s, 60s and up. Some younger adoptees may not tell their parents they have searched, but that is less common now as well.Adoptive parents who adopted in the 40s and 50s were clueless and their expectations about adoption and secrecy were different from most who adopted more recently. This was also the time when some adoptees were not told they were adopted, and became late discovery adoptees when they found out.

    I am a birthmother, not an adoptee or adoptive parent, so this is stuff I have observed, not personal experience. I did search when my son was very young though, largely through fear that the opportunity to find him would not present itself again when he was older.

  20. I waited until my adoptive parents were deceased before I searched. I knew they would not understand my reasons for searching and I didn't want to hurt them. I was in my early twenties when the died though.

  21. My mom did wait until her parents had passed before she looked. She's always had her adoption paperwork and the information necessary to do the search, she just never felt compelled to until after my grandmother passed. And then she waited close to 10 years, because she felt she would be searching for the wrong reasons (to replace her mother).

  22. Thanks Linda and cheryl

    I know it's hard to say Linda, but do you think if you'd not lost your parents so young it would have always been that way for you? They would never have understood?

    cheryl, I get your mom's thoughts on that. My sister questioned my motives as I got serious digging around after my dad and brother died, if I was trying to fill a void, if I was searching for good reason.

    I think it was really because I now I understand how fleeting life can be, how things can change in an instant.

  23. "Then when the child wants it, it is there."

    The real question is: How does an adoptive parent know when to give out info, and how can an adoptee know to ask for info they, well, don't know about?

  24. Campell I just posted a comment on a way old post of yours but its important I want your opinion before I talk to the producers of this other reunion show again. I turned down Find My Family on ABC because it felt wrong. anyway

    I actually do lots of surprise reunions for people who post on the adoption registries and for the surprise ones I do have to admit I look for people in a certain age group because the people that adopted them are likely dead so when I contact them on behalf of the mother father or sibling that happens to be looking, chances are they will react happily. I do this for fun so I like the happy reunions and there is like a mathematical formula I have for my "random" picks. I'd like it to be devine intervention, but it its not. I pick people whose children were born in the 60's and early 70's because the parents that raised them have likely passed away. In the reverse I stopped trying to surprise reunite adoptees who were born before 1950 because I found the mother once but the child who posted had died of a heart attack. Well as you can imagine THAT SUCKED. So I feel bad that I only surprise help those that happen to fit into age groups that yeild good results, but I can reunite a couple of people a week that way. I will still help anyone that asks no matter what their age is I will never turn anyone away. But the quick surprises are best for adoptees that no longer have the guilt of the adoptive mother or father to worry about.

  25. The adoptive parents can tell the adoptee they have the information and will share it when the adoptee wants it. It would not be a secret that the adoptive parents have the information.

  26. Well, in answer to your question, it boiled down to this:

    Why would someone who loved an adoptee "abandon" them?

    My adoptive parents had some pictures of me with my family. They did not tell me this. I did not find out until I was older, when I asked for it. I know why they held on to those pictures - because as a child, I was vehemently against the idea of another family "loving" me. I was given up, duh? Why would a family who "loved" me have abandoned me?

    So the child part of me thinks, well, screw them, they gave me up. They obviously didn't give a damn about me. You don't give up what you love!

    The adult part of me thinks, well maybe if I had been the pictures earlier, it might have changed the way I felt towards my heritage.

    Still, logic indicates that it would have just confused me more. This woman conceives you, holds you, then gives you up? Like, how does that make sense?

    It doesn't. It just doesn't. Because love isn't the real answer.

    So, as much I feel angry that I didn't know those pictures existed (and did NOT "know" to ask for them!!), I really don't know how to answer this one.

    I guess if it's worth it, take the risk of sharing out info if your child appears to reject any connection or attempt?

  27. OK, so if we do find information about our daugther's first family-- I guess maybe that is the harder question-- When do we share the info?

    My daughters are 4 and not quite 3, both were born in China. I had thought that if we actually found the first families (kind of a big *if*) that we would try to have some kind of relationship with them that the girls would know about from the start.

    But, this may not be possible-- their first family may not want it and then there is the whole taking control aspect.

    My hope is that as the girls grow older they would be able to have answers to any questions they have and work with their first family to
    define the relationship. But, what if my daughter's don't want it and it ends up being a situation that we created?

    I am interested in hearing what the adoptees think about this.

    We currently have an on-going relationship with our youngest daugther's foster family, that we are very open about-- obviously not the same as her first family but a strong tie to first years and Chinese culture.

  28. "When do we share the info?"

    Honestly? There may never feel like there is a "right" time to share the info.

    Specifically if the info can either physically end up harming or emotionally tormenting them.

    Like I said earlier, there's a risk.

  29. I completely agree with you Mei Ling-- there will likely not ever be a feeling like "oh now, is the perfect time."

    One of the reasons why I feel younger is better. the younger the more the feeling that the information (if there is any) is something that is always known.

    We don't subscribe to the "your parents abandoned you because they loved you," line of communication. We don't know why-- that is my answer-- statistically, the primary reason is due to oppression of basic human rights by the government. We're not at that point of discussion yet.

  30. Follow adoptee here! I think that telling a child about his/her adoption story the sooner the better is best. My parents have always told me about my story before I could remember. And, I think it should be the same for all children. However, the one thing I disagree about is making adoption the centerpiece of the child's life. Adoption is the start of their story NOT the whole story. I truly believe the only obligation the aparents have to the bparents and child is the truth that they are adopted and that they have two mothers, two fathers but ONLY one set of parents(the aparents) who will love them "as if" they where their own ( children need that stability).

  31. "However, the one thing I disagree about is making adoption the centerpiece of the child's life."

    I think I may have to agree with you on that one Ellis. Maybe it just seems like people these days are doing that because they are online?

    Thank you for reading and the comment!


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