Who killed the cat?! Curiosity, stupid.

Are adoptees who don't feel especially curious about their biological heritage suffering from low IQ's? Are they unnatural, brainwashed, shut down, or paralyzed by feelings of abandonment?

No. They're not.

They say curiosity is a sign of intelligence. That may be so. I know something else that is a sign of intelligence, the ability to look outside your own experience. The ability to learn new tricks.

There are many, many people who just aren't that curious about their heritage. Some of them need only talk with their parents or visit an aunt or uncle to learn about it. Some can easily hit or a local library and find all sorts of family background and info. But, they just aren't all that interested, not that curious. Does this make them stupid? Of course not.

I know some will say, well, that's because they can, they know who their real parents are. To that I say, so what? Some adoptees feel like their adopted parents are their real parents, end of story. They feel and see themselves no differently than other people. Why should they be held to a higher standard than everyone else?

Curiosity about circumstances of birth and relinquishment is not surprising, but it isn't a reflection of intelligence. A person uninterested in "what happened" or who their immediate or distant biological relatives are could very well be curious about many other things, things that are far more important to them personally.

It seems to me that when it comes to curiosity about one's own circumstance of adoption and/or heritage, it can vary in degree. It can be nonexistent. It can be mild. It can be all-consuming. It can be both mild and all-consuming from one day to the next, from one hour to the next. It can be stifled due to outside influences. Lack of curiosity can remain in spite of outside encouragement to be curious. It can be there when we're young and vanish when we're older. It can be nonexistent in our youth and then overcome us when we have children.

I've read harsh judgements on adoptees searching for such a frivolous reason as "just being curious". I have had to question myself about this, if simple curiosity was a good enough reason to potentially disrupt the lives of others. It's a big fat no-no in some circles to search out of curiosity as opposed to searching to find and embrace our real parents and/or a new or different family.

For some adoptees just seeing a picture of their parents would suffice. For others, an explanation for having been adopted and a picture, never really feeling the need to actually meet anyone. There are adoptees who want full blown familial relationships with their biological relatives. None of it is wrong or an indication of intelligence or necessarily a reflection on anyone else. To say so, at best, is not very nice. At worst, it's not very smart.


  1. In my circle of friends and family members, both adopted and non-adopted, the degree to know about heritage varies significantly. Some are very curious, some moderately curious, and some don't care at all. I had one uncle who ranked high on the curiousity scale and he created family tree books for each of the immediate family members on my father's side. This venture of his entailed years of work as it was all done pre-internet and and pre-computer! I had another uncle who was the complete opposite. Me? I think I'm somewhere in the middle.


  2. I am not adoptee but as far as heritage I am not all that curious. I have asked before and would forget what my parents told me. So, when Izzy asked me I told her what I thought it was but months later I did ask and had to correct some parts of it. I think I didn't ask much about my parents heritage because both of their Mom's dies before I was born. So, as a young kid, I just couldn't see past them.
    I have seen other posts from adoptees being curious about their first parents first date and it got me thinking how it never occurred to me to ask them information about my parents. I know they had my sister at 18 so I am thinking they met from school but I really don't know. I almost asked my Dad the other day but I didn't think my step mom would like it if I inquired about his ex wife. So, maybe since they split before I was a teen that I just wasn't curious about how they got together.
    I have rambled on enough but before I end it. I agree with you that intelligence doesn't mean curious or not being curious about the first family.

  3. I am an amom and not an adoptee. My dad was adopted by his stepdad (after which he was frequently passed around to other family members) and has no knowledge of his biological dad. My maternal granny and her sister were adopted by their maternal Aunt when thier parents died.

    I don't really have a big interest in my heritage. My family is pretty dysfunctional and since my mom's death more years ago than I can count at the moment, I have become pretty disengaged from nearly all of my family. Most of them basically sucked as caring family members while I was growing up and as an adult I've made the choice to stay away.

    The only big question I have had that will likely not ever be answered is why my Granny didn't know she was formally adopted by her aunt. She knew her little sister was formally adopted, but didn't know that she was and believed that she was not. It was a HUGE deal for her. My mom had to dig through mountains of paperwork ad nauseum to find the formal adoption papers.

  4. You make some good points, Campbell. The degree of interest in family background varies a whole lot in both the adopted and non-adopted. Neither being curious or not curious is right or a wrong or a sign of anything except interest in that particular issue.

    Nor is it always the fault of the adoptive parents why some adoptees do not search, although for some that is a real factor. I have known many adoptees who waited for their adoptive parents to die to search. I have also known others where the adoptive parents were more curious than the adoptee, totally willing and eager to help, but the adoptee was not interested.

    People are different. They have different degrees of curiosity and different needs, which as you say can change and vary over a lifetime. Adoptees should absolutely have the right to their OBC and the right to search IF they want to. Neither searching nor not searching should be stigmatized or questioned by others, because it really is nobody's business but the adopted person's.

  5. "I have also known others where the adoptive parents were more curious than the adoptee, totally willing and eager to help, but the adoptee was not interested. "

    Is it possible some adoptees see this as "obligatory interest" and not "genuine" interest?

    I am also another one of those adoptees who didn't take much interest in my adoptive parents' lineage. On the other side of the coin, I adamantly refused to have anything to do with my blood family's lineage.

    Go figure, hm?

  6. "Is it possible some adoptees see this as "obligatory interest" and not "genuine" interest?"

    Quite possible, so felt as an extra burden. It could also make the adoptee feel they were under scrutiny.

  7. I've known a lot of people that were adopted and most of them had no interest in searching. When it comes to my kids, we'll support whatever they decide when they're older.

  8. It is so individual, whether adopted or not. I am not adopted and have a mild interest in my heritage. Not enough to get on but enough to listen to family stories. Some people are really into in and some aren't at all. As far as I know, whether or not you are interested in your heritage has NOT been linked to intelligence!!!!!! Laughable.

  9. I think the problem is many people automatically think of IQ in regards to intelligence without considering multiple intelligences (see Gardner's work) or emotional intelligence (EQ).

    Personally, I would say that someone who is not interested in their origins has a low EQ, but could very well have a high IQ.

    Here's a link that might be of interest

  10. Thanks Elizabeth. One could argue those that aren't curious or eaten up by it have a higher EQ as well as a higher IQ, especially if their chances of finding information on their biological background are slim to none.


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