As an adoptive parent, you do your best to make your child feel loved and part of the family, but that doesn’t guarantee that they won’t have questions about their origins. Even children who experience a positive relationship with their adoptive parents, may feel like something is missing. While I have no formal training in psychology, I am an adoptee and a mother.
1. It’s about them, not you. It’s hard to put aside your own ego and perhaps insecurities to help your child find someone that you may feel threatened by. But rest assured, wanting to connect with one’s biological family is common among adoptees, independent of their relationship with their adoptive parents. The longing desire to find a biological parent does not reflect on the love they have towards you, so don’t take it personally. Instead, remind yourself that they have a blank spot in their history, and you can help them fill it in. You should provide them with age appropriate information but allow them to set the pace of the search as children internalize their situation differently. Supporting your child through this process will not only strengthen the relationship you have with them, but will also help them cope with the roller coaster ride of emotions that searching elicits. In the end, isn’t that all you want for your child?
2. They will do it anyway. So why not be part of the process and help them navigate their feelings? I found out I was adopted when I was four. This planted a seed of curiosity that grew stronger with each passing year. I desperately wanted to locate my birth mother during my adolescence, but my adoptive parents struggled emotionally to support me. Nonetheless, I was determined to search. So after moving out of my parents’ home and working full-time for a few years, I had saved up enough money to fly to my birth country alone and investigate. While my adoptive parents tried to rally support from afar, it was too late, creating a distance between us that could have been minimized if they had tried to help instead of hinder.
3. Adoption wasn’t a choice for your child. When you reflect on the adoption process, there are many people involved in making life-changing decisions. The birth mother and/or birth parent decided the right thing to do was to place their child for adoption, while the adoptive parent/s choose to adopt. Your child’s fate was at the mercy and intersection of these choices. Recognize that for some adoptees, searching is their way to gain control of the decisions made long before they had a voice. They have a voice now, so listen to it.
4. They have as much of a right to know about their past as anyone else. Have you paid money to spit in a tube so that your DNA can be analyzed for heritage, genetic, or medical information? Well, there is growing popularity for this sort of thing, and it’s not just adoptees who are submitting samples. It’s people who already know their family history but want more information. They hope to uncover and reunite with a long-lost cousin or find out if they are predisposed for a certain type of cancer or perhaps learn where their great great great grandmother once lived. People are curious and yearn to connect. Why should your child be any different?