Adoption is filled with fragile moments for all parties involved.  As with many of life’s milestones, you may be tasked with unexpected surprises that test your patience and understanding.

When you find your birth family, it’s normal to begin to question absolutely everything.  One of the things you may question is the adoptive family that raised you.  There may be a moment when it really sinks in that you don’t really look like them.  There may be days where you think about what life would have been like if you hadn’t been adopted.  Rest assured, these are all normal and natural responses to having been adopted.

However, it’s important that you realize how much of an impact your decision to search for your birth family can have on your adoptive family.  After fending for you from your early years until now, they really do consider you to be a part of their family.  Enough time may have passed that they may have even forgotten that your relationship began with a decision, an arrangement.  So, when you inform them you’ve committed to your search for another family, please be wise with your words.  After all, your adoptive family has probably given you almost everything you have.

Throughout your journey, it’s important to nourish and love your support system.  In the case of an adoptee searching for their birth parents, here are a few essential things you ought to say to your adoptive family:

1. They are still your parents.

Biology undeniably plays a large role in anyone’s identity.  But when you put things in perspective, it is likely that even the most neglectful adoptive parents have given you more than you might have had in an orphanage.

2. You did not begin your search for your bio parents because you adoptive parents weren’t enough.

Even in cases where this is true, there is no benefit in harming your adoptive parents.  Bring yourself up by the bootstraps and embrace them with the same love that they embraced you with when you are adopted.

3. You are grateful.

You are grateful for what they’ve given you.

4. They haven’t been replaced.

You have only taken an already-unconventional family and grown it larger.  You have two sets of parents.

5. Updates.

Keep them in the loop.  They may not ask questions about your search, because they fear for you and for themselves.  You are disturbing the family structure that they have built by beginning your search.  Even if they don’t seem like they want to hear about it, you owe it to them to let them know how things are going.

6. Please meet my family.

If things turn out well, considering connecting the dots.  I was relatively late to the game when I found my parents and already an adult, so my parents were not at all involved in my search for my other parents.  But after I had met my bio parents and vetted them, I made sure to have each party see photos of one another.  And after a while, I made sure that each party also had a chance to speak with the other over Skype.

My adoptive family wasn’t perfect.  Yours probably isn’t either.  But the experience of a biological reunion is bigger than just you, as an adoptee.  For all of the grief you may feel at home with your adoptive family, it’s always important to remember that this family has selflessly given you their homes and a large share of their lives.

For more adoption training, visit the new adoption information website.