Adopted Children Wish

Adopted Children Wish

You Can't Be Adopted, Your're Normal

“What did your friends do when you were little that you weren’t willing to do?”

Innocent enough question drawn from a pile of “get-to-know-you” questions. “When we were little kids, my friends used to hide in the clothes racks at Nordstrom,” one 17-year-old said. “I never did. I stayed right by my mom because I wondered if she would leave me like my “first mom” had. I was adopted.” “You were adopted?” one of the student moderators asked suspiciously. “Yeah,” the girl said. “Well,” the moderator defended himself. “You don’t seem. . .”

“Don’t seem what?” the girl said. “We don’t exactly look different.”

“That’s ridiculous,” originally we thought the speaker was commenting on adoptees looking different. Instead, he was referring back to the young girl’s fear of being left at a department store. “They adopted you on purpose. They weren’t going to leave you.” The conversation was happening amongst twenty students gathered for the “getting to know you” opening session of a leadership conference. As they got to know each other, it was discovered six of the students had been adopted. Eventually, I asked all of the adopted teens at what age they had been adopted. All of them before six months old. All of them showed immense affection for their adoptive families. All of them came from upper middle class, an income bracket of most of the students since the qualifications for the conference normally drew from a higher, more educated demographic. Adoption caught their imagination. “Did your adoptive parents ever say anything that made you feel that way?” another attendee asked the girl who refused to hide with her friends during shopping trips.

“No,” admitted the young woman. “I think it was what other kids said.”

“Like what?”

The adopted students remembered elementary years punctuated by statements such as the following:

  • “Can your real parents come get you back?”

  • “Do you ever talk to your real mom and dad?”

  • “If your parents get divorced, will you go back to your real parents?”

  • “I’m glad my mom didn’t give me away.”

Participants in the discussion also recalled things they had overheard which brought into question the value of an adopted child.

  • “Can you give him back if he develops learning disabilities?”

  • “You’re lucky. She looks like she could actually be yours.”

  • “Maybe now you’ll get pregnant and have one of your own.”

  • “Weren’t you scared of what you might get?”

  • “I would have just gotten a dog. That would have been so much easier.”

  • “If God had wanted you to have children, you would have given birth to one.”

  • “Adoption is expensive. Was she worth it?”

“And,” the original speaker said forcefully, “You couldn’t believe I was adopted because I’m, what, normal.” The most compelling memory was a statement made recently in a civics class. The class was discussing the upcoming election and the candidates’ stance on abortion. Someone in the class commented that abortion and adoption are very different, but they have one thing in common. “They are both great ways to get rid of children.”

Recognize these real traumas come to adoptees in the best of circumstances. Most of these kids had learned to laugh it off. Just make sure you validate that these slights can hurt.

“What did your friends do when you were little that you weren’t willing to do?”

Innocent enough question drawn from a pile of “get-to-know-you” questions.

“When we were little kids, my friends used to hide in the clothes racks at Nordstrom,” one 17-year-old said. “I never did. I stayed right by my mom because I wondered if she would leave me like my “first mom” had. I was adopted.”

“You were adopted?” one of the student moderators asked suspiciously.

“Yeah,” the girl said.

“Well,” the moderator defended himself. “You don’t seem. . .”

“Don’t seem what?” the girl said. “We don’t exactly look different.”

“That’s ridiculous,” originally we thought the speaker was commenting on adoptees looking different. Instead, he was referring back to the young girl’s fear of being left at a department store. “They adopted you on purpose. They weren’t going to leave you.”

The conversation was happening amongst twenty students gathered for the “getting to know you” opening session of a leadership conference. As they got to know each other, it was discovered six of the students had been adopted. Eventually, I asked all of the adopted teens at what age they had been adopted. All of them before six months old. All of them showed immense affection for their adoptive families. All of them came from upper middle class, an income bracket of most of the students since the qualifications for the conference normally drew from a higher, more educated demographic.

Adoption caught their imagination.

“Did your adoptive parents ever say anything that made you feel that way?” another attendee asked the girl who refused to hide with her friends during shopping trips.

“No,” admitted the young woman. “I think it was what other kids said.”

“Like what?”

The adopted students remembered elementary years punctuated by statements such as the following:

  • “Can your real parents come get you back?”

  • “Do you ever talk to your real mom and dad?”

  • “If your parents get divorced, will you go back to your real parents?”

  • “I’m glad my mom didn’t give me away.”

Participants in the discussion also recalled things they had overheard which brought into question the value of an adopted child.

  • “Can you give him back if he develops learning disabilities?”

  • “You’re lucky. She looks like she could actually be yours.”

  • “Maybe now you’ll get pregnant and have one of your own.”

  • “Weren’t you scared of what you might get?”

  • “I would have just gotten a dog. That would have been so much easier.”

  • “If God had wanted you to have children, you would have given birth to one.”

  • “Adoption is expensive. Was she worth it?”

“And,” the original speaker said forcefully, “You couldn’t believe I was adopted because I’m, what, normal.”

The most compelling memory was a statement made recently in a civics class. The class was discussing the upcoming election and the candidates’ stance on abortion. Someone in the class commented that abortion and adoption are very different, but they have one thing in common. “They are both great ways to get rid of children.”

Recognize these real traumas come to adoptees in the best of circumstances. Most of these kids had learned to laugh it off. Just make sure you validate that these slights can hurt.

Reasons for Knowing Biological Family

Where are your real family?”

This was a question Misty heard at almost every family reunion.

“From my cousins,” Misty said,

“People unintentionally remind you (about adoption). I wanted to say, you are my real family, but then I remembered, even while young, yeah, you’re right, I’m not biologically related to you. Even I could see that they looked like their parents. I don’t look like my parents at all. Makes you think about it.”

So, while sharing potluck salads and Aunt Nelda’s chocolate cake, with her cousins at a reunion designed to promote family unity, Misty was reminded about the family she didn’t have.

“I didn’t take it personally,” Misty said. “I wanted to tell them that they were my real family. But even I could see that they looked like their parents. I don’t look like my parents at all.”

“Where is your real family?”

a question most adopted children will hear over and over again during their lives. How they learn to answer this question will be very important for their sense of identity.

With the support of her adoptive parents, Misty was an adult when she met her birth family. They have brought joy, and love, and a better sense of identity to her life.

There are many reasons for wanting to understand the biological family.

  • Simple Curiosity

    • Why was I placed?
    • What are my parents doing now?
    • Do my parents ever think of me?
    • Do I have siblings? Do they know about me?
    • Where do I get this talent from?

These are just some of the questions adopted children ask.

  • Health Reasons
    • Every doctor’s appointment includes a series of questions asking, “What is your family health history?” Being able to answer would help be helpful in making informed decisions about health issues.
    • Adopted children may eventually have children who will want answers to medical questions.
  • Find someone who looks like them.

    • This is a type of identity-formation. Knowing biological parents yields self-knowledge that has value
  • They feel a void and want a sense of connection.

 

  • Who can ignore all those Ancestry ads and commercials? These advertising campaigns make one feel as if roots are incredibly important.This isn’t a definitive list, but certainly, we need to respect the needs and feelings of every child who wants to understand genetic relationships.