So, I’ve known my whole life that I was adopted. I was never sat down, as you see in Lifetime movies, and had a bomb dropped on me about being adopted. I never looked at pictures of family and wondered if everyone was keeping a giant secret from me. I was sat down, probably before I was old enough to actually comprehend words, and was told I was adopted. I honestly thought everyone was adopted.
I would like to shed some light on the subject, in hopes that anyone who is considering placing their baby for adoption, adopting a baby or child, knows someone experiencing an adoption, or is hoping to gain some knowledge, learns a bit from my experience.
First, if approached from an angle of total love and respect, adoption can be an extremely wonderful thing. This includes always respecting the sacrifice the birth mother is making and has made, the feelings about it that the child may or may not develop, and the possibly rude comments people may make that are borne from an ignorance of the situation. My parents always, always spoke of my birth mother in nothing but loving, respectful ways.
Second, please don’t refer to the birth mother as their “real mom”. Ever. This discounts the adopting mom in every imaginable, hurtful way. In many cases, the adopting mom has experienced loss, frustration, hurt and hopelessness in trying to grow a family. Asking her about her baby’s “real mom” is just no good. Also, asking the child or adult adoptee if they’ve met their “real family” is no good. I have a real family…the one who prayed for me, waited for me and hoped beyond hope that they would someday have a child.
Third, I would caution against waiting for any amount of time to tell an adopted child that they are indeed adopted. I have no recollection of being told about it, and grew up thinking it was the most natural thing in the world–and really, it is!
Fourth, your child MAY wish to try to contact their birth family, if they have a closed adoption. If they have an open adoption, they may wish to be more private. Go with your child’s wishes. Birth parents: this in no way should be taken personally. Sometimes we are eager to find and get to know our birth families, sometimes we feel a little introspective and private and need to process things. Adoptive parents: Same goes. A wish to find a birth family does not mean you aren’t enough for us. Remember, this mysterious other person or people are a part of us.
Fifth, it’s OK to need a therapist. This doesn’t mean the child is scarred, or that adoption is damaging. It just means that sometimes, an adopted person may need an objective 3rd party to help them process their thoughts and sort out what being adopted means. Sometimes, this need arises during life changes. I personally finally had a desire to find my birth mother when I was about two months away from getting married and graduating college. It just felt right.
Finally, it’s best to do what is right for you. Others have advice based on their own adoption experiences, or even professional expertise but adoption is not one size fits all. You need to mold the experience to your needs, your child’s needs, and things that may pop up along the way. It’s a journey and a wonderful learning process–do what is right for you.
Adoption is a loving option. It’s an option that allowed my parents to become parents. They watched their siblings have many kids, friends have many kids, and they struggled with it themselves. Because of my birth mother’s choice to place me in their hands, with her family’s support, I grew up in a loving, fun, secure and amazing family.
If you have any questions, or I can help you in any way, please comment!! And please share–you never know who needs to read this.