Many families are overjoyed when they have finalized their adoption process and welcome a new member into their family. While time may pass and the adopted child will form bonds with their new family, at some point they will find out they are adopted – if they don’t already know. Because this is bound to happen, the parents must understand that there is a chance the child will want to find or meet their birth parents for a variety of reasons.
“Anthony was adopted by Mary and John when he was 5 years old. He is now 18 and knows he is adopted. He has been processing this information and come to the conclusion that he would like to try and find his birth parents to speak with them. Anthony was very nervous to ask his parents for help because he didn’t want them to think he didn’t love them or that he wanted to leave his family. When he finally got the courage to ask for their help, he was so relieved when they agreed. Mary and John both sat down with Anthony and told him that before they went down this journey, they wanted him to know that no matter what happens, they love him and will be there to support him through it all. This was such a relief to Anthony and only strengthened his feelings towards his adopted parents.”
While the adopted child may be grateful to their new family and love them, once they get to a certain age they will want to know more about their birth parents. It is important for the new family to understand why the child feels this need and wants this information even after being adopted. One main reason for this is closure. The child is curious about why they were given up in the first place and want to find out more about where they came from. It is necessary for the adoptee parents to support their child during this journey if they are at an age where they can handle this journey, emotionally and mentally. If the child is too young, then the suggestion that they can go down this path when they are older is one way to handle it. If the child is old enough though, then they will want support from their new family while they discover more about themselves. Try not to crush or diminish the child’s needs as this is an important journey for them as they approach and enter into adulthood.
“Mary and John helped Anthony track down his birth parents, and when they agreed to meet up, they even drove Anthony to the park where they would meet. After introducing themselves to Anthony’s birth parents, Mary and John went back to sit in the car and give Anthony some privacy and space. They kept him in sight out of safety, but with enough distance that Anthnoy didn’t feel like they were hovering over him. Anthony was able to speak for several hours with his birth parents in a safe environment, where he knew his parents were close at hand if he needed them.”
Another reason an adopted child can want to find and meet their birth parents is because now that they are older they may want to try and reform bonds with them. This is not because they don’t love and appreciate their new family and this is important to keep in mind. Adopted children can still want bonds with their birth parents in a different way than the bonds with their adopted parents. They may want to at least have some connection with the parents even if it is as acquaintances or strangers. Building this bond with their birth parents will not replace the bond they have with their adopted parents, but it will help them deal with any questions they may have had about who their birth parents are or what their biological extended family is like.
“After several hours of Anthony speaking with his birth parents about why they gave him up and his experience with his new family, he waved Mary and John over. When they walked over, Anthony shared what they had talked about and everyone continued to talk for another hour and share stories of Anthony and them raising him. In the end Anthony was glad he had reached out to his birth parents and talked with them. It gave him closure after finding out he was adopted, even though he still had some negative feelings about what his birth parents did in deciding to give him up for adoption. Regardless, he knew he could have never gotten through this journey on his own and left the meeting feeling some relief, but also knew that he would never give up the life he had with his new parents who were there for him through it all.”
The main job of the adoptee family is to support the child during this potentially challenging and stressful process. It may be hard for the new parents, but being there no matter what happens will show the child how much they are loved. It is key to lend an ear or shoulder to cry on – whether the result is a new bond with the birth parents or causes emotional harm to the child if they don’t get the reaction from their birth parents that they wanted or hoped for. Being there through thick and thin is what makes a real family, and doing this for your new child will make a memory they will never forget. They will always remember how their adopted family supported them and was there for them through it all.