All adoptees have a unique adoption story. Mine is no exception. My biological mother was not a teenager when she had me, but she was not prepared to provide proper care for a baby. When I was four days old, she gave me to my mom and dad at a lawyer’s office. My new family consisted of three older siblings, a loving mother and father, and a supportive extended family. When I was 21, I was able to meet my biological mother, my half brother, and their family. Keeping in mind that all stories are different, there are some pieces of advice that I would offer based on my experience when considering adopting a child.
- Please do tell me I was adopted. Don’t “take the secret to the grave.” This one should be obvious these days, but I still hear people throwing out that idea. That’s a bad idea for a lot of reasons, but one reason is that there isn’t much that makes it “to the grave.” There will be something that will give it away, and then you will have very seriously breached the trust of someone you probably love very much and for whom you care deeply.
- Tell me immediately. I knew I was adopted before I even knew what it meant. I can remember being four years old and hearing my parents talk about me, “This is our youngest… she’s very intelligent and she’s adopted!” I remember thinking “adopted” meant “smart.”
- Please do find out something about my biological family to share with me if possible. And shape the story so it’s positive. No, don’t lie, but look at what you know as a whole, and do your best to paint a positive picture. You may even want to write down your version of events and memorize it so that your story doesn’t change. I can remember “quizzing” my parents and listening for conflicting information. The information I received from my parents always checked out, which made me feel secure. And, let me repeat, don’t lie. I’m pretty sure that’s how my parents’ information always checked out.
- Provide a photograph if possible. I can recall thinking about my biological mother and father, but I didn’t have a photograph. I would have liked a photo just to clear up the cloudy picture in my head.
- Allow the discussion to unfold naturally. My parents allowed me to talk about being adopted as much or as little as I wanted. They didn’t try to pry me open, but they didn’t avoid questions or discussions either.
- I was very often “on the lookout” for biological relatives. I can recall visiting a church while we were traveling in an unfamiliar town when I was around ten years old. I saw another girl around my age who looked like me. I was convinced we were long lost sisters. When I was in fifth grade, I made a new friend at school who was also adopted. Our birthdays were just sixteen days apart. We believed we might be long lost twins.
- I had no intention of offending my adoptive parents by seeking biological relatives. I was lucky that my parents were both protective of me, and they were open to me meeting relatives when the timing was right.
- When I was little I daydreamed that my biological family was special. I identified with Pippi Longstocking, and I fantasized that my family was out there “across the sea” as a king or queen of an island nation.
- Our birthday is very important to us. For most of my life, my birthday was the only time I was certain that I had a connection to my biological mother. I knew that, on that very day, she was definitely out there, somewhere, thinking about me at the same time I was thinking about her.
- Semantics: Our biological parents are our biological parents; the parents who adopted us are our real parents. I always do a double-take when people get that confused.
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