Being adopted can mean different things to different adoptees, depending on the circumstances. Unfortunately, because I do therapy with adopted children, the circumstances bringing them to my door are often negative. However, that doesn’t mean all adoptions have difficulty. Other factors shaping adoptees’ opinions are affected by their age and life experiences. I am raising four adopted children and have worked with hundreds more. I can tell you, opinions on adoption change over the years depending on their age, and current situation.
- As an adoptee “I got a second chance at getting new role models.”
When a child comes from a family plagued with issues, they often do not have positive role models to follow. So many circumstances play a role in the birth parent’s decision to relinquish parental rights; we can’t possibly cover them all here. In the situations I am familiar with birth parents have either lost their right to parent or have decided to place the child for adoption. Typically, these parents are younger and are not ready to change lifestyles to incorporate raising a child. In situations where parents willingly place their child for adoption, financial, health, or mental health issues might play a role. Being placed for adoption isn’t a death sentence but a life sentence that might make all the difference for the adoptees successful future. Successful adoptees include: Daunte Culpepper, professional football player, Faith Hill, country singer, Dave Thomas, Founder of Wendy’s Restaurants, Jesse Jackson, Minister. Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple.
- “I have more people to love me.”
Sometimes single parents are not able to continue their role as parents due to lack of support. Raising a child takes a lot of resources, and without the help of an extensive support network, raising children might seem impossible. Many single mothers place their children for adoption to ensure their child has all of the resources necessary to live a happy and healthy life. If she is lucky, she can enter in an open adoption situation that will not only help her child but be supportive of her as well. Professional football player, and inspiration for the story The Blind Side, Michael Oher is an example of gaining many more people to love him. His support system was limited, but when he joined his adoptive family, his entire world shifted.
- “I can’t explain it; I never knew my birth parents, but I still miss them.”
Not knowing your birth parents can leave a hole in a person’s soul that always keeps them wondering. This is why I always promote open adoption and giving the adopted child the opportunity to know the truth about their birth parents. Some information might be sensitive and more appropriate for an older age, but the premise is the same. Open, honest communication prevents resentment and anger in the future. Everyone goes through a phase of trying to figure out ‘who they are’. Without the knowledge of where you came from, a true picture can’t be seen. Just because their birth parents made poor choices in life doesn’t mean the adoptee will be a poor choice maker. The importance is allowing adoptees to choose what is right for them. Singer, David Crosby’s birth son stated “He was worried about me being this angry young man–‘You abandoned me,’ that sort of thing. That wasn’t even an issue.”
- “Adoption is the best thing that could have happened to me.”
There will be moments when the adoptee is struggling through adolescence and realizes they are different than their adopted parents. This is not an uncommon situation; however, it can cause difficulty in the adoptive relationship. Hurtful words might be said, but once the adoptee makes it through this developmental stage and realizes what it takes to raise a child, their thinking changes. Understanding the circumstances behind their adoption usually helps the adoptee forgive their birth parents for the choices they made to place them for adoption. Actor Brad Pitt states about his adoptive children: “They’re as much my blood as I am theirs. And they are brothers and sisters. One came from Ethiopia, one from Vietnam, one from Cambodia, and one was born in Namibia.”
- “I love them all.”
Many adoptees have told me they love all of their parents, birth and adoptive included. Often children think they can only love one set of parents, but this is not true. There is nothing wrong with loving everyone who had taken a role in raising you because everyone has something different to add to your growth that can aid in your success. Adoptee, Rachel Crow stated “It is crazy because everybody is like, ‘she is not your real mom.’ And I am like, ‘yeah, she is!’”