Adoptees are plagued with questions while growing up. Without appropriate answers, many of them feel incomplete. As if the puzzle pieces to their identities are missing.
As an adoptive parent, this is the last thing you want for your child. You’ve daydreamed of his or her future on several occasions, and neither scenario included a life full of inner struggle and doubt. Instead, your child was running steadily to you for hugs, drawing pictures that you hung proudly on the fridge, and grinning up at you in fascination. In your imaginings, your child was happy.
Adoption Choices of Colorado is here to help these moments come to life! We know that you want the best for your child. In order to help you prepare, we did our research and found the top five questions adoptees ask. Having answers to these will be invaluable to your child’s growth.
1. Why was I adopted?
One of the most difficult challenges of parenting an adopted child is answering the why of their adoption story. While adoptive parents begin with the best intentions in mind, they often wander off topic when the conversation begins to move into uncomfortable territory. But it’s best to practice transparency in this situation.
If you don’t know the answer, be honest about that. If you do know, be honest about that, too. Once the truth has been shared, you can expand upon your dialogue with loving and supportive thoughts and suggestions to further your conversation.
You could say: I know piecing your story together can be challenging. But I’m here to support you every step of the way. Together, we can do this. How does that sound to you?
2. Why didn’t my birth parents want me?
Once adoptees understand that they were adopted, they may feel unloved or unwanted by their birth parents. Younger adopted children are comfortable living with broad, general ideas of their birth parents. Adolescents seek the facts — the detailed facts. They want definite information about why and how they came to be placed for adoption.
You may be hesitant to share information that you regard as potentially upsetting or damaging. But gaps or holes in your child’s adoption story can further damage his or her sense of identity. The facts, even if hard ones, are far better serving than the fantasies that your child might feel forced to create when this question is left unanswered.
You could say: I think it’s time to talk more about your birth parents and why they made the decision to place you for adoption. What I’m about to tell you is all that I have been told. I’m going to be completely honest and open. If any of these facts are troubling to you, I’m here to talk it all through.
3. Why do I feel different from everyone else?
Feeling different from peers is the worst curse of adolescence. Nowhere else along the developmental stages of life do people so desperately want to fit in, to be a part of the group, as they do in adolescence. For the child of adoption, however, this stage of life can carry many levels of emotions. Being adopted creates a sense of being different in many ways. Adoptees may be of a different race or cultural background than their family, and may feel different from peers who are being raised in biologically related families.
If your child hasn’t asked this question yet, you may need to bring it up first. Oftentimes, the world is not a wonderful, embracing place, and your child could be suffering silently.
You could say: Are you being treated differently at school? I would really like you to share this with me because I don’t want you to feel alone. We can navigate these waters together.
4. Is it okay to wonder about my birth parents?
Many adoptees experience guilt related to their frequent and intense thoughts and feelings about their birth parents. They think, “I have so many questions about my birth parents, but if I ask my adoptive parents, will they get upset?” Fearing the disapproval of their adoptive parents, adoptees often hide their feelings and struggle alone with their emotional connection to their birth parents and the questions they have about them. But an adoptee’s need to consider the significance of the other set of parents is by no means a reflection of diminishing feelings for his or her adoptive parents.
Initiate conversations about your child’s birth parents, and affirm their importance. By demonstrating that you’re not afraid to talk about your child’s birth parents, you can help diminish his or her feelings of conflicted loyalty.
You could say: I want you to know that it’s more than okay to think about your birth parents. In fact, it’s important that you do! Feel free to ask me anything about them. I’ll always be open and honest with you.
5. Who am I?
The “Who Am I” question is one every parent wants to help their child process. For adoptees, this question takes on extra meaning as they struggle with who they are, and where they came from. Not only must they think about how they are similar and different from their adoptive parents, they must also think about how they are similar and different from their birth parents. Forming this healthy identity is essential.
Give your child the great gift of knowing that it is safe to explore the information he or she longs for by keeping birth parents in your conversation! It’s more than okay, even encouraged, to mention the similarities you notice between your child and his or her birth parents.
You could say: I am so grateful for your birth parents. Without them, you wouldn’t be here. Did you know that you look a lot like your birth father? You also have his laugh. I want you to know that I will always support you and your quest for information. If you want to know more, let me be your partner in seeking out the answers you desire.
Questions Adoptees Ask
These questions are wondered by so many adoptees over their lifetime. It’s a sad and true fact that several undergo identity crisis’s from a lack of information, a lack of answers to their plaguing questions.
Adoption Choices of Colorado has no doubt that you’ll be able to help guide your child. Sometimes, the answers to his or her questions may be straightforward. Other times, not as much. We hope these top five questions adoptees ask will help you start off on the right foot! You can do this.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Patience Bramlett, a University of Southern Mississippi news editorial graduate, is a seasoned and award-winning freelance writer. She is also a passionate reader, whose only wish is to live life without fear of the unknown. Her motivation and inspiration to live her best life stems from the words of John Lennon:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
This year, she’s joining Adoption Choices Inc. as an Editorial Intern. Fueled by her love of family, she hopes to educate those looking to grow their families through adoption.
“15 Questions Adopted Children Ask.” IMom, 2013, https://www.imom.com/15-questions-adopted-children-ask/#.XX_tnZNKh0I.
“Answering the Tough Questions: How Birth Mothers Respond to Adoptees.” Adoptions Together, 10 Jan. 2018, https://www.adoptionstogether.org/blog/2018/01/10/what-happens-when-they-start-asking-questions/.
“Questions Adopted Children Might Ask.” Questions Adopted Children Might Ask, 29 Nov. 2018, https://fosterandadopt.jfs.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ofc/adoption/for-current-adoptive-parents/questions-adopted-children-might-ask.