How do I tell them?
Some adoptive parents can be completely supportive of search and reunion. Others, however, not so much. In my house it was an unspoken rule that we did not talk about our biological families. Our parents wouldn’t have been angry, but it was clear that partaking in those conversations would have been hurtful to them. I can honestly see things from both sides, so I can understand why adoptees might be a bit trepidatious about revealing a successful search for a birth family.
First of all, you need to sit your parents down and have a conversation with them about the reasons why you started your search in the first place. (This might be a good idea prior to beginning your search if you feel right about it). Explain to them that this is not something you have done to them, but for you. Let them know that your search was in no way a reflection on them as parents. You were not looking for anyone to replace them. You were not looking for a “new family.” Discuss the countless hours you have spent in your life wondering about details of your biological past. This will help them understand your reasons for searching. Not only that, it might bring peace to their minds as well.
I don’t think most adoptive parents understand the questions that adoptees have. These questions range from “I wonder if I look like my birth family” to “What if I accidentally dated a relative?” Even if you don’t become close to your birth family, having knowledge of these things can offer great peace of mind. This is especially true when it comes to medical history. What if there is some hereditary ailment that has already been discovered within your biological family, but you don’t know about it? For these reasons, finding your birth family is invaluable. With early detection being essential for so many illnesses, can you really afford not to know?
Starting the conversation may seem incredibly awkward at first, but once you get into it, the tension should ease. Just be open and honest with them. If by the end of the conversation they still don’t understand, give them time and be loving. You did what you needed to do for yourself, and hopefully their attitudes will change.
Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and a mother of two, currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees’ rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life.