Involving Parents in Your Adoption Search
For an adoptee in a closed adoption, the decision to search for birth parents can be a difficult one. For some people, it’s something they’ve always wanted to do. Others have never had much desire to search. It’s your adoption story, so the choice is entirely yours. Although the adoption search is centered around the adoptee, one of the most common fears for many people who are thinking about beginning a search for their biological family is, “What about my (adoptive) parents? How will this affect them?” Most people, adoptees included, have a loving relationship with their parents and want to avoid damaging that relationship. If you’re worried about how searching for your birth parents will affect your (adoptive) parents, here’s what you need to know:
Common Fears Adoptees Have About Adoption Searches and Their ParentsWhen you’re first considering searching for your birth family, you’ll likely experience a wide range of emotions and questions. Some of those are probably about your (adoptive) family. Those initial worries may be specific to your situation, but might include:
- “I don’t know how my parents will react.”
- “I worry my parents will see this as me somehow loving them less.”
- “Will my parents feel hurt or betrayed?”
- “I haven’t expressed a lot of interest in my adoption until now. Will they understand why I want to search?”
- “Will my parents be there for me if I don’t find my birth parents or if the reunion doesn’t go the way I hope it will?”
- “If I reunite with my birth parents, how will I feel about my parents?”
- “If I reunite with my birth parents, how will my adoptive and birth parents feel about each another?”
Talking to Your Parents About Your Decision to Search for Your Birth FamilyYou know your parents best, so tailor your conversation as needed. These general tips may help guide that talk:
- Pick a time when things are calm, quiet and private.
- Be honest about why this adoption search is important to you.
- Let them know that you’re emotionally prepared for whatever you might find (or won’t find) and that they don’t need to protect you from that.
- Assure them that your decision to search for your birth parents doesn’t mean that you don’t love them or that your family is somehow lacking — you have questions and this is important to you.
- You can share the fears you had in talking to them about your adoption search.
- If you want them to be involved in your search, invite them to do so and let them know how much you’d appreciate their help.
Collaborating for Information About Your AdoptionIf your parents are willing to jump in and help you search for your birth family, you’re off to a great start. They’ll be one of your best resources for easily available information. Chances are good that your parents will have some basic information from your adoption records. Adoptive parents rarely receive more than the most basic information in closed adoptions, but your parents may still have access to:
- The name of the person or placement agency that completed your adoption, who you can try to contact for more information.
- The state and county in which you were born and the state and county in which your adoption was finalized, which is where you’ll need to file a petition to open your adoption records (depending on the laws of that particular state).
- Some basic information about one or both of your birth parents, which could help you in searching for them.