Parents can be awkward. Let’s just face facts — they are not always the easiest people to talk to. Whether it’s about relationships, school, friend problems or finances, parents can sometimes make these topics difficult. Talking to your parents about your adoption, then, can seem downright terrifying.
It’s also an important conversation to have. Adoption used to be kept secret, which was a terrible and harmful practice. Today, most parents discuss adoption openly with their child. As you grow older, you’re probably trying to figure out the best way to bring up the topic and ask some sensitive questions.
A quick search will yield thousands of results telling parents how to talk with their kids about adoption. But what about you? Where’s the adoptee’s perspective in this discussion? You have questions, too.
We’re here to help. We can’t promise these tips will remove all the awkwardness from the situation, but they will help you prepare for some important conversations.
Here are four things to keep in mind when you want to talk to your parents about your adoption.
Balance Honesty and Empathy
Discussing adoption can be like walking through a minefield. You never know when a misstep is going to set something off. This topic holds a lot of emotions — for everyone. Navigating it requires a balancing act between honest and empathy.
Honesty, because you should be true to your feelings. Empathy, because you should be aware of the feelings your parents might have.
Don’t deny yourself the right to learn about your story and work through what it means for your identity. Be honest and upfront about the things that weigh on your heart and mind. You deserve the space to ask the questions you need answered.
At the same time, be sensitive to the love your parents have for you, and how some of your questions may make them feel. Don’t compromise, but do approach these topics with care and caution. While it is also up to your parents to do their part in this conversation by putting your needs ahead of their own, they’re only human. Do your best to take this into account when you decide to start the conversation.
This Will Take More than One Conversation
Adoption leaves you with a lot to talk about. You may want to know what it was like for your parents during the adoption process, or why they decided to adopt in the first place. There are questions about adoption and identity, and these questions can be difficult to answer. Don’t feel like you need to pack this into one conversation.
Take your time talking about adoption. Some discussions may come easier than others. You can also expect your feelings about certain subjects to change over time. Think of talking about your adoption with your parents as an ongoing conversation instead of a one-off discussion.
It’s Okay to Have a Lot of Questions about Your Biological Family
Some people who come home through adoption struggle with guilt stemming from their interest in their biological family. Remember this: you should never feel ashamed for wanting to understand your story.
Your connection to your biological family matters. Thankfully, many modern-day adoptions are at least semi-open, which establishes an incredibly helpful foundation for talking to your parents about your adoption. If your adoption has always been closed, this may be a hard discussion to initiate.
There’s a chance that talking about your biological family will make your parents feel insecure. While it’s always good to be sympathetic to their feelings, you shouldn’t let this stop you from having the conversation. Explain that your curiosity about your biological family is not a rejection of your parents. Rather, it is a desire to understand where you come from and who you are. Adoption is a part of your story, and that story starts with a biological family.
Having questions about your biological family is normal and good. It can help you form a deeper sense of identity as you think through your own adoption story.
Spend Time Reflecting Personally Before Starting this Conversation
If you can manage it, take time to think about this conversation before you start it. What do you want to walk away with? What are you most interested in hearing your parents’ perspective on? Are there blank spaces in your story that you want filled in?
If you can form a clear picture of how you’d like the conversation to go, you’ll have a better chance of a good experience. This will also help you approach your parents with a calm state of mind.
Talking to your parents about your adoption can be challenging, but it can also be helpful. Each story and relationship is unique. With these tips in mind, you can prepare for a successful talk.