Straight Talk Advice

Jan 27, 2010

Will searching for birth parents hurt real parents?

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: My sister and I are both adopted. Nothing will ever change the fact that our adopted parents are our “real” parents and we are “real” sisters. However, now that we are teenagers, we are curious about meeting our natural parents. We have done research on the Internet but we feel guilty going behind our parents’ back. We don’t want to hurt them. We understand the importance of learning about hereditary medical conditions, but that’s not our main reason for wanting to find them. We appreciate your advice. — Adopted

Katie 16, Auburn, Calif. Ask me a question

I am adopted too. Last year, I went behind my parents’ back and found my birthmother online. When she responded to my letter, I told my parents and they were thrilled for me and incredibly supportive. Tell your parents. They know the day is coming and will probably love and support you like mine did. After all, they are your parents!

Katelyn 15, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

I am adopted and my parents were pleased that I cared about both sides of the family, biological and adopted. If it makes you happy, it will probably make them happy too. They may even help you find your birth mother.

Jessie 17, Ashland, Ore. Ask me a question

My step-cousin was adopted from Russia. When she turned 15, she sat down with her parents and asked for their help in the search. Maybe if you do this, too, any reservations they may have will be eased.

Ashley 22, Auburn, Calif. Ask me a question

For this quest, you need all the emotional support you can get — so tell your parents. Also, don’t hesitate to seek counseling and reach out to friends.

Brie 18, Ashland, Ore. Ask me a question

I have friends who are adopted. Your parents know this is something you will eventually desire and are usually most concerned about you getting hurt in the event your birth mother doesn’t want to meet you.

Rachel 18, Fair Oaks, Calif. Ask me a question

I have adopted friends who struggled with this. Approach your parents and tell them. Discovering your birth parents is important during this time in life when you’re trying to find yourself.

Rose 22, Flagstaff, Ariz. Ask me a question

The adopted people I’ve known all had this void inside because they didn’t know their birth parents. I think there is an instinctive desire to know why you were given up for adoption. It has nothing to do with one’s adoptive parents. Sit down with them, speak your truth.

Vanessa 22, Galt, Calif. Ask me a question

Since I was 10, I’ve considered adopting a baby in need. I want my child to know where he came from. Parents take classes before they can adopt that prepare them for this. Casually bring it up in conversation, while watching TV or shopping. Its’ not like you’re telling them you hate them or are a drug addict! They are waiting for this.

DEAR ADOPTED: The panel is right on all counts. And you are right on schedule. The teen years are when the urge to find birth parents burns brightly. Your parents prepared themselves for this day, but their classes were many years ago when they first brought you home. This process is easier if, from the start, adoptive parents include birth parents in daily conversations, as in, “You have beautiful hair. You must get this from your birth mother.” But if those casual references didn’t happen, you will have to break the ice. The message every panelist repeated that I didn’t have room to print is: Tell them you’re curious. Tell them how much you love them and consider them your real parents. Trust their goodness and their love for you. (They adopted you didn’t they?) And regardless of what you find, or don’t find in your search, your biological parents, even the most dysfunctional, loved you too.

Editor’s Web Note: I recently met someone in his fifties who just learned he was adopted when his mother let it slip accidentally. She started bawling. He finally had the missing puzzle pieces. We’ve come a long way in understanding the importance of an adopted child grasping cognitively the loss he or she feels within the body — and that it’s normal to yearn for the womb from which we began our journey. If you know an adopted person of any age, give them some extra warmth when you see them. Whatever the setting, they always could use more reminding that they “belong.” — Lauren

  1. By Catherine, 22, Panelist, age , from Amherst, Mass. on 01/27/2010

    I think it is very important to be open and honest with your parents. Let them know exactly how you are feeling. Reassure them, and ask for their help and support. Let them know that this search will not change your love for them, and that understanding this part of who you are would mean so much. In situations like this, openness and honesty are the most that you can give. If you are comfortable with this, it might help to establish some ground rules about communication. These kinds of arrangements might make your parents feel more comfortable with the idea. My grandmother was adopted, but after years of searching & a messy legal battle with the orphanage, she could not find anything about her birth mother except that she was young, Catholic, & Irish. Good luck to you!

    Reply to this comment

  2. By Emily, 17, Panelist, age , from Sacramento, Calif. on 01/27/2010

    Curiosity is never something to feel guilty about.  If your adopted parents have given you so much love and support in the past, I am sure they would understand your feelings.  But also, being a teenager, I don’t think that them not approving should stop you if it comes to that.  Especially after you two turn 18, I believe that you have the right to find your parents.  After all, they are your PARENTS.  I think the best way to approach it with your mom and dad would be to first address how much they mean to you, and who knows, maybe they have already considered helping you two find them!

    Reply to this comment

  3. By Elise, 18, Panelist, age , from Fair Oaks, Calif. on 01/27/2010

    Your adopted parents love you and they will no matter what. It is completely natural when you are a teenager to be curious about your birth parents and your adoptive parents totally understand that. If you just approach them calmly about it and tell them you are curious, they will not be offended and will more than likely help you out. Don’t worry, they love you and will understand.

    Reply to this comment

  4. By Maureen, 17, Panelist, age , from Redding, Calif. on 01/27/2010

    Your parents were honest with you about the adoption, so be honest with them. If they are adamant about you not looking into it, there might be a good reason.

    Reply to this comment

  5. By Graham, 15, Panelist, age , from Fair Oaks, Calif. on 01/27/2010

    Have a family talk. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them, how much their love and parenting means. If your parents have enough love in their hearts to adopt two children, they will hear you

    Reply to this comment

  6. By Alyssa, age , from California. on 02/03/2010

    i was adopted when i was a little girl. and my birthmom and birthbrother and my birthmoms mom always would come to visit me and spend time with me.  but now im a teen and iv started thinking of who my birthdad is because no one would ever tell me. and my birth mom said that she didnt even want to talk to me anymore and so now im kind of on my own for this and its hard being young and trying to find your dad.

    Reply to this comment

  7. By Virginia J. Robles, age , from Marysville, CA . Yuba county on 02/08/2010

    I have been searching for my daughter who was adopted by the State of California back in 1978.  Last time I visited with her was at the adopted parents home, which at the time they lived in Modesto, CA.  Since than I have tried through the internet search, but no luck.  Most site require you to pay something and I don’t have that kind of money.  So now, I have not tryed and I know that’s not the right attitude, but being alone with my other 2 daughters and no support from them, it’s depressing.  Welcome any and all comments.

    Sincerely yours,

    Not to give up birth mom,

    Virginia J. Robles

    Reply to this comment

Comment Form

Straight Talk Advice readers are known for their frank and constructive posts that lead to insightful conversations that help many people! Please keep these guidelines in mind when posting:

  • Be constructive: Needlessly cruel or obscene comments will probably be removed. Be conscious of this so your point can be heard.
  • Be relevant: Spam or senseless character attacks irrelevant to the discussion will also probably be removed.

Happy posting!

Straight Talk Advice Recommends