The Cradle Blog

Defining "Adopted": Perspectives from Adopted People

Adoption can sometimes add a layer of complexity to lives. Interviews with adopted people reveal some common themes, common trigger points and topics of interest. Here are a few we've noticed:

Figuring out what “adopted” means

I started to realize what it meant when I was about five. My dad asked me if I was excited to get a new adoptive brother. I started crying and asked “Where will I go then?" I had been in a couple of foster homes before. So I thought I was going to have to go to another home.” – Tarin

Wondering why they were placed

Not having an open adoption and not knowing my birthmom to ask her why she gave me up for adoption made it really tough to accept and feel comfortable with being adopted. – Aaron

Deciding how much of their story to share, when to share it, and with whom

In 7th grade, it was a history project about your family and a timeline of a family. I did a timeline of my adoption and how I was adopted and then I actually decided to present it. It felt awkward. People were just quiet… I was unsure of what the quiet was—a good quiet or a bad quiet, it was just like an “oh my gosh, she’s adopted” quiet... And I was afraid most of being treated differently because sometimes when people find out you’re adopted, they change the way they treat you. – Masha

adoption and identity

Developing an interest in their roots

I did have specific ideas or presumptions of what my birthparents looked like because I was immersing myself into the Latino culture. I really had a strong urge in my pre-teen and teen years to learn more about Latino culture, learn more about Colombia, and master the language. I started taking Spanish in 7th grade and I took the language learning to a whole new level. – Monica

Learning to live with what they don’t know

My mom knew Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. How could she not know my birthmom?! – Aaron

Understanding that adoption plays an ongoing role in life

For me, especially as I got into the teenage years, Mother’s Day and my birthday were these places of contemplation or wondering for me. Wondering, “Is my birth mother thinking about me today on my birthday?” And on Mother’s Day… wondering what she’s doing. On those two days… especially as I got older… I would really wonder, and just be curious, and sometimes be a little sad and just not sure how to feel. – Amy

Explore this topic some more on our Adoption Learning Partners course, Adopted: The Identity Project