What to Do When Your Child Wants to Search for His Birth Parents
What your child may be looking for
- An understanding of why her birthparents placed her for adoption. Hearing her adoption story from the person(s) who made the adoption decision for her will sound very different to her than hearing the same story from you or an agency counselor.
- A sense of physical connection. She is every bit a part of your family, but who does she look like at a family reunion? It is very common for adopted persons to wonder where their curly hair or dark brown eyes come from. Many just want to know “Who do I resemble?”
- To know that her birth family is okay. We raise nice kids…they worry about their other family.
What your child needs most is to know that her parents are comfortable with her curiosity about birth family. She needs to know you understand that she feels a tie to another set of parents, those who share her biology, and that it’s okay for her to express this connection with you. She needs to know that you don’t resent her curiosity or feel like she is being somehow disloyal to you by expressing interest in exploring that part of her identity.
Ways to support your child
- Keep your child company in this process. How much you help versus just offer support depends on your child’s age as well as the birth family (or birth country) specifics.
- Remember that relationships are easier to sort out when you’re dealing with real people and real situations, not your fantasy or your child’s fantasy about people you cannot contact.
- Try viewing your child’s birth family as in-laws, like you might view a spouse’s family. They may need a few boundaries set or encouragement to participate in family activities, but they are part of your family.
- Be realistic: Remember that birth relatives have other family ties, families and customs. Not all birth relatives (or in-laws) are equally easy to get along with or manage.
- Take advantage of the wisdom of the community. If an awkward situation arises, rely on friends who have been there or call on The Cradle post adopt counselors. Reach out for help thinking through the best and worst case scenarios or to problem solve.
If you'd like to discuss your family's specific situation with one of our therapists, we would be happy to help.