The key to adoptive parents understanding their child’s interest and desire to search for their biological family.
There are many reasons why an adoptee would want to search for the birth parents they have never met. It is perfectly natural for an adoptee to be curious about who their birth parents are as people. Was/Is my birth mom nice? How/When did my birth parents meet? What were/are some their favorite tv shows? Do I get my freckles from my birth dad’s side of the family? Or my birth mom’s? An adoptee’s curiosity only increases the longer they wait to receive information about their birth parents.
Marilyn Rich, MSC is the District Supervisor and Search Coordinator of Adoptions From The Heart’s (AFTH) Lancaster, PA office. “I tell them I’m on the journey with them,” said Marilyn in reference to when she first meets with an adoptee interested in searching for his/her birth parents. Birth parent search services are available for all AFTH adoptees over the age of 18. All AFTH adoptees under the age of 18 are eligible for birth parent search services with permission of their parent or guardian. It is common for adoptive parents to feel insecure and uncertain when their child expresses an interest in learning more about their biological background. However, it is perfectly normal for a child to yearn to learn more about their roots and this needs to be respected.
Here’s some helpful tips for how adoptive parents can mentally prepare themselves for the day their child expresses an interest in connecting with their birth family. This includes some guidance with our Search Coordinator Marilyn Rich, MSC:
1) Do Not Hide Anything
Keep the records regarding your child’s birth parents and family history in a safe place. “I’m amazed at how many adoptive parents who are in charge of important documents seem to lose them. You want to have a safety deposit box where you can keep these files secure and safe. This way your child will have access to the files in the future,” said Marilyn Rich, MSC.
Although you may have concerns about your child’s birth parent for their controversial behavior prior to your child’s birth, keep an open mind. “Sometimes birth parents make bad choices, that doesn’t make them bad people.”
3) Teaching Your Child To Let Go Of Any Preconceived Expectations
At the same time you show your support for the child’s interest in a search, also gently let them know the importance to go through the searching process slowly. Birth parents may not reciprocate the same interest in meeting with their child, but that is not always out of lack of interest. The birth parents themselves may not be emotionally ready to meet the children they placed for adoption many years ago. “It’s not that the birth parents aren’t thinking about their biological child. Not hearing from you (adoptee), and not thinking about you are two different things.”
4) Above All Your Child Loves You
At first parents may feel that their child’s desire to search for their birth parents is because they are unhappy. Please understand that it is perfectly natural for an adoptee to be curious about where they came from and the reasons why they were placed for adoption. Being there for your child every step of the way in their birth parent search journey can strengthen your relationship.
“I’ve had parents who brought their children in to meet us at the agency. It can be helpful to those children to see this is a living, breathing agency and that they have a relationship with my birth mother.”