Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m writing to tell you that I am an adult now and I wish to search for my birth parents.
As a kid, I often wondered where I came from and why I was placed for adoption. I wondered had I done something wrong, was there something wrong with me? Not because you didn’t love me enough or because I wasn’t happy, I was just a little lost. You told me I was adopted at such a young age that I don’t even recall first learning of my adoptive status. You must of thought it was very important to me to know this about myself at the time, to know the truth of how I came to be part of our family. Truth always seemed very important to you both as parents and I have learned the value of honesty from you both. I thank you for that. You always talked to me about my feelings about my birth family. I thought that was so awesome because you saw inside my heart and knew that I had a place for them inside mine. I felt that you loved them in a way too for giving me to you. That made me feel really loved and honored by you both. You told me that if I wanted to find them someday, you would do whatever you could to help.
That time is now Mom and Dad. I am old enough to start having children of my own and I feel that unless I know my family medical history, that perhaps I should wait to have children. I also feel that I want to learn the story of how I came to be placed for adoption, even if that story is not pretty, it’s part of the truth of me. You both taught me to always stick to my truth, to honor myself. This is me honoring myself. I probably would have asked you years ago to search with me but although you were supportive, I still held guilt inside that I might be hurting you. But I am an adult now and I am more than ready. Whatever information I find, it will never change that you are my mom and dad. I will always love you just the same as I have since we met. This process might be a little stressful and scary for me too but I trust that you will be there for me, even just to listen. You have both always been open to hearing me talk about my adoption. That has kept many of the classic adoptee issues at bay for me I think. I know you both know I am not looking to replace you as parents and that you understand how this is about me and no one else. The best thing about our family is that we have always supported one another, no matter how scary it may be. I hope that when I do decide to have kids of my own, I can teach them half of what you have taught me. To honor myself in all things. To sit in truth and to love others as you would want to be loved. Thank you for raising me with strength and understanding and for educating yourselves about the special emotional needs of the adopted child and now adopted adult. Your support means everything to me.
I wish the above letter was real and I could send it to my adoptive parents. Unfortunately we are almost completely estranged because I found my birth family. I never had the support or understanding from my parents to express my feelings about being adopted. And when I finally did find them, they never acted the same towards me. Even my extended family cast me aside. I simply needed to know where I came from and what my medical history was for my children. They taught me that their love was very much conditional and that put a scar on my heart that will never go away. The most important thing to me was the thing that they were against the most. The pain was unbearable..yet I searched anyway. I had to. It was that important. And I would do it again even knowing the outcome. Because at the end of the day, the message was….you are ours. But the truth is…I am mine.
Adoptive parents, my hope is that you will always honor your childs wishes and feelings regarding their desire to search or not search for their birth family. You know they did not come to you biologically and acting as if they did is only detrimental to the psyche of an adoptee. As adoptive parents, you are called to a higher level of understanding, and a higher standard to be advocates for the child you brought into your family…because there is much grief and loss for them and they had to suffer that so that you could adopt them.
I cannot stress the pain it caused not having the support I needed. Please don’t put your adopted child or grown adoptee through that. If you adopted in Texas, please support SB329 so that ADULT adoptees can easily access their original birth certificate. What a wonderful way to say “I LOVE YOU AND HONOR YOUR LIFE” to the now grown child that you love so much.
Shawna Hodgson is an adoptee rights reform activist and an adoptee.