Man who was adopted at birth searches for his birth family onlineAs an adopted person, you may wonder about your birth family. You know your adoptive family loves you, but perhaps you feel there is a part of you missing. Most people who are adopted want to meet their birth parents, but sometimes this is threatening to adoptive parents. So, how do you talk to your adoptive parents about wanting to find your birth family?

Emotional Experience

First of all, remember it’s natural and healthy to want to find your birth family. You shouldn’t feel any sense of guilt about this desire. Taking this step to find your birth family is an important part of figuring out who you are. It can help you feel a sense of closure and completeness. During the process, both you and your adoptive parents will feel a variety of emotions. This is natural. To help ease the adjustments, and make the situation more comfortable, strive for open communication.

Initiating the Discussion

Here are several suggestions to help you discuss your plans to find your birth family. These steps can help you and your adoptive parents walk down this path together.

1. Explain Why

Even though your family knows in their head that it’s normal for you to be curious about your birth family, in their hearts, they may feel intimidated. Explain your motivations for looking for your birth family. Remind them it isn’t because you’re unhappy or don’t love them. Tell them they are your family, and that will never change.
Describe why you want to find your birth family. Tell them it’s because you’re curious about:

  • Your birth parents. You wonder if you look like them. Is your personality like them? What color are your birth mom’s eyes? Do you have curly hair as she does? Is your birth father tall or short?
  • Your extended birth family. Explain that you have questions about whether you have other siblings or half-siblings. You also wonder about your birth grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.
  • Why you were adopted. You may wonder why your birth family chose adoption for you. This might not be a good question to ask during your first visit. After you’ve had several meetings with your birth family, you may ask this question. Be prepared never to know the answer to this question. Some birth mothers never explain why to their birth kids.

Young woman having a serious discussion with her adoptive mother

2. Explain What

Reassure your family of your love and your commitment to them. Explain what being adopted feels like. Tell them it makes you feel different from other people.
You have a desire to know more about your birth family to help you understand yourself better. Share with them that finding out more about your birth family is a part of your adoption story.

3. Explain where

Describe that you’re curious about where your birth family lives. Do they live in your city? Your state? Have you walked past them on the street?
Perhaps your adoptive family knows the answer to these questions. If so, ask them for more specifics. Some adoptive families choose not to explain details of the adoption until their adopted child is old enough to understand.
Encourage your adoptive family to tell you details, but don’t push. Allow them space to process your exploration of your birth family. If they adopted you through an adoption lawyer or adoption agency, ask the adoption professional for the information about where your birth family lives.

4. Explain how

You might ask your adoptive family to help you find your birth family. They can help you as you make decisions in your search. Your adoptive family could also provide support, especially if there are unexpected outcomes such as your birth mom not wanting to meet with you. Consider asking for help in your search for your birth family because it’s beneficial to have a support system for emotional situations such as this.

Potential Issues to Address

It’s not unusual if your adoptive families don’t understand your desire to find your birth family. They may feel betrayed that you want to find your birth family. Your adoptive parents may worry that you will love your birth parents more than them. They may want to ignore the fact that your birth parents exist.
This puts you in the tough position of balancing your search for your birth parents while trying to reassure your adoptive parents. If you are an adult, you may make your decisions even if your adoptive family doesn’t understand. If you are still living at home as a young teenager, comply with your adoptive family’s wishes, but continue the conversation. Be kind and patient with them, but tell them how important it is to you to meet your birth family. Hopefully, as time goes by, your adoptive family will come to understand or at least support your desires and help you walk through the process.

The Adoption Reunion

After you’ve located your birth family, you’ll want to meet up with them. Expectations may be high on both sides. Your birth family may be different from how you’ve imagined them. But you may be different from what they expected. Remember, they are processing this experience as you are.
You might wish to have someone with you when you meet your birth family. However, meeting with your birth family is a unique experience for you, so don’t feel bad if you want to go alone. It’s what you’ve waited for your entire life, so it needs to be your decision. Sometimes birth parents request that their family comes along for the first meeting. When this happens, it can bring a lot of healing for everyone.
The decision to find your birth family is huge. It can give you a sense of closure and peace as an adopted person. There will be some potential challenges to navigate if your adoptive family doesn’t understand your desire to find your birth family. But as you reassure them of your love and share the reasons, they will hopefully support your decision and help you on your journey.