Most parents are kidding when they tell you that you were adopted. At least I think they were kidding…
For some people though it’s just a reality of their life. Every family is different after all. Here, people share how they found out they were adopted and how it changed their life. Enjoy! And make sure to check out the sources at the bottom for even more.
1. As the prophecy foretold…
My parents told me I was adopted when I was really little, probably around when I was 8 years old. I didn’t exactly know what it meant but they told me that they chose me because I was special to them.
As soon as I found out, I walked around school telling my friends and other kids that I was “The Chosen One.” Needless to say, I got picked on quite a bit after that, but as I got older, I understood more and more what that meant and why it happened. I wouldn’t have changed how I was told.
2. For the record.
I was 28 when my parents finally told me. I don’t think they ever planned on telling me, but the province where I was born was about to release old adoption records, and they didn’t want me to find out by having someone show up at my door claiming to be my mother.
It rocked my world – I never suspected anything before that. My younger sister (who was not adopted) and I look quite similar, so to say it was a shock is an understatement. It took me quite a while to come to terms with it…I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I would’ve done it differently…much earlier. Like 23 years earlier. I can’t say I feel “betrayed” because I know they did it out of love, but it’s kinda messed up.
3. A very awkward poke.
I found out when I was 21 when my birth family found me on Facebook. _
4. Planning for the worst.
I’m not adopted but my best friend is. His mom told him in his early 20’s when he started going to nightclubs and meeting girls and what not. He was in the same area that they had adopted him from and his mom was worried that he might accidentally ‘meet’ his sister.
5. The lives we don’t lead.
My parents told me since I was a baby. The lawyer that helped them with their private adoption gave them a baby book when they got me, signed it, wrote a sweet note, and I grew up with that being read to me most nights.
When I was old enough, they always asked me if I had any questions. I never really did, because I had grown up knowing a woman gave birth to me who loved me enough to know she would be doing best by me to give me to my parents. I had no issue with this, I still don’t. I have had an amazing life.
When I was 18, my mother offered me to read all the letters my birth mother and her had written.
I had no interest, those were their conversations.
It’s always been strange to me that when I mention I’m adopted most people respond, “Oh I’m so sorry.” By this point I just laugh when they say that, but it confused me a lot growing up. I can easily say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and the best thing that ever happened to my parents who had tried for years and multiple miscarriages and even one premature birth of twins who both died. How my mother is the amazing well adjusted person she is, I have no idea.
I am 22 now and I have since contacted my birth parents. This was a very surreal experience, I went from having 5 members of family to about 10 people wanting to know all about me and telling me they loved me. My birth father had never told his wife he had a kid, and this was hard for her as she shared with me that she had tried for seven years to get pregnant, and yet he never thought to mention he already had a daughter. My birth mother was thrilled, over joyed, and very emotional. She needed validation from me, to know I didn’t hate her. I told her flat out, you did the most amazing thing you could have for me and I have never doubted that.
I feel very sorry for those children who feel they have been lied to if they find out later in life, though I can’t blame the parents who felt they wanted the child to be able to understand when they had the conversation with them. It’s a different tactic, one my parents didn’t use, and I have no idea how I would have felt if they chose that route. It certainly wouldn’t have meant they loved me any less though, that’s for sure.
6. Ragnar, son of O’Connor.
I’ve always known, as my parent were always very open with me. I honestly didn’t care that I was adopted, since I always knew.
They always told me they didn’t know anything about my biological parents, but they were pretty certain I was like 90% Norwegian. So for as long as I can remember, I thought I had viking ancestors, and was I so pumped! So pumped, in fact, that at the age of 25 I was ready to get my back completely covered in Norwegian/viking artwork. I thought that would look pretty manly.
Well, I call my Dad two days before I’m supposed to get drawn on to verify that I’m Norwegian. I tell him my plans, and while he’s disappointed I’m going to get tatted up, he tells me to wait while he looks through some files.
It turns out that he had a few documents in the lock box at the bank regarding my adoption. He forwards me a scanned document from Catholic Charities (my adoption agency), and it turns out I’m 75% Irish.
7. The strange uncle comes to visit.
I’m not adopted but my father was. He committed suicide – I strongly suspect he had an undiagnosed mental disorder – when I was really young and I sort of pieced all this information together when I was older.
I’m about 9 when I find a black leather bag tucked away in my house, and like any good snoop, I look inside. There I find papers indicating my father was born to my grandmother’s sister. You dig? The woman I thought was my aunt was my biological grandmother. It was apparently a terribly abusive home. It was great he got out of there.
I was the only grandchild and apple of my grandmother’s eye – the replacement kid for the one she lost. She was a controlling, bitter woman though, so I always sat on the secret. I discussed it somewhat with my mother, but she wasn’t close to my father’s family. I honestly don’t think she knew the whole story.
When I was 15, I worked in a local pizza joint. My town was three-stoplights-on-the-main-drag small, and from time to time, we’d see the local homeless guy Bob walking by. He’d be talking to himself and waving and pulling his wiry beard, all the while smelling like rotting cabbage.
Sometimes he’d stop in, and the boss would do his best to shuffle him out. Ole Bob comes in this day, and he’s doubly frantic and nothing will get him out of the shop. I don’t remember what he wanted, but there was that feeling that he had something really important to tell me.
Finally he leaves, and my boss makes some crack about him, and I swear to you, right then and there in a pizza shop in Smallville, U.S.A., it clicked: I said, “That guy…is my grandfather.”
My boss looked at me in disbelief. But I knew. I still don’t know how. I’d heard Bob’s last name along the way, and I knew my father’s original last name. The story fragments about Uncle Bob…this was that guy, the guy who beat my father to a pulp when he was little.
I waited for my (adopted) grandmother to tell me the story of my father’s life. She took her knowledge to the grave. She wanted me to believe I was her biological grandchild, and so I let her believe it.
But it would have been nice to know some more details. There was nothing for her to be ashamed of. I don’t know why it was such a secret.
8. The stork flew a long way.
I’ve always known. Even before I was able to comprehend that I was adopted, my parents would always tell me that my birth parents loved me so much that they wanted a better life for and and that’s why I was adopted, by two people who wanted me and would love me unconditionally. I was adopted from China, thus the one child policy, I always saw my adoption as a positive and forget I am.
Later growing up I realized that I could have been unwanted (for being a girl) and thrown out but that did not change how I felt about my situation. I’m here now and love my parents, I even have the same quirks and some medical conditions as them, how funny.
9. In vino, veritas.
When I was 8, my parents left me with my grandma who had been drinking… after a few hours all I remember is her asking me “How would you feel if you were adopted?”
All I could think was “What? I don’t know because I don’t have to feel that way… I it would be weird”… My mom picked me up and I told her what my grandma kept saying and my mom was like “Well, how would you feel” and I was like “I don’t know, I guess it would be weird?” and she was like “Well, you were adopted” and my life changed a lot from that moment on.
10. It’s in the mail.
I have always known. I was adopted when I was three days old. My mom would read ‘Why Was I Adopted?’ a lot as I grew up. It’s a really good book. I’ve never felt resentful to my parents.
I did try to locate my birth parents when I turned 18. Through the state law, I got the records which were incomplete except for my birth mother’s name. I contacted her through the appropriate method of sending a letter to the state records office (or something, this was over a decade ago) and she responded with a letter saying that she didn’t want to meet me. That’s the point at which I felt betrayed.
11. Having hard conversations early.
If you’re doing it right, it’s never a surprise. It’s just part of the story of how your parents brought you into their life. It shouldn’t be news. It should be an ongoing conversation that starts before your kid can even talk.
12. JERRY! JERRY!
My mom told me I was adopted when I was 5 because she was mad at my dad and told me I didn’t have to listen to him anymore. Yay narcissism. My parents divorced soon after. My biological dad’s mom started taking me for a couple weeks every summer and I was close to her before she went into a home.
13. You’ve got options.
I have always had an open adoption since my birth. As long as I can remember, I have known.
My parents made a point to help me understand I was adopted for as long as I can remember. I am so thankful that I have known for so long because I have never felt as I was even adopted. I have a more open than normal adoption though, and recently it became a major problem. This may be an over share but I think it is relevant to the question because it is often assumed that an open adoption=a good adoption. My personal experience contradicts that and I think it’s worth sharing so people can see another side to adoption.
My parents always wanted my biological mom to be a part of my life because they were so grateful for the gift she had given them. They always invited her to birthday parties, etc. My biological mother even lived with my family for about 6 months when she needed a place to stay. She moved to another state a few years later and I continued to visit her about once a year.
A few years ago I stayed with her for an entire summer. It started out fine. Eventually, it became too much. She wanted to still be the cool-birth-mother but she has major issues that I never realized until I lived with her. She could not balance keeping up the cool “parent” while trying to enforce rules that she had never had to enforce because she had never really been a mother.
I met a boy and decided to stay for longer than just the summer. This is where things got really bad. She got extremely jealous that I spent all my time with him. I mean scary jealous. She couldn’t handle the jealousy and kicked me out of her house in a state where I knew no one but her and my boyfriend. I moved in with my boyfriend and she started stalking us.
We tried to get a restraining order but it was denied. She started threatening and harassing my parents (who were living in the other state), and I; saying putting me up for adoption was the worst decision she ever made; they were horrible parents; I had grown up to be a disgrace; I was a loser; I had no friends; on and on and on. I had to block her number and after a few months I couldn’t handle it and moved back home. She continued to harass us and my boyfriend once I moved back home. Two years later and it has mostly stopped. She asks for forgiveness all the time but I am no where NEAR ready to forgive her for all the horrible things she has said to me and I’m not sure if I ever can.
Most importantly this experience made me extremely thankful that I was put up for adoption.
14. The chance to make memories.
I’m in a weird situation because I was adopted at the age of 11, so I was quite aware of what was going on. I was in a shelter home (fancy speak for orphanage) for six months at about a year (which I don’t remember) and then from 6 years to 11 years.
I had some contact with my bio father after being taken out of his care for the second time, but I have very few memories of my bio mom. They cared about me, but both of them had too many personal issues to properly care for me. But, I remember having great fun with my biological dad – he would always ask if I wanted to go to school or go to the waterpark in the mornings – being 5, you can imagine that I was pretty truant at school. He’d take me with him to work (independent landscaper) and let me use shearers to lop off small, low-lying branches. He let me run around in the state park totally unsupervised, which led to me bringing back an injured corn snake, which he then built a house for in our back yard. Really caring guy, but sadly he just wasn’t able to be a full time father.
Anyways, I had five and some odd years in the foster care system before being adopted. I think that being bounced around has actually helped me somewhat; I’m really good at adapting to new social groups very quickly, and am fairly extroverted. I got to choose my own new name upon adoption, which was pretty cool. I use my birth name as a nickname, though. I’m really reconciled with the whole thing, and share it easily with others, when for example, folks say “Wow, you look like just like your mom!”
15. The hunt is on.
My mom found out when she was 5 and swore to find her real parents one day. She eventually tracked them down and found them by doing a lot of spy work and investigating. Mind you this was before Facebook and she had to sneak into buildings and do some shady stuff.
So in the 60s my grandmother, a freshman in high school, was invited to a party. At this party she got a little tipsy and ended up having sex with a 20 year old freshman in college. She found out she was pregnant a few weeks later. Her father, my great grandfather, was a minister at a huge church, (I’ll just say it’s in the south and people in those parts and at those times would have flipped out if they knew that their minister’s 15 year daughter was pregnant out of wedlock) so they went to weigh the options with a doctor.
The doctor pretty much said either abortion or adoption was their only option. My grandmother didn’t want to have an abortion and decided to instead give the baby up for adoption. They flew to the DC area to one of the best adoption clinics on the east coast and she gave birth to my mom. Now when my grandmother tells me this story, she always tells me about how she was supposed to immediately give up the baby to the clinic so she didn’t get attached to it but my grandmother snuck out of the hospital with my mother and went around DC with her for a few hours.
At the zoo in Washington, my grandmother realized that it was finally time to return with my mom and give her up. She looked into her new babies eyes and told her that she prayed one day that she would be able to see her again and that she has a good life and that her mommy loved her. Upon return, the clinic was furious and even threatened to call the cops. It was all eventually sorted out and my grandmother walked away from my mom for what she figured would be forever. My mom was adopted by a couple from Maryland who were unable to have kids.
Flash forward five years
My adopted grandparents (let’s just call them Meemaw and Pop) were always very adamant about telling their adopted children (they had 3, my mom and then a set of twins) that they were in fact adopted. They didn’t really explain what adopted meant and what the nature of it was however until my mom was 5. They told my mom that her real mom had to give her up and that they had no idea who she was. My mom, at 5 years old, told Meemaw and pop that she would one day track them down.
**Flash forward to 1995, around 22 years later.
My mom and dad had met in high school and were high school sweet hearts. They got married and had me in 94. When I was one years old, my mom told my dad that they were finally ready to find her birth parents. My dad vowed that it would be so.
They compiled some basic information from meemaw and pop and went to the hospital/clinic in DC where she was born. They told my mother that they could not give her any information and that the only records they did have could only be given to someone that was a family member of my birth grandmother or grandfather.
My parents left dejected, but my dad had a friend who worked at the hospital on the night staff as a security guard. He begged and begged him to go in and steal the records from my moms file. He eventually agreed and him and my dad went and wrote down all the info from the records that they had on file (super illegal, keep in mind however this was in the 90s when really no one cared but still…). They found out nothing about my birth mom but they did find out my birth grandfathers location and date of birth, and college (Yale Law).
He took me and my mother on a little trip up to New Haven. In the library they requested some of the year books from when he would have been in school. They found 3 people that matched everything (location of birth, age, and law school) and only 2 were men, and one of those men looked exactly like my mom. They asked the Alumni records if they could have his phone number and they gave it to them. My mom had officially gotten a phone number that she could use to call her birth father, she broke down in tears in the Yale library.
Flash forward 2 months.
My mom did not want to call right away. She wanted to discuss it with her adopted parents and just pray and think about it. She was finally ready, so me, my dad, and my mom went to the pastor of our churches house and our pastor was going to call him. My mom thought it was best that way. He rung the phone number and it rang once, twice, three times, then voicemail. My mom didn’t know what to do. They were just about to give up for the day and figure it was a sign from God when the phone rang.
Preacher: “Hello is this _?” Preacher: “Hi, this is pastor __ from __church in ___, I was just calling because I have a question for you” Preacher: “No I’m not asking for a donation, I’m actually sitting here with a young lady who has come to the conclusion that you are her birth father” screams of joy on the other end of the phone Preacher:”Would you like to talk to him?” My mom and him talked for an hour. It turns out after my grandmother had gotten pregnant he was not really involved with the baby although he did keep in contact with her . He graduated from Yale, got married, had a few kids and got a job at a law firm (he is very wealthy now). Later on my mom actually met him and he was really nice but very much missing the purpose of life.
For him it’s all about money and nothing else really matters. His wife and kids don’t know that he has another daughter. He said he was on a business trip when he actually went to meet my mom. One of his daughters actually works in DC and my mom passed her one day at a grocery store and just knew that she was walking past her half sister whom she could never ever talk to. It’s sad really.
Nowadays, my mom stalks them on Facebook and stuff like that but she always takes a second to hover over the friend request button to wonder what it would be like to just tell all. She won’t do it though. She is too nice. Anyways back to the phone conversation. My mom asked her birth dad if he had her birth moms number. He gave it to her and they said bye and that was that. Now she had her birth moms number and could have all the questions she’s ever had answered. She started to dial but then got nervous. My dad offered to do it and so he dials and says
“Hi, I have a question for you, what does the date may 15th 1966 mean to you?” (Not actual date but it was my moms birth date) My birth mom starts crying from joy. My dad hands the phone off to my mom and my birth grandma was actually crying so much that she handed it off to my moms half sister. They talked and then she got to talk to her birth mom and then her half brother. It was awesome.
My birth mom said that she prayed everyday that she would get this phone call. My mom eventually flew out to meet them and my mom get her birth moms perspective of the whole story. She had gotten pregnant, given my mom up and then eventually married her husband. Right before they got married she broke down and confessed about her having a child. He was 100% supportive and cool and said that if they ever found her he would love her like his own daughter. He is amazing.
For me it just meant more presents growing up and having to try and explain the whole situation to everyone and it took forever. I’ve since realized what the gravity of it all meant was and I’m very thankful how everything turned out! I’m actually meeting my birth grandma for dinner soon.