For children who are adopted, they may feel like the word ‘adopted’ often carries a set of limitations as to how they must feel about their situation. The fact is, there is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for an adopted child to feel about their circumstances. Their feelings are valid no matter what they end up being. The following AskReddit thread asked adopted children to clear up any misconceptions about adoption. Check out their honest answers.
Source available at the end.
“I’ve had an unusual situation. My ‘real’ mom died when I was six, but my dad already had another partner who became my mother in almost every sense of the word. My dad died when I was thirteen, and my mum formally adopted me 3 years later.
What people (even the judge who signed my papers) don’t seem to understand is that for us it was always just a piece of paper. The judge even said something along the lines of: “What a big day for you!” when, in reality, it was just a boring thing we had to do on a rainy Tuesday morning.
Whatever my mom’s faults, she had someone else’s traumatized kid dumped on her with no warning and raised me to the very best of her abilities. I could never explain in words how little it has mattered that she didn’t give birth to me and that genuinely seems to throw some people off.”
“That sometimes the comment ‘You’re adopted!’ is an appropriate and funny one. For example:
Me: ‘I hate chicken wings!’
My adoptive mother (who would probably live on eating chicken wings if she could): ‘Yeah well, you’re adopted.’
My family friend, who knows that I’m adopted, but apparently has no idea how to talk about it just looks shocked and aghast. I like to talk about my experience. I like to open up the conversation because there are a lot of people who have no idea how to talk about it, and they don’t really understand why it’s an important conversation (to have) sometimes.
I get the impression that people want to know, but they tiptoe around it like they do with so many other conversations including racial identity or religion. These conversations are so often fraught with tension because of ignorance and highly defensive attitudes. People don’t understand that some people’s family identity is fundamentally different. It’s not bad, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. However, it’s still reality, and I think that people should talk about it more. The more people understand the experience of others, the better our world gets.
Adoption isn’t at a bad thing at all. So many kids get new chances at life and that’s beautiful. But we all deserve to understand each other, so keep on talking about it.”
“If you were adopted from birth, then it pretty much feels like your adoptive parents are your only parents. At least that’s how I’ve always viewed them because that’s what they are to me.
The best way I can describe it is using that quote from Yondu in Guardians: ‘He may’ve been your father, but he wasn’t your daddy.’
Also, if I’m making self-deprecating jokes about being purchased (or what not) then it’s okay to laugh. I mean that is why I’m doing it. Please do not get offended FOR me, THAT is what gets annoying.”
“The fact that I have a strong pull towards my biological family and want to find them doesnt mean I had a ‘bad adoption’ or that Im ‘ungrateful.’ I love my adopted family, they are my family. However, there is also a piece of me that has been missing for a long time. Im actually glad you cant understand me because that means you’ve never felt this intense desperation to know your roots, which is a feeling I wouldnt wish upon anyone.”
“I was born in Cambodia, but I was adopted when I was about 8-months-old. I’ve lived basically my whole life in the USA. I still find it kind of funny that whenever Im in line with my parents, everybody thinks Im just a separate kid. Occasionally, I would walk next to my parents and people would ask me if I was lost.”
“That some people who are adopted don’t care. It’s hard to explain, but (for me) my earliest memories are with my adoptive parents, so they have always been my real parents.
Making a child is easy, raising one is the hard part. So, I never had much desire to research my biological parents. I know my mother fled from Serbia when the war started and died soon after my birth when she was in Vienna.
In fact, I often see it as the adoptive parents having to make an even harder decision as to if they really want THIS child like it had just happened the natural way, therefore, they care and that bond is extra strong.”
“I’ve never felt slighted, pained, or like I was missing something. To me, it’s just a random factoid that gets thrown out there every now and then. The parents who raised me are my parents- full stop. I’ve never had any desire or urge to look beyond that.”
“I was born in Russia and adopted by American parents when I was a baby. No memories back then. I don’t mind telling people that, and I could care less. My birth parents probably didn’t have the things that my family here does, and I probably wouldn’t be living nearly as good a life as I am right now. I don’t want to meet my birth parents, but I’m glad that I exist.”
“I grew up adopted by well-meaning, but clumsy parents. It was common for me to be told about when they ‘got’ me. It was like I was a purchase or something. There were also lots of ignorant extended family comments about my looks versus my parents. Since this is what my experience has been, I knew nothing else.
I was able to use our state adoption registry to connect with birth mother. It was a sad experience. I’m not sorry that I did it. It was good to know the facts. Reconnecting with a birth parent is not like in the movies. It won’t fill some parental hole in your heart.”
When I tell someone that I’m adopted, and they ask about my real parents (meaning my biological parents), I get very pissy. With all due respect to the people who conceived me, my real parents are the ones who changed my diapers, who put food on the table and clothes on my back, who drove me to karate/football/basketball practice, who stressed the importance of education, and who most importantly loved me completely and unconditionally. THOSE are my REAL parents.
“The loss of identity that can potentially happen. For me, I grew up knowing nothing about my biological family, and therefore, knowing nothing about my family history or roots. I have a slim to none chance of ever finding them since I was born in China, and my birth name was given to me by the orphanage I was placed at which meant having no connection to my actual biological family.
Also, Im Chinese and my adopted family is white. I’ve struggled with (and still do) being comfortable with myself and my race. I wished for a long time that I could be white and had a lot of self-hate. So, I think a lot of people may not understand how being of a different race/ethnicity of your adopted family shapes how you view yourself. Overall, I dont think many people understand how complex it can be.”
“My situation was unique in that my aunt/uncle took care of me after I was born because my biological father was in a coma after suffering a heart attack, and my mom couldn’t deal with all of it. He ended up dying years later, and while I mostly lived with my aunt/uncle, I went back and forth in my early years before they all decided that it would be best if my aunt/uncle became my legal guardians.
My aunt/uncle are my mom/dad. They are great parents, and I have an enormous amount of respect for what they did for me, but it was also confusing as a child. I had a relationship with my biological mom and saw her on holidays and for a week or two every summer. She was always very loving as well, but it was hard over time to feel pulled in two different directions and to understand who I should be identifying with. There was always a pressure to be a son to my biological mom too, but my aunt/uncle always felt like my ‘real’ parents. There was always some guilt there, and lots of ‘what ifs’ thoughts from too young of an age. Mostly, they were good about it. It wasn’t too hard, but it was often confusing.
I also wonder if a lot my attachment issues are related to those early childhood years of not having a stable caregiver. I am a pretty radically independent person.”
“My wife and I are both adopted. Our children are the only known blood relatives that either of us know of. I love my adoptive family, and I am seen and accepted as family. However, considering the value placed that is placed on heritage and lineage in this world, it was overwhelming for me the first time that I realized I was about to meet my first genetic relation the day my eldest daughter was born.”
“I was adopted almost 20 years ago. My sisters and I were forcefully taken by the police so my case is a bit different then others. I have significant scars (at least to me) and attachment issues. But I’m not damaged goods, and I’m not broken. I’m more then what I came from. Also before I met the man that I’m going to marry, I would insist on meeting the family of anyone I was seeing.”
“I was adopted from South Korea at around 3-months-old and into a Caucasian family. I have a twin brother (we were adopted together), a younger brother (biological son to our adoptive parents), and we have all lived in the U.S. our entire lives.
My friends and other people who have known that we were adopted have always asked us, ‘How come we didn’t want to find our birth mother and have never wanted to?’ From our understanding, she was very young/ a teenager when she became pregnant. Along with the surprise of it being twins, she gave us up for adoption so that we could have a chance at a better life.
She may very well be situated with a new family of her own now, and she may not have disclosed that she had twins as a teenager and had given them up for adoption. If we were to just suddenly show up in her life, it could cause some issues or complications for her. I guess we’ll never know, but we see it as a blessing- which has given us a better life. All adoptions are different, so this is just our our reasoning for not wanting to seek out our birth mother.”
“I dont think people understand the grief and the loss that accompanies adoption. I was adopted from China when I was 9-months-old, and I have no records of my birth family or anything. I dont even know my real birthdate (mine is simply the orphanages best estimate on my age). I’ve always been grateful for my adoption. Dont get me wrong, I love my life and have been afforded so many opportunities that I never would’ve received.
Adoption is a beautiful thing, and there are children who desperately need loving families. However, I’ve always felt this huge loss and grief. The second my adoption paperwork was signed, I lost my connection to my birth family and to the Chinese culture and language. I became someone else that day. Some adoptees simply dont feel this, and thats okay. We each have our own stories.
However, those of us who do feel that loss shouldnt be ridiculed or told to ‘Be grateful’ for their adoption either. There is a duality to an adoption: beauty and brokenness, love and loss, and it’s my duty as an adoptee to fully embrace it.”
“This might just be me, but some family dynamics freak me out. My family was roughly a reasoned democracy, and every person had their voices heard. Everything got done and why it was done was also understood.
Also, when we disagreed and got mad and yelled, my parents would cool the situation down by saying that they ‘meant well’ and ‘wanted the best.’ A lot of people thought that because I was a problem kid, it meant that I had no reason to be pissed off at the world, and therefore, I was just being overemotional. Being forced to grow up so fast and seeing the world for what it really is isn’t always so pretty. It gives you a weird perspective, and it made the way that I dealt with people somewhat tentative and standoffish.
If you learn that someone’s adopted, hug them, and then let them know that they’re a part of your family.”
“When I was 28, I was working one day at a job unloading a truck that just came in with a lot of stuff. I was the only young guy at the store, so I was going to be really busy.
As I was stocking shelves and listening to music, I saw this man coming towards me. He was calling my name. Since it was retail, and most of my coworkers probably told him to look for me by name, I didn’t really think of anything of it at first. But then as he started to get closer, and my brain did that thing where it went: ‘Hey, he looks a lot like you. Don’t you think?” I took my glasses off, wiped them, and put them back on (only to realize that yes, he did look a lot like me).
I helped him find something. As he was leaving, he turned around and asked me if I had any idea who he was. I told him that he looked like me. He told me that he was my father and had been trying to contact me for 18 years, but he was afraid as to how I would react.
I broke down that day. He told me that he was always there keeping an eye out on me. He was even at my graduation, and I never knew it. I’ve talked with him a few times since then (since I still don’t know how to handle the situation fully).”
“One of the biggest things is the misconception that people seem to think I’ve had a choice in my family. I was 14 when I was adopted. It was basically a miracle that anyone wanted me because everyone usually wants a baby. So, the question: ‘Are you happy with your current family?’ annoys me a little bit because I didn’t really have a choice.”
“A lot of people kept asking me if I was going to look for my biological parents. I never really cared to. It wasn’t until I had kids that I wanted to know some of my family’s medical history. I did a DNS + medical work up and found some interesting results for my ethnicity.
Around the time that my adopted dad died, I found some documents in a lock box, and eventually, I traced down my biological mom. She died the week before I found out all of this info. What most people don’t get is that I’m okay with all of this. I had great parents who raised me, loved me, and encouraged me. What more do you really need?
I’ve found this background has made it easier for me to love and consider close friends as family. Yeah, they might not blood related to me, but neither were my parents or my brother/sisters. Love is love.”
“My adoptive family (for the first 15 years, until my adopted brother and father left the house) were abusive. This situation always made me question what my life could have been like if I had gotten to stay with my biological parents.
It made me fantasize about a world I knew I could never be a part of. Looking back on it now, I realize how privileged I am to have been adopted into a middle class family instead of the rural area of Kentucky that my biological mom was from.
However, the mental and physical scars, I think sometimes, aren’t counterbalanced by the money. I would’ve much rather had a decent family dynamic. Again I can’t/will never be able to tell what my family life could have been like.”
“Two of my half brothers and myself were taken from our biological mother at the ages of 4 (me), 2, and 9 months. I didn’t get adopted until the age of 14. My brothers never got adopted.
A common misconception is that all families have the right intentions when looking to adopt a child. Some families are looking to adopt because they can’t conceive, while others are looking to adopt to give the child a second chance at a ‘normal’ life.
I went through three other families before I was adopted by my current parents. One of those families used us to get money for drugs, one of them used us for money and unfortunately sexual harassment, and one of them just straight up didn’t want us because we came from troubled backgrounds.
I’m 25 now. I see my parents as my only parents as they were the people who nurtured me into the successful human that I am today. Even though they ‘got’ me right before my 13th birthday, they never gave up on me, regardless of what had happened to me during my 12 prior years.”
“I was adopted through a closed adoption in an orphanage in Irkutsk, Russia. My adopted parents are American and came from Michigan to adopt me. I have no idea who my birth parents are and that’s something I always think about. ‘Why did they give me up?’ ‘Was my mom too poor to take care of me?’ ‘Did she just not want me?’ I also constantly think about if I have any siblings or a twin. ‘Am I the oldest child?’ Or maybe I was an only child. I sometimes like to imagine that I have an identical twin because why not? I think that would be awesome.
I also think about how different my life could’ve been if I had not been adopted. I’m actually getting married today (YAY!), but ‘Where would I be if I was still living in Russia?’ ‘ What if I had never been adopted?’ ‘Would I be living on the streets?’ ‘What if a Canadian family adopted me instead of an American one?’ There are so many factors at play that put me in the spot that I’m in right now, and I constantly think about those factors.
It’s also hard to relate to others when they talk about the bond that they share with their parents. I don’t have that bond. My adopted parents didn’t give birth to me, and I don’t think you can have that bond unless they birthed you. I also have no info on my family history which really sucks. I have no idea where I came from, what health conditions I’m susceptible to, or what my kids will look like when they grown up- nothing. It’s quite terrifying if you think about it.”
“All three of the kids in my family were adopted and from different birth parents. My brother and I were around 1-month-old each when we were adopted, and my sister was 3. We all knew that we were adopted and that we were chosen, which always made me feel somewhat special.
We were raised in a middle class home. We had parents that loved us and provided for us. I never felt insecure growing up in our family, and I always felt loved and supported. However, when my brother and sister reached their teens, it was clear they were going to have problems. My sister had learning issues and ADHD. My brother started experimenting with alcohol and drugs by the time he was 12. My sister could never hold a job and lived off of welfare until she had a stroke and passed away at 37. My brother was an alcoholic by the time he was 16 and had problems with the law. He would try pretty much any drug given to him, and eventually passed away from taking a couple of his girlfriend’s methadone at the age of 38.
As for myself, I’m living a comfortable middle class life, but I have always had problems maintaining (or even initiating) relationships.
All this to say that getting adopted children is difficult. My parents are about as average as you can get, but all three kids (including myself) have had issues. There was nothing you could point to in our family life that would have ever seemed out of the ordinary when we were younger. However, I am quite certain if you looked into the lives of our biological parents, they must’ve had some of these issues. Probably more so for my brother’s alcoholism, and my sister’s cognitive and learning issues.
I have never looked for my birth parents, and do not have any real desire to other than to know what medical issues might run in my genes.”
“My adopted parents are my real parents. I’ve noticed that when people first hear that I’m adopted, their first question is usually:
‘Do you know your REAL parents?’
‘Yes, that would be the folks who raised me.’
To answer your question, I know them quite well. So, I have indeed met my biological parents.”
“Yeah, I met my biological family. I do love them to death, but now I have two times the family drama and dysfunction.”
Posts are edited for clarity.