Thursday, June 7, 2012

Should Adoptive Parents Search for Birth Parents?

Wenxin, meeting his "new" family at the airport, back in 2010

Tuesday I wrote about adoption loss -- specifically, an adopted child's loss of personal history.  I talked about the loss of medical history and the loss of his or her original family tree. 

Today, I want to ask some questions.

What's our role as adoptive parents in helping recover our children's missing histories?  Should we search for their birth families, or is searching a decision that should be left to them when they're older?  If we decide to search, when do we share the information we find with our child? 

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.  I'm hoping to hear the perspective of adoptive parents, adult adoptees and first moms.


  1. Hi Dana,
    I am an older adult adoptee, and I would have been thrilled if my adoptive parents had had the courage and confidence to search for my birth family, knowing that the results would not impact my profound love for them. I was relinquished in a different era, when openness in adoption was not encouraged, and it took me a long time myself to realize that my desire to connect with my genetic roots was something completely different from my love for my adoptive family. My perspective is that in searching as an adoptive parent, you are giving your child a gift signifying that feelings for two families are OK. You are telling your child that he doesn't have to feel conflicted! I would share the information with him only if and when he wants to hear it. I know some adoptees who never want to open that door, and many, many more who do. For medical information alone, the information can be so helpful.

  2. This is such an complex topic, good on you for raising it on your blog. I'm the adoptive parent of two young adults, both adopted as infants from Korea. The information available to us made it possible for us to find one family (no reunion) but not the other.

    I believe that if the possibility for openness exists, adoptive parents should go for it - presuming, of course, that the child is in agreement. We have an obligation to do so with great respect for the privacy of our children's mothers, fathers and families. We also must provide our children with adoption-competent support along the way.

    Search may end with heartache. I therefore wouldn't recommend it across the board, but would instead encourage adoptive parents to be very careful before they even consider it. But having gone through a search that resulted in even a little more information than my child had before, I believe its value outweighs the risks, presuming that necessary preparation and care accompanies it.

    Thanks for allowing me to comment!

  3. Such great comments. So much to think about. Thanks Susan and Margie.

  4. Here's a comment that was emailed to me from an adult adoptee.

    "I believe parents should acquire all the information they can for their child so that if/when they are adults and decide to go on that journey of search they have the best fighting chance of success."

    This is an excerpt from a blog post where the blogger explores the many layers involved in the question of the role of adoptive parents in a search for birth parents.

    You can read the whole post here:

    1. For some reason, that web address didn't post as a link. You can, however, just copy and paste it into your browser. Thanks.

  5. Been meaning to comment - in 10 or 15 or 20 years, the little information we have will most probably prove isles. So, we will search for 2 or our 3 girls birth parents. What about the 3rd? We know her "story" is not true, and we literally have no information. The orphanage refused to give us any of her file - no police report, no nothing. She was left to be found (if that is what happened) is a city with 20,00,000 - not a small village.

    For my other girls, we will gather whatever we can. I personally would love to find their birth moms - if for no other reason than to tell these women that their girls are doing well - they are loved and cared for.

  6. I am very curious about this. I've dabbled at reading info on Brian Stuy's site as it relates to China adoptions. The big question is cost and how. It also seems that the best time to find extra "info" would be while you are actually in country adopting, visiting the orphanage, etc. But that time has so many other distractions in addition to jetlag! :-) If there is anything that would be valuable to ask while visiting in country, a list would be a great resource. What to ask?! How to ask?! Who to ask?! The orphanage director allowed us to look at our son's orphanage file, but it did not have any clues to the past. Yet, we were able to take photos of documents that they could not give us. I'm so glad we asked!

  7. I searched for (& was successful in finding) my birth father back in '07. I had been looking online for a few years but nothing had turned up. I finally caught a break when I accidentally misspelled his name in a google search and, low and behold, there he was! I was 34 at the time. Anyways, I created to help others who are in the same or similar circumstances. Please feel free to take a look. FFA is unique in that it creates a great "exposure" piece that is very useful for those persons (ie parents) that may be searching for you right now. Use of the site is totally free and there is no obligation. Hope this helps and perhaps will see you on Good luck!


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