Common Questions Adoptees Ask about Their Birth Mothers
Navigating adolescence is tough enough on its own, and adoptees face an entirely different beast growing up. They can be on an emotional roller coaster while trying to sort through hundreds of questions running through their mind. Trying to find your identity as an adoptee can be especially challenging. As a birth mother, naturally you want to alleviate as much confusion and anxiety as you can. You want to share your reasons why you chose to place them for adoption. Depending on the type of adoption you chose, you may get the opportunity to do this.
It’s impossible to know the exact questions your child will ask as they grow up. The questions they have in their childhood may vary greatly to the ones they may have in their pre-teen and young adult years. This is natural and to be expected, as they are learning who they are. However, it’s still good to have answers prepared, so their questions don’t catch you off guard.
Adoption Choices of Kansas works with hundreds of adoptees and adoptive parents, and we’ve collected a few of the most common questions adoptees ask, along with some practical ways for you to answer and open the door to valuable conversations.
Why Was I Put Up for Adoption?
With adoptees, there are going to be a lot of why? questions. Similarly, they may ask, Why didn’t my mother want me? or Was I a mistake? The best way to approach this type of question is with as much transparency as possible. Most likely, this question has already come up a few times, and maybe you’ve danced around the answer with a spoon full of sugar. Perhaps you fear that the truth will make them not like you. But, honesty and openness is the best way to handle this question.
If they are old enough, tell them the real reason you placed them for adoption. Admit that you weren’t in a good place to provide him or her with the life they deserved, but that you loved them enough to find them a caring and supportive adoptive family. That you had their best interests at heart the whole time. That you wanted to give them the best life possible. Even if your child is only 13, sometimes having mature conversations about your adoption journey and what you went through is the best way for them to understand how they got here.
What are My Birth Parents Like?
For many reasons, information about the birth parents may be limited or unavailable. If you’ve been holding onto information until your child is older, that’s okay! You could be hesitant to share information for many reasons, and as small children, broad statements probably suffice. However, as they move into adolescence, they will want more real and in-depth answers. They may ask about potential siblings, what you look like, and if his or her birth father is around.
There’s no guidebook for when you should share all of the information you have, so don’t be surprised if you’re met with anger, confusion, and a lot of pre-teen emotions. Reassure your child that you had always planned to share everything, but didn’t want to overwhelm them early or add to the confusion. That you want them to have time to process and absorb things one piece at a time, as hearing about their adoption story for the first time or revealing certain pieces of information may be difficult and overwhelming for them to hear.
Is It Okay if I Feel Different?
Unfortunately, no parent — whether birth or adoptive parent — is free from this question. Adopted or not, feelings of not belonging are a giant burden for most of adolescence. With adoptees, however, there are a lot more layers of emotions to unpack. Pre-teens can be ruthless to each other as it is, and if an adoptee is different from their adoptive parents in race, culture or ethnicity that can just add to the ammo. Assure your child that their parents love him or her as their own, and that kids their age can be jerks and probably will continue to be jerks for a few more years.
Luckily, you can traverse the adolescent storm of emotions and bottomless questions together. Adoption is never a journey you have to walk alone. Getting through hard times is a team effort. If there is a situation or a question that you aren’t sure how to answer, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your child’s adoptive parents to come to an appropriate answer. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Is It Okay to Think about / Wonder about My Birth Parents?
Your child may have some guilt when it comes to wondering about you and where they came from. After all, in their mind, their adoptive parents raised them and loved them like their own; why should your child question anything else? Assure them that wondering about their heritage is completely natural, and that you’re more than happy to share with them anything they want to know. You may be surprised where you align with hobbies, interests — even physical gestures!
Adolescence is a big time in figuring out who you are, and tracing back to who you came from is a large piece of that puzzle.
Who am I?
We’ve probably all asked ourselves this question in our lives. For adoptees, this requires a lot of unpacking. The most important way to answer this is to let your child know they can ask you anything, and you’ll be transparent and honest. Create an environment where you can normalize asking questions about being adopted and how that will shape them and create a healthy identity.
Questions Adoptees Ask about Their Birth Mothers
There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of questions adoptees ask. There will be fights, slamming doors and probably a lot of crying. Adoptees asking a lot of questions about you to their adoptive parents in no way diminishes your role in their life. Be honest and keep the conversation going.
As we said, there’s no timetable for sharing information with your adoptee. If your child is still young or not even born yet, just take a deep breath — you got this! A lot of adoptees can experience depression and identity crisis. Understanding how to approach the hard questions when they come up is a great weapon to have in your arsenal.
Meet the Author: Michelle Brugioni is a practiced, well-versed college-educated writer and avid coffee drinker. She has ten years’ experience as a freelance writer, and has written for an alarmingly wide range of clients and publications. She has written on topics like: life science, biopharmaceutical company acquisitions, dealing with anxiety, and creative drinking games.
As a fearless writer and masterful researcher, each time Michelle is approached with the question, “Can you write this?” she responds confidently with, “When do you need it?”