I’ve been pretty vocal about my life as an adoptee lately and as a result I’ve had adoptive parents (or potential adoptive parents) ask me what they should know about adopting. I think it’s wonderful that you’re asking. So many adoptive parents don’t bother to ask that kind of thing and frankly, they should.
The first thing you should know is this: adoption is trauma. It doesn’t matter how young the baby was, they were meant to be with their birth parents. This is not meant to insult you but you were not their first choice. They will feel loss and they will mourn their birth parents whether you can see it or not. I was a very pleasant baby from what I’ve been told. To look at me you would have never known the holes I felt growing up. You would have never known that I didn’t feel like a whole person. You would have never know that my heart felt broken a lot of the time.
The second thing you should know is that your adoptee deserves to know everything they can about their roots. You can’t possibly know the void left within a person who was robbed of their background. My birth mother refused to tell me much of anything about my birth father for the first 27 years of my life. It felt like half of me was in the shadows for most of my life and I missed out on so much of who I was. That was unfair and not a decision you should have the power to make for someone else. I understand if there is a sensitive nature around your adoptees history but it’s still important to share these things at age appropriate times. Do not under any circumstances try to hide the fact that your child was adopted. Trust me on this ~ they WILL find out. In this day and age of DNA testing there’s just no way they won’t and if you weren’t the ones to tell them; that trust may never be rebuilt. You don’t get to erase their history so please don’t try to.
The third thing you should know is that your adoptee’s need to find their roots is not a reflection on you. It actually has nothing to do with you whatsoever and what they need is your support. They likely already feel guilty for even wanting to find their roots as though it somehow would reflect poorly on you. Please reassure them that you fully support their decision in this. You do not have the right to be angry about this. You do not have the right to make them feel badly about wanting to learn their history and connect with people who actually look like them. This is not about you.
My adoptive parents were wonderful about this. They told me I was adopted from a very young age so that I always knew. My mom kept in touch with my birth mother to keep the lines of communication open for whenever I wanted to meet her. My parents told me as much as they could about my birth father and supported me in every way while I looked for him. They never made me feel like less than a full part of the family. Even so, I still struggled with abandonment and rejection issues. They never made me feel less than but I still felt less than. You can do everything right and still have an adoptee who feels the sting of rejection. It’s almost like a birth right for us. There are certainly some things I’ve done and used to help me through to the other side and I would be happy to share about those privately. The bottom line is that you need to be honest, supportive, and helpful. And if you have the opportunity to support the birth mother in a way that she can keep and raise her baby, please do.