All adopted children have questions about their origins, and sooner or later they’ll want answers. Working as board certified adoption attorneys for more than 25 years, we’ve become very active with adoptees and their desire for information about their birth parents. Here are a few observations that will help you, as adoptive parents, anticipate your child’s future questions.
Get answers early
Information gets harder to find as it ages. So it’s best to seek the information you’ll need early, either during the pregnancy or shortly after placement, while the details are more easily obtainable. You can decide when to share it.
Know their areas of concern
Most of the adoptees we meet with want to know more about themselves, their medical histories, birth parents, and adoption circumstances. They’re interested in learning as many details as possible about their birth parent’s adoption plan.
What questions do they ask most?
Here’s a list of the top 15, based on our experience:
- Where and what time was I born (hospital and city)? Who was there?
- Did my birth mother or birth father see me or hold me?
- Were there any complications when I was born? Were there any medical concerns I should know about?
- What were the circumstances surrounding my adoption? Why did my birth mother choose adoption?
- Did she choose and/or meet you (the adoptive parents)? What was she like?
- Did my birth mother help name me or have a different name for me?
- How old were my birth parents when I was born? Were they married?
- Do you have a picture of my birth parents?
- Do I have any [biological] brothers or sisters? Do they know about me?
- Does anyone else in my birth family know about me?
- What is my ethnic/racial background?
- Do my birth parents have any special interests, hobbies or talents?
- Can you tell if I inherited any traits from my birth parents (personality, looks, or mannerisms)?
- Did my birth parents write anything to me (journal/letters in a file)? When can I see it/them?
- If I called my birth parents or wanted to meet them someday, would they want to meet me? Would you want me to meet them?
Know when to share
Most adoptive parents share this information with their child at an early age and certainly before he or she becomes an adult. This helps establish a stronger sense of identity and often helps avoid issues in the future. Information that might be matter-of-fact to a child at a younger age may become a crisis as they grow older. If there is a concern about when to share certain information, it’s best to seek advice from a professional child psychologist who has experience working with adopted children.