This is a true story about the discovery by my brother that he was adopted at age 16 and repercussions and grief of that revelation. I hope it helps others who have a similar experience and parents who are wondering whether they should tell their child they are adopted.
We are moulded as individuals by our name, our parents, siblings, friends, school and the area in which we grew up. Our personality and our belief in who we are is all bound up in our relationships as we grow up. There have been many discussions about nature vs. nurture defining our characters.
Today it is the general practice to tell a child that they are adopted, that they were chosen, they grow up knowing that for whatever reason their real parents were unable to care for them and they also have a chance when older to contact their biological parents. This gives them knowledge and confidence when growing up.
However this was not always normal practice and the effects of adoption on those who find out later in life that they were adopted can be far more upsetting than finding out when you are a child.
Even today, in countries where abortion is frowned upon women may have to have secret births abroad and private adoptions arranged. When sex before marriage was a social scandal and abortion not available, many many secret adoptions were arranged.
Imagine then, at the age of 16 finding out that who you know as your parents are not, that your mother is really your aunt and your sister is really your cousin.
Imagine finding out that the aunt living in London, the cousins you barely know are really your biological family. This is what happened to my brother:
There is a lot of pain and heartache suffered when unrealistic expectations are placed on the meeting with biological parents. If you have had a happy fulfilled childhood and love from adoptive parents then you are blessed and should treasure that.
Whatever the reason for your adoption, the biological parent has moved on, perhaps had a family and things change. Keep an open mind on how the relationship may develop. If it is good then that is a huge bonus but remember you may have nothing in common with your biological parents or siblings. It is no one's fault, just circumstances beyond your control.
It is often a closure for your peace of mind to meet and talk to your biological parents. It might be something you may have dreamed about for years. So don't get your expectations too high in case they are disappointed by your reunion. Let relationships develop or not. You may get on really well or you may have little in common. Let things go slowly and run their own course, as you would with meeting any new person.
Get to know each other if that is possible, but don't be too upset if it is not, there are not always happy endings to adoption stories. Meeting your biological parents may, whatever the outcome, help you with any loss of identity you may be feeling, and aid in getting over any of the effects of adoption that you have experienced in your life. But don't expect too much.
My brother got on well with his biological family but they were almost strangers to us all. They were evacuated to our home during the war but we were all young and didn't know the truth then. He saw them perhaps half a dozen times later in his life, but it was knowing the truth, being comfortable with himself and accepting what had happened that gave him the contentment he deserved.
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