I am a Selfish Adoptee

As you might imagine, I read numerous blog posts about adoption. It’s helpful to see what other adoptees, natural parents, and adoptive parents say about their respective journeys. Most of the time those posts give me encouragement, but occasionally one will frustrate me. I read one of the frustrating ones about a week ago.

The writer was an adoptee who has been told it is “selfish” to search for members of her birth family. She posted questions that have been posed to her throughout the years, including: “Your adoptive family is so great! Why would you need anyone else?” She also cited an online comment regarding a question posed on Debate.org about adopted children seeking their biological parents without their consent. In short the comment read, “The adopted child should get down on his knees and THANK GOD who intervened on the child’s behalf and provided warm, stable, loving parents…”

If understanding where you come from is selfish…

If knowing your medical history is selfish…

If desiring to have a relationship with people who carry your DNA is selfish…

If wanting to expand your definition of family is selfish…

If hoping to find someone who looks like you is selfish…

Then I am a selfish adoptee. And I wear that moniker with pride because getting to know my natural family equals the blessing I had in being raised by my adoptive one.

For those who regard this as “selfish” in a negative way, I raise this simple question, “Can you ever really have enough connections to people who love you and understand you?” Because that’s what I have in both my natural and adoptive families. And I wish more people had that too!

12 thoughts on “I am a Selfish Adoptee”

  1. Great post, Becky. Not only is it unselfish to try to make connections, it’s also important for all the reasons you mention — in my opinion. Thank you.

  2. I am a 42 year old adult adoptee and I agree with this post completely. I think it’s completely natural to want to understand everything about what makes you who you are. I certainly feel no shame in wanting to know as much I can. I feel a real satisfaction in having a place in both my adoptive and genetic families. I am grateful for the love and support I receive from all my family members. The ones who have loved me my whole life an those whom I just met. They are all a part of who I am and where I came from.

  3. Adoptees are not “forever children” in need of lifelong supervision. As adults they are fully capable of making their own decisions about search and reunions. When guided by sufficient balance and understanding, an adoption reunion can enable a Seeker to become well in an age of illness and anxiety. Most adoptees’ have an emotional need for a curative and breakthrough reality that finally makes sense out of their disrupted life stories. The most important thing I learned from my adoption search is, “If a parent can love more than one child, then a child can love more than one parent.”

  4. I have always been on the fence about that. I agree it is selfish to want to know who you look like and if you’re gonna be ugly (I totally thought I was ugly forever because I didn’t look like my family and I am adopted into a Mexican-American family and while I do look like my adoptive Dad, we both don’t have that beautiful brown skin tone. I don’t know, I just really thought pale white skin made me ugly and I was super skinny too, and people make skinny kids feel just as bad as fat kids. Like I was a disgusting monster that could hoola-hoop through a cheerio). I wanted to know that I wasn’t going to be ugly forever. I wanted to know who I looked like and what stupid little things I got from my bio-mom and what I got from my bio-dad, but I always felt selfish for wondering. I would pretend that I wanted to know for medical reasons, but I wanted to know for vanity… and maybe that was the selfish part.

    At some point I finally grew up to realize that everyone that isn’t adopted just knows that shit. They just know they have their Dad’s sweating palms and their Mom’s bushy eyebrows. Their zits will clear up once they turn 25. Their migraines aren’t going to kill them from the inside out (oh man my parents really must have thought I was dying for a while while suffering through that crap as a child).

    But to tell someone they are selfish or that their family is the end all be all, so don’t wonder and don’t look, is ignorant and really pricky. We adoptees can talk about it until our faces turn blue, but mind your own if you haven’t got a dog in the fight.

  5. I don’t think of you as a selfish adoptee.
    We recently adopted a baby boy and I really encouraged his birth-mom to keep things open. At first she was very against this. Her family was having a really hard time with her choice of adoption so at first it was okay for us to keep in contact with one of her sisters and a mutual friend. So before she had him I sat down with her and her mom and we went through pictures and created a scrap book for him of her side of the family.
    Once he was born we managed to change her mind. He’s now almost 5 months old and she’s had several visits with him (along with her sisters, grandmas, aunties, etc.).
    Recently his birth-dad came in to the picture and we’re in the process of making a scrapbook of their side as well.
    Once the adoption was final I created a private group on facebook and invited only his birth family. This way they can always keep us posted (he has 3 half siblings) as to what’s going on in their lives and we can keep them updated about his.
    I’ve received some negative comments from people who look at our openness as being wrong and that we need to just cut the ties. When I ask why their response is “aren’t you afraid?” So I have come to the conclusion that it’s the unknown that they don’t like. Ironically that’s what we’d be doing to our child so I’m not sure on their logic.
    I’m proud that we’ve been able to keep in touch and share his life with his whole family. It’s so much healthier for (most important to me) him and them.
    So really it’s those who are saying it’s selfish that are truly selfish 🙂

    1. Thank you for adding your comment. I love the approach you have taken and I think everyone will benefit from this openness. God bless!

  6. It’s amazing how people how know their biological family can’t understand the need of adoptees to want to know what they take for granted. I’ve heard all the negative comments too including being selfish and hurtful to my adoptive parents.

  7. From an adopted parent eyes… I am 33 and my son is 16 my son was on the bed of death when we got him, he just found out that he was adopted at 15. I never mind him having questions or maybe wants to talk, but to hear him say i want to hear both sides of the story tore me apart. I thought and said to myslef what other side of the story.. I have been there all your life there is no other side of the story to listen to.. I started feeling as if i was just a temp person and after all this iam not good enough to have the role mom. When i adopted him i never went around town saying that he is adopted never.. He was always known to be my child. Apart of me feels torn like my child left me. Having hear him refer to his other family as if there is hope does hurt, cuz i was his mom this whole time. His my child and i really don’t want to share this moments with no one else. This is the only reason why i would never adopt again.. It truly hurts very bad.. Iam not selfish hurt is more cuz i have seen him grow to be the person he is today. I feel as if i have the right to no want to share my child with his birth mom..

    1. I have no idea what it’s like to be an adoptive parent, so I really appreciate your comment. I am sorry you are hurt by your son’s questions. Adoption is hard – for everyone.

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