Imagine a hobby that someone cannot simply participate in at all. For me that was genealogy. It was not because I did not think the preoccupation was fascinating, it was simply because none of the people I could accumulate on my own tree were actually biological relatives.
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed my adopted family immensely. Now to the adoptee rights activists that might suggest that I was a “grateful adoptee”. Like one of those who felt that being adopted was more important to me than knowing my actual birth family or where I came from. I believe that if an adult adoptee wants to know about their origins, there certainly should be able to find that out; whether it is justified or not.
Growing up I always felt my immediate family was my own. However, in my case, my extended family always felt a bit off to me. This certainly could have been the fact that we were separated by hundreds of miles all during my youth. There families were different from mine. Yet there were other times when cousins compared themselves with one another or other relatives and that was downright disturbing to me. I had always known I was adopted, but learning to understand what that exactly meant to me seemed like a self-discovery than any conversation I had with my adopted family, friends, or strangers.
Many years into my adulthood I began to actually wonder where my roots began. We all face challenges in our lives, but being able to look back and vicariously connect to other family members for similar experiences and how they dealt with them are just missing from adoptees. They get a mirror and nothing more to reflect upon life choices. If we marry and have children, we get someone else to reflect upon and consider their life choices where we might be able to identify with or share a bit of our own wisdom.
Still, with all of what might be missing some adoptees just feel satisfied with living their life through the experiences that mold themselves into whole people; without the knowledge of where they came from or who might have been similar to them. Like a house with no foundation, we simply float into existence and decide just what kind of people we will become. Sure we take on the advice and nurture of our adopted family. But it is also just another choice we make throughout our lifetime of choices to assimilate into humanity.
So why do some of us want to know more? Think of a childhood missing some ingredients. Sure we all cope with challenges and there are many of us who face life experiences that change or traumatize us in different ways, yet for some of us these unanswered questions become an itch we cannot go on indefinitely not scratching. We all tend to gravitate toward people, places and experiences that satisfy our needs. It is no different for an adoptee eventually coming to the conclusion that knowing where they came from can become an overwhelming need to clarify.
Like anything we face opposition to change or to a different way of thinking to non-adoptees. Some people sympathize with our quest. Others feel the need to quash our justifications in favor of the birth relatives being shamed, or otherwise embarrassed by a family secret coming out into the light of day. In my opinion, no one has a right to deny adoptees their truth. Even if that truth is an ugly one, or one that opens up a whole knew family wanting to embrace them. Each possible outcome becomes a choice that many felt they were denied all their lives.
Resistance or not, every adoptee deserves to choose how they handle this question on their own. Do not allow anyone to try and give their two cents on how you should answer this question. Even another adoptee cannot force you down a path you just don’t feel you want to embrace. All I ask is that you wash away all the myths you might have based on your birth family when making the decision. When asked some adoptees say, “if they wanted me, they would have kept me”. I encourage adoptees to factor into your decision known facts, not delusions of further rejection. We all feel paralyzed by rejection in our core. If you have not considered it before, I have never met an adoptee where most of the paths they chose in life were based on avoiding rejection.
Why did I start looking? It was because I needed to know about the people who made up generations of my biological background. In my mind my biology might somehow be related to my fate; all the choices that led me to where I am now. I wanted to know which parts were from the nature I grew up with my adopted parents and which were the biological traits that made up a past I never knew anything about.
In the end, I learned it was a combination of the both. However, knowing the combination to your own life can sometimes lead you to unlock paths you never thought were possibilities you could handle. I feel more like a complete person than I did before I found my roots. Yes I am an adoptee. However, I changed my adoption from one that was closed to one that was open.