Millions of people are adopted in the US. Tens of thousands more don’t even know it, which is why everyone should test with all three companies Family Tree DNA, ancesry.com, and 23andme not only because you, personally, might discover you are adopted but because you might not find that out, but might find a relative such as a first cousin or great aunt or even a brother.
This article though is really going to be for those who are already aware they are adopted or created through anonymous donors.
I don’t have the percentage on how many adoptees search and how many don’t search. I can tell you don’t believe anything an adoption agency says. They’ll give you an outrageosly low amount on purpose or will try to tell you something like “only 30% of adoptees want their adoption record to be unsealed.” This is not an equivalent to an adoptee searching. Finding out how many search is something I will have to learn. However, I doubt that percentage whether it’s within a state, province, county, territory, or country can ever be found as some never mention they are searching, some sadly pass away during their search, and some are found whilst they are searching.
So, this article is for those who haven’t searched. I’m not forcing you to search. I am not saying you’re some bad person for not searching lol, but I am bringing to you truths I have come across in my seventeen years of research. This isn’t about searching to just get biological family medical information or your heritage. This is about actually making connections with original family members.
- Understand that 1 in 25 Americans are sociopaths and many work in the adoption industry. This might sound crazy, but these are people using false information and propaganda to get you to give away your baby and who, in turn, make money on their tax returns. For some agencies, that’s multimillions and millions a year. Talk to first mothers like Sandy Musser, Linda Gale, Shyanne Klupp, Joyce Bahr, Mirah Riben, Denise Glasner, and Lorraine Dusky and they will provide you examples. Adoption agency workers and workers who work for adoption agencies but not directly with adoption will often gaslight you. This personally happened to me. Gaslighting is only one example.
- Understand adoption agencies have said things like “you’re not the real mother” “you’re just the vessel” “if you tell anyone you’ll burn in hell” “don’t search for your child and disturb their life” “don’t search for your birthmother and disturb her life” “birthparent privacy” (it’s false, it does not exist) “you’ll have your real children when you marry” “you’re not good adoptive parents if your child searches” “you’re just a bad reminder” “your child is just a bad reminder” “if you love and care for your adopted child enough he or she will never want to search” “searching means you don’t love your adoptive parents” (some agencies support searching, but remember these false heros and heroines caused the separation) and I’m sure more. These lies are told to keep people apart so that the adoptee, adoptive parents, and the biological family members do not understand they were lied to, and do not register the full extent of the discrimination endured and decades lost.
- Knowing the truth now allows you to accept these truths. This is something important I need to teach everyone. Don’t listen to people who say “you need to prepare for rejection”. The line needs to be changed to “prepare to be found” whether you are an adoptee, a first mother, a biological father, a biological aunt, a biological sibling, etc. you need to be prepared to be found. I’ll get to rejection. I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend to do the search in this precise order. A. Heritage. B. Reading. C. Family Search.
A. Heritage- Learn more about yourself before you search for family. It’s important to remember that the adoption workers took away a lot from you, not just your original family. I know, I know you might be thinking “I’m Polish like my adoptive parents” or “I’m Canadian/I’m American and that’s all that matters.” If you are truly Polish like your adoptive parents or Greek like your adoptive parents then great your heritage was not stolen from you. However, do you have other heritages? If you aren’t actually ethnically Polish or Greek or whatever like your adoptive parents it’s great to know those cultures. Personally, I am only 4% Polish, and my adoptive mum has a huge chunk of Polish heritage. I love the Polish culture and traditions. Poland is the best country I’ve ever been to, but at the same time we as adoptees have a heritage or heritages of our own. Thanks to Bennett Greenspan, who I interviewed in January 2017, we adoptees have the capability to know our heritages. Mr. Greenspan created the first ancestral heritage site, Family Tree DNA. I personally like it the most and wish everyone used it. Currently, it’s not extremely popular like ancestry.com and 23andme so if you are not ready to search for close biological family members then I recommend using Family Tree DNA to know your heritages. Now, please stay with me here. Even if you’re not on board yet, please just stay with me here and read to the end before making your decision. Yes, you are Canadian, yes you are American but different ethnic groups brought great changes to the countries they immigrated to. PBS has an excellent, excellent three part documentary on Italians and Italian Americans and the incredible contribution Italian immigrants and Italian American immigrants made to the States. Learning your heritage and how your ethnic group of people contributed to where you live now is only beneficial for you to learn because it increases your knowledge of the country you are so patriotic to be from, but also let’s you know the contributions your people personally made, along with any hardships and discrimination your people endured such as the Native American groups, various Asian American groups in the Chinese Exclusion Act, Italian Americans, Irish Americans, and the German Americans during WWI.
B. Reading- Knowledge is power. There’s a lot of information out there. You don’t need to read it all, but I would recommend to do one year of reading before you start to search for biological family. How much? Whatever is a comfortable amount for you to read in a year. Canadian adoptees will likely want to read things more Canadian based, international/transracial adoptees will likely want to read things geared more towards them. The Baby Thief by Barbara Raymond is an absolute must. A Hole in My Heart by Lorraine Dusky discusses the medical discrimination of closed adoptees, the lies told by a Rochester, NY agency and how what is explained in the book is still appalently allowed. The Child Catchers. To Prison With Love by Sandy Musser. Blogs like mine, firstmotherforum.com, http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com, Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier, Stork Market by Mirah Riben is a great book but you have to personally email her for a copy, The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler, A Man and His Mother by Tim Green (who is from Cuse where I lived for 19 years), Second Choice by Dr. Robert Andersen, The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild, The Butterbox Babies (Canadian), You Don’t Look Adopted by Anne Heffron, Lethal Secrets by Annette Baran (for those conceived through anonymous donors), Split at the Root by Catana Tully (for transracial adoptees), and The Cries of the Soul by Khara Nine (for adoptees who are transracial and/or endured child abuse and/or racism by their adoptive family). If you are not a book person that’s okay. Here are some movies I recommend for you to watch over the next twelve months. Not all will directly be something directly related to your adoption, but I still strongly recommend you give them a try because one day it’s possible there might be something from one of these movies that directly is related to your adoption nobody ever told you about.
Philomena. The Magdalene Sisters. News interviews of twins separated by adoption. This is still ongoing and done in both Asian countries (especially China) and in the United States, twins separated so the agency makes more profit, so yes there’s always a slim possibility you have a twin or triplet you’re not even aware of nor your adoptive parents. Do you see why I despise adoption agency workers? More movies and documentaries, Ethiopian Adoptions by Journeyman Pictures on Youtube, Twinsters, A Girl Like Her, Loggerheads, Spain’s Stolen Babies (documentary), The Baby Sellers, Whose Child is This? The War for Baby Jessica, Other Mother True Story, Three Identical Strangers, and a lot more documentaries out there. There definitely is a lack of American movies, not documentaries, but movies that expose the problems and discrimination in adoption.
C. Searching- Remember we must change the adage from “expect to be rejected” to “expect to be found”. You can be found at any time. It’s important to know the time and money your family member spent trying to find you and that they searched for you because they love you. For many, especially because DNA technology for searching is pretty new, that has been decades anywhere from two decades to an outrageous seven decades. As you go through your search I cannot emphasis this enough. Ready? Please listen. Do not search just for your first mother. Search for your entire biological family. You have every legal right and every moral right to have a relationship with any biological family member that is eighteen years old or older, and they have every right to have a relationship with you without anyone interfering with that through lies, manipulation (ex: don’t get to know them until the biological mother has died), and force to keep you apart. People who know me, including my biological paternal aunt, ask, “are you content that you searched for your original family even though some are terrible to you?” My answer is yes, absolutely yes. Through searching I found two sides. I found people I am related to who still need to learn to stand up for themselves and learn better morals, I found people I am related to who need to release the comforting and uncomfortable lies adoption agency workers and elder family members told them, I found people I am related to that are just not kind (this is not just minor disagreements but to the point police have been appalled), but I also found fantastic people I am related to that are completely down to Earth, generous, loving, and kind including my biological paternal aunts and many extended cousins. I have no doubt that if I ever have a child in the future I will want his or her middle name to include the surname Schichler which is the surname of many of my cousins both here in the United States and in Germany. I know I will want another of their middle names to be Lawson after my biological paternal aunt, my biological paternal cousins who are closely related, and my beloved late great uncle who I only got a year to know along with Schichler being after my cousin Ben who I only got to know for a year. For those adoptees not wanting to search, the choice is entirely up to you but I say you potentially miss out on amazing opportunities. Understand the psychological damage done. We can pray for them, we can try to get them to change, if we want, if we want to spend the time, but if you don’t want to you can enjoy the great family members you do get to know, and regardless, enjoy the great family members you do get to know. Be as excited to meet a third cousin as you are to meet a half brother. You might learn you have a personality a lot more similar to your third cousin or more in common such as finding out you both went to the same high school because crazy things like that do definitely happen lol.
Searching does not mean you disrespect or don’t love your adoptive parents, provided they were great parents (like mine). In fact, searching can bring you closer to your adoptive parents. Some states treat adult adoptees as children and demand they get written permission from their adoptive parents to search. This is ridiculous. Honestly, if you go the DNA route that I explained at the beginning of this article, your adoptive parents nor the state can do anything about you talking to adult biological family members. I mean what are the police going to say if you reach out to say a great uncle, great aunt, and second cousin who are so excited to get to know you? If you live in a state where you need written permission do you really think the police are going to say “well, all of you have to stop talking to each other cos the adoptee is property of the adopters and they don’t want to let their adult son or daughter know their original family?” I mean get real. It becomes not only discrimination on you, but discrimination on your biological family members. Just remember, this behaviour of your adoptive parents is not necessarily meaning they are bad people they too were told things like “love is all you need” (whilst the pregnant mother was told “love isn’t enough”) and “if you love and care for your child, he won’t ever want to search.” Reassure them, regardless of whether or not your state has this stupid law, that searching has nothing to do with their excellent parenting.