What If You Found Out You Were Adopted?

 

shutterstock_204132892On the Member Feed*, we’ve been discussing adoption and some of the ethical issues it raises. Member Parent A brings up an interesting question:

What if you found out you were adopted? What would you do? How would it change things?

Now, I’m not talking about finding out as a child or a teenager. I’m talking about discovering right now that you really were adopted and that the parents that raised you didn’t “make” you, they adopted you.

Personally, it wouldn’t mean a thing to me, and I wouldn’t change anything in my life as a result. I would not be even the least bit curious as to what really happened or why, nor would I seek out my “real” parents to meet them.

Now I’m 59 years old, so maybe being this age has something to do with it, or maybe I’m just the odd man out.  What about you folks out there? Don’t go with your initial response, think about it first.

* Editor’s Note: Ricochet’s Member Feed is the source of some of our most interesting conversations, many of which — like this one — get promoted to the Main Feed. Not a member? Join the conversation.

There are 43 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    I think I would be even more grateful for all the gifts my parents have given me. I am so blessed in my family, and my parents and my husband’s parents are great role models of love and loyalty.

    • #1
  2. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    It would surely change my perspective. I know how much I take after my parents. To think that I could have my father’s risk tolerance and my mother’s mental abilities and thought processes and NOT be their child? It would blow my mind.

    • #2
  3. Indaba Member
    Indaba
    @

    It would explain my father’s love of rice pudding which I could not bear.
    I would be very grateful. Bringing up children is hard enough.
    My sons bought me the genetic testing of 23 and me, and it can show you the countries of origin and your medical risks. So that could be used to help with medical visits.

    • #3
  4. Indaba Member
    Indaba
    @

    Oh…and the test allows you to participate if you want, in a public community where you can find relatives. It is remarkable as it did show a cousin who had participated too who lived up the road. So you can have instant relatives too.

    • #4
  5. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    I’m middle-aged also. It wouldn’t make a difference.

    My brother has two adopted children. He tells me that one kid (a boy, now grown to manhood) has brooded about it, while his daughter doesn’t seem to have been bothered about it.

    • #5
  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    I would laugh and laugh and laugh. I would find it [expletive] hilarious that I was the kid who got stuck with the heritable illnesses that run in my family when I was the adopted one!

    • #6
  7. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    One of my sisters came over last night and we had a long discussion about this very topic, what we would do if we found out we weren’t related. And we determined nothing would change, one of the things that binds us together is the love we share for the same people and shared experiences. Finding out one or the other or both was adopted wouldn’t change that.

    Thanks to the internet I am in touch with many, many relatives. And it’s a very mixed bag. I can’t imagine that I would have any desire to find my “real” relatives.

    There are some family resemblances but none of my siblings inherited both my parents’ beautiful singing voices nor my father’s inheritable disease. They were both committed leftists and only one of five leans left. None of us inherited my mother’s extraordinary ability to mange money.

    I asked a couple of my kids how they would feel if they found out they were adopted or that I had brought the wrong baby home from the hospital. My daughter replied that there was a time in her life that it would have been a huge relief and would have explained an awful lot. Not so now, both kids expressed indifference were they to find out such a thing.

    • #7
  8. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    I would be d****d surprised, considering the number of ‘cute’ baby pictures I was shown through the years!

    Wouldn’t make much difference at this point (60 years on) except to ‘explain’ some of way in which I’m the ‘odd out’ amongst my siblings.  Of course, the same could be said if one of them was revealed to be the unknown adoptee in the nest.

    • #8
  9. user_234000 Member
    user_234000
    @

    It wouldn’t change anything, but having known women who gave children up for adoption, I would want to thank my birth mother- not necessarily meet her, but write her a letter to let her know that I am doing well and to thank her. If it were me, I’d probably leave it at that.

    I am not on principle against those who are adopted getting to know their biological relatives, but there are huge risks involved. And many who do it are very young and may not be equipped for it.

    • #9
  10. captainpower Member
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    Stad: Parent A’s post on adoption

    http://ricochet.com/adoptees-challenge-the-adoption-is-wonderful-narrative/

    • #10
  11. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    I can’t imagine that it would be an issue at this stage (50) – one set of parents is more than enough, thank you very much. I don’t know how it would have been when I was younger – I suspect being lied to would have been a bigger deal than being adopted.

    • #11
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Zafar: one set of parents is more than enough, thank you very much.

    hilarious!   :)

    • #12
  13. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Mama Toad:I think I would be even more grateful for all the gifts my parents have given me. I am so blessed in my family, and my parents and my husband’s parents are great role models of love and loyalty.

    Ditto. (But don’t you dare tell my parents I confessed to this!)

    • #13
  14. otherdeanplace@yahoo.com Member
    otherdeanplace@yahoo.com
    @EustaceCScrubb

    If it turned out I was J. Paul Getty’s illegitimate son, it might change a thing or two.

    • #14
  15. Crabby Appleton Inactive
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    It would explain an awful lot. No, it would explain EVERYTHING .

    • #15
  16. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    A slightly better hypothetical would be discovering that you switched at birth (removes the issues of subterfuge on your parent’s behalf).

    I can’t say it would have no effect on me, but don’t think it’d be enormous and strive to get over quickly. It’s ultimately — IMHO — not that important.

    Likewise, can’t say I’d have no desire to seek-out my my biological parents, though I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. I’ve lots of desires that, on reflection, aren’t worth fulfilling. I’ve no relationship with those people, they mean nothing to me, and they’ve got a son of their own.

    • #16
  17. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Member
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny

    I’ve stayed away from that adoption thread.  I’m a proud parent of an adopted child, and I see nothing detrimental to adoption.  Parent A, who I tend to agree with, is completely off in that discussion.  She picks the worst anectdotes and characterizes them as typical.

    I would be pretty surprised if I found out I was adopted, espeically since I have features of both my parents.  I’m almost 53, so it might be my age as well.  But it wouldn’t bother me in the least if it were so.  Might actually be liberating…lol!

    • #17
  18. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Member
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny

    By the way, today they also advocate that the child know at as early an age as possible that he was adopted.  It prevents that sort of psychological schisim that might happen if he learns it as a teen or older.

    • #18
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Manny:By the way, today they also advocate that the child know at as early an age as possible that he was adopted. It prevents that sort of psychological schisim that might happen if he learns it as a teen or older.

    Yeah, sometimes I wonder about that advice. But, I’m generally a skeptic of “modern” psychological sensibilities. And modernism generally.

    • #19
  20. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Manny: I’ve stayed away from that adoption thread.

    As have I. We too often neglect to ask, “compared to what?”

    One of my sisters adopted my niece and nephew after having a biological daughter. Both have had their struggles, some within the context of my sister’s family. Both found their “birth mother” and sperm donor. Oy, even with their problems, they would admit they’re better off having been adopted.

    As for myself, I went through that teenage alienation from my family (my mother, especially) where I thought I must have been adopted. Am I the only one?

    In my case, it’s a pretty laughable proposition, though. Who has six kids and then decides to adopt number seven at the age of 40 (mother) and 42 (father)? Even the “switched at birth” idea would be remarkable in my case. I was one of very few babies to be delivered in our small town hospital before the maternity ward was permanently closed.

    Besides, how would that explain my mother’s words and thoughts involuntarily emanating from my mouth directed to my daughters. It would make a heckuva case for nurture over nature!

    Honestly, I can’t say how I would react given the improbability of the scenario. I never doubted the enduring love of my family, though. Still don’t. Would that every child felt that way.

    • #20
  21. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    It would certainly cause me to revise my views on the nature/nurture debate.

    • #21
  22. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    I would want to know which heinous procedures my parents had done to turn me into a taller version of my dad.

    • #22
  23. NancyB Member
    NancyB
    @NancyB

    On meeting new neighbors, I remarked that I could see where their little son got his red hair.  His mother laughed and said the boy was adopted and her hair was a dye job.

    • #23
  24. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    My wife’s first memories are of all of her worldly belongings fitting in a laundry basket and packing that basket every two weeks to move to another foster home. Her parents began the adoption process when she was four. Having seen the great good of adoption I would thank God for it if I found out I was adopted.

    • #24
  25. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Member
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny
    Western Chauvinist

    Manny:By the way, today they also advocate that the child know at as early an age as possible that he was adopted. It prevents that sort of psychological schisim that might happen if he learns it as a teen or older.

    Yeah, sometimes I wonder about that advice. But, I’m generally a skeptic of “modern” psychological sensibilities. And modernism generally.

    No on this I think they are correct.  It’s not based on psychobabble theory but on empirical outcomes.

    • #25
  26. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Member
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny
    Western Chauvinist

    Manny: I’ve stayed away from that adoption thread.

    As have I. We too often neglect to ask, “compared to what?”

    One of my sisters adopted my niece and nephew after having a biological daughter. Both have had their struggles, some within the context of my sister’s family. Both found their “birth mother” and sperm donor. Oy, even with their problems, they would admit they’re better off having been adopted.

    As for myself, I went through that teenage alienation from my family (my mother, especially) where I thought I must have been adopted. Am I the only one?

    I can only speak for myself and I never had any serious thought that I might be adopted.

    • #26
  27. user_189393 Inactive
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    It would explain a lot.

    Other than that, it would change nothing.

    • #27
  28. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Judithann Campbell: I am not on principle against those who are adopted getting to know their biological relatives, but there are huge risks involved. And many who do it are very young and may not be equipped for it.

    A very close friend of mine’s younger sister (I guess that also makes her a close friend of mine too) always knew she was adopted, and as an adult sought out and found her birth mother.  Long story short, they finally met face-to-face at a family reunion (the mother’s).  Things weren’t bad, but they weren’t all hugs and kisses either.  Once the novelty of the initial meeting wore off, the only thing of importance anyone else at the reunion had to say to my firend’s sister was to ask her for some money.  Now maybe things would have been different if she had met the birth mother alone, but she’ll never know.  Curiousity satisfied, that was the end of that.

    I’ve read and heard of many other “found my birth mother/parents” stories, and the majority of them turned out that the meeting was not worth it.  This sort of gives the expression “let sleeping dogs lie” an application in the adoption field.

    • #28
  29. user_234000 Member
    user_234000
    @

    Stad: I’ve read and heard of many other “found my birth mother/parents” stories, and the majority of them turned out that the meeting was not worth it.  This sort of gives the expression “let sleeping dogs lie” an application in the adoption field.

    I have several cousins who are adopted, and one of them was sought out by her biological half sister. Neither of them ever had a sister growing up, and they have a good relationship, but they didn’t meet until they were in their forties. If my cousin had sought out her biological family while a young adult, she would have found a great deal of addiction and turmoil: her biological sister did not seek her out until she was stable. I know a birth mother who comes from a very healthy family, with no addiction or serious dysfunction; when he biological child realized that her biological family was actually very healthy, she was furious, because she didn’t understand why such a healthy family would give a child up for adoption ( they did it because they believe that fathers are just as important as mothers, and I agree with them) So, it’s a catch 22. Sometimes it works out, but I agree with you: in most cases, it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

    • #29
  30. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Well, I have an adopted sibling, who doesn’t look like me at all. The rest of us look just like the rest of each other.

    Our other brother does a really annoying and dead-on impersonation of me. I can’t tell you how it grates, how much this biologically related brother looks like me and can caricature me so perfectly. So there really is very little chance of such a surprise happening to me personally.

    But even if all those clues were wrong, and there was just an amazing coincidence of things such as my grandmother’s pictures from her younger days looking like portraits of me, I can’t imagine feeling anything other than deep thanksgiving and joy for all the gifts I have been given.

    Perhaps if my family had been less, or I was a different person, I’d feel differently.

    I have a non-adopted sibling who was involved in The Forum some years back. She called my dad out of the blue one evening during the break in the brain washing, I mean, conference, to tell my dad that she forgave him. The phone call was brief, and came at the end of a long day he had spent helping me, pregnant with my third child, and my husband move house for the third time in less than a year. (She also called me later to tell me that all during high school, I embarrassed her with my bookish ways and my proclivity for varsity sports instead of cheerleading. Thanks for sharing.)

    All sorts of people blame all sorts of things on parents. Sometimes, people are right, but more often, they need to develop that mature and adult thing called variously a sense of perspective, humor, or forgiveness.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.