Parents

15 Stories That Capture What It's Like To Be Adopted

"We weren't abandoned; we were chosen."

While adoptees share some common experiences, no two stories are the same. We gathered 15 of our most popular stories surrounding adoptees -- ranging from personal blog posts on the trials and triumphs of growing up adopted to reflections on what adoption means. Check them out below:

"Some adoptees really need to find their birthparents to find closure, or maybe a new beginning — but not all," writes Madeleine Melcher.
"Some adoptees really need to find their birthparents to find closure, or maybe a new beginning — but not all," writes Madeleine Melcher.

Adoption is not something that should be a secret or something that anyone should be ashamed of. I think that is why it has never been a big deal for me. I have ALWAYS known I was adopted. It’s never been anything more than the way I came to be with my family. If you always know, then it just IS — there is never a feeling that someone kept something from you. For me, it is as normal as having a belly button; it has always just been there.

As an adopted child, I encourage other adoptees to remember what blessed lives we have. We weren’t abandoned; we were chosen. We were given a chance. I’m not saying it’s not hard or that it’s easy for people to understand. But it really isn’t for the world to understand; it’s for the people who are involved.

"There is rarely a day that goes by when we aren’t approached to answer a question about adoption," writes Rachel Garlinghouse.
"There is rarely a day that goes by when we aren’t approached to answer a question about adoption," writes Rachel Garlinghouse.

My kids are real people. With thoughts and feelings. Newsflash: They can hear you when you pepper us, the parents, with questions about our family’s authenticity.

Our love is real. Our family is real. It’s all real.

The next time you see a family at the store, at the park, in a restaurant, at the library, or standing next to you on the subway, and the family looks like they may not be biologically related or they may have joined together through the process of adoption, it’s perfectly fine to smile. But please keep the word “real” to yourself.

Or, as my mama taught me, just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it aloud.

"We don’t want to be made to be grateful, though we are," writes Hilary Holland Lorenzo. 
"We don’t want to be made to be grateful, though we are," writes Hilary Holland Lorenzo. 

When I was 13, I was placed in foster care again after a failed adoption that occurred a decade earlier. I’d later pass through several more, including a girls’ group home, moving around until I came of age. I became very adept at stuffing my belongings into two red milk crates and a battered suitcase with a missing zipper.

Children in foster programs are often escaping perilous situations, left at the mercy of whomever receives them next. Some of those people have good intentions, others don’t. Many don’t understand that these kids more than just the basics. There are many sentiments I didn’t know how to express in those days, because it wasn’t in my scope to expect, hope or ask. Here are two on my list.

"Although I will always carry the burden of my past, I will more greatly carry the strength I have found in my continuing journey of acceptance," writes Alexandra Touloukian.
"Although I will always carry the burden of my past, I will more greatly carry the strength I have found in my continuing journey of acceptance," writes Alexandra Touloukian.

I was abandoned in Gao’an, China in the spring of 1996. At eight months old, I was adopted and taken to the United States. I never considered what it would mean to be adopted since I was the happiest kid in the world with my adoptive family. However, my ignorance was short-lived after I presented a family heritage project in second grade about my Chinese roots. My unique presentation emphasized the differences between myself and my classmates, which led me to disregard my past since I didn’t want to be different.

6. 10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know

My experience is not unique, but it is important. I now understand that the main reason adoptees don’t talk about their struggles is generally the same. When we are young, we don’t have the ability to identify our experience and articulate our feelings. As an adoptee gets older, if no one is talking about adoption, we get the sense that our feelings won’t be understood or validated. I’m now a therapist myself and have worked extensively with adoptive families. In my work I strive to help this generation of adoptees, adoptive families and birth parents to have a different experience than I did.

Here are ten of the ten thousand things adoptees want the world to know.

"We know there are pieces of ourselves, emotionally, that don’t match with what society perceives of who we are," says Angela Tucker.
"We know there are pieces of ourselves, emotionally, that don’t match with what society perceives of who we are," says Angela Tucker.

The challenges transracial adoptees face are numerous. They may grapple with loss of a connection to their birth parents, and they may also struggle with their racial identity. They must navigate racism, sometimes with little to no preparation for the realities of being a minority — simply because their parents haven’t had to.

Imagine sharing your feelings of missing your deceased father (or brother) and hearing: “Be glad you still have your mother (or sister)” as if your loved ones are interchangeable.

Such a response would be off target, dismissive, and totally lacking in compassion.

Yet it seems acceptable, or at least commonplace, to tell adoptees who courageously share the difficult aspects and challenges of living life adopted that they should be “grateful” because they were “chosen” and are “better off.”

"The words my birth mother never said — never left me with — have formed a void in my life that has left me feeling empty and incomplete," writes Christina Romo.
"The words my birth mother never said — never left me with — have formed a void in my life that has left me feeling empty and incomplete," writes Christina Romo.

As an adoptee who was abandoned and left without any identifying information, the questions that will never be answered cause me the most pain and heartache. The words left unsaid are the things I long to know most about who I was and where I came from.

Twelve years after meeting her biological mother, blogger Ipsita Paul explains what she learned from the experience.

Manage Your Expectations

I never had any interest in meeting my birth parents until my medical history became an issue. Obviously, when I got word that the meeting was happening, I created some sort of fantasy of who my mother would be and how I would fit into her life. Unfortunately, for Bio Mom, and me there was no way she was going to live up to my expectations.

"No matter how loved, happy and content, the adopted child grows up wondering why they were placed for adoption," writes Mirah Riben.
"No matter how loved, happy and content, the adopted child grows up wondering why they were placed for adoption," writes Mirah Riben.

The popularity of genealogy speaks volumes of the basic human interest in uncovering the mysteries of lineage, heredity and the ancestors who came before us.

Adoptee curiosity is no different from anyone else’s and is even more understandable for those who don’t know from whom they inherited their eye color, musical talent or sports ability. Adoptees lack this simple, basic knowledge all others take for granted. Some do not even know their ethnicity and even their vitally important family medical history is a blank slate. Whether you are eight or 80, if you are adopted and have not met the parents who brought you into the world, you no doubt have questions, like those expressed by Hallee Randall, 11, who inspired this post.

My sophomore biology class was studying genetics when I learned, by accident, that I was adopted.

As my teacher used eye color as an example of recessive genes, she explained that two blue-eyed parents would never have a brown-eyed child. It was genetically impossible, she said.

I raised my hand, happy to be the exception. “My parents have blue eyes and mine are brown,” I told the class. She looked a little confused, but figured maybe one of my parents didn’t have true blue eyes, before changing the subject.

In domestic adoption, there are three people in the adoption triad, each with a unique perspective: the adoptee, the birth parents and the adoptive parents. Most of the stories we hear are from the perspective of adoptive parents. I recently had the chance to interview a woman who is both an adoptee and a birth mother -- she was adopted at birth and later placed a child for adoption herself.

"Adopting an older child is repairing a wrong that might not have been fixed in any other way, or by any other person," writes John M. Simmons.
"Adopting an older child is repairing a wrong that might not have been fixed in any other way, or by any other person," writes John M. Simmons.

The child gets to be a part of the decisions that will form their future.
Having their own cares and concerns understood and considered in the new family formation lets them know that they are important and not just an object to be possessed or traded.

“Parenthood requires love, not DNA.”
“Parenthood requires love, not DNA.”

Parenthood requires love, not DNA, the saying goes — and those who have become moms and dads through adoption know it. Here are 27 photos of moms, dads, siblings, and kids joining together as families. Anyone else need tissues?

Adoption Portraits