Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Was Adopted

Grown In My Heart is doing a monthly Adoption Carnival encouraging everyone to discuss truths in adoption. I think this is a great idea. Here’s my contribution to this month’s topic, Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Was Touched By Adoption.

Be sure to check out what other bloggers are saying about this (the Mr. Linky icon at the bottom of GIMH’s post), there are some really good conversations going on.

  • That being adopted is not a one-time event, but has life-long consequences.
  • That being adopted has had more of an impact on me than I may ever realize.
  • That sealed records, not my origins, make me a bastard.
  • That adoption stereotypes are such common assumptions it’s difficult to even start discussing reform.
  • That no one was going to help educate my adoptive parents about being adoptive parents.
  • That my adoptive parents were going to lie to me about what they knew.
  • That my adoptive father was permitted to act as his own attorney in sealing my file.
  • That being adopted has an impact on future relationships.
  • That, despite being adopted as a newborn, I would still love and miss my birth mother for the rest of my life.
  • That being adopted as a newborn does not make me a tabula rasa.
  • That “your mother gave you up because she loved you” makes NO sense.
  • That my birth mother was likely not advised on all of her options.
  • That my birth mother might have been able to keep me if our society were more supportive of expectant mothers.
  • That trying to get your adoption records is like trying to pull your own teeth with one hand and a pair of rusty scissors.
  • That people who aren’t touched by adoption are going to say, “Why don’t you just get your records from the courthouse?”
  • That my birth mother is a real person, not just some nebulous entity not spoken of in polite conversation.
  • That intermediary programs exist to make money, not to help adoptees or birth relatives.
  • That my birth mother needed more help to open her heart to me than she was going to get from the intermediary program through which we eventually made contact.
  • That contacting my birth mother through an intermediary would result in being locked out of my records permanently (or until the law changes).
  • That “no” upon first contact through an intermediary often means no second chances.
  • That baby selling exists, and is thriving.
  • That agencies and adoption “professionals” often tout profiteering as charity.
  • That those same agencies double-dip by later charging adoptees and birth relatives for the same information they themselves sealed.
  • That the adoption industry is deeply corrupted.
  • That most people don’t care.
  • That made-for-TV movies about adoption would make me cringe.
  • That I would dread my own birthday.
  • That being adopted means I am a second-class citizen and have to worry if I’ll be able to get a driver’s license or passport.
  • That being adopted severs me not only from my family, but from my culture and heritage.
  • That my mother would be too traumatized to ever acknowledge me.
  • That my father and any potential siblings may never know I exist.
  • That being angry about all of this makes me “anti-adoption”, “anti-children”, “pro-abortion”, and an “ungrateful angry adoptee”.
  • That being publicly angry makes me doubly so.
  • That my being adopted would have a continual impact not only on me, but on my children and theirs.


  1. Great list. Thank you!

  2. Thanks! I enjoyed yours also.

  3. I’m with Peach, great list.

    I’m glad you did this too.

  4. Thanks, Melanie. I liked the approach you used for yours. Your blank slate remark reminded me to mention the tabula rasa.

  5. I loved your list. Thank you so much for sharing it. And I think one of the top five most important lessons I needed to learn is that there is a HUGE difference between becoming a parent through adoption… and becoming an adoptive parent. I so appreciate all of the first parents and adult adoptees who share their truths so that I can continue on in this journey… not for my sake, but for the sake of my daughter.

  6. Thanks, Tonggu Momma. After reading some of the other blogs that are participating in the Carnival, I have one to add:

    Not all adoptive parents suck.

    Because there are actually some adoptive parents out there who are willing to hear what adult adoptees and (birth) mothers have to say, even if it’s hard to do so. I wish there were more people like that.

  7. Your list is terrific. Come by mine too! I just finished it and did the Linky-Link thing and noticed your name.

  8. osolomama–just left you a comment. 🙂

  9. Triona,

    “That most people don’t care.”

    This is a powerful list and this statement hit home on many levels.

    Thank you for sharing today.

  10. I adore your list and I hope you don’t mind if I link to it on my site… I can’t speak for the adoptees and I don’t have say it perfectly.. simply and truthfully!

  11. Diane–Thank you for sharing also.

    FauxClaud–I’m honored that you felt my list was that good. 🙂 I thought your post was excellent also.

  12. hi, it was a wonderful list. thank you for all you do for the adoption community. Joan

  13. Such an education to read this list!

    Who wants to put all these blog carnival posts together into a book — and REQUIRE every PAP to read it! Looks like we have 31 chapers already . . . .

  14. Triona, thank you so very much. I’m always excited to hear that we don’t all suck. Heh.

    But seriously, it’s very difficult for everyone in the triad to see adoptive parents who are trying… because, as we all know, there aren’t that many who do. Those of us who ARE… we definitely don’t have it all together, but we love our children fiercely. And that means striving to raise them as best we can, even if it involves stepping out of our comfort zones. We make mistakes – hugely, sometimes – but that willingness to listen and learn, that humility… that’s what makes an ally. I love that I’ve found not only first mothers and adult adoptees to learn from, but also other adoptive parents such as Margie, Judy, Malinda, who are such wonderful role models to me.

  15. “That being adopted has had more of an impact on me than I may ever realize.”

    Amen to that.

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  17. Thanks everybody for your comments. I have been enjoying reading everyone’s remarks off the GIMH site.

    Malinda–I agree, it should be required reading.

    Tonngu Momma–Just the fact that you and other APs are willing to step outside the comfort zone… I think that’s really all most adoptees and birth parents want: an acknowledgment of our feelings. Your children will really appreciate that when they are older and start conceptualizing some of this stuff.

    Mei-Ling–Yeah, that gets reiterated to me, it seems, every time I turn around. Like whenever adoption gets mentioned in my local paper, or when people make innocent remarks that bring it to my mind.

    Improper–I wish I had said a lot of things to my APs too, starting with: “I know you’re lying about what you know.” And yes, we often get punished for vocalizing it, if we are raised in environments where adoption is the deep, dark secret no one is allowed to discuss.

  18. As a new reader to your blog and adoptive parent I wasn’t sure what to think of your list. It saddens me to see a lot that you have written. I happen to be one of those who does care. I care so much that I never want my daughter to write the things that you have written. I never want to see my beautiful happy child being that hurt. When one becomes a parent, whether through adoption or birth, one has to be willing to put your child’s needs above your own. That is what her first mother did and that is what I will continue to do. She will know her first mom and dad and she will know she is blessed to have not just one set of parents who love her, but two.

    I am sorry that is not what happened for you.

  19. Hi Deb, thanks for writing. I don’t mean to make anyone sad with my list. But adoption is a painful process no matter how much we might wish it otherwise, because adoption by its very nature begins with loss. I am glad to hear that you are willing to put your child’s needs ahead of your own, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. That is all we can ask of any parent. I am a parent myself so I understand. I hope you’ll explore some of the other bloggers who participated in the carnival as there are many adoptive parents who can speak more directly to the experiences and challenges. I can only speak from my perspective as an adult adoptee, with the hopes that others can learn from my experiences, just as I continue to learn from those around me.

  20. “That sealed records, not my origins, make me a bastard.”

    Omigosh, yes, exactly, this needs to go on a button, on posters, into letters to congressmen.

    Wonderful post, thank yoiu!

  21. Thanks for reading, Margie!