memoir, adoption
Skip to content

But … What do your adoptive parents think?

by Laura on July 25th, 2013

When adoptees speak their truth, they inevitably expose themselves to the genuinely curious, the beningly ignorant, and yes, the blatantly misguided.

Photo credit: “Question Mark Signpost” by artur84 at

Actually, there is such a thing as a stupid question …

… if by stupid you mean uninformed, or “characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless: a stupid question.” — thank you,, I thought so.

It happens; sometimes we simply don’t know just how much we don’t know. Like all the White people who are “sad” and “surprised” that we still have to have keep on talking about race in America following the Trayvon Martin verdict.

Which is why adoptees so often get asked, “How do your adoptive parents feel about <x-y-z>?”

I used to get frustrated with this question, too, but today I want to say: Hey, I get it. I do.

Maybe you know the adoptive mom personally, and so are wondering how she’s reacting to all this search craziness and reuniting mumbojumbo.

Maybe when you think of adoption, you think of adopting a child, and so you more quickly identify with the adoptive parent’s perspective.

Maybe since what you know about adoption is mostly closed adoption (domestic or international), and so the idea of searching, reuniting or even desiring either of the two is somewhat foreign. Which leads me to …

Maybe you simply think of adoption as something that happened when the person was a baby. It was closed, it still is closed. A done deal. The adoptee has new parents now, they are the family. Focus on them, be happy with them!

Step out of your comfort zone, people …

Like I said, I get it, I really do. It’s human nature to latch on to the familiar.

Just for simplicity sake, I want to try to answer your question.

“Light Bulb Amongst Question Marks” by Master isolated images from

“How do your adoptive parents feel about <x-y-z>?”

Since every situation is different, let’s just narrow it down to the three viable options, positive, negative and mixed.

1. The adoptive parents feel positive towards their adoptee’s reunion (and I’m talking genuinely postive, fully processed the issues involved in adoption; not fakey smiles and half-hidden eye rolls). As in, “My parents feel great about it!”

Now we can get back to focusing on how the adoptee is processing the reunion.

2. The adoptive parents feel negative. This can include “mere” passive resistance to search/reunion, out-right forbidding it, or open, unbridled derision.

Not so great. There’s a lot of emotion there, overwhelming feelings that the adoptee is trying to figure out, independent of how he or she feels about reuniting with her first family. …

So, instead … perhaps it might be better to focus on how the adoptee if handling all of this, and be guided by the adoptees concerns/fears/excitement/joy?

“Young Man And Question” by khunaspix from

3. The adoptive parents have a mixture of feelings, are not sure how exactly they feel. They want to protect their adoptee from pain, they want to present themselves in a positive light, but they also want to be supportive.

Ooohhh, this is a tough one, and the area where likely most APs fall, no I don’t have statistics.

The adoptive parents are still figuring out how they feel about all of this. … In which case, asking the adoptee is just adding one more burden to an already confusing situation. Again, better to ask specific questions about how the adoptee is handling things.*

So, here’s the important take-home message. Actually, two:

1. People … we must use our critical thinking skills, at least sometimes.

and finally:

2. Alex, I’ll take: “It doesn’t matter what they think” for $500.




From → Adoption

  1. When I began to search for the daughter I had been pressured to relinquished to adoption, my (older) sister totally identified with the adoptive parents and thought it was awful! She said I had no right o interfere in their lives. Here I was her flesh and blood sister wanting to know if my flesh and blood daughter was alive, well, and well cared for and she thought I had “no right.” Of course, it was back in the 80′s and no one ever heard of searching then, especially not initiated by the mother, and most especially not by the mother of a not yet adult child. But, truth is that she was married at the time of my loss and had considered raising my daughter. She didn’t because she feared i would get my life together and come back and want my child back! So she always saw things from the perspective of the adoptive parents. A contract is a contract kind of thinking and you cannot turn adoptive parents into “baby sitters.”

    Everyone puts THEIR feelings first! After all, they are the one and only paying client in the transaction. It all revolves them. they drive adoption and the entire adoption industry exists to serve THEIR needs, wishes and demands! The public view of adoption is through the eyes of the poor suffering couple and their empty decorated nursery waiting for a child they sooo long for!

    The voices and feelings of the child are totally obscured and the voices and feelings of mothers and father – whose tragedy is at the root of every adoption – are silenced and they are kept invisible from the public. So who else will the public identify with? Anglina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and neil patrick harries and the rest are the public perception of adoption….The “do-gooders”, saving “unwanted” babies who should forever be grateful. When it;’s not real life stars adopting, it’s the theme on every prime time basic cable TV show and all views are through the eyes of the adopters: their ‘choice” to adopt, their struggle with a failed adoption…their extremely strong and immediate and never wavering love for the child they adopt….That’s all the public ever gets to see!

    • Laura Dennis permalink


      I'm so sorry that your sister was unable to step outside her preconceived notions and try to take care of her sister; to try to see things from her sister's point-of-view. This just blows my mind.

      Yes! Even just the concept of a failed adoption can be confusing for the general public, because people don't see and the media doesn't show the uglier sides of adoption.


  2. Thanks for making me laugh today:) Step out of your comfort zones, people!! Love it, love it, love you!

  3. iwishiwasadopted permalink

    This is a letter I received from my 17 year old half brother. He tells me my family is the ones who raised me.

    Dear M,

    My family and I have tried to be nothing but nice to you, to try and accept you, and to answer your questions in some effort to make you happy. It seems like everything we've tried to do for you was just repeatedly thrown back in our faces. And then you try too guilt trip us with your 'but you gave me up for adoption'. We know you were given up for adoption. It hurts. Yes. But that was almost fifty years ago. AT that time you WERE NOT able to be cared for, you need to understand that. If they kept you, you would have never met your husband. Your kids are great, intelligent people. They would have never been born if he had kept you. Why do you only focus on the negatives of your adoption? I know it hurts but it led you to your husband and your kids. I don't believe you see them as a curse, in fact they're a blessing. Just accept it for what it is. You can't change the fact that you're adopted. You don't need to try and make people feel bad about it, because we already do. We're sorry. Everyone is sorry. A twenty-year-old drug addict is what you would have had as a parent. Did you really want that? I see you being put up for adoption as the greatest gift you've ever gotten. I KNOW it hurts. You know what else hurts? Growing up with parents that are completely self destructive and can't care for you properly.

    I don't want to be mean and I've been refraining from doing so for a long time, ever since you first sent an offensive email. But you know what? I've dealt with it, and I kept telling myself, "I'll give her another chance." Well, how many chances do you need? Apologies have been made. We've done everything to try and include you. The fact of the matter is, and this will always be true, is that your family and my family have been apart for almost 50 years. We're different. It's unfortunate, yes, and it would have been nicer if we got into touch sooner.

    I took your last email as infallibly selfish. You say that old age and the problems talked about are 'BS'. Are you kidding me? You're not the first person to have problems in their life Michele and you're not the last. Not everyone was given up for adoption but there's a lot of things of equal or greater pain out there. Like losing your mind.

    Everything's been tried to get through to you except this. If you really want to say such hurtful things, bring it elsewhere. One more email like that and you'll never hear from me or my family again. We didn't have to even attempt to bring you into the family, you know. We didn't even have to answer that phone call. But we did. Time and time again we've tried to make it up to you and make you happy. You just throw it all back at us as if it were an insult.

    If you think being a part of my family is an insult, then fine. Don't email anymore. But if you actually give a damn and want to try to be nice to us, then that's fine. Calling someone's problems 'BS', constantly guilt-tripping someone, and attacking someone via email is NOT how you show that you care. The words you use to describe things, like calling my house a 'compound' (That sounds like a prison of some sort) and using the term 'kept children" (Which spawns an air of hostility) are counter productive. Why don't you show some respect and let all your pent up hostility and anger go? If you can't do that, I'm sorry. This family isn't for you.

    Alan (Your brother)

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Ohhh, I'm so sorry … I know this is tough, but like other commenters have said, he's only 17, I think there's still time. I don't know your whole story, or what happened leading up to this, but in addition to individual family problems, we have to overcome the idea that once we are adopted out, our biological families aren't our faminy more. As if!

  4. Lee H. permalink

    Oh, Lord, Michelle. I guess the fact that he is 17 buys him some slack, but really? I am especially intrigued with how he puts "your brother" in parentheses.

    I am really sorry.

    My dad's wife has sent me lots of nasty email, with lost of profanity and blame. After over a year they don't have any effect anymore. This hostility is not about me, but it's about problems that already existed. I am just shining the light on all those problems.

    I would assume that you are a spotlight for this boy as well. I just don't do email any more, and if my dad's wife emails ever again there will be no reply at all. It just doesn't get us anywhere.

    Hugs to you…

  5. Candy Mehling permalink

    look here's the truth, everyone has the right to know where they came from even if the birth parents were lowlife scum like in my case. my birth mother was a bipolar woman with probable drug and alcohol abuse problems and was physically abusive until one day she decided to walk out on me and my birth father when i was 10 months old, as she did to her ex husband and the two kids she had with him.yes my adoptive parents were trying hard to make me feel i was theirs but deep inside i knew they were not my biological parents because they were much older people and they had already a biological daughter who had just got married when they took me in their home.when finally both passed away in 1991 and 1992, i found myself without a family all of a sudden and even though i kept in touch with my adoptive brother and sister for a while because we never grew up together that took a toll on us and eventually all moved on with our lives and lost contact.that was the time i start thinking to find my biological family, not because i wanted to sit down with them at the thanksgiving table, but i wanted to know who they really were, what was their ethnic background and if i had any biological half siblings out there.then the nightmare started trying to collect information about them from state agencies who they were unwilling to share any identifying info about them, because the law states that "there is a privacy issue ,because the birth mother was promised anonymity ". But that was a fat lie because no state agency or case worker could ever make that promise to my birth mother, because i went to foster care for 5 and a half years, until i finally got adopted by my original foster parents. During those 5 and a half years all my birth records were open ,and if i had been old enough then , now i could have had my original birth certificate in my pocket ! so the argument about "protecting the birth mother's right to privacy" is totally false.and since my adoptive parents were already gone for over 6 years i had every right to my original birth certificate, but the dirty politicians in New York felt otherwise. Candy

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      ((Candy))!! Yes! You DO have a right to your original birth certificate!

  6. Best blog post today goes to….Miss Laura Dennis!

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Oh Corie, you always know how to make me feel great, thank you!

  7. larahentz permalink

    Some days it just plain hurts to be adopted, no matter how far I have come. Reading these stories brought it back but it gets less hurtful when I know adoption is changing because of adoptees like Laura Dennis and mothers like Mirah and many others.
    Standing up, telling our truth, is the only solution.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Lara, thank you so much for this! Yes! It's time we stand up and tell our truth … thanks for reading :)

  8. I understand the question but I don't think I will ever stop hating it with all my might.

    Great post.

    Love you

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      I thought you might like the post :)

      I totally understand how the question grates on adoptees. Love you!

  9. JavaMonkey permalink


    This kind of thing never ceases to amaze me. We were the ones who were adopted, and yet nobody ever asks how WE are doing with any of it.

    WE were removed from our families of origin.
    WE have our birth records replaced with falsified documents.
    WE are the ones who are forced to beg for information on Facebook because WE are denied access to family and medical history that everyone else takes for granted.
    WE are the ones who navigate our lives without knowing anything about who we are or where we came from.
    WE are the ones that search for years (over a decade in my case) for our biological families.
    WE are the ones who risk it all in order to reach out.
    WE are the ones who are often times rejected.

    And yet, these folks think how our adoptive parents feel is the most pressing matter.


    • Laura Dennis permalink


      I know, right? I'm not 100% why this is, but I do think it has a lot to do with the way adoption is presented as a solution for childless couples.

      Then, when people say, It's about the adoptee! the response is, Well what we really want to do is to give a loving home to a needy child.

      And that's just spin. We have to get out there and show the general population just what happens in adoption, but it's not easy!


  10. Christine McCann Bennett permalink

    I was born in Oakpark IL In The 60′s.
    I was put up for adoption before I was born. It was a closed private adoption with a Corrupt Attorney. The attorney was my Birthmother’s and My Adopted Parents Attorney. They never met. My Adopted appreciated what my Birthmother was doing but she never wanted to see her, talk to her, ask any questions. That always bothered me.
    I have many many medical problems starting back in 1st grade til now in my forties. I talked to both my adopted parents in the 90′s when I wanted to start locating my Birthmother when I turned 30. They both where fine with it and even sent off and got a copy of The Adoption Decree they signed 1st and my Birthmother 2nd. They didn’t want a copy back when they signed because my adopted mom new the birthmother’s name was on it and she had possibly named me something other than Babygirl.
    When I found her and talked to her, I found out that all the medical diagnoses I have had where inherited from My Birthmother.
    That flipped me out. I was ticked off because not only does adoption Protect the Birthmother’s Idenitity, after she gives birth it also puts all info on our adoption put away in a file with red tape to protect the Birthmother Identity! That is wrong! She can move on with her life and get married have more children and choose not to tell her dirty little secret to anyone including her husband, children, friends etc,,,This is Wrong!!
    Than the child she gave up for adoption starts their search to find out where they came from, why they where abandoned, who they look like and for me Medical History. The Birthmother I know is scared that this child(ren) she gave up for adoption will call and show up at her home demanding answers.
    Adoption is not right. I am happy women can choices today if they choose to have sex without protection when they could have went to planned parenthood and protected themselves from pregnancy especially if they are young, cannot afford a baby, or have their life planned out and a baby just doesn’t fit in their goals and dreams. Now you can get the morning after pill. Abortion is used more than Adoption today, which is feel is the choice to make before bringing an unwanted child into the world and relinquishing her rights. I was told I was adopted when I was 3 years old.
    I knew I did not want children. I broke the cycle:) Why bring children into the world when you don’t know who you are, where you came from & most of all medical info.
    I am a very liberal democrat. I hate that the government can tell us what we can do with our bodies. Women and the Right to choose Abortion should not be on something Republican Politican’s keep fighting for. Women will find a way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
    The Government doesn’t tell Men what they should do with their junk?
    Thank God, we are in the age of technology where we can go online and research anything we want. It is easy to find anyone your looking for on the Internet, by advertising on FB, Twitter, etc,,their are DNA tests for adoptees, their is Detectives, Genealogists, that know how to find who you are looking for, their are Divorce, Death, Birth Certificates you can send off for,,,In 2012 I got a certified copy of My Original Birth Certificate! That was an awesome feeling receiving that! Now The Adoptees deserve everything in their adoption file including any/all medical information.
    I am looking for my Birthfather and siblings to find out medical info. Thanks to Richard Hill author of the book “Finding Family” My Search For Roots and The Secrets of My DNA is helping Adoptees by educating us on DNA Testing which I am beginning. Richard Hill is an Adoptee Himself. His book is available on Amazon for any adoptee that is interested. You can email him too.
    I am a Member of The Adoptee’s Coilation, NARAL, I support Planned Parenthood and most of all I want new laws for adoption. The Birthmother’s privacy needs to stop! It is time for all Adoptees to Finally get the Answers to all the Questions about their birth!!!
    Also, Women that get pregnant are being talked into giving their babies up for adoption by Adoption Agencies, Attorneys etc,,so all the above make money from the adoption and Adoption Families wanting an infant, or cannot have children are paying high price for these pregnant mothers babies. The pregnant mothers are being promised they will be able to see their babies grow up and be a part of their lives and once the babie is born they are cut off, lied too,,,If These Pregnant women had went to Planned Parenthood they would be given options: Abortion and Adoption.
    Adoption is Wrong, It’s Not Healthy, It’s a Lie, etc,, It needs to have laws protecting the Adoptee!
    Here’s to Opening our Files, Getting Answers, Obtaining Copies of Our Original Birth Certificates,,,Now We Need Access to Our Complete Files and All Medical History. I want to thank Laura, Author Richard Hill, Pamela Slaton, and everyone else that has helped me to move forward to get my Paternal Medical Info. Also I am So Thankful for The Adoptee Coilation, and All The Adoptees Fighting for the Laws to be forced to Change. We are living in Modern Days not Medieval Days that Still Protects the Privacy and Rights of the Birthmother!

  11. The better and more applicable questions of value is “How has your Adoptive Family supported you and if they could have done anything different to support you what would it be?”

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

CommentLuv badge

Notify via Email Only if someone replies to My Comment