30 Questions All Adoptees Want Answered

This is a very practical list of questions that most adoptees would want to have answered at some or other time during their life, as they try and piece together who they are and how their story unfolded.

30 Questions All Adoptees Want Answered

Through my work as a court appointed agent with adoptees in search, I have learned that many older adoptees have persistent questions about adoption. As they grew up, they wondered about very basic information but were afraid to ask their parents.

To help other adoptees avoid the same adoption-related identity issues, I made a list of the things that the adoptees I worked with most wanted to know about themselves, their birth parents, and their adoption circumstances. I recommend that adoptive parents try to gather as many answers to these questions about adoption as they can when their children are young and the information is easier to find.

I encourage parents to share this information with their child before adolescence to promote a stronger sense of identity and avoid issues later on. Information that would be matter-of-fact to children at a younger age becomes a crisis if they’re older and don’t know.

I have been busy gathering information to share with my own nine children. It has offered them another piece of who they are.

1. What are my birth parents’ first and middle names?

2. Where was I born (hospital and city)?

3. What time was I born?

4. Were there any complications at the time of my birth?

5. Did my birth mother see me or hold me?

6. Who else was present at my birth?

7. What were the circumstances surrounding my placement?

8. Did my birth mother pick my adoptive family?

9. Did my birth mother know anything about my adoptive family? Did she meet my adoptive parents?

10. What did my birth mother name me?

11. Does anyone else in my birth family know about me? Who knows what?

12. How old were my birth parents when I was born?

13. Were my birth parents married when I was born?

14. Where did my birth parents go to high school? College?

15. What kind of students were they?

16. What religious backgrounds do my birth parents have?

17. What is my ethnic/racial background?

18. Did my birth parents marry each other or anyone else after I was born? Do I have any biological siblings? Do they know about me?

19. Did I go to a foster home after leaving the hospital?

20. What was my foster family’s name? How long was I there?

21. What do my birth mother and birth father look like? May I have a picture of them?

22. Are my birth parents still alive?

23. Do my birth parents love me?

24. Do my birth parents think about me? Did they ever regret their decision?

25. Do my birth parents have any special talents, hobbies, or interests?

26. What traits did I inherit from my birth parents? Personality? Looks? Talents?

27. Did my birth parents write to me over the years (journal/letters in a file)?

28. Are there any medical concerns I should know about?

29. If I called my birth parents or wanted to meet them someday, what would they do?

30. What should I call my birth parents?

*This post was originally published here.

Wednesday Wisdom 12/11/2014

“If you love someone unconditionally and with your whole heart, then you will do what is best for them, not you. I have never learned a harder lesson than giving my child up for adoption, I probably never will.”

Sarah, birth mother

“Today I Cried for You – A Poem for My Birth Mother”

Beautiful poem written by an adult adoptee to her birth mother she never met.

Today I Cried For You – A Poem For My Birth Mother
By Aandra Ibtissem Von Bohlen Hall-Sharif

I cried for what I’ll never know
I cried for what I’ve never showed.
About the loss of you, my birth mother
and what you never knew about me
your birth daughter.
Today I cried.

I’ll never see your face,
touch or hug you in a warm embrace.
I’ll never fully know my race or
the heritage that is called my birth place.
Today I cried.

I cried for what you’ll never know
About what became of your birth daughter
from so many years ago.
You’ll never know the man I’ll marry
or the many people in my heart I carry.
Today I cried.

I cried that you’ll never meet my parents
who took your place
and created a life I would never forsake.
Today I cried.

I cried for any sorrows that you have felt
for the decisions that changed your life
the day you left me on those orphanage steps.
Today I cried.

I cried for all the guilt and blame,
I’ve placed on you with no shame.
Today I cried.

I cried for the two women I share
whose love is unique and can’t be compared.
Today I cried for you.

Love – Your Birth Daughter

Wednesday Wisdom 24/09/2014

“I placed my baby for adoption, and I can also say he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He transformed my life. I loved my child more than words can explain, and I still do. I believe my love for him was the first real love I’d ever felt, because it was completely selfless. It was the BIGGEST feeling I’ve known. My heart grew in my chest the moment I laid eyes on him. Had I loved him any less—one ounce less—he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart. I didn’t just feel love; I did what love dictated.”

Tamra, birth mother

What It Means To Be Brave

This is a beautiful post by a birth mother on her journey after placing her baby for adoption. I agree completely with her that doing this must take a lot of courage! We will always look at our children’s birth mothers and be reminded about how brave they were and still are.

What It Means to be BRAVE
An acrostic anthem to birth mothers’ courage

If brave were a sound, it would be something loud. It would be a crescendo, a lion’s roar, a sprint in front of a bullet. It is a crashing torrent of white water. Brave has fire. But sometimes, brave is a smouldering coal of resolve. It can trickle like a brook and shape the earth moment by moment. It is as quiet as a sigh, still as a stare. This quieter breed resides in the hearts of birth mothers.

For these women, I offer an anthem of courage. I offer a reflection of a deed for each letter of “brave.”

Birth
When my doctor came to check on me after eleven hours of labor, I had just woken from an epidural nap. My phone was charging in the opposite corner, my family was checking in to the hotel, and I hadn’t yet called the parents-to-be. I hadn’t made much progress and didn’t expect the doctor to have anything new to say. But when he said that the baby was crowning, I shook involuntarily. I said, “I can’t do this.”

After a point, giving birth is mostly inevitable. But the most fundamental part of being a birth mother–having the baby–is still a choice. Making it through nine long months and enduring child birth are far from small feats. Choosing life for your baby is brave.

Relinquishment
Layered in homemade sweaters and blankets, I buckled my baby into his car seat two days after the birth. As the nurse rolled the wheelchair into the elevator, I looked into his peaceful face. Silent tears rolled down my face, and I felt I carried the moon on my lap. To my weak body, he was as heavy as the moon. He was the heaviest thing I’ve ever lifted, and the walk from my chair to his car was the longest I’ve ever walked. The drive home, away from him, was the furthest of my life.

In a single act, I did all that I could for him. For many birth mothers, physically placing their baby with another is the hardest thing they ever do. Coupled with signing the relinquishment of rights, placing your child is immensely trying; making it through the process to secure his or her well-being is astonishingly selfless and brave.

Addressing Grief
My son was born just before the holidays. My 18th birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. . . Each came and went without much fanfare. Although the continued support of a well-wishing family enveloped me, every quiet night was a chance for my arms to feel too light and too empty. After the initial panic, when my body frantically searched for its companion, months of stupor and sleepiness pacified me. Even when my vitality returned, part of me remained unhappily frozen and numb.

It’s easy to try to bury your pain in denial or use more insidious forms of distraction. But until you reach into your heart and address the grief, you will be perpetually unable to heal. Before you can start allowing yourself to be happy, you must first address your wounds. Having the willingness to face what’s hurting demonstrates courage.

Valuing Yourself
I remember nudging myself into dating again after placement. I went out to dinner with a slightly older man I’d met through church. Although the experiences of the prior year had left me skittish, I nursed a secret hope that I would quickly stumble upon my true love. My goal was another baby–in the “right” way–as soon as possible. The fallacies of my intentions aside, I quickly found that valuing what I really wanted and needed was more important than easing my sadness. While he was a gentleman on our date, he soon showed signs of possessiveness and clinginess. In ending the brief involvement, I proved that being valued was a high priority.

Realize that you’re strong. Often, we are our own worst enemy, and we blame ourselves for all that’s wrong: “If only I’d been financially independent, I could have kept him.” “If I were a better person, I could have parented.” Rather than consider what could have been, recognize where you are. Learning to love yourself in spite of your flaws is easier said than done. But when you recognize how valuable you are and will be, it becomes easier to make choices that nurture you. Put the bat down; you don’t need to beat yourself up. Instead, cherish you.

Embrace Love
In the spring after placement, I became an aunt to a sweet baby girl. When I went to the hospital after she was born, I felt joy and anxiety in equal measures; While it felt so right to have another newborn near my heart, I was afraid to bond with her. As the weeks went by and she reached certain milestones, I would both weep and celebrate. Being with her is like picking cotton: above the cutting reminder of the companionship I lost is the expansive softness of the beautiful niece I’ve gained.

Many birth mothers feel that they have lost their right to motherhood. This can encompass far more than the right to parent; you may not feel permission to be maternal in any capacity. You may fear bonding to a child or even interacting with one because of an inevitable “goodbye,” reminiscent of placement. Go at your own pace, but do not shrink away from this pure and special kind of love. Be willing to feel joy, even if you know sorrow waits at the door. Have the courage to take a risk–fall in love.

Sometimes, being brave is done all at once, in a matter of moments. Sometimes, it’s a long-term hike on the high road. Often, “brave” is a way of life and a habit. Acknowledge what you’ve done as a birth mother, and continue to cultivate “brave” as part of who you are.

*This post was published on Adoption.com here.

Adopted – A Poem

I came across this beautiful poem about Adoption. I will definitely one day share this with my children when they start to understand and ask questions about their adoption.

Adopted

By Joy Saunders Lundberg

“Oh Mother” the child cried,

Tears flooding precious cheeks.

“They said if you were adopted your mother is not

your real mother.” Then pleading,

“Please tell me the story again.”

Nestled in loving arms,

Secure from the hurt of unknowing friends,

The words fell from trembling lips.

To the hungry little ears.

“Oh, child how I wanted to be your birth mother

I could not.

But I know you were there, somewhere.

We prayed, your daddy and I,

And God guided us to you.

There you were a beautiful baby–my baby.

I held you close and promised to love you.

Teach you, to keep you from harm, from distress.

And here I am-

Your birth mother? No.

Your real mother? Yes.