Adoptee support: Interview with E

Adoptee support. Heart-shaped cloud in a blue sky
Photo by Remi Clinton on Unsplash

One of the reasons I started the magazine was to be able to give a voice to anyone who wanted to share their experience of adoption. I’m very grateful to everyone who has done this. But I’m particularly grateful to all of the adoptees who’ve trusted me to share their experiences.

One of the best ways for us to support our children as they grow up and learn more about their birth history is to learn from people who’ve experienced adoption and some of the issues our children face.

I’m very grateful to E who shares her experience in this interview and has some tips for adopters and young adoptees.

How old were you when you were adopted?

I was adopted from birth, I had two foster carers before being placed with my adoptive parents at 6 months old. 

What are your main memories of your childhood?

My main memories of my childhood were generally happy memories of feeling loved and cared for. But some memories were of feeling lost, different, and that I didn’t fit in anywhere. I still have some of those feelings to this day

What do you think of adoption?

Adoption, I feel, is necessary. Too many children without a place to call home, and many women who can’t have children but desperately want them. Adoption is also a minefield of emotions from both sides and for adoptees, this is a lifelong thing where we need to be understood and guided through life. 

How do you feel when people know you’re adopted? Is it something you talk openly about?

I don’t mind people knowing I’m adopted. Sometimes I offer this information if a conversation reveals something relevant to me and I may feel the need to share my experience.

I long for connection to others in similar situations too. Some people I know don’t know I’m adopted as I chose to keep that to myself for one reason or another. I don’t like anyone being introduced as an adopted person.

My aunty introduced me to her friend once and went on to say about ‘the day we got you’ etc. I didn’t like that one bit. It triggered me massively, but she probably didn’t think anything of it, and I didn’t feel I could say anything to her. 

I don’t mind talking about my adoption. However, every year around my birthday, I feel out of place. My thoughts are all over the place and I become needy when I don’t like to be on my own too much either. I know why, but I can’t stop it. I’m 49 and still have issues so it seems. 

Adoptee interviews. A number of hands on a tree branch
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Do you have contact with your birth family?

My birth mother died in 2006. We both started looking for each other after my 18th birthday. We found each other quite quickly as we were both looking at the same time. We wrote some letters to each other and met face-to-face in a local pub when I was around 19.

It was surreal sitting opposite someone who I resembled, was blood-related to, but was a complete stranger. We met again maybe a year later, where I met her children. A very weird yet upsetting experience as it brought along feelings of rejection all over again. Why me? Why did you keep these two children, not me? 

I’m in contact with her son at the moment after contacting him on Facebook around 2020. I felt the urge to make things right. I have found lots more out about my birth mother and the life I would have been born into.

Speaking to him gave me closure on a lot of things, and also cleared some things up too. We’ve not met yet but both are keen to, so I hope it happens. 

For people thinking of adopting, do you have any advice based on your experience?

For people thinking of adopting, I’d say to gain as much knowledge of the emotional and psychological impact adoption has and will have as adopted children grow up. Be prepared to answer countless questions and to make sure you answer as honestly as possible in an age-appropriate way.

People’s opinions on adoption are all different, some positive, some negative. So I’d say preparation is key. Parenting has its challenges regardless of where children come from, so at times it’s trial and error that no book can prepare you for. Do what works for you and yours. 

What advice would you give young adoptees who are struggling with their feelings about adoption?

For young adoptees, I think back to my adolescent years when my thoughts were all over the place with my emotions. I wondered which were normal and which were because I was adopted.

I just needed to be listened to and understood. So, my advice is to speak up as best you can or even write your feelings/thoughts/questions down in a journal or in your phone notes. It helps to get it out of your head sometimes.

I personally found it helped finding similar people to talk to, so online and face-to-face groups were good for me.

It’s important to remember that every adoption is different, good and bad, so sharing experiences can help us through our lives and process our own experiences. Keep talking and asking questions until you feel you have the answers. Just know that some questions may be left unanswered and that’s ok. We learn to deal with that by accepting it. 

Adoptee stories. Road sign saying "Answers"
Photo by Hadija on Unsplash

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