Finding lost relatives, good or bad?

I thought this would be best posted as a general question because I feel it is not pointless or mundane. I am 28 years old and I was adopted by loving parents, who did not keep that fact from me. As I grew up, I never gave my biological a second thought until recently. I will always consider that the people that raised me my true mom and dad, but now they have both since passed away. I know there are adoption search places and I have seen some websites on the subject, what I am asking for is advice and similar stories. Do they wonder about me? What if they don’t want to hear from me? What if they were told I died? I am sure by now that they have kids of their own (not together since my mom was 16 and dad was 18 or so I believe) I don’t know if I should go through with a search, if it would be bad for either of us. Does anyone have a similar story to tell or know anyone that did this? Everyone I know belongs to a biological family, so its not like anyone else understands. I guess I am looking for reassurance and comfort, anything would be nice.

When i was in my mid twenties about 20 yrs ago my mom told us she hadn’t been going back to visit her sister so much recently because she(my aunt ) was ill.Instead it was because her ‘first family’ was trying to reach her. Twin boys she had put up for adoption nearly ten years before i was born.Only one of my ‘new’ brothers was interested in meeting the rest of us. He came for Christmas day and a few other times. The visits when all the family were there became fewer and farther apart, well 5 of us kids and our spouses and kids, a lot of strangers to be related to. We were glad to meet him ,he seemed glad to meet us,Mom was elated to find out all about them,he was glad to meet her. We were friendly but not close.
There was no awkwardness at all after the first 'uh, well, uh 'And the fact that he was a yankee! we exchange xmas cards, see each other maybe once every two years or so.They never did find the dad.
My son in law is adopted,as are his siblings, no blood relation between them.I haven’t asked him about this. Just hasn’t come up.

I have no idea what is the “best” thing for you. I do know that the better search groups run on a “double blind” principle, where, if they find your parents they only announce to the parent(s) that you are looking and do not provide either side with personal information unless both sides agree.

One thing to consider is your reaction if your parents do not want any contact. (They may not be rejecting you, but if they never told their new families about you, they may fear the repercussions about that, as well.)

I would go ahead with the search, but try to find a search agent that provides emotional support and guidance, rather than taking the private investigator approach of simply finding people.

We kept all the information we could find about our kids’ parents, but we are going to hold it back until they are 22 or 24. (Several groups I’ve been in touch with say that there are too many psychological issues with handing the info to an 18-year-old “adult”.) At 28, I doubt that you have teen insecurity to overcome.


Being adopted myself, I understand and totally empathize with your quandry Neobican.

I, too, have always known I was adopted.If I wasn’t told I was adopted, I would have figured it out sooner or later because of the wide in interests with me with my family.

When I was 23 or 24 I decided to contact Catholic Social Services (the adoption outfit my parents went through)and get what information I could. It took about, it’s hazy at this point to recall, but probably 2 weeks for someone to trudge down to the basement of CSS or whereever they keep their files and pull out the information on adoptions. I received a call, went in and received two pieces of paper that summarized the reasons surrounding my adoption and a basic bio on my real mother/father and blood family. No names, just the medical and ethnic information. If I wanted to get their names and last known addresses, I would have to do something at the State Capitol as it is a private or sealed record, I think, but I wasn’t paying attention to what the woman said at that point because I just really wanted to read about another aspect of my life.

I’ve have met up with many other adopted people and none have searched out their birth families. Mostly because , and this is my secret fear, that the birth family are living in sin in a van down by the river with their 12 kids named Jethro and Lola waiting to work as carny workers. Secretly, we hope they are as rich as Bill Gates, but they are probably ordinary folks just trying to get by. One cannot help but wonder what kind of can of worms can be opened because “back then” adoption was as taboo as illegitamacy and it broke many families apart. You just didn’t talk about it and therefore, it never existed.

All I really want to do is “Peek” into the window of my birth parents respective homes and see what they look like.

I must say, after I read the report on my birth family, several things did fall into place for me. It explained why I like swimming, skiing and reading. Like other adoptees, every crowd I go through, every party I am at, I do look for a face in the crowd that looks just like me.

I watched an INDY film not to long ago that probably changed my mind in searching for quite some time. " Secrets and Lies." Set in England, present time. A successful, middle class black woman, after the death of her adoptive parents, decides to search out her birth mother, to discover she is white. the birth mother is a…well…flake of the highest order, but you feel for her too. It is a true british film in the essence that it focuses on plot, dialogue and emotion. There is little action, but every character can be related to. I think it won best foreign film at the Oscars or some such award. It was an outstanding film, IMHO, to show possibly one of the more realistic “what-ifs” on this subject matter.

If you feel you are not ready, then wait. You will know. Perhaps just getting the first round information will help satisfy the questions you have right now.

Good luck!

My mom has been actively searching for her birth mother for about 20 years. She thinks it might be this nun in New Jersey, but then it might not. The nun says it isn’t.

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Thanks for the replies. Please keep the stories coming, it really does help in giving me a new way to look at it, and it makes me feel better. I guess you could say the reason I have been thinking about it is because a have a baby of my own, he is 1 year and 4 months old, and I cannot go one day without seeing him and touching him and I cannot imagine my life without him. This is why I thought it must have been so hard to give birth to me and not be able to keep/care for me. My wife knows and has brought up the subject but I am never willing to talk about it with her… I guess I think that if any decision was going to be made it would be by me alone, even though she makes up part of our family… sounds stupid huh?

Your approaching chancy territory, but if it weighs on your mind perhaps you should address it. You’re a grown up guy and can, of course, carry your life on without ever knowing anything more about your biological parents. There’s some argument for knowing something about your genetic history and hereditary proclivities to certain diseases, and that’s part of the upside of pulling off a successful meeting. I suppose there can be really bad meetings, or meetings that seem to work but then you’ve got people in your life that you really don’t know what to do with and they do things you don’t want to know about. Or they got past the difficult period in their young lives and have something to offer you in the way of enlightenment or whatever.

My own little sister is actually my biological niece. We adopted her when she was five, although she’d been living with us since she was three. Auntie was a schizophrenic engineer (just an odd place to be as a woman in the 1940’s - but she was definitely picking up Zeta radio), dad was merchant marine - he was around about a year and then disappearred. Well, Auntie was on her own agenda, but popped in on various holidays to be entertained (in retrospect, she entertained us) and finally died young when Doe (L’il sis) was in ~8th grade. Anyway, as an adult sis elected to search out her father and found him as a retired sailor in Florida. A couple of meetings took place and they were not necessarily bad, but, I’ve gathered, extremely dissatisfying. Her father had lived a life that included several more children, but not her, and he was just not prepared are adequate to the task of assimillating another.

So what do I tell ya, pal? You run a high risk of having an unsatisfying encounter and a small chance of having a great or terrible encounter. You sound like you’ve got your head screwed on straight enough to deal with whatever, but consider Shirley’s suggestion.


I’m not adopted, but I have a friend who is. Her story breaks my heart.

Her biological grandparents knew her adopted grandparents, and they arranged the adoption. A year or so ago, when she was 22, her biological grandparents really wanted to see her and have her meet her family. There was a big anniversary party or something they asked her to attend. She went, but her biological parents (they are married now), didn’t attend (they didn’t want to see her, for whatever their reasons might be). Her biological grandparents almost fell over when they saw her…turns out she’s the spitting image of her parents and other siblings.

I think the hardest thing would be for her knowing that her biological parents married and had other kids, but didn’t keep her. I’m trying not to judge them, but I think it’s pretty rotten of them to not even acknowledge her.

Boli, it’s probably because they were young when they had the child and gave her up for adoption and to admit it years later would open up alot of heartache and reality that they made a mistake and what parent ever wants to admit to a mistake? maybe because it was such a public event that they decided to stay away, fearing an emotional overload.

I say if anyone is going to check out their birth family, do it with telling as little people as possible and have the meeting in private. Don’t get your expectations up ( “Oh I know we will just LOVE each other instantly”) because you are setting yourself up for one huge heartache. That way you can wallow in self pity without your co-workers/sort-a-friends/bar buddies look at you with pity in their eyes when you are moping in a corner “How things didn’t turn out”

(Of course this is my standard lecture if someone tells me they are " trying to get pregnant" too. Whatever happened to privacy?

sorry …I’ll end my rant.

Well, if you want my opinion you better hold onto your bootstraps because it isn’t as rosy as the others. I’m 23 and adopted so I think we share alot. I too have always known I was adopted, I would have figured it out cause mom and dad are blonde and redheaded, compared to my very dark hair etc., and feel very happy and satisfied that they are my one and only parents.

I am very much against any kind of search for biological relatives. I accept that the records need to be maintained and accessible for medical reasons, but I will accept no excuses for anyone to be able to ever seek out a parent or child. This little “peek”, and curiosity to find parents is a violation of the persons privacy and emotions in the highest regard. Even the “double blind” type of location is an intrusion that can not be dismissed as if it were just a telemarketers call about a new LD carrier. If your parents got a little message saying that the child you let go 28 years ago is seeking you, its not like they can say “I’m not interested” and go back to life as usual. They, as you have noted, likely were in the gravest of circumstances, and have let go of the regret or pain or uncertainty over the last 28 years. The simple mention of it would undo any recovery they had gone through, and put a extraordinary amount of emotional distress. All that to belay your curiosity or emotional baggage brought out by your new child. Very selfish.

To put more weight on the seriousness of your
decision, this type of activity cripples the entire adoption system that has likely saved millions of families like ours. The more cases like the baby Jessica, and other high profile biological vs. adoptive parents custody battles make the system look dangerous and unwelcome. I personally would perfer abortion to adoption in a system where the privacy of the parties is taken lightly. Putting a child up for adoption is an absolute thing and once it is done there is no reconsidering.

If I were to get even a message stating that my parents were seeking me I would react very aggressively and seek legal action. I would make it my personal crusade to make it impossible to do so short of dire medical need.

I also feel you need to consider the disrespect it does to your adoptive parents. I am aware they have passed away, but even in their passing don’t you owe it to them to honor them as your one and only family. Suppose your biological parents have other children they were able to keep, and they have chosen not to tell them of you. Is it fair to these people who may very well be to young to cope with the consequences?

Don’t undermine the entire adoption system by seeking your parents, the possible irrepairable damage far out weighs the meager comfort to be gained. If your seeking purpose or solice because of the child you had, the answers are within you, not in finding a person who is no more important that a blood type.

Blood doesn’t mean shit, any idiot can become a parent. Blood may be thicker than water, but the cliche is misguided. Actions are whats important, your parents were the ones who raised you and sacrificed. They made you who you are. The little bits of DNA that match you with your biological family are completely irrelevant. The things that make you important to your child and vice versa are the actions and caring demonstrated between one another, not that 30 minute roll in the hay that concieved them, and not that 9 months spent incubating them. Examine why you have been inspired to feel the way you do. Is it the fact you concieved him, or the last year and 4 months you have raised him. The emotion may fool you into placing a lot of stock in the “seed of my loins” crap, but the things that give you that intense bond to your child are in reality the 16 months spending 24/7 worring and caring and loving.

Finally, keeping your wife in the dark on this is shameful in my opinion. She should be the first priority in your life. And if she can’t understand and help you deal, you have a bigger problem that your missing tissue match. I understand not wanting to get into it especially with women who over analyze everything, but the idea that it is your decision is quite misguided and selfish. You must realize that bringing a new set of “in-laws” into the equation will have a huge inpact on her life and more importantly her relationship with you via your emotional availability.

You understandably are very emotional this early in parenthood, but if you feel the need to act out this way you better seriously analyze the effects. And if this desire continues to manifest itself, consider a little family therapy to make sure that these emotions aren’t a response to something greater.

Wow… some of the remarks Omniscient made really make some sense, but I have to say I do not feel selfish or shamed in not discussing it with my wife. Please understand the she wanted to search for me, and I thought that if she did that without telling me would be a huge mistake. At that point we did not have our baby and I was not thinking about my natural parents. From your post I have a better understanding of the emotion and relationship that just might backfire if I did it, but so help me I am curious. A medical background would be excellent to know about, particulary for my baby, not so much for me. And then there is just the wondering part, like who they are and what they do for a living, and for that matter who I am… whats my heritage? My ancestors? I will think about this a lot more I am sure, so for now the only searching I will be doing is my soul.