I don’t claim to be an adoption expert, and I don’t have an office wall filled with professional degrees certifying special knowledge in the subject. My only qualifications are having lived the life of an adoptee and having experienced first-hand what worked and what didn’t. I “walked the walk,” so to speak.
My adoption was official five days after I was born on Nov. 9, 1940. Unlike today, the process back then was unbelievably simple – at least, it was in my case. The waiting period before my new parents were allowed to legally take me home was just days, not months or years as sometimes is the case in today’s world. As for an adoption or state agency to look after my interests – none! Fortunately, things have improved since then.
In a phone conversation with my newly discovered biological sister, she confessed after learning about my incredible life growing up as an adopted kid that someone must have been looking out for me.
My adoptive parents were adamantly opposed to sharing any information with me about my biological roots – a position I have resented all my life. It never seemed fair that I should be denied essential information about who I was, while many of my friends had access to that information as a birthright. I’m sure my parents feared my loyalties would waiver; however, throwing away the great life I was living with my adoptive parents was inconceivable.
I didn’t realize until I got older that the blood ties between a biological mother and her child – that undefinable, genetic something that binds them together from the beginning – is real. The innate desire to validate those ties is part of the reason most adoptees devote so much time and energy to establishing a connection.
Equally as important is the compelling need to learn what influences in their history contributed to the outcome of who they became.
Nurturing and genetics, therefore, both play key roles in the future success of an adopted child’s development. Current adoption laws, procedures and requirements now offer the best chance at insuring a successful outcome for adoptees in happy, functional adoptive families.
And for those of you who are contemplating adoption or are already raising an adopted child, I’d like to share with you some of what I learned while growing up:
- Openly share your thoughts and questions about everything related to adoption. My parents never did, and I felt like we were all living lives of secrecy.
- Don’t fear having discussions about your child’s biological history. If your lives are filled with an abundance of love, you will always be the most important people in your child’s life.
- Be sure to tell your child how important they are and how much they mean to you, even though you are not related by birth. Constantly work on developing your mother-father-child bonding.
- Show affection physically, emotionally and verbally. The words “I love you” are forever and set a precedent for your child’s future well-being.
- Laugh together.
- Play together.
Philip Klaus is the author of ‘BLOOD TIES,’ a story about the frustrations and never-ending setbacks he experienced during his lifelong search for his biological mother. She was 94 when he found her. He was 70. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook and Twitter.