24 [Healing Series] How Do I Tell My Adoptive Parents I'm Searching? with Lesli A. Johnson, MFT

Lesli A. Johnson, MFT answers the question, “How do I tell my adoptive parents I’m searching for my biological family”. An adoptee’s desire to search is not a rejection of their biological parents. It’s a natural, normal desire to want to know your biology, to know the circumstances of your birth, and to see someone who resembles you. Lots of great takeaways in this episode!

Show Notes

Topics We Discussed

  • Indiana Adoptee Network Conference

  • How do you tell your adoptive parents that you’re going to search for your biological family, or that you’ve already found them

  • Hope for eventual openness in adoption so there’s no need for searching/reunion

  • Conversation starters “I’m ready to know my biology”, “I’m ready to search”, “Will you help me?”

  • Adoptees can feel conditioned to feel that we have to take care of our adoptive parents’ feelings

  • It’s always better when adoptive parents have done their own work

  • Knowing one’s biology is natural; an adoptee’s desire to search is not a rejection of their adoptive parents

  • Be brave and do it!

  • What if your adoptive mother says, “but we’re your real parents!”

  • You can also call an adoption-competent therapist to assist

  • Part of knowing who we are is knowing where we came from

  • “The only person who didn’t know I was adopted was my (adoptive) mom” She didn’t do her own work on adoption and believed that the day Lesli was born was actually the day she was placed with her adoptive family. Lesli’s mom had to ‘catch up’ when Lesli decided to search; she felt threatened and that she was going to be replaced.

  • Encourage adoptees to have these conversations no matter how hard

  • If your therapist is not adoption-competent they may say damaging things like “why do you need to search? You have a perfectly good family; they’re good people.”

  • To know where we came from is an inherent right for everyone

  • Adoptive parents of younger children - have these conversations about your child’s first parents because of social media, children are finding their families on social media; you want this information to come from you, not from facebook, twitter, or instagram.

  • Adult adoptees - remind yourself that you don’t have to take care of anyone else’s feelings, this is a natural, normal desire to know your biology, to know the circumstances of one’s birth, to see someone who resembles you.

  • If your adoptive parents have a negative reaction, we need to recognize that is THEIR stuff, not ours. There may be some push and pull, some hard conversations.

  • Many adoptees wait until their adoptive parents have died, and then sometimes it’s too late. We may experience complicated grief (grief on top of grief).

  • Have the tough conversation, seek outside support if necessary and needed.

  • There will come a time where we don’t need to have search and reunion, that there will be openness in adoption!

  • Give yourself permission to have those feelings, have curiosity, and follow through with the search

  • Search privately if you need to

  • www.adopteeson.com/partner for my secret facebook group