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How Does It Feel to Be Adopted?
If you ask an adoptee how it feels to be adopted, you’ll likely get many answers. Some will tell you they are happy and well-adjusted; others will describe feeling like a part of them is missing. But no matter how they feel, the common thread through most adoptions is that the children are loved and well cared for. To get a better understanding of the impact adoption has on people’s lives, let’s take a look at it from an adoptee’s perspective.
The first time I wondered how it felt to be adopted was in high school. A friend told me that she was adopted at birth. I was understandably curious and decided to write an article for the school newspaper. I recall asking my friend how it felt, and she answered proudly: “I feel natural.” She went on to explain that she had a typical family with two parents who loved her. She didn’t feel left out or different because she was adopted. Her experiences and family life were very much like any other child’s.
Years later, I found myself beginning the adoption process. Our social worker was an adoptee herself, so I again asked the question: “What does it feel like to be adopted?” Her answer was that it didn’t really feel any different than being a part of a birth family.
Madeleine Melcher, who is both an adoptee and adoptive parent, has a similar take on the subject. “Adoption is just how I came to be with family,” she says. “I think it is a misnomer that one must inherently face challenges because they were adopted. I think my challenges were the same as many others—I fell off my bike sometimes, had a mom that eventually went back to work, did not always get to be Sandy when we played GREASE in the backyard and battled blemishes and disappointment with boys in my teens.”
So it seems common that adoptees have a typical family life. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some important differences. Children who are adopted have another set of parents: their birth parents. Their genes and their history will be forever tied to another family. Some adoptees have ongoing contact with their birth families. Others seek to find them. Some feel a sense of peace without a reunion. It’s a choice that is unique to each person.
Melcher made the decision to not seek out her birth parents. She believes that she is where she’s supposed to be and that her birth mom did what she felt was best for her. “For me, I was adopted. While it was a pivotal moment as I am the person I am much because of the parents that loved and raised me. Having been adopted is just one thing about me,” Melcher says.
Her advice for other adoptees: “I think each adoptee has to do what is right for them,” she says. “Just like anyone else, we all view our lives and situations differently. Some adoptees do have a need for some kind of closure or hope for a possible relationship with their birth parents. If that is the case for you, do what you need to do to find peace for yourself. But understand that closure, positive reunions and long-term relationships are not always possible. Everyone needs a level of peace in their life. I hope if you do not already feel that, that you find it.”
For more information about Madeleine Melcher, please visit Our Journey to You . If you’re an adoptee looking for a support group, check out Center for Adoption Support and Education.
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