On Adoption, Breaking the News, Lies, and Who the “real Parents” Are

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I just turned 13. I’ve always believed my parents were my birth parents. But a couple hours ago, I heard my parents talking about when they should tell me I was adopted and not really theirs. I got upset, and I ran up and cried in my pillow. They should have told me years ago and not left it until now. They haven’t talked to me and I haven’t talked to them, but I want my real parents, not some people who took me in because they felt sorry. I can no longer love them, as I know they aren’t my birth parents. I want to know why my birth parents left me with liars who couldn’t even tell me I wasn’t theirs. Now I feel no one loves me. Why did they keep me thinking I was their child when I’m not? What else are they keeping from me?


They allowed you to think you are their child because you are their child. Who rocked you to sleep as a baby, read to you, and nursed you through illnesses? Who worked to provide you with a good home? Actions mean a lot more than words. If the couple who raised you have done their best to give you what you needed, to treat you with compassion, to train you up in the way that you should go, then they have shown their love. Love is not a feeling. It’s an action verb.

I can’t say for sure why they haven’t told you about the adoption. Some adoptive parents tell children before their teens, and some never tell. My own parents adopted children, and I can testify from experience that they worked just as hard to care for those children as they did for me, a blood son.

Please don’t be too hard on your parents. After all, when exactly is a good time to tell a daughter she was adopted? Would you have found the news easier to hear at 8? At 10? Don’t dismiss them as liars. Your parents expressed the truth through their conduct – they love you, they want what’s best for you, and they don’t know how to tell you about your history. Many parents wrestle with that issue because there is no single correct age for telling children they were adopted.

You said you want to learn about your birth parents. I get that. Depending on the circumstances of the adoption, your parents might now a lot about them, and they might know nearly nothing. Birth parents put children up for adoption for a variety of reasons. And depending on the laws where you live, you may never find out those reasons. But before you think any more about your birth parents, you need to talk to your real parents.

They’re probably as torn up by this as you are. You didn’t say whether they know that you heard them talking. Regardless, I urge you to take the next step and approach them. Don’t get angry, and don’t blame them for the fact that you were adopted. Tell them you heard the conversation. Tell them you feel angry because they didn’t tell you earlier. Tell them that you don’t understand what’s going on. Then listen when they try to explain.

Above all, understand that you are not alone. You are not the first person to have trouble accepting the reality of adoption. Many adopted children feel separated from the rest of the world. Many feel angry or resentful about their situations. Most children your age wrestle to establish their own identity, to find their place – it comes with being a teenager. Your parents can help you cope, and they’re better equipped than anyone else to support you during this difficult time.

I’ll close with a bit of encouragement. The fact that you are adopted is not a handicap. A study conducted by the Search Institute found that adopted teens tend to do better in school, be more optimistic, and receive more parental support than nonadopted children.

It takes a rare mix of courage and compassion to adopt a child. Simply taking that step suggests your parents are special people. They haven’t given up on you, so don’t give up on them.

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