Finding out you were adopted in later life is a huge moment in your life. If you have just received this news, then there are many things that you now need to consider and understand.
This article has been written to help you work through this news and to help you move forward. If you have difficulty with reading, then we are happy to speak to you on the phone about this matter if it helps.
First to consider is although this is a shock, that shock will disperse, and this will start to feel normal. You will be able to come to terms with finding out you were adopted. So, stay strong and start to reflect on this news and what it means for you and your family.
We then advise the following to at least consider and think about.
- Speak to a counsellor so that you can think about these thoughts and feelings. A counsellor will help you to process out what you are thinking and help you to reflect on what has happened.
- Don’t act now! You need this time to reflect so you can make correct decisions. It’s easy to overreact or react in a way that cannot be taken back. Take control by doing nothing until you feel at peace with the news. Then you can decide what if anything needs to happen next.
- Make sure that you have a support group of people around you. This could be your partner or a friend. Just people who you can tell and then seek support from. A good friend or companion will help you to process the news and also help you discuss what to do next.
- Don’t blame yourself. This is not your fault. Other people have made decisions that have led to this point
Finding out you were adopted in later life leads to lots of confusion. Let’s look at how you might now feel towards your adoptive parents.
Try to see why people have made the decisions they have made. People often feel angry and upset with their parents when they find out they are adopted. The obvious question is why anyone didn’t tell you. The truth is often that your adoptive parents will likely have the best of intentions. They will only have been trying to protect you. They might not understand your anger or frustration. This can lead to a negative situation. It is best to avoid this. Your adoptive parents may not have received the best advice. They may have listened to the wrong advice. A lot has changed around the field of adoption over the years. Old practices and opinions have changed too.
Modern practice encourages adoptive parents to tell their children early they are adopted. New research shows this is best for everyone. It shows this gives the child the best chance to accept a level of dual identity. In turn this allows people time to make sense of everything as they grow up.
It is likely that your adoptive parents were trying to avoid disruption and distress in your life. Possibly it was hard for them to accept that you were adopted. They might have thought it best to almost pretend you weren’t. Unfortunately, this has lead to shock and a surprise now you are older and have started to uncover your true identity.
It is a difficult situation for all concerned so please don’t assume that your adoptive parents have done this to hurt you. This can be hard if they are still alive or if you have found out when they have passed away. If they have passed away there is nothing you can do to get answers from them.
Hopefully this article has given you some hope and support.
Finding out you were adopted in later life does happen and is more frequent that you might feel at the moment. If you are struggling with this, we do offer a regular meeting called ‘Adults affected by adoption’. You do not have to be a paying client to access these sessions. They are run at least once a month over Zoom. The session is run by our consultant Dr Joanna North. She is the registered manager of Joanna North Associates. JNA is an Ofsted Outstanding adoption support agency.
If you did instruct us to find your birth parents or what happened to them. You would speak to us first, but the work would be carried out by Joanna North Associates. JNA is our sister company.
Remember that although it might not feel like it at the moment, this does not change your life. It does add a new dimension to it. You can work on allowing this news to give meaning to a new aspect of yourself and your life.
It will be a gradual step towards accepting this news. The advice we have given is designed to help you get to a point of acceptance and coming to terms with this. We have spoken to other adults who found out they were adopted in later life. They often talk about times in their childhood when they thought they were adopted. Sometimes on reflection adults in your position have talked about things making sense.
When you feel ready to find your birth parents, we can help with that via JNA. The service is set up for you to feel supported throughout.
- We can access your adoption records.
- We can provide support and counselling.
- And we can trace birth parents all over the world if we need to.
Once we have found your birth parents, we even take care of the contacting side, we do this via our intermediary service.
This is where we act as a go between until you are all ready for some level of direct contact. We also discuss possible outcomes such a birth parents being reluctant for contact or having passed away. If they have passed away, we can find other information or contact a living relative. The service in step up so that you are supported on your whole journey.
Final thoughts on finding out you were adopted in later life would be to take some time. Time will help you come to terms with this and give you chance to reflect. If you could take a few days of work or go on holiday, that might give you chance to unpack it all. Don’t be too hard on your adoptive parents. Try and understand it was a different time and adoption was dealt with very differently. Adoptive parents were not as well supported as they are now.
Overall remember that you are still you. Your adoptive parents are your parents. They are the people that raised you to their values and traditions. You can still hold those things dear as you explore this new dimension to yourself.
Make sure you are patient with the people around you, a partner may have to adopt to this new too. They might be in shock and also have an opinion on the best way forward. It might be worth reading this article together. Once you have done that you can start working on a plan to give you the time and space to come to terms with everything.
Finding out you were adopted in later life is a big deal. It is a huge moment in your life and if you have a family in their lives too. As you move forward with this, we wish you good luck and if you need any further help or support please do get in touch
Let us help you now. Remember our regular Zoom meeting for adults affected by adoption. It sounds like that might be right for you. Call us or email us to find out more.
This article is based on Leaflet 13 on the Joanna North Associates website. The original work is written by Dr Joanna North. Due to her extensive experience Jo North is now placed as Chair Elect for the Safeguarding Advisory Group of the British Psychological Society.
Thank you for reading Finding out you were adopted in later life.