Why Adoptees Search

There are countless motivations behind why an adoptee may choose to search for their birth family. Here’s a discussion of some the common reasons why adoptees search.

blue-question-mark-clip-art-afd-111219Back in 2014, Adoption STAR created a post-adoption support division of the organization – Family STAR. As per Family STAR’s website, “Family STAR has developed resources and provides referrals to assist individuals and families in all aspects of their post adoption journey.” Interestingly enough, one of the areas that has kept Family STAR busy these last several months is this: providing information to adoptees that are hopeful of acquiring information on, or perhaps even meeting, their birth families.

For some adult adoptees that have closed adoptions, part of the post adoption journey involves searching for information on their birth family members. This desire for insight can vary dramatically from adoptee to adoptee. Some may only want information pertaining to their medical history. Some may only want basic, non-identifying information (age of birth parents, their physical characteristics, etc.). Still others may have a deep-seeded desire to meet and interact with their birth family members. Regardless of the motivation and the desired level information, it is important for adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoption professionals to fully understand the typical reasons why “the search” is important for some adult adoptees.

Jayne E. Schooler has written extensively about why adoptees search. One of her books is entitled, Searching for a Past: The Adopted Adult’s Unique Process of Finding Identity. Based on her research, here is a partial list of some of the reasons why adult adoptees conduct a search:

  • A simple curiosity about physical appearances drives some adoptees to seek out information about birth families. They need to answer questions such as “Who do I resemble” or “Who else in my birth family has artistic talents?”
  • Some people are naturally curious and need to solve the mystery of their past. They view the search as an adventure with knowledge of the past as the reward.
  • Some people search because they are seeking a therapeutic solution to some of their problems. Those who believe that many of their personal problems stem from being adopted hope that finding their birth family will bring resolution to their problems.
  • Many people find not having a complete medical history very disturbing. They worry that they may have medical issues that need to be uncovered for the sake of their own health and the health of their children.
  • Most adoptees who search need to ask birthparents whey they decided to arrange an adoption for them….it gives them a sense of closure to a life-long need to know.