Friday, June 17, 2016


Some adoptive parents say they did not feel “whole” until they had their child. Yet, they may still wonder what their biological child would have looked like or which of their talents or personal characteristics would have been inherited.

Same thing for birth parents and adoptees.  Whether a birth parent goes on to live a fulfilling life or an adoptee grows up and becomes a successful and secure adult – there is always a part of them that yearns to know facts about their history or to meet one another.

Why must society try to make everything fit into nice little packages? The adoptive parent should be happy, the birth parent relieved and the adoptee grateful. Really? What about lingering questions? If an open adoption has been maintained or created at a later stage in life at the adoptee’s request, there is a way to get answers.  But if this is not possible, there are those persistent questions or concerns that keep cropping up.

How does any individual deal with the unknown?

Some people search for information. Some try for a reunion with a birth parent. When direct contact is not possible, some people look for siblings or other extended family members. When this is not feasible, it is still possible to look into the circumstances of the town or city where the individual was born. Knowing the social, economic and/or political situation at the time of birth, may help fill in some of the mystery as to what choices existed for the birth parents at that time.

What happens when people cannot get the answers they seek? They may try to fill in the blanks themselves and depending on their personality traits, build a personal history. Optimists will see their adoption as a positive experience. They usually create a scenario in which birth parents were unable to care for a child and made a loving decision to give the child a better life. Pessimists see their birthparents as inadequate, without any family or social support and not caring to have anything to do with the baby. This perception often results not only in sadness or anger at the birth family, but in the adopted individual themselves. Feeling “whole” is a lot more difficult for these individuals.

Some seek and find answers. Others make educated guesses to fill in the blanks. In either case, it is important for all members of the adoption triad (and their extended families) to fill in as many pieces of their story as is possible to satisfy that feeling of being “whole”.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program from March 1992 to March 2015. She is Head Writer for, member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and has a private practice in New York City. She was a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. Follow or reach her at ADOPTION MAVEN BLOG or EMAIL.