I’ve started watching Long Lost Family on TLC. If you haven’t caught it, each episode follows two people searching for their birth families or adopted children. As a hopeful adoptive mama, you might not think I would enjoy it, but you’d be wrong. 🙂 When we took adoption classes, they would have us do small assignments to help us empathize with our future children. One included looking into a mirror and describing what features reminded us of our family members. We were last in line so Chris said his height reminds him of his Dad, and I said my freckles remind me of my cousins, since we had the same freckles across our nose as children. Others in the class said their eyes or their hair color. Some had some cute ones too, like big ears. Then, we were told to turn the mirror over to the blank side and describe what we saw. Nothing. That’s what adopted children can feel when they don’t know their birth families. I don’t know about you, but that sounded pretty awful to us. It’s one of the huge reasons we decided we would prefer an open adoption, so that our future children could know where their eyes, hair, smile, etc. came from. It may seem superficial, but it’s more than just looks. Everyone wants to have a sense of belonging, and while we hope our future children feel as though they belong in our family, we wouldn’t want to deny the opportunity to know their birth families.
Back to the TV show. Many of the situations shown are older when adoptions were traditionally closed. Everyone who is searching or is found on the show seems to have a consistent desire…to know the other is ok and happy. I can not speak for anyone, but that’s been my general takeaway. Adoptive parents and birth families knew very little if anything about one another. If adopted children could get records, most of the identifying information was redacted. Of course, their are some who were able to meet with the help of agencies. Things are slowly changing; some states have unsealed adoption records. Where that’s not the case, some birth families and adoptees have taken to social media to see if they can find one another with the little information they have. It is my hope that our future children will not have to go through any of what I’ve described not because they don’t want to but because they’ll already know their birth family. They’ll know where their physical features come from, and I’m sure some of their personality, too. Hopefully, they can meet their birth family and have an ongoing relationship.
Things have definitely changed in the adoption world. Mostly for the better. I realize that not all birth families and adoptees want to search one another out. That is their right. Both Chris and I just don’t want to deny the opportunity to a child.
With all that said, I really recommend watching Long Lost Family. I end up in tears every time I watch it, and if you are not familiar with adoption, it gives you a very small glimpse. We don’t know whether we will have an open, semi-open, or closed adoption, but we truly hope for everyone involved that we can forge a trusting relationship with whoever chooses us to parent their child.