Adoptees number in the hundreds of thousands in the United States alone; are there any common traits?
There are an average of over one hundred thousand children adoptees in the United States every year, according to statistics. Some of the world’s most famous people have been adopted, including Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe, and Babe Ruth. Some have gone on to become active proponents of adoption, like Jamie Foxx, and others have quietly referenced their adopted status in interviews, like Faith Hill. One thing is certain, the secrecy surrounding adoption has given way to openness and acceptance over the last few decades, giving adopted people more access to resources and support.
Adoptees come in all shapes and sizes. Some were adopted as infants, some were fostered, and others placed with an adoptive family at an older age. Some adoptions happen within the birth family, when a relative of the child gains custody in lieu of the birth parents. Others are placed in families across state lines, across borders, or in other continents. Some adoptees learn of their adoption in childhood, and others find out later in life. Adoptees can be international, intercultural, and interracial. The adoption experience has many variations.
But what does it mean to be adopted? Are there common traits among adopted people?
According to a childwelfare.gov report published in 2004, “[…] adopted persons generally lead lives that are no different from the lives of non-adopted persons; however, they have experiences that are unique to being adopted, and these experiences may have an impact on their lives at various times.”
The study goes on to say that some of these experiences may include loss identity (cultural or otherwise), self esteem issues, unidentified feelings of abandonment, and irretrievable information about the adopted persons genealogy and genetic history.
Here is a list of some important resources for adopted people, whether you are looking to reunite with your birthparents, in need of support, or just looking for more information:
- Whether your experience with being adopted was positive or challenging, hearing others’ stories may help you better understand your own. Get started here.
- Counseling is a recommended resource for adults dealing with their adoptions later in life.
- Support groups have been found to be very helpful for adopted persons.
- Reuniting with your birth parents is a truly personal decision. Whether or not you decide to search for your birth family is up to you.
- Research is key to understanding the adoption process from all angles.