Whose Search is it anyway?

It seems the human condition drives individuals to want to know their origins at some point during the lifespan. For biologically connected families those lines are pretty straight and clear.  Adopted children instantly have another layer of complexity to navigate as they sort out their identity and connections.  For all adoptees, there are at least two families that play into that mix, and for some adoptees, there are three or more with some having foster families.

An individual adoptee’s interest in searching out a first family varies widely.  Support from adoptive parents to the adopted child for this emotional endeavor has grown in recent years, but is generally lacking.  Support, lack of support, and key information will all have an impact on an adoptee’s potential for undertaking his or her own search.  One thing psychologists and social workers do agree on, is that sorting out and determining one’s individual identity is essential to becoming a mature and emotionally healthy adult. There is an emotional and psychological journey involved in searching out one’s identity. 

So, for parents of children adopted from China, what to do?
While one understands it is our child’s journey, many parents weigh in on the side of thinking, “If we don’t collect and research clues before my child reaches adulthood, there will likely be nothing left for them to pursue or explore once they become adults”.

It is our child’s journey.  If we don’t keep/provide clues or mile markers, will anything survive when they decide or are capable to take the reins of interest and pursue their biological family?

Let’s look at the resources that the parent of a child from China has at his/her disposal:

  • Familiarity with adoption paperwork, which will often hold some clue or sliver of truth to investigate
  • Adult “savviness” and some practical knowledge of the differences in cultural norms of China and N. America.
  • Maturity to assess complex situations, in which individuals will have different motives to obscure and/or share information.
  • Experience with duplicity
  • Maturity to provide context if startling information is uncovered

The data mining and physical search and research can be led by a parent. There is an emotional and psychological journey that can only be completed by the adoptee.  How, or if a search is even conducted it is imperative that the welfare and interests of the child are always playing the pivotal role in guiding the search process.