Finding your roots is a difficult topic for those who have been adopted. In an earlier post, “Is knowing your roots important,” I said it depends on the person. Some people don’t even care that much about their current families, much less their ancestors. Some focus on present relatives and the ones that influenced their lives when alive. For others, finding their ancestors and roots is a matter of simple curiosity, but can lead to addiction to the search because, as I’ve recently discovered, it is a lot of fun trying to solve this kind of mystery. For the adoptees I know, though, finding out their roots seems to be a most pressing issue, and not just for health history reasons.
Even if they dearly love their adoption parents, many of the adult adopted people I know of have an intrinsic need to find out who their birth mothers and fathers are (or were), and also to know the story behind why they chose not to raise their child. “Chose” is not particularly a good word to use as these stories tend to be sad tales of desperation and anguish or of people not endowed with good nurturing feelings or good parenting skills. Some searches result in great joy all around, some in interest and then indifference, some result in deep hurt. There’s risk involved, but the adoptees I know of think the knowing, even if it turns out bad, is better than not knowing.
I’m not sure those of us raised knowing our birth parents can fully understand this intense need adoptees have to know their biological parents. For those who are curious, I recommend reading memoirs about this as they are very illuminating. Read an interview I did with Jan Fishler who wrote Searching for Jane: Finding Myself. In that blog post I mention being dumfounded by a young lady who wistfully told me she didn’t have any family stories because she was adopted. We all have family stories. The stories of parents, adoption or birth, have affected them and in turn affect their children, adopted or birth. But for adopted children, half their stories are missing. And that half can turn into a big hole.
A couple I know is searching for the husband’s parents. If you know anything about a baby found in a phone booth, June 1972, Kansas City, Kansas, Bill and Angie Atkinson want to talk to you. Read the comments left below the article to better understand an adoptee perspective and to find out more about DNA testing. I’ll have a blog post tomorrow specifically about DNA testing.