13. If you didn’t know you were adopted

Woman looking into the distance. If-you-didnt-know-you-were-adopted

We might have contacted you – and you think you were not adopted.

Occasionally we contact people who firmly believe that they have not been adopted. So, lets explore this scenario so that we can help you.

First of all we check and double check our information before we contact you, and we would not contact you if we did not conclude that we were in touch with the right person. However we are not arrogant about our processes and we will be trying to gather as much information as possible to verify this and in approaching you we are doing the only thing that we can to verify this information. If you tell us you were not adopted we will not disbelieve you and we will work with you on this. We have had about two cases in a hundred where people have not known about their adoption. On further investigation they then come back to us and realise that they were in fact an adopted child, but the adopted parents had not told them.

In this kind of scenario, we are always concerned to work with people in order to support them at what will have been very surprising news. We do encourage people to engage with counselling at this time as we are aware of the psychological and emotional impact that this will have on your life. Our counsellor will give immediate priority to you in this kind of situation. When we have come across this kind of scenario in the past, we have found that the people we have approached settle down with the news after a few weeks, with time to reflect on the new meaning that this will bring to their life. We strongly advise the following:

– Engage with our counsellor so that you can reflect on thoughts and feelings.

– Don’t DO anything until you feel settled with this news.

– Keep people close to you informed of your thinking so that they can support you.

– Don’t make the mistake of blaming yourself or others for this.

– Talk to us if this has made you anxious or upset.

– Talk to us about the emotions you will experience. People feel both angry and sad, and sometimes get cross with adoptive parents for not having told them. This does not help, as usually adoptive parents will have had the best of intentions even if they are clearly not very well informed as to best practice relating to adoption.

Best practice today based on research urges adoptive parents to tell adoptive children as early as possible that they were adopted. This means they can come to terms with a dual identity and make sense of this as they grow up. Sometimes adoptive parents have thought that it was better for children not to know, thinking that the idea may cause distress. However, in the long run this rather sets everyone up for a shock and surprise when and if they finally do get to know their true identity.

So, we are able to take all of this into consideration with you, and we can walk with you through the journey of giving meaning to a new aspect to yourself and your life. This does not change anything about your life. It just adds a new dimension. When this has happened, we have found that people settle down with support, especially if they can take their time and talk things through with us, gradually coming to terms with the information. Often people have reflected and then been able to say that they identified times in childhood when they thought they were adopted, and suddenly it makes sense of a lot of things. One man we worked with who thought he had not been adopted remembered that he had found his adoption documents as a child, but his parents had told him nothing about this. In the end it all made complete sense and he was in fact relieved to know this new information.

Let us help you at this time. Our aim is that it will all make complete sense in the end, but it may take a couple of weeks of support from us. Our service is set up to accommodate this sort of scenario and we have the expertise to get you through.

Dr. Joanna North.

Consultant Psychotherapist Adoption.

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

Woman looking into the distance. If-you-didnt-know-you-were-adopted