The nature of adoption has really changed in the past decade. Once, it was a hush-hush arrangement, where birth parents often remained anonymous forever, and adopted children might not be told they were adopted until adulthood. Now, 99 percent of children 5 and under know they were adopted and nearly 70 percent of adoptions involve some form of openness. Once they reach adulthood, an adopted child's interest and desire to meet their biological parents can vary, and it's an extremely personal choice. Some adopted children are completely satisfied with the life they were given and have no interest in knowing more, and others never feel quite complete until they know where they came from. There are plenty of good reasons to meet your birth parents, and if you're searching for them, you probably already have lots of questions. These are the most important reasons for contacting them, and they're the questions you should never be afraid to ask.
1. What have you learned about your medical history?
Most states are beginning to implement laws that say all known medical information about the birth family must be disclosed at the time of adoption. But your birth parents probably knew very little about their family history when you were born. Now, they'll be able to tell you what diseases they or your biological grandparents have suffered from and what kind of tests you should be asking your doctor about.
2. What made you decide to give me up?
The answer to this question can seem very obvious, especially if your birth mother was in her teen years. But it's still important to hear it in your biological parents' words. The level of openness of an adoption is almost always completely up to the birth mother, so if your adoption was totally closed, there is probably a reason why. It's likely that your birth mother and, in some cases, your birth father have struggled with guilt and grief. If you've ever struggled with feeling unwanted, you'll benefit from hearing that it wasn't the case.
3. What do you want to know about my life?
Choosing adoption is a selfless act, and hopefully your biological parents made a decision that resulted in you growing up in a loving home. It will probably mean a lot to them to hear about your childhood and your progression into adulthood. You can convey to them that they made the right decision and discuss your feelings about being adopted, and how those feelings have changed throughout the years. You can repay them for giving you what they considered a better life by letting them know a little about your history.
4. What is my heritage like?
Besides just worries about medical history, you should also take a look at your cultural background. If you're meeting your birth mother alone, take the chance to ask her questions about your birth father and his family. Most people have some idea of where their ancestors came from, and you might discover an ethnic or cultural past you never knew you had. Ask about your extended relatives. You might have always had a flair for writing and never known that your biological grandparents were writers. You might have inherited a learning disability, color blindness, or any manner of other things. It's a good time to collect fun facts.
5. Do you want me in your life?
This is often the most difficult question to ask a biological parent. And you could easily be the one who doesn't want to maintain contact with them. But it's still important to know how your birth parent feels about having a relationship with you, even if you don't agree. If they aren't interested in a relationship or specify a very limited one, it's your job to accept their wishes. They made their decision long ago. And if you aren't interested in bringing them into your life full time, that's okay, as well. Most likely, it will be somewhere in the middle, and you'll need to negotiate a path forward that works for both of you.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that nearly 80 percent of reunions with biological parents are happy ones. That means over 20 percent of adopted kids don't feel satisfied with meeting their birth mother or father. There's no guarantee that tracking down the person who gave you up will complete you. But you deserve to have answers, even if they're not the ones your looking for.