Magazine article USA TODAY

Search for Birth Parents: Disappointment Ahead?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Search for Birth Parents: Disappointment Ahead?

Article excerpt

It seems to be almost expected these days that an adopted child eventually will try to seek out his or her birth parents. However, while television programs and newspapers occasionally profile happy reunions, the reality can be quite different, maintains Wanda Draper, professor or psychology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Typically, those who know they are adopted begin showing an interest in searching for their biological parents in their late teens, as their own self-concept develops. "Frank, honest talk is the best approach adoptive parents can take in handling this situation. Avoiding the issue, belittling the child's curiosity or vehemently opposing a search will only whet [his or her] curiosity and resistance. Surprisingly, if adoptive parents are simply willing to discuss the situation as honestly as they can when a child asks about his or her birth parents, the child's anxieties often are alleviated and the issue is dropped.

While honesty is vital, Draper suggests that adoptive mothers and fathers avoid initiating conversations about birth parents. "Let any questions come from the child. If and when they do, answer only the questions that come up. Don't overload or over-volunteer information."

If the child still wishes to begin the search, the adoptive parents usually can facilitate this without turning it into a crusade. Many oppose such actions because they fear they will lose their child to the birth parent.

"Instead, what I have seen is that children who find their biological parents almost never abandon their adaptive parents, unless that relationship was already troubled," Draper indicates. …

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