Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the challenges adoptees face. After all, they are the only members of the adoption triad who had no say in this decision. Understandably, there are certain emotions they need to work through in their life before accepting their history and celebrating their personal situation.
However, here at American Adoptions, we know that there are just as many benefits of adoption for adoptees. In fact, we’ve seen adoption inspire certain common characteristics and strengths in adoptees throughout their lives. As long as their adoption story is approached with openness and honesty, adoptees can learn a great deal from their personal history.
So, what exactly are these strengths that adoptees have? We’re glad you asked.
1. Two Sets of Loving Parents
Love is at the heart of adoption. It involves birth parents loving their child enough to give them the best chance at life and adoptive parents doing everything they can to bring that child into their family. Of course, no parents are perfect but, at the end of the day, most adoptees can know that they have multiple parents who care deeply about them, no matter how involved they might be in the adoptee’s life.
2. Investment in their Biological Heritage
Children who are biologically related to their parents often take that relationship for granted. But an adoptee’s biological history is much more special. At one point or another, that biological heritage will be important to know, and the adoptee will be incredibly thankful they have access to it through open adoption.
While there’s no way to know if an adoptee would be more connected to their heritage when raised by birth parents, adoptive parents often take great steps to help the adoptee celebrate their cultural roots throughout their childhood.
From birth, adoptees are told their adoption stories, including that their birth parents placed them for adoption for good reasons. While adoptees do have to work through the feelings of rejection and sadness at this news, in the end, most adoptees understand that this choice was the best one for their birth parents. They learn empathy from their birth parents’ story, even if they can’t imagine making a similar choice.
Unfortunately, society still has issues viewing adoption as a “normal” way to build a family. From the moment they are born, adoptees must learn tolerance. They may be raised by adoptive parents of a different race, or they may have siblings who are their parents’ biological children. These differences promote a sense of tolerance and acceptance, something they will model throughout their life as they tell their adoption story.
5. Communication Skills
You can’t get through an adoption journey without having good communication skills. Adoptees have these down from the very beginning; they often are navigating an open adoption relationship with their birth parents at the same time as they develop deeper relationships with their adoptive parents. Many adoptees learn early on to be honest and open about their emotions in order to resolve them in a healthy way.
Similarly, it takes strength and dedication to maintain an open adoption relationship, especially if members of the triad face challenges along the way. Adoptees are no exception. They may have conflicting feelings about their birth parents and their adoption as they develop their personal identity, but many adoptees understand the importance of committing to their lifelong relationship with their birth parents. They don’t just “give up” when the going gets rough.
7. Comprehension of Complex Situations
Adoption can be complicated. Understanding the relationships between members of the triad — not to mention how adoption affects a person’s identity — requires some mental gymnastics at times. Adoptees are exposed to these complexities from birth, and it’s just a normal thing to them. So, when they’re presented with other complicated situations in life, they’re able to handle them with grace and understanding.
Adoption is a lifelong journey; it’s not something adoptees think about once and never again. So, adoptees have to learn patience in their personal journey. They may want to feel a peace about their adoption, but it may take them many years to get there. They may get frustrated at times. They may ask why adoption happened to them. But, throughout it all, they understand on a deeper level that acceptance may only come after patience — and going easy on themselves.
Being an adoptee can be complicated; after all, one of their biggest life circumstances was a decision they have nothing to do with. Even if adoptees do not understand or agree with their birth parents’ reasons for adoption, they learn to respect that decision. In learning about their adoptive parents’ path to adoption, adoptees also learn to respect their parents’ struggle and dedication to building a family. This respect is something they carry throughout their life.
10. Increased Capability to Love
Finally, despite its challenges and controversies, adoption is love. Adoptees see multiple models of love from their birth parents and adoptive parents, and they often internalize that. In their own lives, they model the same kind of love. They know that biological connection isn’t the only kind of familial love that exists; they see that you can love someone with all your heart, however they came to be in your life.
What strengths has being an adoptee given you? Let us know in the comments!
Stay tuned for more in our series on adoption strengths.