Q: I have just discovered that I am adopted. Am a 22-year-old man currently at university. A cousin told me that her mum indicated that I’m not part of my family. I confronted my dad and he confirmed that it is true but promised to give me all the details when my mum comes from work. I felt angry and I got out of the house. Why did they decide to hide such important information from me? I feel lost and alone. I just feel like going far from home not knowing my destination. I have refused to talk to them. Why are they telling me now? I have other siblings whom I believed were united by blood. Please help.
A: Coming to terms with being adopted is a challenging process and therefore it is perfectly normal to feel confused, shocked and overwhelmed after discovery. This means that you must allow yourself to experience these emotions, and share them with people you trust. Your parents decided to hide this crucial information from you and so you have every right to feel angry but it is important to know that they did this with the best intentions. Probably they felt that you were too young to understand and such a disclosure would have exposed you to childhood trauma. I suggest you talk to them when you are calm, and be honest about your emotions. Give them time to explain their side of the story without being judgmental.
You state that you never realised they were not your biological parents. This indicates that the family was treating you as one of their own and they never let it show that you are different from your siblings. You, therefore, need to keep this fact in mind while having the dialogue with your parents. Your adoption story is part of your personal narrative and can help you build confidence in your identity. Ask your parents to tell you about the process of finding you, when they took you home, and how you grew together into a family.
Like any other adopted child, you need to try to accept unanswered questions about your adoption. You might not know your birth parents, the circumstances of your birth, or your ethnic heritage. Living with unanswered questions can be difficult, but try to stay focused on the parts of your life you know and love. Additionally, not knowing details about your past does not change anything about your present and future. Remember you have family and friends who love you. You also have talents, beliefs, and goals. So celebrate these aspects of your personal history instead of dwelling on what you don’t know. You may also consider visiting a counsellor.