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Adoptee Wisdom

Love Without Boundaries is not an adoption agency; however, many of the orphaned children with whom we have the privilege of working end up in adoptive families. We also are advocates for adoption when it seems to be the best option for a child in our care. Whether we are adoptive parents, friends of an adopted person, adoption professionals or simply curious, we may sometimes wonder: What do adoptees wish others knew about their experiences?

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Here are just a few thoughts — some philosophical, some a bit more practical — from some older adoptees.

I want people to know that being a Chinese adoptee is hard. I know there is a slim chance of finding my biological parents and so I often wonder what the reasoning was for giving me up. The only reason I keep coming back to is that they could only keep one child and I was that one child they didn’t want. I would just want to know if they think of me, if they would want to meet me or if they would love me. ~Emily, age 15

One thing I wish adoptive parents knew is this: not all of our problems can or should be traced back to our past. Yes, for the most part, many of our anxieties, fears, passions, and obsessions are caused by that initial loss. However, that does not mean that when we are little kids, teenagers, college students, or young adults, all of our problems are associated with us being adopted. Let your child(ren) have the space they deserve to grow up without the stigma and labels and blames of being adopted. Adoptees get to have teenage problems just as non-adoptees do. Our fear of leaving home for college for the first time may be felt more deeply than non-adoptees, but let’s face it, most kids going to college are just as scared and bewildered.  ~Anonymous

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I was worried what punishment would be like and whether I would be returned to the orphanage. ~Anonymous

It’s hard to adjust to things that are simple to you (as an adoptive family) because they are your “normal” – such as eating sandwiches, school work and showering frequently. ~Anonymous

When I’m sad or mad I need to be alone for a little while, by myself. That helps me to cool down. ~David, age 17 (adopted at 12)

Make sure we can have some familiar foods. It’s really hard to get used to American food. Maybe find someone who is Chinese to help you learn how to cook. ~Leah, age 16 (adopted at 11)

When you first come home, don’t make your kids go where they don’t want to go. We aren’t used to being outside the orphanage. Let them get used to things slowly. In China, we only stayed inside and watched TV all the time. ~Leah, age 16

Gotcha Day is one of those times when we think about our past and how little some of us actually know about it. We think about our biological parents and wish we knew them and could ask them why they didn’t keep us. We think about what our lives would be like, where would we be, what our futures would look like, had there been no Gotcha Day. ~Sophie, age 17

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We hope that these insights will help others develop a greater understanding of the adoptees’ perspective. If you are an adoptee, we would love to hear your thoughts as well!

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