The Adoptee’s Need to Embrace Their Biology
I'd like to share an important truth with you: adoptees have a biological story. They possess a birth history. A biology. The biology of who they are came before adoption was written into the pages of their biography.
Adoptees will feel this biology pulsing within them for all of their lives. No. Matter. What.
Their biology exists. It's real.
It's ever-present. It's a fact.
It's the genealogy of adoption.
Biology is the adoptee's chapter one. There can't be a complete biography without it. Period. Yet, still, there are adoptees of all ages and backgrounds being asked to renounce their biology. To delete their first chapter. To ignore and even deny this essential part of who they are.
It's not healthy.
In a world where connection to ancestry is growing increasingly important, and DNA tests can be shipped to our front doors, adoptees are still asked to pretend that the biology of who they are doesn't really matter. Adoptees have been urged—for decades—to profess that their lives began at the point of adoption, at the moment of finalization. Please, hear me when I say that it doesn't work that way.
Denial of biology degrades the adoptee.
It reduces their spirit.
It hinders them from fully living.
I hear from adoptees, every day, who feel pressure to withhold the truth of their biology—to bite their tongues and silence the story of their birth history. These same adoptees share with me their struggles with a lack of motivation, decreased confidence, feelings of insecurity, challenges with mental health, fear of rejection "whether imagined or real," self-doubt, a lack of self-worth, and the list goes on and on....
They feel as if they're in the middle of a major tug-of-war. Day after day, they're caught in a conflict between the two distinct experiences of biology and biography. A battle they didn't create but are continuously asked to fight. It's as if they're treading water; struggling to keep their biology afloat, laboring to keep their earliest self alive.
It's a suffocating feeling.
How can we expect adoptees to move toward connection when they're being required to disconnect from their biology? I recently spoke with an adoptee who shared the kind of story that is all too familiar. He's taller than his adoptive father. Yet, when the conversation of height comes up in social settings, his father edits out the fact that his son is adopted and gets his fabulous height from his birth family. The father, instead, says that "height skips a generation" and his son is the lucky recipient of the height that he—the dad—didn't receive.
Sounds benign, right? It's not.
A part of this adoptee's biology was given the cold-shoulder. Perhaps, this was done out of the father's felt need to protect his son. A response made from a place of love. Yet, the fact is: the father's version of truth is being thrust upon his son and he's being required to live it.
When the adoptee's biology is disregarded, kept closed, ignored, homogenized, they struggle to embrace who they are. And, the voice of "who am I" grows louder. Every time the adoptee's biology is denied, they feel loss. Time after time...Loss after loss after loss...
The adopted person should never be asked to minify or mute the biology of who they are to pacify society or to make others feel more comfortable within the adoption conversation.
Biology and birth history should never be kept a secret from the adoptee. It's theirs to own! In safe and appropriate ways, each adoptee must be allowed to explore what is already a part of themselves.
Adoptees have never asked for anything more than the truth. Ever. Those of us who love them, care for them, support them, and advocate on their behalf must understand that we have a responsibility to help adoptees and to support them in discovering, celebrating, and honoring their biological stories. Their chapter ones are vitally important.
Those of us who are adopted also need to realize the responsibility that we hold to advocate for ourselves, to claim our truths, and to—without anger or fear—speak up and educate others who may not realize just how much the denial of our biology hurts us.
Denial of biology degrades the adoptee.
Let's stop the denial today—on all sides of the adoption triad.
The adoptee's biology should not have to compete with their biography. There's enough space for them to stand, together. The greatest stories—the most inspirational narratives—are written from a place of both.