It’s easy for the adopted parents of a teen to feel threatened when he or she expresses the need to look for their biological parents. You’ve been taking care of your child for so many years, you might think to yourself, and what if he or she wants to return home. It’s a common fear, and certainly, each scenario is different.
Many adopted teens left their biological homes when they were children, for good reason. Their parents might have been in jail, on drugs, or entirely absent. One of their parents might have passed away and the other just wasn’t equipped to handle the demands of raising a child. Whatever the reason, it was necessary for your child to live with you. And since then, you’ve developed a relationship with your child. He or she has come to rely on your support, your presence, and your acceptance of them.
Despite your fears and concerns, it’s important that an adopted teen have the opportunity to reunite with his or her biological parents. Doing so adds to the important life stage they are going through.
Teens stand at the intersection between childhood and adulthood. They are at the uncomfortable crossroads between needing the security of their parents and finding their own sense of autonomy and independence. More importantly, their finding what it means to be who they are, what identity they will take on, and what it means to be an adult.
Erik Erikson, the developmental psychologist, saw adolescence as the most pivotal life stage. He broke life down into a series eight stages, each of which are difficult conflicts that an individual needs to move through. The successful transition through each stage facilitates the success of future stages in life. A teenager, specifically, is faced with the challenge of finding his or her unique identity among experiences of role confusion, peer pressure, and family tradition. Erickson explained that teenagers are reaching for their independence, their uniqueness, and the role they will play in life.
The fact that teens are at the stage of life in which they are searching for their identity may not only prompt them to want to begin a search for their parents, but doing so will facilitate a better understanding of who they are. Meeting their biological parents might facilitate adopted teens in getting to know their uniqueness, why they are the way they are, and how they acquired certain physical or personality traits. Although it might be a challenge for you as the adopted parents, you’re giving your adopted teen the room he or she needs to uncover a true self.
Recently, a news reporter who had ran a series on adopted children for over 25 years was honored for reuniting over 250 children with their biological parents. The weekly segment featured children in foster care who were waiting to be adopted. The story of one 7 year old boy is a heartwarming one. He was aired on the show and afterwards had moved in and out of foster homes. Then, he was on the show a second time, and that time, his biological parents knew that they were looking at their son. It was a emotional reunion as well as a moving experience to for the news reporter many years later. Last year, the 14 year old boy visited her on her last week as a news reporter and thanked her in person for what she did.
When adopted teens are reunited with their parents, whether there is an intent to live together or not, it can be an incredibly emotional experience. Adopted parents can support their teens emotionally by giving them the room they need to discover who they are – even if this means seeking their biological parents and developing a relationship with them.
Zaslow, A. (March 11, 2013). Adopted Teen Has Touching On-Air Reunion with News Anchor Who Helped Him Find A Family. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on July 22, 2014 from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/11/teen-surprise-gloria-campos_n_4936258.html