Adoption Awareness Month – Family History

06 Nov

As adoptees we have two different families; the family that adopted us, the family that we were born into. Both families shape who we are, what our family histories tell us also comes into play for many of us.

Today, even if you have a very open adoption, I’m wondering if your child will learn about their family of birth history, specifically their first parents, grandparents, their family story. I’m asking you to think about that question with the upcoming holidays and, even though it may not matter to your child now, it may matter later after it’s too late. I’m also asking you to be proactive and start building both their family histories; your family history and their family of birth history, both matter to me, so there’s a good chance they’ll both matter to your child too.

It’s a large undertaking but can be done over time.

Start with you and your spouse to get the hang of it, then do your parents, your spouse’s parents, remember to get some pictures too. Then do the same for their family of birth; it’d be a great tool for breaking any lulls in the conversations at visits, face time, calls. There are tools to help you; from an app to record the oral history (how amazing that would be when your child is grown and the relatives are long gone to hear their answers to the questions posed), to an endless selection of questions to pick from to ask.

Genealogy: 150 questions to ask family members about their lives

I like this list as it asks follow-up questions I wouldn’t think of; go through the list and create your own list of questions you’ll ask, and be sure to include ones your child would appreciate now and, the ones they’ll thank you for as an adult. The first three questions asked on this list are below.

*What is your full name and why were you named that? (Include maiden name for women.)
*Were you named after someone else?
*Did you have a nickname when you were growing up? If so, what was it and why were you called that?

25 Family History Questions You’ll Really Want to Ask

This list of questions delves more into the who they are as an individual, what matters to them, yet should also be able to be answered by the interviewee. These are the questions I can’t get answers for that really delve into who the person is, what they experienced, what makes them, them. This link also offers a link to the app to record the interview.

The first three questions on this list.

*What are some of your lifetime regrets?
*Growing up, who was the person you most adored or respected?
*What is the greatest change that you have seen in your lifetime?

And for your child’s family of birth, this is also a great time to ask and document their family health history as well, so build those questions into your list to ask each member or ask them to fill in the questionnaire and reassure them you’ll guard their privacy the same as you would yours. Family Health History Form

Once you’re done, don’t stop there, interview other close relatives over time, keep adding to it because those who went before us, should not just not be forgotten, they should be honored.




Posted by on November 6, 2019 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

21 responses to “Adoption Awareness Month – Family History

  1. Laksh

    November 6, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I have notes from the girls’ great grandparents that are a treasure. It will be amazing if I can follow an interview format and actually get them to record their answers for my children. Amazing how these things never occur to us unless someone spells it out. Thank you again for being the voice I have come to look up to for advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      November 7, 2019 at 3:43 am

      Thank you Laksh – I want to know when you’ve started.


      • Laksh

        November 7, 2019 at 9:17 am

        We met them in 2016 but started emailing back and forth since 2013. They have been so generous with sharing so much of their lives with us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Laksh

        November 7, 2019 at 12:17 pm

        I reread your comment and realized I understood it differently. I will let you know once I start using the resources you have linked to.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dannie

    November 6, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    This is a great post!


    • TAO

      November 7, 2019 at 3:43 am

      Thanks Dannie.


  3. Sally

    November 6, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    I love this so much. Our son’s first/birth grandfather pass away when our son was a toddler. We have lots of pictures of them together, which is great, but the loss of Grandpa from our lives is compounded by the loss of the parts of his history we hadn’t discovered and now can’t. There’s so much our son will never know. Your post is a great reminder.


    • TAO

      November 7, 2019 at 3:44 am

      Oh Sally, I’m sorry.


      • Sally

        November 7, 2019 at 12:24 pm

        Thanks, Tao. I wrote “There’s so much our son will never know.” I should have written “There’s so much our family will never know.”

        Liked by 2 people

  4. legitimatebastard

    November 7, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    This is very important!

    I have an extensive family tree from my adoptive family, and then from my natural family.

    I made charts myself to map out how my natural mother’s family married into what would become my adoptive father’s father’s family. No, my adoptive father was not my blood relative, but his two older brothers were! It’s complicated.

    From my blood line… my natural mother’s grandmother’s sister (my great grand aunt by blood) married a man in the late 1897s. They had two sons (who were my 3rd cousins by blood, or 2nd cousins, or 1st cousins twice removed). Then the wife died and the husband married a second time. This wife was the mother of 8 children, the oldest became my adoptive father. So, my adoptive father is my half 3rd cousin, or half 2nd cousin, or half 1st cousin twice removed. One of his two older half brothers once told me that, when he was a young man, he took my natural mother to an amusement park when she was six years old – so, yes, the older cousin loved his younger cousin.

    I’d have to check the charts again to count it out. There are 2 different methods to chart relationship charts.

    THIS was the true, big, horrible family secret that both families determined I must never know. It wasn’t the fact that my mother died when I was three months old and that my father gave me up.

    I was found my full blood siblings in 1974. Various blood relatives gave me my natural mother’s family tree. They were apprehensive, afraid to tell me. My adoptive father was quiet, but his sister confirmed it all. I have the marriage certificate, and Victorian photographs, to prove this connection.

    In a very distant way, my adoption was an in-family adoption, which was held against me for the first 18 years of my life, and really, for a good number of years after reunion. Why? Because the ones holding this secret lied to me. This includes my adoptive parents and my adoptive father’s sisters and brothers, their spouses, and their children. They were allowed to have cousin-to-cousin relationships, but I was not allowed – because of the belief that an adoptee must never know the truth.

    To be fair, a few adoptive aunts and uncles did not agree to the holding this secret. They warned my adoptive parents that they should tell me the truth. My adoptive mother told my aunt, “Oh no, she’s mine! I don’t ever want her to know she has sisters and a brother.” My adoptive father went along with the lie. He didn’t know how to tell me the truth.

    Oh, yeah. That was the other big secret.

    Lying is something no adoptive parent should do.

    Tell the truth. Hold no secrets. Give your adoptee as full of a family tree of both adoptive and natural families because both families matter. Tell the truth in the most loving and respectful way. Adoptive parents owe this to the adopted children in their care.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Tiffany

    November 7, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    This is a painful topic for me because my daughter’s parents have dropped out of her life. I really want her to have all of this, and she wants it as well. Her history is SO important- we do not come from nothing and nowhere. We are the product of all our ancestors, of their experiences, of their lives and who they were and are. It breaks my heart that she doesn’t have this.

    I wish so hard that it wasn’t so heartbreaking, on an almost daily basis, to be adopted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • legitimatebastard

      November 7, 2019 at 5:36 pm

      Thank you. This gives me hope. Obviously, in my day, growing up adopted meant that my needs didn’t matter. You are aware and don’t seem to be threatened. I’m sorry that these natural parents aren’t responsive or responsible at this time. Perhaps they will come around later.

      Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      November 7, 2019 at 6:49 pm

      Awe Tiffany, it will be okay in the long run, there does seem to be a stage where it’s just too painful to watch from the outside and parents by birth have to step away for their own mental health. You know who they are, she can reach out later on, but never beat yourself up for what you can’t control. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tiffany

        November 7, 2019 at 10:19 pm

        Thank you both. I know it must be hard for them. Our daughter is a sweet and kind soul who feels things very deeply, and of course that trait doesn’t come from nowhere. I sense that her dad is a very sensitive and deep soul, especially- the two of them seem to connect whenever we have been together, and I had such high hopes the last time we saw them (a year and a half ago, now) that they would want to spend more time with her. We were so happy to see their interest in her and in spending one on one time with her. But it never came to be… they have never even replied to the last few texts she sent to them. I worry that their absence when she feels that she needs and wants them will impact her ability to have a relationship with them later one, when they feel more ready. Kinda like a “hey, when I wanted you around, you weren’t there, so why should I be there for you now that you have decided you want it?”

        We are always here and always open. I hope they return back someday and our daughter (and I always use that “our” as inclusive of them as well) is willing and able to be open to that.

        legitimatebastard – I’m so sorry you were made to feel that way. Adopted or not, every kid is completely and totally entitled to their feelings and emotions, 1000%. They should never be made to feel that their emotional health is secondary to anyone else.

        Liked by 2 people

        • TAO

          November 7, 2019 at 11:36 pm

          I saw an article re parents pulling back just recently, if I find it again, I will post a link, it may have some suggestions.


        • TAO

          November 7, 2019 at 11:41 pm

          Found it, maybe something in it will help your little one understand or how to get them to open up. If anyone can figure it out, you can, and if you can’t it’s not because you didn’t try hard enough.


        • legitimatebastard

          November 7, 2019 at 11:48 pm

          Thank you Tiffany. Hopefully, this was because of the old way of thinking. You are a compassionate and understanding adoptive parent, a rare breed. Adoptees like me, from the Baby Scoop Era, are older. My adoption was not a result of a unmarried pregnant girl in the 40s or 50s, but the mindset back then seemed to permeate all adoptions. There was no shame in my birth, but that is the way I was treated. And no, I’m not saying that shame belongs where there is an unmarried mother, just the opposite.

          Yes, I see your worry that “when I wanted you around, you weren’t there…” This open adoption seems to be working for you because you have the right outlook and attitude. Your shared daughter is blessed to have you as a parent. And her natural parents will one day see this, too.

          I was with my adoptive mother until the day she died in 2011. We had a rocky relationship, but worked out most issues before her death. In her last few years, Mom referred to my deceased natural mother as “your mother”. And, Mom accepted – finally – that my activism is based upon the lie of the falsified birth certificate, and not a personal attack upon her.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Tiffany

            November 12, 2019 at 7:37 pm

            It’s so nice to hear that at least in the end, your adoptive mom was able to make her peace with you and accept your feelings and emotions.

            My daughter randomly decided this last weekend to text her other mom, and she actually did get a reply back! It made her very happy. I am hoping that it leads to some more communication or a visit, but I am always cautious with expectations.

            Our daughter is SO amazing. I know I am biased… but really, she is an absolutely amazing little human being. I always tell her she is my sunshine and rainbows because the world with her in it is a much more joyful place. 🙂 I am so, so, so lucky to have her presence in my life, and I just want her other parents to feel the same. We would give them any amount of contact that our daughter wanted- they could be spending tons of time with her, if they chose to, so it is hard for me to see them choosing the opposite. I am sure it must be very hard for them- I can only imagine the wounds it reopens each time they see her. It’s just hard to see our daughter hurt. Thank you for your kind words.


            • TAO

              November 12, 2019 at 10:49 pm

              I’m so happy for your little one – fingers crossed it’s a restart.


  6. BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

    November 10, 2019 at 6:52 am

    I see so much compassion, empathy, understanding and helpfulness in all of these comments. Instructive, generous and very moving.



Tell me your thoughts, but please be nice...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: