Adopted Children / Birth Parents

Is there a common opinion among theologians regarding the rights of adopted children and knowing the identities of their birth parents?

It seems to me that the natural law would point toward a right to know who your parents are, but I could be wrong.

What are some of your thoughts?

We have cousins adopted on both my mother and father’s sides of the family. I would think the only reason that they MUST know who their biological parents are is for medical reasons. Now if they wish to know that’s their choice.

The adoptive parents are the real parents; they’re the ones who raised the child and nurtured it and loved it.

1 Like

:roll_eyes:

I’m adopted.

In the adoption community, this statement is highly offensive and ignorant.

The right to know your biological roots is important. Not only for medical reasons but because of curiosity and heck, even spiritual ties. A priest informed me that there is no guarantee that legal adoptions “erase” generational “curses” or “sin” for instance. Now in the spiritual warfare world there is much we don’t know.

I have no desire to have any sort of relationship with my biological family. But they ARE real people. And they are really related to me. There’s a lot of them, too. I have something like 50 first cousins biologically, and who knows how many second cousins. You better believe that it was important for me to have an idea of who they were when I was dating.

9 Likes

FYI - This would not be an area of theology, but rather philosophy.

For my own personal opinion, I think the child should have the right to know by a certain age. What that age is, I don’t know.

God bless.

Well, I mean biological roots have deep theological meaning and ramifications. As I mentioned before theologically we have no assurance that legal adoption erases generational spiritual issues–which we know are very real.

2 Likes

Generational spirits is a good point. I didn’t think of that, but it makes sense.

I just think as a matter of justice an adoptee should have the right to know their birth parents.

1 Like

From that aspect it’s more a legal perspective, not one that the church could really weigh in on. Mainly because once adults, both a child or parent have a right to unilaterally end the relationship. Serious reasons of course…but still a valid option. A biological mother or father also has rights to choose not to have communication.

1 Like

When I say ‘justice’ I’m speaking of the virtue of Justice, not a civil justice.

It seems to me that knowing your birth parents (at least knowing who they are) would be a right in accord with the virtue of Justice.

Ultimately the Church has the right to weigh in on this, but practically the State in our modern era has subverted the rights of the Church. That’s another topic for another day though.

1 Like

Blessings,
The most important thing is knowing health issues. Children want to know. Birth parents feel both ways. Kids need to realize they may not he wanted. Their birth family could be undesirables.
God give Wisdom. Protect from pain. In Jesus name.
Amen.
In Christ’s love
Tweedlealice

I have adopted. You could take issue with saying adoptive parents are “the” real parents but there is no question that we are real parents who raise, nurture, and love our adopted children.

Dan

2 Likes

I have never considered this issue from the angle of a right, in Justice, to know. All I can say for sure is that the Church’s law says nothing about it.

Dan

I didn’t mean to cause any offense. I will try to give an explanation of my observations clear up why adopted children seeking their biological parents confuses me (doing so non-medical reasons I mean). I’m sorry if it’s poorly worded or unorderly, I tried to explain it as best I can without revealing too much personal information.

I just mean that from personal experience love and nurturing seem to have infinitely more to do with what constitutes family than blood relation. I’m not adopted, and my parents are great, but looking at the people around me and at the world at large leads me to believe that too much value is placed on blood rather than love and nurturing. There are people in my life who were mistreated by the people that sired and raised them; one of my colleagues was emotionally abused by her “father” (she gradually cut off contact with him when she reached adulthood), a friend of my family was abandoned by his “father” and suffered needless financial hardships because of this (he took his mother’s maiden name), and a close relative of mine was physically abused by his “father” (he and his siblings still visited their “father” periodically until the man died, to be the bigger person, but they didn’t mourn him or have any good memories of him). You’ll notice that in all three examples I put the word “father” in quotations, that’s because I don’t think anyone who would do such things to their children deserves to be called a mother or father.
In the world at large I see a lot of stories on the news and on websites of similar calabre. Parental abuse, parental abandonment, even filicidal murder are occuring at epidemic levels and the perpetrators more often than not go scot free (at least before earthly judges).

Now I don’t want what I say to be construed as a bash against parents; my own parents, and the vast majority of parents I’ve seen, are kind people who love and nurture their children. But if you asked me why I loved my parents I would list the good things they’ve done for me instead of the genes I have in common with them.

3 Likes

Are you saying that it is wrong for an adopted child to want to know who their biological parents were?

1 Like

No. All I mean is that I can’t understand why an adopted child would care about it for non-medical reasons if their adoptive parents love them.

My views aren’t always right, and I’m well aware that I could very well be overlooking something.

In addition to love and nurturing, parents give their children an identity and a history. It’s normal for people to want to know who their parents and extended family were, even members who have passed away years before they were born. Geneology is actually a very lucrative business. People spend millions of dollars a year trying to find information about family members they’ve never even heard of before, but they are part of their history and their story. My mother’s father died when she was an infant. She has no actual memory of him, but she still cherishes the stories and photographs she has of him because she knows that he is a part of her and a part of her life. Would you tell her that she is wrong to be concerned about him, since he never got the chance to love or nurture her? Wouldn’t you want to know the circumstances of your birth? I certainly would! Aside from that, even when an adopted child’s biological parents can’t have a relationship with them, knowing at least their identity opens up the possibility of relationships with siblings, grandparents, etc.

1 Like

It’s not unusual to look to your ancestry for a sense of identity. This curiosity certainly isn’t a sign that the adoptive parents have done a bad job or the child is ungrateful.

Keep in mind as well not every adoption is of an infant.

My biological grandparents passed when my mother was a child - but not an infant. She remembers them, as do her brothers.

I obviously only knew her adoptive parents, but I was aware from very young that I had another set of grandparents who were no longer with us.

1 Like

Not every child will know the names of their birth parents. Some or maybe even the majority (depending upon country) of adopted children were left at orphanages or hospitals by someone unknown.

Of all the children that I have taught during the years, those who know their history and relations do much better. For the adopted children there are books written for pre-schoolers that families can read together. Children will see that they physically look differently than their adopted parents and/or siblings from an early age. Talking for the first time about the adoption when children are teenagers usually cause more identity problems and tuffer teenage years. Especially if the teenager discovers that “mommy didn’t have a big tummy when she expected me” and nothing was in the photo albums about their birth.

What is most important is telling the child that “Your birthparents couldn’t look after you and mommy and daddy want to be your parents and that we love you very, very much!”. Having a binder with all the information about the child’s known history before they were adopted does help. If the family can visit the birth country/town when the child is older then do so.

1 Like

I would think it is very difficult to go through life not knowing the factsof one’s biological family.

I’m sure the level of interest is different for all adoptees, however medical information and history would be one of the reasons. Could you imagine going to throw doctor and saying idk when being screened?

There is also a piece missing of connectiveness or closure or for some who have not been shared details of thier adoption, even if they have the most loving adoptive family, and sharing these details may help with that.

If an older adoptee is searching for thier biololical parents though, discreetness and the expectation of them not wanting contact must be understood before hand.

Depending on the circumstance too, I would think it is an act of love and sacrifice to desire a better life for a baby, and that should be communicated to the child as early as possible. It is not that they are unwanted, it’s because of life situations and timing that makes raising them not ideal.

God bless all in the adoption triad, adoptees, adoptive parents and biological parents.:blossom::cherry_blossom::blossom:

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.