In General Knowledge for the Family

When They Find Out They Are Adopted: What to Expect


Even though adoption is a beautiful thing for both foster children and foster parents, it is never easy for an adopted child to find out that they are not living with their biological parents. It is also very difficult for foster parents to tell that truth to their child. In this article, we will try to explain what an adopted child goes through when they find out that they are adopted, and perhaps shed some light on what parents can expect and how they can deal with the emotions of their adopted child.

The 7 Emotions an Adopted Person Goes Through When They Find Out They Are Adopted

People who are adopted encounter many different feelings about themselves and other people when they discover they are adopted. Depending on their age and maturity levels, they perceive the fact differently. We’ve done some research, including this article on, and found out that, generally, there are seven stages that an adopted person feels once they find out the truth.

1. Loss

Loss is one of the very first things an adopted person feels when they find out they are adopted, especially a child. Regardless of the reason the child was placed in foster care, once they become aware of the fact that they are adopted, they will have many questions that may not all have answers.

The sensation of loss can occur in many different forms for an adopted person, which is the primary reason why adopting parents sometimes choose not to tell the child or adult they are adopted. Birthdays and holidays soon become strange and the adopted person no longer wants to be involved in family activities because they feel like they do not belong. The feeling of total loss comes when they lose their sense of belonging, and as the very core of their existence shatters, that sense of belonging vanishes and they are left feeling very confused.

There are some people who take finding out that they are adopted well by looking at the bright side, but for many others, it can be a lot to take in at once.

2. Rejection

A foster child can feel rejected and be rejecting for many reasons. If they are old enough to realize the situation they are in, they may reject anyone who tries to form a close bond with them. This is natural because they feel rejected by their birth parents, and so they inflict this rejection on others.

Most of the time, foster children are unaware of the reasons why they were taken from their birth parents’ homes, but the bottom line for them is that they feel unwanted and out of place, which makes them feel rejected. In other situations, a foster child may be rejected by their adopted relatives, such as children that were in the home before the foster child arrived. Sometimes, adoption causes a rift between adopting parents because one spouse wants children and the other does not, but one agrees to the circumstances to make the other person happy. In all cases, rejection of self or others is an expected reaction in such circumstances.

3. Feeling Guilty or Ashamed

Many foster children feel guilt and shame because they fault themselves for the situation they are in. If they don’t know why they were placed in foster care, foster children often blame themselves for their parents not wanting them or not being around to care for them. Loss and rejection also play a role in the feelings of guilt and shame that overwhelm the adopted child.

4. Grief

Grief is a common feeling that occurs when a foster child is placed in foster care due to their parents being deceased. In some cases, the child knew their parents, and probably led a happy life until tragedy struck. Tragedy causes a person to grieve for long periods of time.

Some children suppress their emotions and refuse to give in to their feelings of grief until they can no longer contain them and become overwhelmed. Another form of grief a foster child may experience is due to being somewhere they do not want to be. Foster children are often transferred from one foster home to another until they are adopted, which means changing schools, moving from one neighborhood to the next, always seeing new faces, and constantly dealing with new personalities. This is a lot for a foster child or teen to deal with on a daily basis. When they are somewhere they do not want to be, grief can set in.

5. Identity Crisis

Identity crises are common among foster children and accompany the feelings of loss that they feel. Some foster children do not know who their birth parents are or where they came from, especially if they were too young to understand what was going on when they were placed in foster care. This can easily damage their self-image and cause confusion about who they are and where they belong. Some children remain in foster care for years, maybe even until they turn 18, then they are on their own. When this happens, foster children often set out to find their birth parents for answers to the questions they have had for years.

6. Issues with Relationships

People who have had difficult experiences in foster care often experience issues within their relationships. Some foster children find it difficult to make friends or even obtain a romantic relationship because they not only have trust issues, they are still finding themselves and are on a quest to find who they are and where they came from.

7. Issues of Control

Some foster children have control issues. They may have never gotten their way or been heard when they were in foster care, and they act out how they were treated. Control issues can be fixed, but require time and therapy.

How to Find Birth Parents

When people find out they are adopted, the first thing they want to know is who their birth parents are and why they were placed in foster care. There are a few steps that can be taken to help a foster child locate their birth parents.

  1. The first place to start is with the adoptive parents. They might have information about the birth parents. Although they may not have in-depth details about the reasons why the child was placed in foster care, the adoptive parents can give the foster child a place to start.
  2. The internet is a great way to find just about any information one is looking for. With social media and other networking platforms, finding birth parents is not as difficult as it once was.
  3. One of the last things one can do is place an ad in newspapers or on social media. There are great chances that there are people out there who know one or both of the person’s biological parents. If the foster child is comfortable with leaving their name and contact information, birth parents might even try to reconnect with their child and answer any questions they may have.

A Note on Pride and Self Worth

If it turns out that you were adopted, you should not feel inferior or unworthy. Although you may have mixed feelings about the situation, you should still be proud of who you are and the things you have accomplished. Whether you find your biological family and make peace with them or decide to stay with your adoptive family, keep in mind that real family consists of people who care for your well-being and who want to see you succeed in life. It is not always about the people who brought you into this world, but the people who ensured your safety and cared for you once you were brought into this world.


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