What I Learned from Adopted Persons

Recently, I was privileged to moderate WACAP’s panel discussion: “Growing Up Adopted.” Seven adopted persons of multiple ages and backgrounds shared their experiences with those of us in attendance. They represented many unique perspectives and were brave storytellers. I walked away awed by the diverse experiences of each adoptee. There is no singular experience, which is true for all of us. Though we all bring our unique perspective to life, we struggle equally, and we all desire to belong. Adoption is joyous, and sorrowful, and complicated, and beautiful. Here are my top takeaways:


  1. How long did it take you to attach? “A long time. I wish I realized earlier that I didn’t have to choose between two families (adoptive and birth,) but I could love both”
  2. “Parents focus on adoption early in the parent/child relationship. Adoptees focus on it later, during adolescence and young adulthood. There’s an inverse relationship to the timing of attention given to these issues.”
  3. “There will be ever-evolving emotions. Understand that you may not ever understand what your adoptive child is feeling, because they may not understand, either.”
  4. “When we (adoptees) leave home, we’re afraid. Stay committed. We fear losing yet another family. We’ve lost once, we might lose again.”
  5. Regarding cultural competence: “My family took a ‘colorblind’ approach to discussing racial identity. We were all the same (and in my family, we actually were treated the same.) Once I left home, however, I found out that the world is very different.”
  6. “As far as I was concerned, those white people WERE my ‘real’ parents. Family isn’t about blood or race, it’s about people who care for each other.”
  7. One panelist was older at the time of adoption and was asked about the memories of the actual placement experience in her adoption. “Leaving the orphanage, I was scared. We left everything and everyone. It was hard. Once home with my new family, there were new foods, new smells, new everything. Calling these new people – strangers, really – ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ was strange and felt like betrayal of the family I had lost.”
  8. Advice to adoptive parents, “Angst happens. White-knuckle it. Love unconditionally, because we need that commitment.”

    photo of Zia FreemanAbout Adoption Counselor, Zia Freeman: Zia has over 16 years of experience working with WACAP Families. She is dedicated to preparing families for adoption by providing in-depth training, both in person and online. She also provides support to families after they’ve come home, by facilitating in person support groups for families in the area, as well as across the country through the WACAP Adoptive Parent Support Group on Facebook. Zia holds a Master’s degree in Behavioral Science, with training in Marriage and Family therapy.



WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) is one of the largest and most experienced international nonprofit adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Since 1976, we’ve placed over 10,000 children with loving adoptive parents and provided food, medical care and education to more than 200,000 children around the world.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, Domestic Adoption, Events, International Adoption, Reflections, Staff/Board Spotlight, Support Services and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What I Learned from Adopted Persons

  1. Pingback: Strong Families | wacap

  2. Pingback: Expectations: How I Messed Up Everything | wacap

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