A Look Back: Why were families so afraid to talk about adoption?

Cat-CatInBirthdayCakeYoureAdoptedI participated in a radio interview today and this question was one we weren’t able to get to, since we ran out of time.  I thought I would take it to the blog and address it here. I was a little worried about fumbling over my words in the interview on this question anyhow.

So, we’ve all seen the stories or had a friend or family member that didn’t know he/she was adopted until teen or adult years.  So the question is, why was the topic of adoption taboo?  I think this stems from a time of more closed adoptions. Adoption was a taboo subject for several reasons.

  • One of which is with infertility there is a bit of a stigma that is attached to it. Women have been placed in a role by society to have children. Men have a need to carry on the family name and lineage. With adoption their, so called, failure to do so is brought to attention.
  • Some people have the mindset that if God wanted someone to have children, He would grant that to them naturally, making it against God’s wishes.
  • Then there is the stigma of the child’s background. In closed adoptions, the adoptive parents were given very little to no information about the birth parents.  This lead to confusion or an inability to discuss the unknown.
  • Another reason adoption used to not be commonly talked about, was also the parent’s own insecurities of losing their status as “parents” to the child.  If their child ever questioned their biological roots, this may have made the adoptive parents feel inadequate or insecure and fear they may lose their child.  They may not have had many answers about the birth parents, so they avoided the subject all together. If or when the child learned of their adoption, then it was often awkward for all parties to discuss.
  • Often parents in closed adoptions also feared there was no “right time” to tell the child.  If the adoption wasn’t open, knowledge of the birth parents or a relationship with them wasn’t present, some parents may not have felt equipped to tell their child and answer the difficult questions, so they put it off.
  • Sometimes families adopted children from within the same family.  The adoption was kept a secret so there was not any confusion as to who the parent was.  The biological parent may have been a sister or close aunt or cousin.  So, while a relationship with the biological parent may have existed, the knowledge was withheld.

What other reasons can you think of that made the topic of adoption taboo or reasons why parents may have kept the adoptive status of their child a secret?

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