Important Information for Chinese Adoptees using MyTaproot:
We want to welcome you into the heart of MyTaproot. Our core mission is to support Chinese adoptees in their personal journey to figure out if they want to search for their birth family or not. For some of us, this will be a private journey, where we need to work things out on our own, and seek support from just a few trusted confidants. For others, a journey like this needs to be processed with lots of dialogue within supportive networks where we can bounce ideas off each other and learn from the experiences of others that have gone before us.
Every last one of us is going to approach this journey in our own unique way but there are a few common threads that we can all hold on to.
- We have to acknowledge that searching for birth family relatives involves feelings of risk and uncertainty. But rest assured that the emotion you may be feeling is normal. When it comes to the idea of searching for birth family, a lot of big questions pop up immediately: “Should I search?”, “What if I found my birth parents?”, “What if I didn’t find them? Would that feel worse?”, “If I did find them, how would we communicate?”, “Would they expect things from me?”, “Who can help me in this process?” (Whew! Take a deep breath right about now.) The good news is that you are not alone! We are here to help walk with you on this journey. As a growing and concentrated online community, we are coming together to support each other in ways that would never be possible in our scattered locations across the globe. Remember, there’s well over 100,000 of us! Imagine the biggest sports stadium in the world all filled with Chinese adoptees and their families cheering for each other. That’s what we’re about!
- We have to acknowledge and respect that every adoptee has to make their own decisions about what is right for them. And this will be different from one adoptee and their family to another. The best path forward may even change for the same adoptee over the years as they grow older. Some of us have been waiting for years to search, chomping at the bit, traveling to China, taping posters to light poles at our finding places and hoping to get lucky. For others among us, the decision to even figure out if we want to search (much less actually start a search) will take years of slowly mulling over the concept from time to time before we’ll know for sure. No matter where you are with it, just trust us that it’s all ok and normal!
- When the considering Chinese birth family search, unexpected emotions are typical among adoptees and their adoptive families. Just contemplating a birth family search can bring up a lot of conflicting feelings for an adoptee and the same is true for adoptive parents, adoptive brothers, sisters, and other adoptive relatives. We feel strongly that adoptees must be allowed to work out their conflicting feelings in a supportive and non-judgmental space. We encourage adoptive parents for example to dialogue with their adoptive child about the topic of their birth family if the child raises it. But we also advise that these discussions be positive and supportive and based on a general trust that Chinese adoptees often are dealing with many heavy-duty competing objectives. (e.g. Honoring my adoptive parents who raised me vs My own right to figure out my origin story.) Everyone can pause for a moment and realize there is no emergency here, and we can take our time. (Another deep breath!) Adoptees and their adoptive families will often find that breaking down discussions into little baby steps will make things easier. We don’t need to go straight from “Mom and Dad, I’m thinking about registering on MyTaproot, that Chinese birth family search site.” to “Well how much does it cost to fly to China?!? And who’s going to pay for it?!?” Baby steps are best! A simpler and emotionally safer way to initially broach the subject of searching is discuss the experiences of others before we get into our own. (“Did you see that story about Jenna Cook and what happened when she traveled to China looking for her family? What do you think about that?”) One important note though: Adoptive parents must consider their words wisely in these discussions, knowing that their opinions on the situations of other adoptees will be read closely by their own adoptive kids as applying to them as well.
- There are many layers of help for all who need it! Definitely check out our Adoptee-Only discussion forum in the Greenhouse section of MyTaproot to get a feel for the range of thought out there on the question of searching. You will probably be relieved to see so many others are asking the same questions and feeling the same feelings as you are. Find your people in the Greenhouse forums! Beyond the discussion forums though, we strongly encourage adoptees to work through their questions and struggles with a true professional therapist who is skilled and knowledgeable about adoption. Check out our referral list that we maintain of counselors and therapists near you.
While Chinese birth family search is in its infancy as an evolving field of work, we can already see logical emotional stages emerge in the journeys of those adoptees on the leading edge of this phenomenom.
Having carefully studied the current state of Chinese birth family search, MyTaproot finds that Chinese adoptees from the teenage years and beyond typically fall into one of the following scenarios:
- Against: “I’m perfectly happy with not knowing anything about my birth family. I have no interest whatsoever in finding them or hearing from them.”
- Uncertain: “I don’t even know what I think about all this birth family search stuff. I’m just giving myself time to work it out in my head and heart. No commitments either way.”
- Pre-Search: “I’m interested in learning more. Definitely still no commitments. Just here to check things out. I’m a little worried about what my adoptive family would think about all this.”
- Searching: “OK, I’m officially interested and I’m going to set up my account, drop a pin with my finding location and finding date, activate my service agreement, and just see what happens. But still no commitments to what I’d necessarily do with the information if I get news of any possible matches.”
- Potential Matching: “OK, My information is entered into MyTaproot and I’m getting notifications of potential matches. What do I do again? A little help here!”
- Newly Matched: “I pursued a high probability potential match and just got confirmation that I am MATCHED with a relative! I can’t believe it! My mind is spinning. What does this mean? What happens now?!?”
- Post-Match/Pre-Reunion: “I am trying to figure out if I want to pursue Reunion. When would I do it? Where would it happen? How do I arrange it? What about interpreters? Would it be in person or online? I don’t even know if I want to do this. Can I found out more about what this “match” even means?”
- Birth Family Reunion: “OK, I’m going to do this thing and meet these people related to me on the other side of the world. Let’s talk logistics. How? When? Where? Why? Online vs In Person? If I go to China, what kind of travel costs are we talking about? And what about interpreters and guides and passports and all that? Can I talk to folks who have already gone through Reunion themselves? And, by the way, is China cool with all this?”
- Post-Reunion: “OK, Wow… Just got back from China. And that was intense and life changing… Still processing... What in the world happens now? Am I just supposed to go back to my pre-match life? Do I have two families now? This is a little confusing. How often do I keep in touch with my birth family? Should I learn Mandarin? How does it work if they want to come here and visit me? I am now SUPER interested in learning about how this has already worked out for the adoptees a few years ahead of me in this post-reunion phase. How do I get in touch with them?”
No matter what stage an Adoptee might themselves in though, MyTaproot stands ready to respect and support the journey with our highly skilled staff. We encourage adoptees and their families to check out the other support services available through MyTaproot.