Complex relationship with adoption

The flag for Russia

I was born in a hospital in Moscow, Russia and abandoned a few days after I was born. I was dropped off at Orphange #2 in Moscow where I stayed until I was adopted out at 8 months of age. As a young child, I did not think much of my adoption. However, during my teenage years I began to really think about my birth circumstances. I began to wonder on a daily basis about my birth parents. My adoptive parents never hid the fact that I was adopted and tried to provide as much information as possible. However, they were not given much information whenever they adopted me. They were told that my birth parents left names equivalent to “Jane Doe” and “John Smith”. The home address they left did not exist, which meant it was impossible to find them. The only thing they had was that “my birth mother was young and pretty.” The people who helped them adopt me (translators, representatives of the church they attended, among others) thought I had Ukraine in me (which DNA testing later proved to be false).

I did not get my first DNA test until I was around 20 years old. It was through 23andme, before they offered medical results as well as the rest of their DNA results. I was like a young child on Christmas when I got word that my DNA test results had come in. I eagerly looked through every piece of information. The closest family member was an estimated second cousin (which meant in laymen’s terms that we shared a great grandparent). However, they were a “dead end” because they were also adopted under similar circumstances (no information on their biological family members). My second cousin was also adopted out of Russia (out of a different city than myself). I messaged as many “relatives” as I could (I use this term loosely because in the grand scheme of things, we are all technically related, it is just a matter of how much DNA I share with someone else). I learned through this research that I have Romani/Roma in me (aka “gypsy”, but “gypsy” is considered a huge slur to most Roma individuals). I joined adoptee support groups on Facebook and shared my experience.

As time passed I was able to take the DNA test kit through Ancestry and FTDNA. I also uploaded my results to GedMatch and did the Nat Geo test (which was more for looking at one’s ancestral line rather than search for possible relatives). Every DNA test (minus Nat Geo) showed the same person as my possible second cousin, with no one on any site showing as a closer relationship to myself (1st cousin or immediate family). My surname on my birth certificate (Koroliova) is also extremely rare, no one on any site that I have tested on has had that surname (either presently or somewhere in their family tree).

In the adoptee support groups, I noticed certain trends within the communities. Some adoptees felt very bitter about their biological family (often called “bio family” or “bio parents/mom/dad”). Some adoptees were too scared to do DNA testing, because they were too nervous to approach others about the potential results that would be shown to them. Other adoptees were extremely “pro adoption” or “anti adoption” due to their own personal circumstances (“pro adoption” were adoptees who wanted other orphans to be adopted out of either the foster care system or orphanages while those who were “anti adoption” had a very strongly negative view on adoption agencies and similar individuals).

Personally, I feel that parents who wish to adopt need to do research about the health conditions that often come with orphans who are adopted (reactive attachment disorder, adoptees are much more prone to mental health issues as they grow up, such as anxiety, mood disorders, and substance abuse) and realize that separating an infant from its mother is traumatizing for a young child. It is for the same reason people do not recommend separating young puppies from their mother for a certain period of time if someone wishes to adopt dogs. Parents who wish to adopt children need to try to put themselves in their child’s shoes when trying to understand why their adopted child is acting the way they do. Adults have difficulty working through traumatic situations, so expecting children to “adapt perfectly” to their new home is completely ignorant. Even if you adopt the child and take them home within a few days or weeks of them being born, there is still trauma there because they did not hear your voice when they were in the womb. They did not hear your heartbeat when they were in the womb.

Adopted children are often at least 35% more likely to develop some type of mental health disorder, according to current studies. As stated earlier, they typically develop problems with: anxiety, mood disorders, and substance abuse. However, adoptive parents are rarely given the proper education about this. They are often overlooked into the scientific community and psychological professional community. This needs to change.

Adoption can be useful, but it is traumatizing. Throwing a young child in an orphanage or foster care is very likely going to damage the child’s mental wellness. If you are looking to adopt a child, I strongly recommend joining groups on Facebook (and other forms of social media) that are open to both adoptees and prospective adoptive parents, so they can get insight on how adoption has affected the adoptees themselves. If you are an adoptee, hang in there. There are a lot of us out there trying to make sense of everything.