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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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Adoption, Finding the Birth Parents

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: May 8th 2012

Adoption, Finding the Birth ParentsLisa Lutz, well known author, wrote a brief article for the Sunday Times Magazine section, May 6, 2012, called, "Meet the Parents." Lutz, herself an adopted child, discusses the fact that, at age twenty five, she wanted to meet her birth parents. She states that she never had a strong relationship with her adoptive parents and, so, never thought she would betray them by seeking her natural parents. She also clarifies the fact the she was not obsessed with finding them but only curious. She succeeded in finding and contacting both her mother and father and goes on to describe the experience.

When she called, her birth mother reacted angrily because she had set up the adoption to be private and with her identity kept secret. When Lutz apologized her mother relaxed and they spoke very briefly. She learned that her mother never had any more children. Later, they exchanged a letter and photograph and that was the end of any further contact.

Her father reacted much more positively but she discovered that he was more connected to talking about his motorcycle, boat and working out than learning anything about her. She never saw him again.

What she concluded from this was that, had she been raised by them it is unlikely she would have turned out to be the ambitious person she is.
In her own words, "Family is the luck of the draw, and so is how you turn out."


What is interesting about this story is that Lutz's birth mother, even with no other children, still did not want to  know her daughter. That seems to contradict what we believe to be the natural connection between mothers and their children despite the fact that she gave her up for adoption. Where is the curiosity of the mother about her adult daughter? Although her father had a much more positive reaction to meeting Lutz, as far as we know, there was no driving wish to stay in contact with his daughter.

There is a cautionary tale here. Seeking birh parents can turn out to be very painful. For Lutz, that was the case, although, she seemed to handle it fairly well, according to what she wrote. This does not imply that people should not pursue their genetic parents but only they not have too high expectations if things do not work out well. At the very same time, there are many people who, after finding their birth parents, had wonderful experiences. For those who want to find their birth parents it's important to have realistic expectations so as not to feel too disappointed if things do now work out well.

What are your experiences being adopted and searching for birth parents?

Your comments are always encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Contradictions - Von - Jun 9th 2012

Nothing is contradictory in adoption, that is a simplistic view of a complex area of life for adoptees.Just as with the ambiguous loss we suffer it is not either or but both or all.

Adoptee who found her birth mom - - May 13th 2012

My adoption was a closed adoption. I was raised in a stable adoptive home. Growing up I'd often wondered about my birth mom, and made half-hearted attempts to find her.

When my son was born 13 years ago he started having health problems. I decided it was time to be serious about finding my birth family and medical history. I went to the agency I was adopted through. After a year of searching they found my birth mom. When she heard I was searching she took a few months to process what she wanted to do. I had let the intermediary know if my birth mom was in a healthy place I was willing to meet her.

We corresponded through the intermediary for about a year. I found out I had a half-brother. He finally arranged for us all to meet.

It was beautiful. It was bonding. Many of the negative events in my life came full circle that night as we all agreed this was a good thing - and the timing of this family coming to fruition was ideal. My brother, I think, put it best as he lived just 4 miles from Ground Zero: "Families change suddenly and unexpectedly all the time - usually in a painful, negative way. Our family has changed as well - in a beautiful, positive, rewarding way."

To this day we are close, we stay in touch and we consider ourselves to be family. My adoptive parents supported me through the entire process and have met my birth mom.

I feel blessed to have two families.



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