Adopting a Broader Perspective: Reflections of a Young Adult Adoptee

I found my way back to Spence-Chapin when I was 18-years-old after my birth mother contacted me for the first time. I was a freshman in college and at that time, Spence-Chapin was doing (and continues to do) a lot of outreach to the young adult adoptee community. I have always had an extremely open relationship with my adoptive parents and after much family discussion and processing, we decided it would be a rewarding and interesting experience to participate in a young adult adoptee panel. At this panel, we shared our stories and answered questions for a group of prospective and adoptive parents. It felt empowering to be able to answer questions for parents and it made me aware of how comfortable I was with my own adoption story. It also made me consider the role and decisions of my adoptive parents with a new, broadened perspective.

After speaking on the panel, I met a few of the social workers at Spence-Chapin and decided to switch my college major from International Relations to Sociology. I decided that after graduation I was going to pursue my Master of Social Work. After completing my first year at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, I am now interning at Spence-Chapin for the summer as part of the Outreach Team. My guidance counselors and supervisors, both at my undergraduate alma mater Bucknell and the University of Maryland, have all asked me if I am “sure” about pursuing a career in adoption social work due to my personal connection. I know that I am able to answer “yes” to this question without hesitation or uncertainty because of my relationship with my adoptive parents.

Jenny Rosen blog post 2My adoptive parents have always supported my decisions and been open to my questions about my story. When I was contacted by my birth mother, it was understandably hard for them but they allowed me to take the reins on where I wanted that correspondence and relationship to go. All the while, they reminded me that they were there for me and that they loved me without wanting to be intrusive.

Interning in the Outreach Department and just being a small part of such an amazing organization has allowed me the opportunity to gain a better understanding about parenting and the process adoptive parents undergo. The experience thus far has made me reflect on my relationship with my adoptive parents and solidified this as the direction in which I want to take my social work career. I know that I would not be the person I am today or ready for this chosen career path without the love, acceptance, and support I received from my adoptive parents. (It actually feels weird to label them as my “adoptive” parents because they are really just my parents… no classifier necessary).

If there is any advice I could possibly give to prospective adoptive parents, it would be that open discussion about adoption and constant offerings of support are key components to raising an adopted child. Throughout my life I have had various questions about adoption that my parents may have been caught-off guard by but were always willing to answer. The one question I’ve never had to ask either myself or them is if I was loved. I have always known that answer.

Jenny Rosen is currently an intern in the Adoption Outreach Department at Spence-Chapin. 

3 thoughts on “Adopting a Broader Perspective: Reflections of a Young Adult Adoptee

  1. As an adult adoptee, I think one of the important issues is unsealing OBC’s for adopted people. It would be great if you could get your parents and other adoptive parents to insist on unsealing OBC access for adopted people. Historically, adoptive parents have been less supportive of equal access to OBC’s for adopted people. This is a huge shortfall for adoptive parents.

    In fact, an adoptive father, Governor Herbert Lehman, signed the law 80 years ago that permanently sealed OBC’s for adopted people in NY. Because of his signature, it is illegal for adopted adults to have factual information about their own birth. Meanwhile, every non-adopted US-born person simply fills out an application at the Bureau of Vital Statistics, pays $15, and voila. But if adoptive parents adopted you as a child, then when you grow up, you may have to hire investigators, pay thousands of dollars, hire lawyers, plead to judges, plaster your image with your personal story with private information on social media, TV, subject yourself to ridicule, insults, pity from strangers, and years later, you STILL might not be able to learn the name you were born with or how much you weighed at birth. Say bye-bye to your own privacy. Thank you, adoptive father, Lehman!

    To learn more about how Lehman became an adoptive father, read The Baby Thief, or learn about Georgia Tann, her scandals, and the celebrities and politicians she gave babies to. Don’t you wonder where all those babies came from? I’m sure they do too.

    Millions of adopted adults are denied their unaltered birth certificates. At the time the adoption contract was discussed and signed, the child was neither informed nor consented to this lifelong discrimination. Yet, all others who were involved with the decision to adopt (first parents, adoptive parents, social workers, agency workers, lawyers, judges), NONE of them lose access to their own OBC. Strictly, the ONE person who never prepared paperwork, was never informed, and never signed the contract is the sole recipient of this discriminatory law.

    And too often, parents and offspring have been searching for each other, but instead are told lies or find a gravestone.

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