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     Parents Change Too
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Families with adopted children are no more or less likely to run into problems during the child's adolescence than any other families. If your child is adopted, however, then it's natural - when times are troubled and you're engaged in an unprofitable "when did we go wrong" exercise - for you to believe the adoption lies at the root of the problem. This is very seldom true. Almost always when problems do arise in adoptive families, the cause is conflict between the personalities involved, just as in any other family; but when there is conflict, the adoption may act as a further complication. Teenagers who are getting along very badly with their adoptive parents, for example, may start to fantasize about their real parents or decide they want to see them out. Every country has its own laws about allowing adopted children access to information that would enable them to trace their biological or "birth" PARENTS. A few adopted children do decide they would like to do this, and although usually they do so through curiosity or a need to know about their past - rather than unhappiness with their adoptive family - it is always desirable for them to have counseling before they embark on such a search.

" My parents have always seemed very reluctant to talk about my adoption, or to tell me anything about my natural parents. They Hate to be reminded of it. I think they would find it unbearable if they knew I wanted to search for my natural parents. So I've decided not to say anything to them. If I find my real parents I may tell Mum and Dad or I may not. I really don't know."

Not everyone who's been adopted wants to find out about their biological or "birth" parents, or to make contact with them. Still, many do - especially during adolescence, when you begin thinking much more about who you are.

Wanting to find out about your birth parents doesn't usually mean that you don't love your adoptive parents or that your want to replace them. You should remember, however, that although your adoptive parents may understand your need to find out who you are, they may still feel nervous about the search. They may feel afraid of losing you, or sad because they've done their best for you and now feel this was not enough. These feelings are understandable - just as understandable as yours are in wanting to search for your birth parents. In most countries there is a legal age at which you have a right to see your birth certificate, and to search for your birth parents if you want to. But many experts believe that, even at 18, most people are still too vulnerable and unsettled to be able to cope with the difficulties and emotions such a search can involve. It's probably best to wait a few years if you feel you can. Your search may have a happy outcome: it may even provide you with a new and fulfilling relationship. But before starting to search, you have to accept that you may be disappointed. You may not like the parent you find. If you've thought about them a lot, you may have built up a picture of them that turns out to be quite unlike the real thing. They may not welcome you or want to be found. You have to be ready to deal with these possibilities.

If you do decide to go ahead, it's a good idea to join an organisation that will give advice and practical help. You can occasionally obtain details of your birth records without much difficulty. The information you'll be given may include your mother's name and occupation, too. This may be all you feel you want. To trace your parents so many years later will usually involve a good deal of time and detective work; it can prove expensive, too.

" I always knew I was adopted, but it didn't matter to me because I never felt I was loved any less than my sister. But when I was about 15 I realize how different I was from the best of the family, and I started to think about my real parents : what they were like, whether I looked like them, whether they ever thought about me, what they felt about having me adopted. I just wanted to know. But my adoptive parents seemed really hurt and upset. My dad said, "Don't you think of us as your real parents? I had to reassure them that they'd been fantastic. I just wanted to find out more about myself."
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