Embarking on the journey to search for your biological family as an adoptee can be a complex and anxious time. If you are an adoptee from a transracial family or an adoptee of international adoption, connecting with your biological cultural heritage can also be challenging and involve emotions around identity, sense of self and feeling lost or like an outsider.
If this applies to you, you may be wondering how you can connect with your birth culture and you may have many questions surrounding the country or community you were born into as well as your birth family’s faith or traditions. Many adoptees were part of a closed adoption and may have had little or no opportunity to interact with people that share their racial or cultural heritage and do not have any information to start their research.
This is not always the case, however, in some adoptions, adoptive families work hard to ensure that an adoptive child stays connected to their heritage as much as they are able. Information is more readily available about an adoptee’s cultural background in an open adoption, for instance.
Whatever your adoption situation there are ways that you can begin to connect with your cultural heritage, when you feel that you are ready to do so.
Ways to connect with your biological cultural heritage
If you are an adoptee from a closed adoption and you do not have any information at all about your background, it would be prudent to start with searching for your biological family, something that we can assist you with at The Adoption Specialist. This does not mean that you need to connect with them when they are found, or even contact them if you do not wish to take that step yet.
Tracing your biological family can provide you with enough information to begin looking into your cultural heritage further, the corner pieces of the puzzle if you like – from there you can build up the bigger picture. Obtaining a copy of your adoption file and your birth certificate is a great start, especially if you were born in another country. As you start to build the foundation of your heritage, there are other ways to learn more.
DNA Testing & Genealogy
One of the first steps we recommend to clients looking for their biological families is to undertake DNA Testing. It is a good idea to undertake more than one test so that your details are registered with more than one database, widening the scope of your search and potential for matches – we recommend AncestryDNA and 23andMe.
Your DNA test results will also give you an idea of your cultural background or race, with percentage probabilities. This can be helpful to guide you in the right direction to begin your heritage research. We can advise you more on your test results and help you to discover more about your cultural background.
The AncestryDNA Test results will also link to the Genealogy section of the website which will enable you to, once you have confirmed matches and connections, start to build a family tree. If you have confirmed matches, getting to know your cultural heritage could be as simple as connecting with a family member who can tell you what they know. But if not, Ancestry is a great resource for documents and has links to other sites that can provide you with historical information, immigration records and newspaper clippings.
Books, Articles & Documentaries
If you do not have personal contact with anyone that can tell you more, visiting the library to research your individual culture, faith and place of birth is a great way to connect with your heritage. Reading articles and literature, looking at art, photographs, watching films and documentaries and listening to music from your birth place are all great resources for building the bigger picture of your heritage and your cultural identity.
Travel, Language & Faith
One of the most experiential ways of connecting with your birth culture is to visit your birth place or country. Visiting and learning about the geography and history of the place you were born can be an exciting adventure and immersing yourself in your birth culture and community can bring you closer to the sense of identity that you may have been seeking.
Adoptees from an international adoption may well have been too young to learn their birth language at the time of adoption and some find learning the language later in life helps them to feel closer to their cultural heritage.
For some adoptees, also knowing more about their birth family’s faith or religion can also help them to feel closer to their biological heritage. Attending a place of worship or reading religious texts can be a great window into where they come from.
Hiring An Expert
There are many ways that you can connect with your biological cultural heritage and even if you decide to just learn about the areas that interest you and not necessarily connect with your biological family directly, remember that it is your journey.
At The Adoption Specialist, we are experts in reuniting families who have been separated through adoption or relinquishment. We understand that searching for links to your birth family, culture and heritage can be a very emotional and stressful time and we provide knowledge, support and guidance to our clients throughout. Get in touch today to arrange your FREE Consultation on (562) 438-6589 or submit a Search Request Form.
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