I am a private investigator who specializes in reconnecting biological family members, typically those who have been separated by adoption. I identify and locate birth parents on behalf of the children they relinquished. I also find relinquished children for birth parents. Sometimes my clients are siblings, extended family members, and even adoptive parents.
The most common search I undertake is on behalf of an adoptee who has hired me to identify and locate one or both biological parents.
Adoption Searches Can Be Messy Territory
Every adoption story is unique. No set of circumstances is ever identical. Many adoptions are shrouded in heartache, loss, embarrassment, grief, confusion, misunderstanding, shame, and so many unanswered questions.
Due to the incredibly diverse mix of emotions, varying circumstances, and the number of people who are affected, it is imperative to handle adoption searches with the utmost compassion, respect, empathy, and privacy.
When Communication Is Denied
So what happens when an adoptee hires me to find their biological parent, but that biological parent refuses any communication or even acknowledgment of their biological child that was relinquished to adoption? What then?
It seems easier to put ourselves in the shoes of the adopted child and feel the crushing rejection, searing disappointment, and absolute sadness this kind of situation would bring than it does to put ourselves in the shoes of the biological parent who does not want to be found. Most of us feel anger and resentment, thinking the biological parent to be selfish, callous, and void of basic human decency.
At least that’s how I used to feel before I started performing these searches.
It can be eye opening and opinion changing to put ourselves in the shoes of someone else.
Sometimes, these are the worn and tattered shoes that a biological parent has been walking in for 20, 30, 40+ years… resentment toward a parent who forced the adoption on them, grief for the child they were never able to raise themselves, regret for placing their child for adoption, a lifetime of emptiness and constant what ifs, trauma surrounding the circumstances of the conception and/or adoption of their child, and guilt for choosing adoption.
So when I locate and contact a biological parent who tells me they don’t want to be found or even one who denies their relationship to the adoptee, I take a step back and try to put myself in their shoes. I try to understand. For myself, but even more for my client.
The most difficult part of my job is breaking the news to an adoptee that I found their biological parent, but he or she does not wish to be contacted or is unwilling to even admit their parental origin.
If it’s hard for me to even break that news, how much more difficult must it be to receive it?
It must reinforce the ultimate feeling of rejection. An aloneness that can’t quite be described to anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves.
Softening the Blow
Because of the harshness of this reality that does sometimes occur with adoption searches, I’ve done a bit of research into the reasons why biological parents refuse contact with the children they relinquished to adoption or even deny their existence altogether.
Some might say my job is simply to identify them and locate them, then move on to my next case. I would argue that my job as a private investigator is fulfilled when I identify and locate a person. But my job as a human being is to show grace, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion to others.
So I do my best to show grace and forgiveness to a biological parent who is refusing contact with their biological child and kindness and compassion to an adoptee who especially needs it in the midst of a tough situation.
If I was an adoptee who hired a private investigator to find my biological parent(s) only to discover they were found, but were either choosing to keep me out of their lives or wholly denying my existence, I would want to know why.
So here are some potential why’s that might help us all to walk in the shoes of birth parents who don’t want to be found. My hope is that these reasons give some perspective for any adoptees who might be reading this and who have experienced is firsthand.
A birth parent who participated in a closed adoption assumed their identity would remain confidential forever. Imagine the shock some of these parents receive when they are completely thrown off guard and contacted by their relinquished child.
After the adoption, the birth parent chose to close the door on a painful experience in order to move on with their life. Perhaps they are too afraid to open that door and step back inside.
A biological parent could be embarrassed at the current state of their life, as well as remain unwilling to open up their embarrassing history and poor decisions to the child they placed for adoption. They may fear being a disappointment.
The shame and remorse that is carried by a birth parent might still be too painful to face. A biological parent’s shame might simply override their desire to reconnect with the child they relinquished.
A birth parent might possess a strong sense of protecting their child from the ugly truths surrounding their conception and adoption.
A birth parent might not want their family to know about a secret that’s been kept hidden for years - the adoptee’s existence. The current spouse (and children) of the birth parent might not have any clue that the adopted child even exists.
There is often an underlying fear as to why their biological child is now suddenly searching for them. This child is a stranger to them. What kind of a person are they? What do they want? What will they say? Fear of the unknown can be one of the greatest fears of all.
If trauma surrounds the conception, adoption, or both, it’s asking a lot to dredge up all of those emotions again. For example, if the conception occurred as a result of rape, a birth mother might fear her own reaction if her relinquished child looks like the birth father, the man who raped her.
The birth parent might have been told at the time of the adoption that it would be best for the child to never have contact with them, even once he or she becomes an adult. Maybe they still hold this to be true, even after all these years.
A biological mother might not know who the biological father is, therefore fears having to face this question if the adoptee asks. Conversely, a biological mother may fear having to face heartache all over again after the biological father left her due to the pregnancy.
The biological father may have been abusive or dangerous in some way and the biological mother fears the potential of being reconnected to this man if she opens the door to their biological child.
If the adoptee’s conception occurred as the result of a secretive affair, the birth mother still might be unwilling to admit this fact to her family, therefore unwilling to open up pandora’s box through contact with the child she placed for adoption.
Original contact might just come at a very bad time for a birth parent. They might be caring for an ailing elderly parent, recovering from a recent death of a family member, or grappling with their own failing health. They might be too distracted to commit communication, time, or energy to the child they placed for adoption.
A birth mother or birth father might simply be battling their own demons and either cannot face or they refuse to face this newfound situation that has presented itself.
It is hardly my intent to outline excuses for birth parents who reject offers of reunion with the children they relinquished to adoption. Quite the opposite, I have a hard time understanding these situations and naturally stand behind adoptees in their quests for answers.
The aforementioned reasons behind birth parents wishing to remain closed off from their relinquished children are simply factors to consider that might soften the blow a bit for those who face this reality.
Adoption reunions are complicated. Life is complicated. Maybe this list will make someone’s a little less.