Children in search of their origin

“Very, very happy.” Yes, Thomas “Really very happy”. The young man from Puy-en-Vel is almost stammering. He has been overwhelmed with emotion since the phone call came a few days ago. At the end of the line, a voice from Ethiopia said these few words: “I found your biological mother. She wants to talk to you. From now on, the 18-year-old spends his time imagining this upcoming reunion. He has already imagined the scene in the smallest detail: “What am I going to tell him?” Should I cry in front of him? And her, how will she be? After all, would he tell me why he left me? A

Like him, hundreds of young adoptees, seized by a vertigo of identity, begin searching for their source in an attempt to find the meaning of their story. “For all of us, the question is, ‘Where did I come from?’ And “Who do I look like?” Basic. But it is certain that they arise more acutely for adopted children, because their history is broken. Psychiatrist Fanny Cohen-Harlem (1) advanced.

Culture of privacy

Their search has become more frequent today because the culture of privacy, which has long been prevalent, is no longer appropriate. “Historically, adoption was hidden, Yves Dencher, professor of contemporary history at the University of Angers, recalls. The couple adopted babies born in France who could look like them, and so they didn’t talk about it.Until, sooner or later, the child who has become an adult discovers this family privacy. Then the situation changes, with the development of international adoption, because the children that come do not look like their parents and privacy is no longer sustainable. A

Moreover, international adoption has been damaged by some scandals. Doubt has been created: the method, from being liberal, has become vaguely skeptical. “As a result, children need to be able to answer this legitimate question:” Am I being robbed? Did my parents really want to leave me? “ Continue to specialize.

So the family has to learn to live with this quest. “As soon as they submit their files, the parents of the candidates for adoption are informed. From now on, they are being advised that they have just adopted children. ” Ann Royal, president of the Childhood and Adoption Family, confirms that the adoptees and their parents are represented.

Not knowing everything

But each path is different. Not all children want to know everything about their story. “In society, among friends and colleagues, the idea is propagated that a person cannot be completely happy when a person does not know where he came from. That is not always the case. Some adopters never go in search of their source and are doing well. Child psychiatrist Fanny Cohen-Harlem (1) assured. Finding the right balance depends on the parents: answer the questions before answering.

Thomas’ parents Claude and Catherine never made a secret about their son’s birth. Because Ethiopia is very present in their lives “A large piece of Thomas’s heart remains there”, Respects his mother. Reaching the age of 6, it was time to create accurate memories of the country in which the little boy was born. He spoke Amharic, enjoying a wealth of traditional cuisine. So his parents never thought of deleting that part of themselves. “When she was younger, my husband helped her keep a memoir from Ethiopia so she could never forget.” Illustrated by Catherine.

Then, at the age of 17, when Thomas wanted to find his birth mother, they supported him. At first, the young man in vain threw himself into social networks. “So we contacted the agency through which we adopted him, who was always very transparent. Thomas was able to meet with the president, who then recommended a local association of experts in the search for the source. Within five days she had heard from her birth mother. Greet her mother. Today, no matter what happens, whether the reunion is good or not, she and her husband will be there. “Because we know it’s important to Thomas and we want him to be happy.”

Feelings of competition

However, some parents find this study more difficult to accept“They can live as denials”, nuance Jean-Louis Le Run, Chief Child Psychiatrist (Dapha) of the Psychological Support System for Adoption Story (2). They may suffer from it and may feel a sense of rivalry with the biological parents who have re-emerged in their child’s life. However, he invited them to ignore it. “It is very difficult for an adopted person to find their source without getting caught up in the conflict of allegiance”, He deciphers. This is ideal if the parents can free him from it.

These are fully effective at a time, noted Patrizia, who has worked in a department adoption service for sixteen years. She has seen all kinds of adopters, ages 3 to 70, parading in her office in search of their origins. He accompanies everyone, guides and identifies their expectations. “The concept of origin is more complex than we sometimes think, He believes. Basically, these people want to take their story into their own hands. A story, restoring a family romance.

“Even more than a name and an acquaintance, they want material that helps them think and imagine about their birth. Some things don’t go to the end of their process when they get enough material for them. I’m also a little girl of 3 years old. Got it, was born under confidentiality. I realized that his birth remained very abstract and he wanted me to tell him about it. That was his real wish. “

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Adoption is becoming increasingly rare

In 2021, 252 children were adopted by French people abroad. These figures have been declining sharply for several years. By comparison, 3,847 children were adopted internationally in 2005.

The main countries touch all the continents. In 2021, the children originally came from Thailand (46 adopted), the Republic of the Congo (31), Vietnam (22), Colombia (16) and Madagascar (16).

As of December 31, 2019, 884 wards of the French-born state have been put up for adoption. These are either babies born secretly, that is, abandoned at birth, or older children being taken away from their parents after being abandoned.

Sources: International Adoption Mission and National Child Protection Observatory

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