6 thoughts on “When adoptees find their family, do some members of that family get jealous?

  1. Apologies for length!

    Just as we humans have varied reactions, so do members of the birth family. Some are welcoming, others resistant, some downright cruel, and every response in between. I believe that the jealous aspect (on the part of the found family member) comes from a place of fear as well as a territorial dispute.

    The jealous family member may be asking themselves “who is this adopted person? What do they want from me/us?” But I think this is more than simply being afraid of the unknown. Our (meaning us adoptees) integrity and motives are questioned. It seems that this untrusting behavior comes mainly from those who still hold the “adoptees should be grateful for their adoptive family” mindset. In other words, why should we want to be a part of our birth family when our adoptive families “chose” us? The jealous family member may believe that we adoptees should simply be happy with what we have (AKA our adoptive family) instead of being allowed to have feelings outside this “good adoptee” model (which include wanting to be a part of our biological family).

    Jealousy can also be part of fear that we are encroaching on their turf. Some jealous family members can worry that we adoptees will usurp their position in the family or even simply detract from the attention they are currently receiving from the found family. While this is a very juvenile reaction from a grown person, it speaks to their desire to maintain their view of the family…one that does not include the adoptee. Just the idea that there is another family member out there can be enough to frighten someone. When we materialize, it threatens their position in the family as well as their worldview.

    Both adoptive and biological families can get jealous because society stills views adoptees as being property. In addition to biological family members being jealous of adoptee relationships with the bio family, they can be jealous of the relationship that the adoptee has with the adoptive family. The bio family member insists that they are the real family…the adoptive family ties should be cut in favor of the biological one. Bio family members can also be jealous that the adoptee had a “better life” with their adoptive family than the biological member did with the biological one. All of this speaks to the idea of belonging and property, imploring the concept of where an adoptee fits in the scheme of family (particularly in a society where the nuclear family is considered dominant). It also speaks to the idea of entitlement and wealth in adoption.

    Anyways, I digress. To end, my reunion with my biological mother’s family has been filled with these reactions and more. Jealousy is a feeling based on desire and sometimes manifests out of fear.

  2. I think it would usually have to do with the perceived “better life” thing coming from people who always wished they were adopted especially when their parents are shady or abusive

  3. Yes.

    We are the shiney new penny.

    Siblings can be jealous, suspcious, resentful…..because if there is more than one sibling, per side, we represent a disruption in the sibling hierarchy. If a sibling, is an only child, then you getto deal with the infamous ‘only child syndrome’ on a level new explored before.

    A bio parents partner, or even ‘ex’ partner, can add to all the fun as well…..

  4. When I came into reunion with my mother, bio 1/2 sis was my biggest fan for the first few months. Then I think the novelty wore off and she realized she had to adjust to new dynamics. During much of the 20 years I knew my birth mother, sister vacillated between trying to get to know me and trying to stir up drama, though it is true to say that her relationship with her (our) mother seemed to always be fraught and dramatic with both of them at fault for that.
    This sort of sums it all up for me:
    I went to visit my mother for Christmas (the first Christmas I ever spent with her) a couple of years ago – turns out this visit was just one month before she died. It was a really good visit. Shortly after, sister shares that mother has been talking about how happy she was that I came to see her. The she says, “well (sigh) I guess YOU are her favorite now”.
    Even to the literal end, sister saw me as competition.

    What worked/works for me is to remember that reunion is about my relationship with my mother. It is just between the two of us. What and who came after can’t be my problem or burden.

  5. My first mother adopted 2 kids 10 and 12 years after I was born. She was not a great mother by any standards, though hardly the worst. After we reunited (I don’t like that word, but using it for want of a better one) she constantly compared her two kids to me–with them wanting. “Why can’t you be more like Marley?” “Marley has done (fill in the blank) and you haven’t.

    The same thing happened with my bdad. to a lesser extent. Now Jack was what’s called a man’s man, and we were a lot of alike. His sons were a lot like their mother, who was a dreamer, but also a practical person unlike her sons. (One of my brothers with an MBA and an MA in Journalism, no less, was a drug smuggler during the VietNam War, but managed to get an Honorable Discharge due to his mother’s political connections with LBJ and the DNC.) He continued his chosen profession and eventually went to prison. Anyway…

    This comparison was pretty embarrassing, but none of them blamed me personally.

    I have never heard of other adoptees with this situation. Now that nearly everyone is dead it’s not an issue so there is nothing to do about it.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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