People Adopted Later In Life Share How Long It Took To Feel Like Family
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Adoption has been talked about a lot in the media lately, but it typically focuses on young children.

Have you ever wondered what adoption is like for older children?

Adoption is bound to be a different experience for someone who is old enough to remember and participate in the process in their own way.

A person who already has an established personality, fears, quirks, anxieties, etc... is surely going to experience the adoption process differently than an infant or very young child would.

But what does that look like?

Reddit asked:

"People who were adopted when they were old enough to remember it, how long did it take for your adopted family to feel like your family?"

Read on for the details Reddit users were willing to share about their adoptions.

Happy Tears

About 2 months, that's when I asked if I could call her mum, she cried and I felt bad because I didn't know happy tears were a thing when I was 5.

I'd been meeting them for about 6 months before that and the odd weekend sleepover to get to know them before I moved in, so by the time I actually lived there I was quite comfortable with them and looking forward to staying for good.

I'd lived with a foster family for a year but always knew it was temporary so never got too attached.

- oranges_and_lemmings

Permission For Food

About a week in when they told me I didn't have to ask permission every time I wanted food. I was like "Well, this is family."

My bio mom rarely had food in the house and when we did have food we had to ask for it before we were allowed to eat. Most of the time she said no. My next two foster homes were the same exact way so I thought that's just how they were. Wicked people.


The last and final home (mentioned above) was my maternal uncle and his wife. I didn't really know them up until I moved in. They were so confused as to why I asked for food first and barely ate when I did get it. I remember watching food network with them and saying something looked good. The next day all the ingredients were there and my uncle taught me to cook. After that I was the family chef and would whip up anything I could. They did a lot of good for me. And I'm still the best cook in the family.

- elizardbreath12

All Together

I was about 9 years old when I was adopted. My sisters and my brother came with. At the time, I didn't realize just how crazy my new parents were for deciding to adopt all four of us at once. (Now that I'm older, I can safely say that we've given both of them absolute HELL all throughout our teenage years.) Honestly, not being separated from my siblings made the transition kind of seamless. We'd been in the foster care system for only about 8 months and were more or less oblivious to what was going on.

Then we were introduced to some people who wanted to be our new parents.

One week we were visiting these two nice people, the next we were living with them and visiting all our new relatives. I know that it might sound kind of bland, but there was maybe only a period of a couple weeks where I had to get comfortable with thinking of these strangers as family. Maybe it helped that I was a relatively dumb kid, or maybe my new family being so closely knit with each other helped. Hell, my new grandparents lived next door to us until we moved to a bigger house!

- quirkoftime

Confronting Dad

I was adopted at 11 and technically this happened just before. It's important to note I have trouble showing affection.

The day I realized I was really wanted was when my adoptive Dad got on a plane with me and flew over 2 states so I could confront my bio Dad. I wanted answers. In the end I asked him to give up parental rights as I could clearly see I had found a better family.

When you have one Dad standing back (but still close enough to protect you showing love) and another slumped, half drunk on a picnic table it's clear what the best option is.

After that I felt more relaxed as I knew I couldn't be sent back to my bio Dad (he was holding out his rights to stop the adoption) I didn't become affectionate per se, but I did start being more comfortable and sharing my dreams in life which often resulted in my Dad in the back yard doing dumb stuff with me like learning hoola hoop tricks because I wanted to join the circus.

So I guess the answer is from the start once I was adopted.

- Princessismydog

The Video

I was adopted by my foster family when I was five years old. I had been with them since I was a baby but I fully understood there was a difference between being a foster kid who called them mom and dad and being "their" kid. A lot of kids came in and out of the doors that called them mom and dad but I knew that if I was adopted it meant I got to stay.

This may sound harsh, but I sincerely appreciated it. When my parents were waiting to hear about the adoption my mom sat me down and we had a very tough conversation. I obviously don't remember the details but I do remember one thing. A yes to the adoption meant I could stay with them forever. A no meant that I would likely be moved to a new foster home. I remember hiding in my room when any new cars pulled up out front of our house because I so badly wanted to stay. My mom said she told me because she wanted me to have no doubt in my mind that, no matter if the court decided yes or no, they wanted and loved me.

Luckily for me (and I have to say this because I can feel the stares of my whole family if I don't: luckily for them too) the answer was yes.

I think when it clicked for me, really fully clicked, was when I was about 10-13 and I found an old VHS tape with my name on it. I put it in and it was my family. My mom, dad, brother and sister. They were all standing in front of the camera and they were talking about me. My older brother said something I'll never forget. "I have a little sister, her name is Ellyendra. I guess she isn't ours yet but we want to keep her. I really hope we get to cause I love her a lot."

That. Did. It. Knowing that this awkward 14 year old kid loved me so much he was willing to say that into a camera for a tape my parents planned to send with me if I couldn't be theirs. I was a mess. I still can barely watch it now without bursting into tears. My brother and I are about 12 years apart and we are the best of friends.

It definitely helped that all of my extended family felt the same too. Anytime anyone would say something or make a comment or even mention adoption -- my aunts were like vultures. It's the most amazing feeling ever. "Well that doesn't matter she is ours! Always has been!" Followed by crushing hugs from at least five people.

- Ellyendra

4th Time Is A Charm

I was 6, my sister 11. She took to them right away but it took me about 6 months, this is abnormally long but because they were the 4th family to try and adopt us I thought I was going back into foster care, so I had an irrational hatred of them for several months.

1st family was deemd "too religious" after the adoption agency found out they locked our toys in the garage because they were 'possessed by satan'. We were only allowed to listen to instrumental Christian music in the house and when the 'dad' found out my sister was interested in Egypt he made her sit at the dinner table and forced her to write 10 reasons why "Her Egyptian gods were better than his".

She was 10.

The system was going to let them adopt us til our foster mom locked the agents in a room and told them they weren't allowed to leave until they wrote 10 reasons why we should be adopted by them... got the point across real well! I remember the house smelling like that incense they use to 'ward off demons' too.

2nd family They ended up not liking us because I had too many trauma triggers and they couldn't figure out how to deal with our PTSD and gave us back.

3rd try, The family got caught with several types of drugs. (This was a biological family member who offered to take us in.)

Then, of course, the people who actually adopted us. I did attempt to sabotage that adoption during my 1st week there by telling my foster mom they hit me and I hated them. My sister told her I was lying - which I am now grateful for.14 years later I am very glad they adopted my sister and I.

- amarettu

Dating Advice

It took about a year for me. I didn't really feel like they were my family until I was 13 (I had met them at 12), and I asked my step sister for advice on how to ask a girl out. I know it sounds stupid but that was when it really clicked that they were family and I could trust them.

- Zack12091201


It never did, sadly. It was just incompatibility even though I was very very young (a toddler less than two) and honestly we just never fit.

I don't love them and I never did. I wanted to so badly. They felt the same way, I am sure. I always wondered if I was broken until I had my own family and found my bio siblings. I felt it then. I didn't actually know I was adopted until 18.

We just had really different personalities. My adoptive family were loud sports people. Mother wanted a girly girl pageant queen like the rest of the women in her family line. I am a quiet reader who is super interested in frogs.

I left home at 17 and we haven't spoken to each other in years since I was 30-ish.

I wish them well.

I feel a very strong connection to my bio family that I found when I was 18. Not my bio parents (they're useless) but I found siblings with my same sense of humour and my niece is so much like me it is scary. I had adopted siblings, but they were always like strangers even though we grew up together.

- happycatchariot

A Horrific Attempt

I was adopted at 6. My adopted family took me to Walmart and a guy tried grabbing/kidnapping me. My older brothers beat the crap out of him; one grabbed a skateboard and hit the guy over the head then they kicked him and stomped on him while he was on the ground. That's when I knew my family cared about me.

- MrRandomRedBox_00

Fantastic Grandparents

I was adopted from foster care at 14. I definitely didn't feel like a real member of the family until I had my own child. I guess that seems odd. Getting gifts and things really made me feel awkward when I was younger but having them drop everything when I had a baby and step in as fantastic grandparents sealed the deal.

My adoptive mother always thought of me as her own. She says the stork left me on the wrong doorstep and it took her a while to find me. Although she raised my with her husband, they got divorced when I was in my early 20's. He was a wonderful grandpa to my firstborn but he met someone else and dropped out of our lives because it made his new wife uncomfortable.

That was hard to lose a family again, but my mom remarried a wonderful man and he is awesome to my kids. At this point after 32 years, we just don't think about it. Occasionally something funny will happen, we will talk about something she has and we might talk about it being hereditary before we remember and laugh. No one would ever guess, people always see similarities. My kids don't know. I am not hiding it but it just doesn't come up.


The next question is usually about my bio parents. I talk to my father a few times a year. He had the option to keep me out of foster care but it just didn't work for him. My mom is a life long drug addict with a lengthy prison record for assault, terrorism, stalking, soliciting etc.

The first 12 years of was horrific. I had no childhood. I visited her when I was 18, I thought maybe not having her child for the last 6 years would trigger something. She at first didn't remember having a child and then blamed me for her addictions. I walked away and have never looked back except to check in with her local pd every few years. She has a shopping cart that she parks near the station and they are all familiar with her.

I got very lucky to be adopted but I was a jerk at first. I had a lot of issues and truly belonging was hard.


Out Of State College

My aunt and uncle adopted me when I was 3 years old. What followed was years of emotional breakdowns, therapy, and social anxiety. For the longest time it never felt like I ever had or deserved a family, I eventually came to terms with me just in another living space. I did learn to love the family I was adopted into though. Around the time I was transferring colleges out of the state, my family was genuinely sad to see me leave and it kinda just hit me that these people actually loved me.

My late adoption caused long term self esteem issues, and this was the first time in my life I knew people could love and care about me. Everything my family did to accommodate me into our new home; therapy, letting me visit my birth parents, putting MY last name on the mailbox, and more was done out of complete love.

I'm 22 now and I'm going to be moving out in two months. I am very bad at expressing gratitude and I don't like hugging or talking to people but I'm doing literally all I can to try to convey that I love them. I've been looking bad at these last 19 years now and I feel horrible that I didn't believe they cared about me. I don't think they believe me when I tell them I love them. This is emotionally tolling on me but I'm gonna keep trying until I know they know.

- JoeBoco7

The stories aren't all heartwarming and happy, but they are all admirably vulnerable, honest, and eye opening.

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