Do You Fantasize About Your Child’s Origins?

by Luanne

I’ve read about the fantasies that some adoptees have about their origins: birthmother, birthfather, original extended family, culture or country of birth. Although every adoptee might not experience this fantasy life, it seems natural to me. As a writer (and non-adoptee), I am always imagining alternative lives for myself, with much less impetus to do so.

In fact, and I’m sure my parents wouldn’t like to hear this, when I was young, I used to tell people I was a changeling, so sure I wasn’t anything like my parents. [Big wink]

What I want to know now is this: am I the only adoptive parent who has had fantasies of their child’s origins? For those of you adoptive parents whose children do not know their birth families, do you imagine what they might be like?

When Marc showed himself to be a little puzzle genius at the age of three and four, I wondered if one of his first parents–or maybe an aunt or uncle–had the mind of a puzzle solver. Maybe someone was an engineer or a police detective or an internist.

I just spent way too long looking for a photo of Marc with one of his K'Nex creations . . . .

I just spent way too long looking for a photo of Marc with one of his K’Nex creations . . . .

When Marisha was singing and dancing at age four, my mother first said, “Oh, she’s going to be a singer,” and then, “Oh, she’s going to be a dancer.” Mom turned out right on both counts. But at the time I wondered if Marisha’s first mother was a dancer, if her first father could sing. When I discovered online that her Korean “clan name” is replete with singers and musicians, I imagined that her talent was genetic and how her first family members would love to hear her sing and watch her dance.

When I find myself doing this imagining I tell myself to stop, that it’s not healthy. But I’m not sure. Is it healthy or unhealthy?

Do you fantasize about your child’s origins?


  1. It seems so very human to fantasize like this, but I imagine that the experts would tell us it is not in our (own or kids’) best interests to do so, that such fantasies load situations with unnecessary baggage, that we should “be here, now.” Still, I can’t stop guessing about my kids talents and if they are family traits.

  2. Whew. So relieved I’m not the only one who does this! Many experts, notably Holly van Gulden, recommend mentioning our kids’ talents as a pebble dropping technique that acknowledges our childrens’ past and genetic links elsewhere. She talks about it in “Real Parents, Real Children”. “Pebbles are one-liners, not conversations,that raise an issue and then are allowed to ripple until a child is ready to pick up on it.”

  3. Lisa Ercolano says:

    Luanne, I think that both wondering about and imagining our children’s original parents (who they are, what they look like, their talents, habits, etc.) is normal and healthy. I agree with menomama3 about them being “pebbles” that we can drop that stimulate conversation and help connect them. When my daughter was little, we used to fantasize together about her birthparents – who they were and even why they were not able to bring her up. For awhile, we decided that they were international spies such as the parents in the movie “Spy Kids.” She loved imagining her Chinese mama and baba doing daring things, and felt (at the time) that it made sense that spies on a dangerous mission couldn’t care for a baby. Of course, she is older now (a young adult), but she still remembers with fondness these conversations. In addition to being fun, I believe strongly they gave her “permission” to think and talk about this stuff out loud. I have talked to many adult adoptees who say they often thought this stuff, but were afraid to say it out loud for fear of hurting their parents, who didn’t talk about adoption and urged them to focus on the here and now, and not the past. But the past is there and always with them and it is part of our parenting duty to acknowledge it. Our kids’ lives did NOT begin when we adopted them.

    • Lisa, what a wonderful comment. I love your spy story (right up my alley). I can’t say that I brought up stories like this with my kids. I wrote up their stories for them and read them to them. I used the facts as we were told them and created a narrative to string them together. But I didn’t initiate what-if. It didn’t feel right to me, but the way you describe it it seems to be beautiful and perfect.

  4. Fortunately, I don’t have to fantasize about the traits my kids get from their birth parents. I do, however, see certain traits and talents, such as Jackson’s talent for math, and make sure to thank his birthmother and her family for that. 🙂

    I think it’s wonderful that Marisha’s clan name may indicate that her ancestors were musicians. As a musical theatre buff, I enjoy hearing about Marisha’s theatrical pursuits too. I don’t always have the chance to comment on posts, so I thought I’d add that here.

    • Robyn, yes, you are all lucky that you have that information at your finger tips. It’s so much better than the not knowing. So much not knowing.
      I will tell Marisha that you like to read those posts. The new update is that she started rehearsals this week for the national tour of Joy Luck Club which is a play not a musical. She plays Rose. The fall leg is a short one, all out west: states of California, washington (including near Vancouver), New Mexico, and Wyoming.

  5. Luanne, I don’t think it’s necessarily unhealthy unless you spend endless hours thinking of your children’s birth parents. I have never heard of adoptive parents having fantasies about their kids’ birth parents, but mostly of adoptees having fantasies of their birth families. When I met my birth family, my sisters told me that our mother had a love for learning, loved classical music, and my birth father had beautiful penmanship. They believed I inherited such traits from our parents, and I also believe it to be true. So, it’s a positive thing to attribute some of our gifts and talents to our birth families and recognizes that we have that connection. Thanks for sharing your post!

    • I’m glad you think it’s a good idea to attribute some gifts to birth families. I always felt like this was such murky territory, so like a lot of things I leaned toward moderation. A little bit here and there, but not talking about this stuff a lot. Sort of like the pebbles menomama mentions above, I think. Now that my kids are adults that kind of thinking doesn’t come up as much because they are now fully realized adults, if that makes sense. But that’s not to say it never comes up . . . .

  6. jamieaaron03 says:

    I don’t think much about them b/c I know enough about my sons birth family, I used to imagine his mom looking completely different until I actually seen pictures of her, I do imagine what it might be like if he ever wants to go see them as an adult. If he ever mentions them I always remind him he can see them when he grows up.

  7. Thank you for acknowledging the birth family. They really aren’t the enemy. It’s part of our genetic history. When I met my birth family, it didn’t take long to see that I looked more like my mother than my siblings she raised. I also share academic abilities with my birth brother, and my daughter shares dyslexia with another of my brothers. I enjoyed reading your blog. You may enjoy mine on 4 generations of adopted family members:

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