Children who are adopted inevitably grow up and start questioning where they come from. If the adoptive parents aren’t forthright in their responses, the children may pursue the truth on their own.
A man who was adopted and had been curious all his life about his biological parents sparked family drama when he found out the truth about his heritage didn’t match what his parents told him.
Redditor EzKillStreaks felt deceived by his adoptive parents and sounded off on the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for being angry at my family for lying about my birth parents race?”
The Original Poster (OP) started his post by describing his obsession with the truth about his genealogy.
“I’m 23 M[ale]. I’ve known I was adopted all along. For whatever reason I became obsessed with learning more about my birth parents at age 13.”
“I was told all my life that my parents met both of my birth parents before I was officially adopted. My mom was White from South America and my dad was White from Italy. They specified these two locations to explain why I had tan skin.”
“As I was growing up certain things about my physical makeup made me more curious about my birth parents.”
“My hair was kept short as a kid but as a teen I wanted to experiment. I grew it out and it grew out curly. Big curls but still curly.”
“This upset my parents so they asked that I not grow it out. When I moved away for college I began to let it grow again.”
“I met my girlfriend (gf) in school. She is Black American so she also helped me care for it. She once braided my hair before I FaceTimed my parents who lost it on me for wearing it that way.”
“Throughout my time in school I still searched for my birth mom but would always come up empty. My girlfriend hinted that there must’ve been a mistake with the information, even down to the name my parents claimed I had before they adopted me.”
A birthday present set everything in motion that lead to a startling revelation.
“She gifted me a DNA kit on my birthday that I didn’t get around to until the lockdown hit. I didn’t think anything would come of it because my parents weren’t American so I didn’t know if it would work that way.”
“So I sent it out of boredom and got my results weeks later which have changed everything.”
“I’m Black and Middle Eastern. I have light skin and my curl pattern is so loose that I hadn’t considered it a sign before. I have ancestral ties to Iran which can explain a more ‘European’ facial structure.”
“I’m sorry for my wording, I’m still learning. I sent my gf a screenshot and she called me right away. We were both stunned though she long suspected.”
With the help of his girlfriend, the OP realized that everything he had been told by his adoptive parents wasn’t adding up.
“I tried to believe that my parents were innocently misinformed but my girlfriend kept pointing out the inconsistencies. My parents claimed to have met my birth parents therefore they couldn’t have mistaken them for White.”
“I confronted my parents who became enraged at me for doing a DNA kit. I was very angry, yelling, swearing. They robbed me of my identity and hindered my search with their lies.”
The fiery discussion escalated, prompting OP’s mother to disclose her motive in keeping her adoptive son’s background a secret.
“My mom told me through tears that my racial background comes with a stigma. That I passed so she wanted me to have an easier life fitting in.”
“My dad yelled at me that I had to abandon what I just learned. I rage broke my phone and left.”
“My siblings have been hitting me up on social media reprimanding me for being upset because our parents reasoning is sound. I do pass, I did have an easy life.”
“I’m not asking to be part of a struggle all of a sudden. I just don’t think I should’ve been lied to and I think their reasoning is bullsh*t and racist.”
“I’m just supposed to act like 10 years of me searching with the wrong info isn’t that big of a deal?”
In the edit, the OP addressed some of the concerns Redditors had in the comments.
Regarding comments questioning the reliability of DNA kits and the possibility his biological parents could be White South Africans, the OP responded:
“My parents admit that my mom was Black. My oldest sister also recalls seeing my mom at some point.”
“Both verify that she was Black. Yes they could be lying again. I have plans to continue to look into my background.”
When he was accused of being irrational for his temper, he wrote:
“Okay, that’s fair. Someone was shocked that I could break my phone.”
“I threw it. I didn’t break it with my bare hands. I walked out and threw it out of anger and it shattered.”
Some Redditors asked: “How do your parents treat your girlfriend?”
“They tried to treat her poorly. They were okay at first but eventually some comments were made that caused me to put some distance between us.”
“My girlfriend was very hurt by their statements so I chose to keep us both away from them.”
Some accused the OP of “race-baiting.”
“I don’t understand how. I’m angry about being lied to and how that lie has made my effort into finding my birth parents completely void while also rewriting my heritage.”
The OP was told he “likely didn’t pass to other POC.”
“That’s my girlfriends stance as well. I’m tan enough that going to an all White school still got me called slurs.”
“Whatever issues my parents were trying to shield me from it didn’t work. Maybe this is a lie that I bought into alone.”
The OP described the current state of his family.
“It’s chaos. Two of my siblings are trying to be supportive. I deactivated my Facebook and unfollowed some people on Instagram.”
“I can’t entertain the argument that I should forgive my parents and move on. I’m not there yet. I get that it makes me ungrateful for feeling this way.”
“For those who asked about my hair lol. They are big curls? My girlfriend says they are 2c/3a. My hair texture is not unique to any race group but drastically different from my family’s.”
“For those of you who are pming me slurs and telling me to go back to my shit hole country, thanks a lot.”
“I appreciate your support. I appreciate those of you who shared your personal experiences with adoption and race with me, for giving me resources, books, and documentary suggestions, for welcoming me into your groups and giving me some kind words.”
“I’m overwhelmed by your support. I’ve written down a lot of those recommendations.”
“I’m still reading everything you guys have written as well. I appreciate the kind comments about my parents as well.”
“I don’t hate them, I’m just really upset and disappointed in their decisions.”
Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
“Holy sh*t NTA. What your parents did was despicable and incredibly racist.”
“It’s not much better than just pretending you weren’t adopted—sounds like they may have only told you because it was obvious physically that you weren’t genetically related.”
“This is so egregious that I thought for a second it could be a fake story, but then I remembered my FIL asked with total seriousness when we told him we’d be adopting from foster care whether if we adopted a White-passing Latinx child we’d let them think they were White because it’d be ‘easier’.”
“I hope you can get support and find healing as you cope with this revelation.”
“Please do not feel that you don’t get to fully identify as Black and Middle Eastern because you pass as White and didn’t know till just now.”
“You are fully entitled to that heritage and to whatever extent you want to explore and connect to it, that is literally your birthright.” – lightwoodorchestra
“NTA You have the right to know information about yourself and your background. Your parents may have had good intentions, but they went about it in a really terrible way.”
“Not only have they lied to you for your whole life, they then got pissed at you when you learned the truth—a truth you wouldn’t have had to go looking for if they hadn’t lied.”
“Even if they were worried about the ‘stigma,’ they should have at least told you and let you choose if you wanted to embrace your background or not.”
“Them getting mad at you makes it seem like they are more worried about how the ‘stigma’ of your background reflects on them, rather than worrying just about you.” – SoMuchMoreEagle
“NTA!!! I am adopted and I understand how important knowing your identity is. I am sorry that things went down this way, it sounds like you really have a good head on your shoulders and I think you reacted quite well.”
“Your parents concern about the ‘stigma’ of being anything other than passing White is a bummer, you shouldn’t be told your ethnicity is a burden, especially by your parents.”
“I am glad you have a supportive girlfriend through all of this!” – caddykitten
Another Redditor concurred about the “stigma” of the OP’s background affecting the parents.
“They weren’t protecting OP by lying, they were protecting themselves. You hit the racist nail right on the head. Sorry OP.” – Light_Side_Dark_Side
One Redditor delved deeper into the accusations of the parents being racist.
“I don’t think OP’s parents are racist in the sense that they treat people of color different, but rather racist in the sense that they don’t want to be judged for adopting a baby of color, or to have him held back by current oppression.”
“It’s entirely possible they are angry because they are scared he will lose the advantages he had thinking he was White.”
“To further explain: I don’t think it’d be fair to say they treat people differently based on race, but I think they judge them differently.”
“Racism is racism, but what I’m saying is that they adopted OP and loved OP and are, in their own way, hurt by this as is OP. They don’t hate OP for being Black, they didn’t want to not adopt him for being Black.”
“They don’t hate Black people, they view them differently though. Not enough to hinder their progress, but enough that they aren’t making any personally, and feel they’d be judged for adopting OP.”
“Both are bad, but at least they don’t overtly hate people of color and are willing to help people of color, in their own, f’ked up white-washing kind of way. Still, I’m just sad they took that route… Poor OP man.”
“Regardless of all this, OP is NTA. The parents are TA, and OP now gets to really dive into a full, rich history and learn all new things, which is exciting.” – thedarksalmon
The above comment was quickly challenged.
“I think you’re drastically underplaying the severity of passive racism. Being silent & complacent is still a HORRIBLE form of racism.”
“They are 100% complacent with systemic racism. They are perfectly happy being part of the problem, being a part of the system that keeps people like OP’s birthparents oppressed.”
“He has every right to feel extremely personally attacked by the measures they have taken to keep him ignorant; many people would cut their parents off forever for something this serious if they don’t pull a complete 180° immediately.”
“I don’t know how they could ever redeem themselves in his eyes. I can barely imagine feeling such deep, crippling shame from my adoptive parents.”
“(I am adopted too BTW)” – CherryMavrik
“I’ve adopted 4 beautiful kids, all different mixed racial backgrounds.”
“Though my kids are younger, I can safely say that even 23 years ago, OP’s parents had the resources to learn that lying to their kid was wrong. Any decent adoption agency would have educated them about this to some extent.”
“And if not, they’ve had many years to educate themselves in order to raise their child with a healthy self-image. They actively chose this lie, which seems to go beyond passive racism (though that alone would be bad enough).”
“When we chose to adopt transracially, we became a family of color, with all the joy and responsibility and hurdles that come with it. Simple as that. If someone isn’t willing to embrace their child’s culture and celebrate it, then transracial adoption is just not the right choice for them.” – professormillard
One Redditor believed the reaction from the OP’s parents was very telling.
“I’m not trying to make assumptions here, but the way they reacted to you wearing your hair a certain way and the fact that they insist you unlearn what you know, makes it seem like they are more ashamed of the stigma associated with your race than anyone else.”
“You have a right to know your heritage and if they have your best interests at heart, they can help you embrace and understand the struggles of your identity. Ignorance isn’t going to magically fix anything.” – DramaticLychee8
Another Redditor imagined the adoptive parents “settled” for a non-White baby for adoption.
“At the time of adoption, OP’s parents wanted a child more than they cared about race. That doesn’t mean they didn’t care about race.”
“They just wanted a kid so bad they were willing to ‘settle’ for one that wasn’t ‘caucasion.’ How delighted they must have been when they met OP… I wonder which of them spoke the thought out loud first: ‘Oh my! This one doesn’t even look that black. His skin’s almost a Mediterranean tone… I bet people would believe us if we said his parents were from places like Palermo and Rio.'”
“They hadn’t planned to lie to save him from the ‘stigma’ – it was a half a**ed lie they came up with when they saw him and realized they didn’t need to admit to their friends and family that they had “settled” as much as they felt they had.”
“OP is NTA. His parents are.” – Oddman80
Regarding stigma, this Redditor had this to say based on their personal experience:
“This is the thing about stigma! It cannot be navigated on someone’s behalf!”
“I struggle with pretty bad anxiety. And I would be pissed if anyone, no matter how much they cared about me, tried to navigate the stigma of mental health on my behalf. It’s not their stigma to bear, it’s mine (and OP’s).”
“OP is right to be pissed, absolutely. Being robbed of a cultural narrative like that, I cannot fathom. Learn Farsi or something to rub it in.” – JediMasterVII
“Plus it’s not like OP doesn’t have to deal with any stigma if he doesn’t know what his identity is. Racists aren’t going to ask you what his exact identify is, they’ll just treat him badly based on how he looks.”
“They just robbed him of being able to relate to others of your ethnicity who might have the same issues.” – Irishkickoff
This Redditor pointed out the hypocrisy of the parents’ view of stigma.
“NTA – and I’m surprised no one else in the comments has mentioned this- your parents CLAIM they were hiding your race because of stigma- but the fact that they got upset when you grew out your natural hair and wore it braided shows much deeper racism at work.” – bishkebab
To which the OP replied:
“Yeah the issue of my hair has been ongoing. I didn’t even bother to put the more derogatory descriptions they’ve used whenever they’ve seen me without a cut closer to my scalp.”
One concerned Redditor inquired about his medical conditions pertaining to his heritage that doctors may have overlooked – such as thalassemia.
But when the OP addressed this concern to his parents, he said they were dismissive.
“I’ve never seen them react so unreasonably. I have plans to attend to my own genetic predisposition to conditions very soon.”
The thread continued to be overwhelmed with many NTA comments filled with frustration and discussions about all ranges of racism. For now it appears the ball is in the OP’s family’s court. If they plan to keep the OP in their life, some accountability and examination will likely be required.
You can’t forgive someone who isn’t sorry.