Adoption in Obituaries
Writing an obituary for someone who was adopted can be difficult. There are a lot of feelings to keep in mind, and every situation is bound to be a little different. There are, however, some core situations to know, though, and this article can provide some example language for how to address them:
- It was a closed adoption, and the Deceased was very open about being adopted: If you know that the Deceased was open about their adoption and was at peace with knowing nothing about their biological parents, you can add a quick reference: "Karen was adopted by her parents, Nina and Simon, when she was eight months old" without an issue.
- It was a closed adoption, and there was tension between the Deceased and their parents: Adoption can be difficult on the adoptee, but it can also cause stress for the adoptive parents. If it would cause strife or pull up emotional wounds to mention the process, it's easy to leave it out. The adoptive parents are the parents and should be referred to as such.
- It was an open adoption, and the biological parents remained part of the Deceased's life: If this was a happy arrangement, mentioning all four parents can be an inclusive and joyous thing to mention. "Jake felt so blessed to have four parents: Doug and Marshall Woodhouse, who adopted him at four months old, and his biological parents, Gina and Kyle Morrison."
- It was open but unhappy/the Deceased and their biological parents were reunited later in life/there is tension between the biological and adoptive parents: This is the really tricky situation. The best thing to do is to remember that the Deceased's wishes come first. If they wanted certain information released or withheld, that should be the first thing to consider. If that information is absent, try to determine what is least painful for all parties. Consider reaching out to the relatives for guidance. In some cases, you can mention the biological family without bringing their role into the equation. Example: "Katie is survived by her parents, Mark and Lisa; brother and sister, Johnny and Diane; and loved ones, Janet, Kirk, Tina, and Jared." That way, everyone is included but it sidesteps hurt feelings.
Index of obituary templates