The following is a story by Ryan Anderson detailing his experience with adoption. At the age of 18, Ryan was told he was adopted in Morocco by his Moroccan father and white British mother - his world fell in. He spoke to ‘Adoption Today’ about the impact this had on him and the search for his roots.
Learning of My Adoption
I was 18 when my parents told me I was adopted so I’m what’s known as a late discovery adoptee. This news really messed me up. After learning of my adoption, I kept it a secret from everyone else in my life for another 12 years. I traveled a lot, lived in Ibiza, had a busy life - managing to ignore it. When the COVID lockdowns hit, I couldn’t avoid it any longer. From that point, adoption has ruled my life. That’s why I decided that I had to trace my roots and am now on a reunion journey.
Starting My Reunion Journey
A theory I was told was I was found in a street in Morocco and taken to a hospital. I was adopted by my Moroccan father and English mother and brought to live in Scotland. While they were going through the complicated process of adopting me, I spent some time with a foster family in Morocco. This is about as much as I know. I always wondered why my skin was darker than my siblings and could never work out why. There were so many unanswered questions.
I took a DNA test and the results only identified a 4th cousin - which is not a good match. I’ve applied to be on the TV show “Long Lost Families” twice, but have not been successful so far. In June, I took a trip to Morocco to try and find more information about my adoption. Every single piece of information is valuable to me. I believe that everyone deserves to know where they came from.
It’s hard work trying to find information in another country and in another language. I don’t speak Arabic so I need to have someone with me to interpret. I met my foster family and they were positive about the likelihood of me tracing my birth family. I visited the hospital I spent time in, and saw my name in a court register. However, getting more information is difficult. I was sent to five different offices and then back to where I started. Each place I went, I was either told I had to go somewhere else to get the information I wanted, the person I needed to see was on holiday, the files were in an old archive, or the information didn’t exist. At the hospital, they requested money from me to get the information I needed. You have to be careful not to get scammed since there are a lot of people trying to make money out of you.
I appeared on some national television programs in the hope that someone watching would know something about me, but nothing came of it. In Morocco during the 1990s, there was shame around women having children outside of marriage. They could get in trouble from the authorities and lots of babies are abandoned for that reason or because of poverty. One thing I noticed while in Morocco is despite the poverty, the people there were happy.
I’d like to meet my Moroccan family and thank them, but I don’t know if I will ever get the chance to do that. I know there are many barriers to finding out who my birth parents are. I’ve tried going through the embassies, but ended up waiting months and months for a response. They don’t seem to be able to help much. You need to be persistent, but it’s very draining. For now, I’ve hit a dead end and feel in limbo. I need to go back to Morocco but it’s expensive, so I’ll have to save up more money.
Although I was taken away from my roots, I love Scotland. I am close to my adoptive mum and she’s been a huge support to me through this process.
My Challenges and Ambitions
I struggle to know where I fit in – my adoptive family, Morocco, Scotland, and even with other adopted people. There are moments where I think that everyone else is happier and more solid than me. But I know I am hard on myself. I try to be spontaneous to keep my head above water but find myself crashing. I may push people away and self-sabotage. However, I have ambitions to be successful and to have a family. I’m not sure how to achieve this yet but I have hope.
In July last year, I decided to share my experiences publicly. I posted a YouTube video, talked to the press, and published my story on my website. I find it healing to talk about my situation and keen to share my story.
Even small pieces of information that I can find about my biological family means a lot to me. There is always the chance that someone listening, watching, or even reading this, will know something which will really matter to me.