So, here’s a weird thing that has happened in my head over the past few years.
I made contact with my birth family in my mid forties about four years ago. I’m an adoptee who was relinquished at birth. Unlike Worf, the people who raised me are both of my biological species and share my general skin tone.
On initial run, Worf’s status as an adoptee always seemed like a throwaway gimmick TNG implemented for the obvious humorous possibilities rather than as a platform for the serious investigation of adoption, caregiving, identity-formation, and natal difference.
Over time, the character’s arc actually did begin to seriously examine many of these issues with intent, as a way of exploring his role as the known Other. This seems to mostly be without the intent of showing us adult adaptions to adoptive status – I would point at Worf’s disrupted relationship with Alexander as a clear example of this.
The show also valorizes Worf’s successful quest to seek identity-reintegration with his natal culture. This is in spite of some things that appear to be unambiguous about Klingon culture within the show, such as the culture’s reliance on and celebration of conquest and enslavement.
I do think both series at times successfully, largely by accident, illuminate American adoption in the late 20th century, specifically and primarily the adoption growth industry of the era, overseas adoption, but also with respect to the growing practice of birth-family reunion and open adoption as at least an ideal.
I suppose, given the character’s role, it’s only reasonable that we see little of Worf struggling with self-loathing or loathing of either of his cultures – that’s maybe more Spock’s gig.
Nonetheless, hey, that’s some solid SF-ing there, to build in social commentary about an aspect of your audience’s experiences without even meaning to do so, commentary that becomes visible only in retrospect. Or via retconning, I suppose, although I think reading themes is maybe not subject to retconning since the reading happens in my head, in the observer rather than in-universe.