I have known for as long as I can remember that I was adopted. I don’t remember the specifics of my adoptive parents telling me; I just know they were always open with me about it and supportive of my decision to search for my birth family or not. My mom always told me she would go with me to look for my birth family and meet them, if I had the opportunity.
Due to my adoption being a closed adoption, the only information I had to go on was the details my parents told me about the paperwork that my adoption agency gave them at the time of my adoption (paperwork my birth mother had filled out up to the time of my relinquishment). The adoption paperwork gave me hope since both birth parents stated they did want contact with me in the future.
The forms contained a basic family history, but nothing very useful to search for them 20+ years later; I did not even have their last name. I had a real fear that I would never find my birth parents and would not be able to fill that particular gap in my life. While doing research on the process of finding my birth parents, I encountered numerous stories of other adoptees unsuccessful in their searches; some with terrible outcomes. These stories greatly fueled my own fears.
Despite my fears, I began my search for my birth family after I turned 18 in the fall of 2006. Due to laws in Colorado (the state I was born and adopted in) I had to wait until I was 18 to initiate my search. So, I contacted the agency that handled my adoption to get the process started. I was told at that time the only option they had available was to contact the last known address of the parties. It was worth a try, so I agreed to it and waited.
Within a couple of weeks, I received a phone call saying both letters sent out had come back undelivered. I’d hit a brick wall, and my heart fell. Being in college at the time, neither I nor my family had the funds to pursue a private investigator. My search fell cold.
I had decided that hopefully by age 21 I would have more options available to me and that my birth parents might take up the search, making my search easier to find them and vice versa. So right after my 21st birthday, I again reached out to the agency I was adopted through in hopes that this time my search would lead me somewhere. I was told they didn’t have a program in place yet to do in-depth searches; however, they were in the process of getting certified to do so, and if I would wait, they would put me on the list to be contacted when their program was in place. I agreed to be put on the list and continued to check back with them every month or two.
I was so anxious. Any time that went by made me worry that my fears really would come true or that something horrible would happen to keep me from meeting my birth family. After a few months went by, I felt like no progress was being made, so I began researching other avenues to search for my birth family. I signed up on free registries, I even put a listing on Craigslist to see if it helped at all. Nothing was coming to fruition, and I was held back by finances.
Finally, in the summer of 2011, the agency had their program up and running; I was so excited! It took around a month or so after that to finalize everything (paperwork, fees, phone interview, etc.) before the actual search began. Letters were first sent out in an attempt to find my birth mother.
Within a month my dreams started coming true. I received a phone call that they had contacted my birth mother, and she wanted contact with me. “She wanted contact.” Those three words and I was ecstatic! Words really cannot encompass the emotions I felt! I really thought I would burst at the seams!
Soon enough we were emailing and getting to know each other. Don’t get me wrong: There were fears and doubts in this stage, too. I mean, it’s not hard to find horror stories of adoptees and birth parents-– unneeded pressure, misunderstandings, misplaced anger and guilt. I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew I had to go into it without expectations and just needed to find out who this person was, not who I would need or want them to be.
Within a couple of weeks of being in contact with my birth mom, my dream completely came true. In October of 2011, the agency called me again and said they had found my birth father-– a lucky occurrence-– and he was over ecstatic that I was looking for him. Within a month I had found and contacted both birth parents, and both were on the same page that I was. Talk about an everyday miracle. My family, friends, husband, extended relatives, and coworkers were nothing but supportive!
We all took it slow, began with emailing, then after some time started talking on the phone. We exchanged small gifts at Christmas and shortly there after my birth father asked if it would be okay if he and his wife could fly out to meet me. Wow!! Something I never imagined! He was so thankful to have me in his life again that he was willing to fly to where I was to meet me! I agreed, and we started making plans.
In April of 2012 I had a full house! My adoptive parents, my birth father, his wife, and his mother graced my doorstep in our first-ever reunion. For me it was an awkward but exciting experience! I mean here is this event that I have been dreaming about right in front of me. There were so many emotions that I really didn’t know which one to take and go with, so I just tried to take it all in and go with the flow. It really felt like a first date, not knowing really what to do or say with your parents telling embarrassing stories about you growing up.
I won’t tell you it’s been all sunshine and butterflies since starting contact with my birth mother and father. There is still conflict between my birth parents– conflict neither of them wishes to speak about or resolve– but that doesn’t concern me. Each relationship is different, and it is overwhelming at times trying to process the ebb and flow of each. I keep in mind that this situation isn’t only difficult for me; both my adoptive and my birth parents are also dealing with this new relationship. We are all trying to get to know one another and figure out how we all fit together. My birth father has another visit planned to see me already, and I am working on finding the time and ability to go meet my birth mother (for which my Mom will be present for as well). I know it’s not going to be easy, and there’s still a lot of figuring out to do but I wouldn’t change any of it. I have been blessed beyond measure and am grateful for the life I live.
Written by Teal Hunter