There’s something really special about looking at someone that you’re biologically related to. It’s something most people take for granted, but is a treasure to those that spent most their lives without. When kids grow up, they often look to their parents for answers to what’s going on with their bodies: when they get sick, when they hit puberty, when they feel inclined to drink . . . A lot of these answers come from their genes, or family history. It’s easy for parents to share their experiences to explain why their child might be going through the same thing—maybe they’re predisposed to it. Don’t get me wrong, my parents could relate to a LOT of things my brother and I went through; biology is not the only explanation for things. But when it comes to traits that run in families, that piece of identity is lost to adoptees.
When you start going to a new doctor, there’s a lot of new patient paperwork to fill out. It asks basic identifying questions, more personal questions about your own medical history, and then goes on to ask about your family medical history. Has anyone else ever noticed that there isn’t a box to check that says “Family History Unknown” or simply “Adoptee”? Whenever I put a big X over that section of paperwork, I got a quizzical eye from my physician wondering why I was so ominous on that section. It’d be awfully nice to see a little recognition that not every patient has family history to refer to. That’s a vanity not allowed to all of us. I used to wonder what I might be predisposed to. Does my family have a history of breast cancer or Alzheimer’s? When it comes to thinking about having my own kids, it is important for me to know what kind of genetics I would be passing down my lineage.
I felt bad about having so many questions about where I came from, but it’s really not something adoptees should be ashamed of. We have every right to wonder “what if?” It’s human nature to crave the answer to your huge looming “Why?” about your birth family. Why did you decide to place me for adoption? Why me? Why was my history taken from me before I could treasure it? Heavy questions. Those questions would be difficult for any adult to grapple with, but what about growing up with these questions developing over a lifetime? I needed a conclusion to the beginning of my story—was that a door that would always be shut to me?
The most outstanding reason I wanted to reunite with my birth family is that I craved closure so badly. All my more personal questions aside, I needed to know what happened to them. Are you alive? Are you out there? Are you safe? Do you remember me? I needed to know if they were even interested in me. Did they want to meet me? Do their families know I exist? Maybe I’m a skeleton in somebody’s closet . . . I desperately wanted to know if I would ever have the chance to meet them someday, and I didn’t want to regret not trying.
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