My parents have always supported my dreams and aspirations, but reuniting with my birth parents not only jolted me out of my comfort zone, but my adoptive parents, too. I am the daughter they raised from birth, and introducing me to another couple that called me daughter would make any parent anxious of the outcome.
The conversation with my adoptive parents about meeting my birth parents was not an easy one to have. It happened over a span of a lifetime, right up to the day of actually hugging my birth parents for the first time. It’s still a dialogue we keep up with, as they have now re-entered my life as real living beings, instead of this idea I had of who they could be. Regardless of their feelings of reuniting us, my adoptive parents still supported me in big ways as we decided to search for my birth parents.
Before we even existed, my parents prayed for my brother and me. They prayed to be able to parent us, and they prayed for us after we were placed in their arms. They prayed with me when I had questions about my biological family. More importantly, they prayed together about how to answer my questions in a way respectful to my biological family and responsive to my need for closure.
My parents listened intently to every question, idea, theory, or conclusion that I had about my birth parents. Even when my tearful ponderings broke their hearts (or maybe even hurt their feelings), they still held me and simply listened. One thing I believe has gotten lost in this age of social media is the ability to keep thoughts to yourself and just listen. Before offering me their opinion about my opinion, they encouraged me to share all the thoughts swimming around in my head (whether they made sense or not). By doing so, they offered me a healthy outlet to process the mystery of my birth family without biasing it with their own feelings.
Sharing What They Knew
It is a delicate thing sharing with your adopted child what you know about his or her birth family. In my case, my adoption was closed so my parents felt obligated to protect my birth parents’ identities by being very selective in what they shared. While I didn’t learn many details about my birth family, the most important thing they shared with me was that my adoption was an act of love. I can’t remember a day in my life that I didn’t know that my biological family loved me so much that they sacrificed the opportunity to raise me in order to give me a better life. It’s almost like my parents drilled it into my head: “Your birth parents loved you SO much that they put their own desires aside to choose what would be the best outcome for you.” Because of that statement, I learned humility at a very young age.
Whether or not my adoptive parents thought I’d ever get to meet my biological family, they still dreamed with me. They still shared in the “what if” scenarios whenever I came home from school saying, “Oh my gosh, what if my substitute teacher was my birth mother!” Of course, that was highly unlikely, but they still entertained it! My parents always encouraged me to dream the improbable because they believed that with God, anything was possible.
I started asking to reunite with my birth family when I was 13. Clearly, I was not mature enough to handle the potential heartbreak that could have come from contacting them if they weren’t ready to meet me. Instead of telling me that it probably wouldn’t happen, my parents told me it would happen when the time was right. At 13 years old, I’m sure you can imagine how stubbornly I reacted.
Thankfully, God graced my parents with the patience it took to keep reminding me why they were protecting me at that tender age. Fast forward to the summer after my freshman year of college. I was desperately seeking closure. At this point, they knew I could handle rejection if it came to that, but realized that trying to contact them would be better than never knowing what the outcome could be. My parents contacted my birth family first, and they responded with their hearts open. They had been waiting to meet me for over 19 years.
My adoptive parents are rock stars. The day I met my biological family was the day they became part of our family again. I was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, which means an annual Mom’s Weekend, where Moms came to visit, socialize, and do fun things with their Greek daughters and sorority sisters. My adoptive mother invited my birth mother to make the 6-hour road trip to Missouri to be included in Mom’s Weekend. They held hands and introduced themselves as my “moms,” with no differentiation between the two. It was a hilarious and sometimes awkward weekend, as they showed each other off and called me their daughter (I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this). After that, major life events became moments that I got to see both adoptive and biological families unite for my own good. Both families attended my college graduation ceremony, and both families attended my wedding.
Preparing me for the worst while still maintaining hope was imperative for me to develop healthy conclusions about my birth family. My adoptive parents are not perfect, and I’m sure there are things they could have done differently. What they did a spectacular job of doing, though, was save a place in my heart to openly love my birth family again someday. I never had a bad thought about their decision to place me for adoption, and that made all the difference.