9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Finding My Birth Parents

Reunion might have been easier had I known this stuff first.

Tom Andriola May 05, 2015

As an adoptee, I often wondered as I was growing up who my birth parents were and what the circumstances were surrounding my birth. Was my mother a beautiful movie star? Was my father a famous athlete? Did they tragically have to give me up for adoption for some crazy reason?

Deep down, I knew none of those fantasy scenarios were likely to be true. But I also didn’t know what was. And that made me uncomfortable and insecure. I had control over none of it, mind you. I was just a baby that was born who was placed for adoption. The circumstances were the circumstances. But even so, there are things I wish I knew before I uncovered the truth of my existence.

Did they have a relationship or was it just a fling?
1. Did they have a relationship or was it just a fling?

Growing up I imagined that my biological parents were in a serious relationship and were just unable to take care of me because they were too young and didn’t have the means to make it work. It turns out they were indeed in a relationship for some time, but were drifting apart when my birth mother became pregnant.

Did they wonder about me?
2. Did they wonder about me?

In my fantasy world, I dreamt that my birth parents thought about me all the time and wished they could have kept me. My birth mother wondered about me and hoped that my life had turned out well. My birth father claims not to have known about me prior to my contact with him, but I have been told that he did indeed know about me. If that’s the case, I’m sure he wondered whether I would ever show up on his doorstep!

Would they want to meet me?
3. Would they want to meet me?

My search was filled with anxiety and wonder, and it took me a long time to put a real effort into tracking them down. I was afraid of rejection, and in many ways, it delayed my search. Ultimately, the unquenchable thirst I had for knowledge about my roots outweighed the possibility of rejection.

Did I have any siblings?
4. Did I have any siblings?

One of the top things I wondered about during my search is whether I had any siblings. My relationship with my adoptive siblings was, unfortunately, adversarial and unhealthy. I had always longed for siblings that I could relate and be close to, and imagined what it might be like to have biological siblings. To my surprise, my birth mother never had any other children, but my birth father had three. Unfortunately, I think the shock of my existence has caused them to stay away.

Would I have been placed for adoption if it happened today?
5. Would I have been placed for adoption if it happened today?

Forty plus years later, times are different in this country. Out-of-wedlock pregnancies are much more common and not frowned upon like they were in 1971. I have often wondered whether I would have been placed for adoption under the same set of circumstances forty plus years later.

Was I a secret?
6. Was I a secret?

Before meeting my birth mother, I never imagined that she might have siblings and other family members that never even knew she had been pregnant, but that turned out to be the case. When I first sent my letter in an attempt to make initial contact with her, it arrived at her mother’s house, and one of her sisters opened it, having had no idea that her sister had ever been pregnant.

The first meeting might be awkward.
7. The first meeting might be awkward.

I had always imagined a reunion like you might have with a long lost loved one who had been in battle and just returned home, with big smiles and long hugs. But the initial reunions with both my birth parents were what I might characterize as more cautious and timid. And while I have come to learn that this is a normal response, it is indeed an awkward one as well.

Communication is not always easy or free flowing.
9. Communication is not always easy or free flowing.

In my experience, all parties in my adoption triad are very sensitive about our respective feelings and cautious about what we say to the other about the adoption. I know from my own perspective that I don’t ever want to hurt my adoptive parents or my birth parents in any way by saying the wrong thing or appearing to be insensitive, but I also wish I could more easily express my true thoughts and feelings.

How their lives turned out.
10. How their lives turned out.

My birth mother worked for many years in a nursing home and is married without any other children. My birth father was married for many years until his wife passed away from cancer a few years ago, and they had three children, who are my half siblings. He is also a very wealthy man, and I often wonder if his resistance to establishing a relationship with me has to do with him thinking that I am after his money.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.

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