Connecting with my birth family has been both rewarding and extremely difficult for me. Adoption reunions can be this way for all members of the adoption triad as well. I always knew that I was adopted. It was normal for me. I never felt different around my friends. I felt loved growing up in my family, especially by my parents. They are my family and always will be.
Growing up, I always wondered about my birth parents. What were they like? Where were they now? Had we crossed paths? Were they someone I already knew in my life? Why was I placed for adoption? And the most important to me, what do they look like? This last question was important to me because I did not look like my siblings or parents. I longed to be like my friends who did look like their families. I always thought, if I never meet my birth parents, I at least wanted a picture of them to see why I look the way I do.
When my work brought me in contact with adopted adolescents, my curiosity about my own birth parents grew stronger. I had put my name on Adoption.com’s Reunion Registry many years earlier, but as I worked with these teens, I would check the website more often and even looked into paying a private investigator to find my birth parents. (It was more important for me to find my birth mother than my birth father).
I couldn’t financially justify hiring a PI. I was frustrated. I was frustrated with the laws of my state. I kept thinking and saying to my wife, “I’m an adult. I should have a right to know where I come from. I should have a right to know who are my birth parents. This is not fair!” I understand protecting the rights and privacy of the birth mother, but what about the rights of the child, especially when that child becomes an adult?
I did request and receive “non-identifying information” from the placing agency, but it really did not give much information– it was very general and vague. I was also informed that I could submit my information to the state vital records department and that if there was a match they would contact me. I did not do this and had the application for years. I feared turning in the application and just waiting for the rest of my life.
One day I got a message from a woman who said she had some questions to ask me. I had felt that I was getting closer to finding my birth mother. I had received some calls from some people asking me questions but did not seem to match. I felt different about this call. I don’t remember her exact words when I called back, but we started to make the match. I looked at photos of her on Facebook and there was definitely a resemblance.
I tried to see it from their perspective, I was the long lost brother that had now been found.
A date was set to meet each other. I asked my wife to be there as my security blanket. Hugs were exchanged–I’m not a hugger, hugs are awkward for me, but it was OK. She shared her story with us and shared pictures of her family. I showed her photos of me at different phases of my life and a lot of photos were given to her. It went just like I had hoped and imagined. She then returned home. I had never really thought beyond the “meeting” and this is where it gets more difficult for me. Reunification has had a huge impact on my life that I had never imagined. Communication with my birth mother after the meeting was almost daily. I am not a daily communicator with anyone, but my wife and my kids. I am quiet and reserved. This was difficult for me. I felt pressure to communicate with her and her family. I felt like their perspective was that I was now a member of their family. I know their intentions were good and they were being very nice, but I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. I kept thinking, “I have a family. I’ve had a family all my life.” I also felt overwhelmed because there were now a lot more people I had added to my life that wanted some of my attention.
I tried to see it from their perspective, I was the long lost brother that had now been found. I saw it differently–I had found my birth family and it is great to get to know them and go to family functions, only when it works for us. I am still sorting this out for myself. I have felt joy in finding them, but also felt feelings of guilt and pressure as I feel I am not who they wished I was– a more outgoing, talkative person that would like to be more involved with their family, or the big brother that they can talk to, look to for advice or lean on when they needed. I am not a very open communicator and have communicated with them more through avoidance. I don’t like to hurt feelings, but I feel like I have done that.
I feel like I am learning about who I genuinely am.
My birth mother is very sensitive and this has been difficult for me. Initially, I was very worried about her feeling hurt by me. I finally decided that I just need to be me. This also leads to another interesting part. I feel like I am learning about who I genuinely am. I have always gone to great lengths to please others. I am working on being more true to myself. I think that meeting my birth parents has been a part of pushing me into this. I am still working on defining relationships with my birth mother and siblings.
It has also gotten me to look at my relationships with my adoptive parents and siblings. I have gained a lot of insight and self-understanding as I go through this journey.
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I remember letting my mother know that I had met my birth mother. She seemed concerned for me, I don’t know why, maybe it was more of her own stuff. I have always worried that if I found my birth parents, my parents would be hurt or feel betrayed. I have never wanted to hurt them but wanted to do this for me. I don’t know if they will ever understand. My mom still seems to struggle with it, although she puts on a happy face when it comes up. My dad has never talked to me about it. My siblings don’t talk about it much either except when it first happened and they thought that I was going to switch families. What a silly thing to think, and it was a bit offensive. Really!? Abandon my family for people I don’t even know!
I also met my birth father. He was nervous and awkward, but it was a fun day. He did not want to talk much. He brought motorcycles to ride. It was my first time riding one. It was a way for him to distract from having to talk–it worked for me too. He and his family are more comfortable to be around. I don’t feel the pressure of having to be with them or that we should have a close relationship. It has made it easier for me. I have been able to define how the relationship works for me. No pressure.
I am glad that I met both of them as I have always wanted. I feel lucky. My sister has searched for her birth parents with no luck. She said she was jealous when I found mine, but I have also shared a little with her about how difficult it has been.
I worry about my birth mother knowing some of my true feelings. I do not want to hurt her. Do I feel a strong love for her as a “mother?” No. I am grateful for the strength she had to place me for adoption. I do want some sort of relationship with her and I am sure it will be defined over time. I have had some space to figure it out. I think needing the space has hurt her, confused her. I think that her feelings toward me are stronger than mine toward her. This is difficult.
I have heard some say there is just this special feeling when birth mother and child meet. There hasn’t been for me. I have felt some guilt about not feeling this special feeling and have even tried to feel it, but still haven’t been able to feel it. My family will always be my family. My birth parents and their families will be my close friends. As I said, I am a private person. I do not give my love easily and freely– this may be an adoption thing related to attachment issues, I’m not sure. I can love them as friends and good people and I don’t have to feel bad about that. I’m still working on this.