I was twenty-five when I quit my job, packed up my apartment, and bought a flight to my birth county to search for my birth mother. I grew up in America, adopted by a Caucasian mother and Indian father, and knew NOTHING about Indian culture aside from loving chicken tikka masala, but then again, who doesn’t? As an adoptee, I wanted more. 

I had been thinking about this mysterious woman for decades. What did she look like? Where is she now? Did she have any other kids? Why did she give me up?  I decided the only way to satisfy my curiosity was to find her or at least try. People gave me all sorts of advice about searching and others tried to dissuade me from looking by reminding me that I could get hurt. Or they would tell me that I should be satisfied with how my life turned out and not dig up the past. But, in the end, I knew I’d never feel complete if I didn’t search.

While the journey itself was draining – physically, emotionally, spiritually – it was also nourishing in those same ways. And you are the only person who knows how much you can take and how much it means to you. Remember, this is about YOU. Don’t let others feed your insecurities or invalidate your desires. You have as much right to know about your past as anyone else.

If you decide to search, think about all the various outcomes and know that the one you didn’t imagine may just be the one that comes to fruition. Be ready to accept what comes your way and know that it will be tough, but if it matters to you, it will be worthwhile.  Find a cheerleader as you go through this process and connect with other adoptees as they can not only relate, but empathize.

Unfortunately, there is no manual about how to conduct your search, but I do believe if there is a will there is a way. Take advantage of technology and do online inquiries or perhaps submit a sample of your DNA for lineage tracing. You also need to get out there and pound the pavement. Contact the adoption agency, the orphanage, the hospital you were born in. While you could consider hiring a private detective, they will never embody your passion.

When I first walked into the orphanage I spent my first few months of life before I was an adoptee, I didn’t know if I could handle the sea of emotions. But I returned, again and again, in hopes of learning details about my adoption. Such information was not given freely. I didn’t speak the language and had to resort to others to translate, not only my words but my feelings.

Have confidence in your choices even if that includes deciding to pause or stop altogether, because just starting a search may be all you need to heal. Know that if you decide not to search, that is okay too. We all relate to our adoption experiences differently.

While some believe I didn’t have a storybook ending to my search as an adoptee, I don’t regret one ounce of effort I put into it. I learned an important lesson about want and need. I wanted to find my birth mother, but what I needed was the journey of searching for her. You may not find the person you’re looking for, but you will find something. And that something may just be a clearer understanding of who you are.