Children who are adopted start their adoption searches at differing ages. I didn’t search for my parents until I was 34. There are many reasons for that. If I’m honest, there are probably some I haven’t even consciously recognized yet. Sometimes the desire to search comes and goes. It ebbs and flows throughout different times in life.
1. Denial - I was raised to believe my connection to my birth parents was severed with my umbilical cord. When people ask if I wanted to know them, I would honestly answer “no.” I didn’t feel like there was anything missing from my life, so there was nothing to be found. Throughout my childhood, this is where my feelings on reunion sat.
2. Hopelessness - In a closed adoption the adopted child has little to no information. I had a case number, an attorney’s name, and a judge’s signature. Those were no help at all as all the court records are sealed. I had my date and place of birth along with a vague physical description of my biological parents. That information can seem pretty useless when you are looking for a needle in a haystack.
3. Fear of Intrusion - I had no idea how my parents’ lives played out after I was adopted. What if they had new families? What if my arrival upset them? What if I showed up as the family secret and disrupted their lives based solely on my curiosity?
4. Fear of Rejection - My birth parents made the decision many years ago for me not to be a part of their lives. What if they don’t want me in them now? What if they do want to see me, but I’m not what they expect? What if I am a disappointment to them?
5. Pride - I felt like if they wanted to see, communicate with, or meet me they would look for me. When I checked the adoption registries and didn’t find them there I assumed that meant they didn’t want to know me.
The truth is that many birth parents have no idea about adoption registries at all. Most have no idea how to go about searching for a birth child. Birth parents usually go through their own fear of intrusion. They feel that after they placed a child it wouldn’t be right to attempt contact. Although there are birth parents who don’t want to be found, they are the minority.
By the time I had my own kids and decided to take a DNA test, it was too late. My birth father died a few days before my results came in. I never got to hear him speak or hold him close. I never got to find out if I would have disappointed him or if he ever thought about me. All I know is that he had the opportunity to tell my sisters about me, but he didn’t. What does that mean? I’ll never know because I can’t ask him. I let those five things stand in my way. Life doesn’t give do-overs. Don’t stand in your own way.