I've looked for my bio-family since I was young. I never did anything serious like hire a PI, but I have looked around online and social media. Nothing ever came up, which I wasn't too shocked with, until a few days ago. I was just looking around on social media, not expecting to find anything and sure enough I ended up finding my entire bio-family (mom, dad, sister, brother, step sister, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc). I have been totally messed up emotionally on what I should do next. I have yet to tell my adoptive parents about finding them, as I'm unsure of how they will react so I feel weird trying to reach out to my bio-family with them in the dark. I have a weird relationship with my adoptive parents, I don't tell them much in terms of my personal life and this of anything is very personal. I also know they'd want to be apart of it, which at least at first I'm not sure I want them to be. I'm also unsure of how they will feel wanting to reach out to my bio-family. Also I'm not even sure if anyone in my bio-family would be willing to build a relationship or whatever, and I'm even more scared to be rejected by them.
These past few days have been so emotionally crazy, and none of my friends can understand what I'm going through, so I'm asking for any advice on next steps!!!
Hi Jenna,
I can’t quite give advice as I am in somewhat the same boat. It has been nearly three weeks since finding my birth mother and her extended family through Facebook and I have been stalled trying to figure out what to do and how to proceed. I haven’t been looking for her for years, in fact, true interest was sparked a little over a year ago, but here I am with all this information and unsure what to do with it. For myself, I am not sure what all I want to say to her, but having lost sleep since finding out and having it nag at me, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I should reach out... of course, then that opens up the door to how? when? What on earth do I say? How much? How little? I, too, would love advice, but just wanted to respond to let you know you aren’t alone. The flood of emotions is real.
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Jenna and Kate,
I don't know that I am an expert or the right person to give advice, but I can share with you what I recently went through and what I am currently going through and hope that it helps. I haven't seen an update from either so I don't know if you've gone ahead and made contact or not so maybe this information is late or maybe you are still trying to decide.
About a year and a half ago I took the 23andme DNA test. It was a gift from my a-mom and I took the test mainly to find out about my ancestry and any genetic health risks I may face. At the time I wasn't really thinking about it leading to any close family. I got my results back and found that I had matched to a half-sister. Before I could even process that fact there was a message in my inbox from her. The initial contact was pretty much what you'd expect. How are we related, what is your surname, who was your mom, who was your dad? The only surname I have is that of my b-mom and it didn't match any of the names my sister was familiar with. She did some investigating and sent me another message explaining she had gotten the story and, if I was up for it, to give her a call. I think I took 7 or 8 walks around the house, took a drive around the neighborhood and stared at my phone for about 45 minutes, with her number keyed in, before I made the call. The flood of emotions was a bit overwhelming. Turns out nobody in the family knew of my existence. Once my sister started asking around and questioning everyone did an aunt and uncle vaguely remember a family showing up at the house accusing my b-dad of getting their daughter pregnant. My b-grandmother chased them away, accusing them of trying to scam the family and how her innocent baby boy couldn't be the father. It was never spoke of again after that. I also found out during that call that my b-dad had passed away several years earlier. My sister and I made arrangements to meet and since that day I have met a large portion of my b-dad's family. They have all been fantastic and have welcomed me with open arms. I am a bit sad that I'll never personally know my dad, but I have gotten to know a bit about him through the rest of the family. I speak and see members of my b-dad's family frequently and it has been a really positive experience, but it was definitely an emotional roller coaster ride for me. The strangeness and awkwardness had faded and it all seems so normal now.
The one thing nobody on my b-dad's side of the family could provide was information about my b-mom. The surname was an unknown to them and my b-dad apparently didn't bring his girlfriends to the house if that is even what they were. I know my mother was 16 when she gave birth to me, so who knows what that relationship was. I had discussed with my sister that had either of us done the other DNA tests we would never have found each other so I gave a try and did their test as well. The closest hit I got was a first cousin. I sent her a message and it took her about 8 months to get back to me. I made contact with her about a month ago. As I figured, she had no idea I existed, but through her I was able to narrow it down and figure out who my b-mom was. I had 5 possible women who fit the general facts I had, but until talking with my first cousin I had no way of narrowing that down.
Now that I know who she is I find myself in a situation similar to yours. Over the past month I have flip flopped on how best to approach contacting her. Having a sister reach out to me made the whole process with my b-dad's family so much easier.
During my research I did find that my niece on my b-dad's side and my niece on my b-mom's side know each other and we tried to use that connection to make an initial contact and have my b-mom call my sister, but it has now been two weeks so I'm thinking that she won't call. She has ignored my facebook friend request so contacting her that way is out as well. Not knowing what my b-mom shared or didn't share with her family limits my options as well. The one thing I don't want to do is cause any problems in the family so I am hesitant to contact one of my half-siblings or nieces and nephews. It would be an entirely different story if one of them would take a DNA test and match to me, but to just "ambush" them with this information while my b-mom is alive seems selfish on my part. I want to make contact with her first and see where it goes.
My biggest fear is creating some sort of family scandal or problem. My b-mom lives within driving distance, but just going up and knocking on the door seems a bit "aggressive" to me and doesn't give her any time to process the situation. For me, as I am sure it is for you, it is an emotionally charged situation, and I have the benefit of having had a few weeks to learn, process and stabilize. Having a cousin or my sister on my b-dad's side make contact (they live even closer) is a bit less "aggressive" than me just showing up, but it still seems like whole lot to throw at somebody who isn't prepared. It does, however, give her a chance to think and process though. That leaves me with writing a letter or making a phone call. After speaking with my a-family and others I am leaning towards a letter.
As for specifics.....Jenna, I can't promise that your b-family will want to form a relationship with you. It would be great if I could. Having read through some other threads here, it isn't always the happy reunion we see on TV. I can only speak on my experiences. I found a family that didn't even know I existed and, once they got over the shock of it all, welcomed me. When I first made contact with my half sister I didn't know how the rest of the family would react and I have no idea how my b-mom's family will react. Don't fear the rejection or allow that fear to dictate your actions. If they do "reject" you at least you'll know. I don't know the details of your relationship with your a-parents, but you've made it this far without your b-family. The not knowing anything is much worse than at least knowing. Also, I can't imagine that out of all of them in your b-family, that not one single person would be understanding enough or curious enough to want to talk to you. It may take time, and I can't promise anything, but I can hope that would be the case. Start with your b-mom and go from there. As for your a-parents, again, I don't know the situation, but this is a personal journey. Don't hide it from them, but take the journey you need to take. You are allowed to be a little selfish with this. I've always found open and honest to be the best way, but that doesn't mean they have to be with you when you take the next step.
And Kate, I hope my journey and my thoughts on meeting my b-mom helped answer some of your questions about the how. The when is when you are ready. Only you can decide that. If it takes you a month or a year that is fine. Reach out when you are ready. What do you say is entirely up to you. It is a weird, strange and awkward thing that most people can't relate to. There are no guidelines or script written out to follow. Just be open and honest, expect lulls in the conversation. As strange and surreal as it is for you, it is also for her. Each case is different. The reasons we were given up for adoption differ and how our a-families adjusted or dealt with it are all different. Take it slow and play it by ear.
Hopefully some of what I wrote is helpful. Maybe I'm off base, maybe not. Maybe somebody else will have better advice for you. I hope that some of what I wrote helps you two and I'll keep my fingers crossed that all goes well. If nothing else, at least you know you aren't alone in feeling this way.