I had always been curious growing up. My parents never hid from me the fact that I was adopted, and they tried to answer what they could whenever I asked. They didn’t know much–some basic non-identifying information–and I fantasized about the rest like I imagined all adoptees did.
Still, I was always sensitive about how they might feel if I searched. It really wasn’t much of an issue since I didn’t have enough information to go on. Then, one day in my mid-twenties, my parents said they had a piece of paper with my given name on it. They had stayed in touch with the foster mom I have been with during my first three months of life, prior to my adoption. She was cleaning out some files and had “come across” this piece of paper. She gave it to my parents, and they were planning to send it up to me.
I was appreciative. I opened the envelope when it came with great anxiety. My given name was in there! When I saw it, I felt a little more complete. It was a strange feeling. I did a search, and not long after, found my biological mother. I was scared to tell my parents! Even though they were the ones who gave me the key information and wanted me to have it, I felt guilty. They were my parents. They were my family. But I needed to know. I needed to meet my biological mother.
I didn’t know how to tell them, but I finally summoned up enough courage to do it. They were fine, of course, but I sensed a little tentativeness in their voices during the conversation. They didn’t know what it would mean. I didn’t know what to expect either. Would I establish a relationship with my biological mother? Would it be an instant connection and bond? I wasn’t sure. I knew my parents were my parents, but I didn’t want to hurt them and I was afraid they might be hurt by it. We got through it, and we talked about it occasionally, but we never really got into who was feeling what about the whole situation, and the subject was never brought up about them possibly all meeting each other. I just don’t think that was a thing anyone wanted to raise.
Several years later, I was able to track down my biological father. For some reason, this was even scarier to me. My dad is a sensitive guy, and I felt like it would be hurtful to him. I broached the subject carefully, and he seemed okay. My mom seemed fine too. When it came time to meet my biological father in New York City a few months later, my dad even drove me and my wife to the train station because he knew my nerves would be shot on the way back and I wouldn’t want to drive home.
I think the key for me was trying to remain mindful and sensitive about what my parents could be feeling about the situation. I’m not always good at that, but I think I did a pretty good job. Search and reunion can be a whirlwind of emotions. It really can be scary. But at the end of the day, I knew I had to do it, and I did it–as respectfully as I could.
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