In 2016 I found my biological family. I found two full sisters and two half sisters. My father had just passed away. Open adoption wasn’t much of a thing the year I was born, so in 1982 I was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. They had already adopted one girl and went on to adopt another several years later. Looking back on my life, it would be very different with one change: there are three main reasons why I wish I had an open adoption.
1. I would have grown up with my sisters.
I am very happy and grateful to have them in my life now. When I was spending time with them, they shared many photos with me that had been taken over the last few decades. When I looked at the pictures, they kind of made me sad. I didn’t just see my sisters in them; I saw that I wasn’t in them. I was missing. I wasn’t in the life I was meant to have. I should have seen those places with them and had those experiences with them. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good childhood. I grew up with siblings. I just didn’t grow up with all of them. I wouldn’t trade one life for another, but it would have been nice to grow up with access to my whole family, adoptive and biological.
2. I would have met my birth father.
By the time I found them, it was too late. I carry a lot of pain and regret that I never got to meet him. There is no way to get that time back. There is no way to know what type of relationship we would have had, but if my adoption had been open I would have at least known him. Maybe he would have been at my wedding. Maybe he would have met my kids when they were born. I was able to learn about my dad from my sisters, and they allowed me to participate in his memorial. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for that. I just wish I had known him all along.
3. I would have been able to move closer to my birth family before I had kids.
If I had known both families growing up, I could have chosen to live closer to my birth mom. Now I have kids that I would have to uproot. I would have to take my eight year old out of a school we all love. I moved around a lot growing up. It was rough. There were new schools, new friends, new areas to learn. Now I am an adult with a husband and two kids on the opposite end of the state from my mom and two of my sisters. We keep in touch, and they visit when they can, but it’s not the same. I can’t just drop by and they can’t be around to watch my son’s soccer games. The boys can’t stay with them for date night. I would love to live closer to them, but I have built my life here. I don’t want to take my kids away from the only things they have ever known. I don’t want to turn their lives upside down. If I had an open adoption, I could have made that decision years ago before it affected anyone else.
I’m glad that times are changing. I’m happy adoption doesn’t hold the stigma it once did. I hope to see a day when all adoptions are open. Many adoptees are searching the world over for their birth families. They are seeking out their roots, their identity. It would be a beautiful thing for people to give their child the best in life while still allowing access to their people. Across the country, adoptees are having a terrible time accessing their original birth certificates. If open adoptions were widespread, adoptees would know from the beginning who they are and where they come from. Shouldn’t everyone have that right?