When I first decided to search for my birth mom, I was conflicted about telling my adoptive parents. I started the search, and then one day I got a phone call from a Joan I had called earlier. My mom was sitting in our guest bedroom at the time, and saw me run upstairs after I answered the phone. I came downstairs, and my mom was concerned. She asked who was on the phone because the way I ran upstairs, she thought it was bad news. I looked at her, and decided I would tell her the journey I had started on a couple months before. She looked at me, and her only response was, “Oh, ok.”
Now, my mother is one of those whose non verbal cues speak volumes. I knew she was “ok” with the news, but she had to digest it. My mom started speaking a few minutes later. She told me she knew why I wanted to know. She was just concerned I would get hurt. She then started asking me about my search process and giving me suggestions. She said my father had a whole adoption file at home that he would give me to pick through. She told my father about my journey, and his sentiments were the same: He just didn’t want me to get hurt. I felt our mother-father-daughter bond grow in that moment. It felt good to know they understood and were in my corner.
So fast forward to May of 2013, when I discovered the identity of my birth mom and when I received notice she had passed away. My parents came to breakfast with my husband and our children one day, and they told me they were impressed with what I found when I knew so little. They were floored by my investigative skills and my perseverence. I was pleased. It meant so much to me that they were so proud of me and my accomplishment. I kept my parents in the loop as I found my birth moms family. I later showed my dad a picture of my biological cousin. He whispered in my ear, “You know your birth mom’s name, you know she’s dead, what else do you want to know? I thought you said you were finished searching.” I felt like I was a child who had just gotten in trouble. My biggest fear had become reality. My father no longer approved. I got defensive, and quipped back, “Well, I am not done.”
Now that my search is complete, I see my father’s fears for what they were. He is a father of a woman who has a tendency to become consumed easily in endeavors when they are for her benefit alone at the expense of family and friends. I started to realize my father felt threatened by my constant desire to know more. He had seen me stop at nothing to get what I wanted in the past when it came to relationships, and I think he started to have the fear of having to live the nightmare again.
Looking back at my search, I realize those past tendencies did pop up, but not to the extent they had in the past. My advice to those searching or contemplating searching is just to try to remember your family’s feelings. Remember they see your actions inside and out. They are not blinded by desire and hope the way you may be. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in wanting to know, and putting a blind eye to those around you.