I was adopted at birth in a closed adoption. I had an older sister whom my adoptive parents had adopted several years earlier. When I was eleven, my parents adopted another baby girl. We were pretty much your typical middle-class family. I had a fun childhood. We went on some family vacations, and we moved around a bit. My parents were active in school and church. My sisters and I were not always the closest, but we love each other very much.
I got married, had two children, and stayed at home to take care of them. At 34, I decided to search for my birth family. I had very little information to go on other than my non-identifying document. It listed the level of education of my birth parents, general employment types, and a physical description. It also said my birth father had a four-year-old daughter when I was born. I chose to take a DNA test to aid in my search. About five weeks later, my results were in. With the help of a search angel, I learned the names of my birth parents and my FOUR biological sisters. My birth father passed away a few days before I found them. I have two half-sisters from my father’s previous relationships. A few months after my adoption, my birth parents got married and went on to have two more daughters, so I have two full sisters as well.
My reunion went pretty well, all things considered. Things moved slowly at first, which was probably for the best. I exchanged emails, texts, and phone calls with my mom and three of my sisters. It was an exciting experience finding all of our similarities in hobbies, interests, and talents. We were amazed at the striking resemblance in physical appearance. My sisters and I eagerly exchanged stories and photos. Late one night, I was going back through some pictures I had received when a strange feeling came over me. Instead of the joy and awe I had felt looking at them before, I became sullen. I was missing. If my life had continued on the path my conception started, then I would have been there with my sisters. We would have shared our lives together. I always wished I’d had sisters close to my age. Little did I know, I did have them. I just didn’t know them.
Often, adoption reunions are centered around adoptees with their birth parents. What I didn’t realize until my own was that it’s not always about the parent-child relationship. Despite the politics of why the child was placed and the adoptee’s feeling about all that…aside from all the things that usually hog the spotlight, there are these innocent children. My sisters had no choice in this, nor did I. Why were we not given the opportunity to decide if we wanted to be involved in each other’s lives? Because the adoption was closed, that’s why. The law basically made it illegal for us to know each other. For that reason, I missed my sisters’ weddings and the births of my nieces. They missed my wedding and the births of my boys. Those are moments that cannot be made up. Pictures cannot do them justice. No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to recreate all the hugs we never gave, the board games we never played, or the fights we never had.
I am not naive. I can imagine the extreme heartache on both sides of an open adoption. I’m in a unique position to see all sides of it because of my job. Open adoption is not easy. It’s also not considered enough. Contact after adoption doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You could choose to only have written correspondence at first. At least that way will provide an opportunity for the possibility of sibling connection. I have seen many reunions between adoptees and birth parents that didn’t work out, but the brother or sister relationship was retained. I have seen countless search posts looking for siblings only. That biological attachment is real, and siblings are seeking each other out. It’s not always about the birth parents. If you are interested in adoption, please consider an open one, not for the sake of the birth parents, but for the siblings.