As a mom by adoption, it is incredibly important to me that I intentionally seek out and hear from adoptees (and birth family members).
Not any one single experience is the same, but I truly believe if we reach out and listen to enough people with similarly lived experiences, we begin to see patterns and themes.
I had the privilege of asking a few adoptees what it was like to meet a biological relative for the first time. Here are their answers:
I was 14 when I met my biological mother. I remember being nervous, but not so nervous that I felt sick, and I wasn’t super emotional. Is that weird? I was just very curious and interested. She was very kind and had lots of things for me.
Over the years we got to know each other and about once a year I’d fly out and stay a few weeks with her. It was a very open relationship after my first meeting with her.
Now we talk almost daily. It’s awesome seeing where you get some natural tendencies. I can’t answer whether my expectations were met because I’m not sure I really had any.
Now that I’m older, and searching for my biological father, I think I have a better grip on some ideals and expectations for meeting him.
I’ve always been a little uncomfortable in “emotional” situations like this. I’m great with anything else, but familial stuff makes me nervous.
But unemotional if that makes sense? I don’t act emotional during the situation, but it tends to affect me later.
I was adopted as an infant in the state of Indiana and it was a closed adoption. My parents adopted me at the age of 3 months, but my birth mother never saw me after my birth. My father never admitted paternity, which is why I was 3 months old when I was adopted. (The state gave him 90 days to come forward.)
My parents and I had always planned to try to find my birth parents but wanted to wait until I was out of college.
My mom decided to see how hard it would be once we did try to find my birth mom and wouldn’t you know . . . the first site she went to showed that my birth mother was looking for me. My parents and I talked and decided that since she was looking for me that we should try to connect with her. My mom and my birth mother spoke on the phone and then I spoke on the phone with her as well. We planned a day a couple of months after that to meet, mainly because we lived 8 hours away from each other. I remember being a little nervous and anxious leading up to the meeting.
The day we met was great. I was able to meet her, her family, and my biological half brother. I remember (keep in mind . . . this was about 20 years ago) feeling a connection to her, but a lot like a long lost relative. I always knew that I was adopted and it was just a part of who I am. I never resented my birth parents placing me for adoption . . . I think that was due to how my parents never made it a secret and freely spoke about it. They also stressed that they knew I was placed with them out of love . . . because my birth mother wanted me to have a better life than she could give me.
Also, at this first meeting we talked about my birth father. My birth mother found my birth father for me (they had not spoken since before I was born). Several months later I was able to also meet my birth father. I have one picture of me, my birth parents, and my parents . . . all in one picture. It was pretty awesome. My birth father passed away a couple of years after I met him, but I have become close with his eight siblings. (In fact, my bio dad’s sister stayed with us in Florida when we adopted our son. She took care of our daughter while we were in and out of the hospital with our son.)
All in all, it has been great meeting all of the members of my birth family. I am blessed that they are all good people and I am lucky to have a VERY extended family. In fact, many of my bio dad’s family members came to my wedding and have visited us at our house. I also can’t say enough about having such supportive parents who have been so open to my biological family. On a side note . . . my wife and I adopted our son and we stay in touch with his birth mother and her family, as well as my son’s birth father’s family. Unfortunately, my son’s birth father is also deceased . . . but I look forward to supporting him and sharing a similar story to his as he grows up.
Our son is only 3 but we have contact with his full biological sister, who was adopted by another family. She’s just a year older than him. Our two families visit with each other.
Her family wrote us a note and gave it to E’s birth mom to give to us. We received this letter the day before he was born. The letter contained their contact info, so we reached out to them. They live about 5 hours from us but we try to keep in touch.
They have 4 kids, we have 5. E knows he has another sister who doesn’t live with us and we have photos of her in our home.
We really feel like our family grew when we adopted E because we got this other family, too!