One piece of advice I have for adoptees that have searched, and are about to be reunited with their biological parents or family is to TAKE NOTES. Everything they say and everything you see, take notes. Listen harder, and listen closer.
I say this because when I met both my biological parents, I didn’t expect for it to be the last time I saw them. I was sure in my mind that they wanted a relationship with me, because after all I dreamed about that my whole life. Why wouldn’t they want to get to know me? Or have me in their lives?
The first time I met my biological mother, we sat at her dining room table. She had her sister there, and her best friend. Her sister would be my biological aunt. My half biological sister was there, and she is the one who arranged the meeting. My birth mother didn’t really want to meet me, but my birth sister insisted. She knew how much it meant to me that I meet the woman that gave me life.
For those that don’t know. I found my birth mother in 1995 when I was 21 years old. My adoptive mom told me some information she had been keeping from me for a life time, so from that moment forward I had a name and there was nothing anyone could do to stop me from finding this woman. This was in my mind, but no way did I ever believe that she really never wanted to see me. After I found her, she hung up on me, and then I called back. The hang up hurt, but that wasn’t stopping me. I was very persistent in finding her, and I wasn’t taking no for an answer. Not yet. After she answered again, I made sure she knew I didn’t want anything from her. I only wanted to get to know her. After this, she spoke up and said “I am the woman you’re looking for”. I was ecstatic. The search was finally over! Finally! It’s been a lifetime of dreaming, and searching for faces in a crowd, wondering if everyone that had similarities as me just might be my biological family. We talked for a few minutes, and she told me she would respond to a letter if I write her. She said she would send me some pictures of herself so I could see what she looked like. So I could finally see who I look like. Of course I hung up the phone with extremely high hopes that I would get some mail from her in the near future. I quickly started to write her, and got an envelope to send with some pictures of me in it. I sent it off, and waited, and waited, and waited. Weeks passed into months. Every single day I would rush to the mail box, looking for the letter she promised. This turned into a very hard time in my life. Why didn’t she want anything to do with me? Why didn’t she keep her word? Did she realize how bad this hurt my feelings? I was crushed.
Finally it was made clear to me that she wasn’t going to keep her word. I knew from the first time I talked to her I had a half biological sister, but she told me she didn’t know anything about me, and she would tell her and be in touch. Obviously that was not the truth, so after I waited months on her reply I decided to set out on a search for my birth sister. I didn’t have a number but I did have an address. I figured I had nothing to lose at this point. No one’s dirty little secret was going to stop me from finding my roots. Whoevers genes I have they are some very persistent ones. I wrote my birth sister a letter, and within a few days I received a call from her, and within a few days after that she flew to Kentucky with her husband so we could meet. It was the first time in my life I finally had someone that was a biological relative that looked like me; besides my precious daughter that was 1 at the time. It was an amazing experience. We have a lot of similarities and you can tell we are sisters. We do have different fathers. She spent a week in Kentucky, and it was wonderful getting to know her. She flew back to Iowa where her and my birth mother lived and she insisted that when I come to Iowa a visit, that we arrange a meeting so I can meet my birth mother. My birth mother agreed, even thoe we hadn’t had any more contact sense the original phone conversation. She never did write, or send pictures.
So the visit was arranged, and my life would never be the same. I just wish I would have absorbed more of what she was saying. I had no idea I would never be given that chance again. Never in a million years did I think I would never have a face to face conversation with her again. If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken notes on every detail she told me.
I must say I am VERY thankful that I was given the chance to sit down with her at her table that one and only time, because I know that so many don’t get that chance. I have spent so many years being angry at her for not giving me more, for not wanting me in her life, for shutting me out after this one visit. I have been angry for many years about many things to do with my adoption. I have to come to a point where I can get past the anger and I hope one day I will. Every single time I think of her and my birth father, I just whelp up and cry. It’s really hard for me to just act as if they don’t exist, or as if I’m not supposed to love them or have a bond with them.
If I could give one piece of advice to any adoptive parents that might be reading this it would be to give your adoptive child permission to grieve the family they had before you. And yes, no matter what way you want to look at it, they have a first family. If you try to cover this up, and ignore these facts you are only doing damage to your child. Please be realistic in this matter. Your child isn’t going to come to you and ask “Is it okay if I love my first mother?” or “Is it okay that I cry because I want to know my first family but I don’t know who they are? Please allow them permission to grieve this, because it is one of the biggest losses of their lifetime. It is over looked so much, and I’m positive that is why I am having such a hard time at this point in my life. Just now at 38 years old I am grieving what could have been, the lost relationships, my first family. This is not an easy journey. I beg for you to discuss these things with your adoptive child. It’s critical that you go to them and the words come out of your mouth as their adoptive parents. They will remember later in life that you expressed to them that it was OKAY to love their other mother, and their other family. Can you imagine living an entire lifetime having to keep such things “Secret”? This is why so many adult adoptees voice their journeys, because we can finally be heard.
With all that being said, yes I am going through the grieving process, yes I am still angry and I have every right to be. I will say that as I grieve, write, express myself and ask God for healing daily I am able to see things in a different light. But this can only happen if we are allowed to grieve the trauma, and events that have been so traumatic on us before we were adopted, and many of us after we were adopted. Acknowledging these traumas is the first step. I recommend any adoptive parents, or anyone touched by adoption to read “Primal Wound” by Nancy Newton Verrier. She explains the adopted child like no one ever has before.
I pray that in a year you will be able to read my blogs, and go back to the very beginning and see the change that has been made. God is working, and he isn’t through with me yet.
P.S. When and if you ever get the chance to meet your biological family, take notes. My biological mother passed in 2010 and the only face to face conversation I ever had with her was the original one in 1995. Take notes.