Birthfamilies are a complicated topic. There are three sides to adoption and birthfamilies are one of them. Then, of course, there are the adoptive parents and the adopted child. I have experienced two of the three sides of adoption, being an adopted child and also an adoptive parent, but I don’t know what it’s like to be apart of a birthfamily. I can imagine what it might be like, but you can never really know until you are in a situation. I have the greatest respect for birthfamilies and what they go through and the hard decisions they face. I have sat across the room from Joshua’s birthfamily and watched their grief, and it was one of the hardest days of my life. I have heard my mom’s account of meeting my birthmother and how hard that was. It is so difficult to be so joyful, you as an adoptive parent are gaining this most precious gift of a child. A child you have longed for and prayed for and worked so hard to get and then to watch this other family grieving as a direct result of your happiness. It’s heart wrenching, really. I can’t imagine what Joshua’s and my birthfamilies have gone through. How hard it must be to know that the best thing you can do for this child you love so much is to give him or her to another family to raise. What sacrificial love!
You see on these reunion shows about people meeting their birthfamilies for the first time and it’s happy and all lovey dovey and stuff. It’s looks just perfect and you assume that the story has a happy ending. I can say that having had one of these reunions and being on and verge of another that they aren’t as picture perfect as they look on TV. I met my birthfather and his family about 10 years ago. It was much less dramatic than it is on TV. Both he and I are very understated people, so things weren’t as dramatic as I guess some other people could have been. The part of the reunions you don’t see on TV is what happens after the initial meeting. After that meeting, you have to then form a relationship with this person or people. That is the awkward part. You have found people who you are related to and often look like you but you don’t know them from just anyone on the street. It’s weird, to be honest. And I assumed that there would be this immediate connection, and in some ways there is, but like any relationship it takes time to connect with another person.
As I said before, I met my birthfather when I was 19, I had contact with him for two years before that time. He found me when I was still in high school. We were living in different cities at that time so we decided to write letters to one another, this was before email. I know, I’m old. So, we wrote letters and got to know one another and then finally decided to meet when I started college since I had moved to the same city he lived in. Since that time we have maintained contact. We see one another a few times a year.
I really hadn’t thought about meeting my birthparents while I was growing up. I had no idea where they might be and didn’t think it would be possible to find them. When my birthfather found me, of course, it brought up the issue of my birthmother. He knew some information about her, but not enough to find her. And, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. It’s a complex emotion that an adopted child feels. You ask yourself lots of questions like: What will she be like? Will she want to meet me? Is this betraying my adoptive family? How will they feel about it? In some ways, it was easier to meet my birthfather because my adoptive father was not in my life at that time. So, I didn’t have any feelings of betrayal toward him. But my birthmother was another story. I also knew she had a complicated life, to put it mildly and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be apart of it. The fact is that birthparents give up their children for adoption because they are not in the position to care for them for various reasons. Those reasons sometimes persist later on in life and make them not in a very good position to have a relationship with that child later on. It wasn’t until I became an adoptive parent, and met Joshua’s birthmother, that I really understood my own birthmother and the love she had for me. And it was then that I thought more about finding my birthmother. But time past and I didn’t have the courage to do it.
On Mother’s Day this year I was thinking about all my mothers, mom, birthmother and mother-in-law. I saw a show about Facebook and how this woman had found her birthmother on Facebook. It never occurred to me to check Facebook really. So yesterday on a whim I typed in her name, and nothing came up. So, I typed in her mother’s name and there she was. I sent her a message asking her if she was indeed my birthgrandmother and she said she was. So, we have sent messages back and forth and I have now messaged with my birthgrandmother, my birthaunt and my birthsister. Pretty cool. We are talking about meeting sometime soon, although they live a few states away from here. I am sure you are wondering about my birthmother. Sadly, she passed away about 10 years ago. I was not surprised by this news, I saw it coming from her lifestyle. I wish on some levels I could have known her, but then on other levels maybe it is best that I have the idealistic view of her and not the realistic one.
Adoption in complicated and messy. I am sure you are all wondering why, since I know this all, would I want to adopt again and deal with more drama. It’s all worth it. I am so thankful that my birthparents and adoptive parents made the choices they did for me. I had the best life possible. And I hope that my children who are adopted will say that when they become adults. Adoption is not in God’s original plan for children, but in this fallen world it sometimes becomes necessary, and for those of us who have been adopted we are thankful that it is. Adoption is a beautiful thing, I would encourage you to be open to it and to have a greater understanding, I hope, of what it’s like. It’s not as simple as it can look on TV, but it is infinently more emotional both in the highs and the lows and every point in between.
“By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better.” Richard Fischer Adoptive parent