Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Adoptees Did You Want to Search for Your Bio Family?"

The title of this post was the subject line of a forum thread I visited recently. The author was indicating that she would support her adopted children in searching for their natural family, should the interest ever arise. In fact her statement was: "i wonder if they will want to search for thier bio family. If so it is fine by us." Not a real warm and fuzzy feeling to me. I couldn't quite figure out if she was asking for an opinion or just stating her own intentions. As a result, I posted the following response...

I would like to KNOW my natural family but I have not and probably will NOT search. There are several factors influencing my decision....

1) At the age when I would have been most interested in searching my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She lived with it for 10 years! I could not imagine, during that time, going to her and asking for any information to help in my search for fear that she might think I was already looking to replace her.

2) After my Mom passed away there was no way I could go to my Dad and ask him for any information for the exact same reason as above...fear that he might think I was trying to find a replacement for my Mom.

MORE IMPORTANTLY THAN ANYTHING....

3) Concern for my natural mom's right to privacy. She was 14 years old when she gave birth to me. She was 16 years old when she relinquished me. 31 years have since passed. My hope and prayer for her is that she found someone to love her, got married, and started a family, moving on from the pain and sadness I presume she felt after making an adoption plan. It is within her right as my Mother to keep my existence to herself and not share it with her family, and as her daughter I owe her the right to maintain that confidentiality without blindsiding her or her family. Does that make sense? Basically I am saying that if she has chosen not to share with her family that she had a child who she relinquished for adoption then who am I to barge into her life and her family to announce my existence?!

4) Finally, FEAR...fear of what I might find should I search! Fear that she might be dead. Fear of rejection. Fear of breaking her heart all over again. Fear of opening old wounds that have long since healed, with only a faint scar as a reminder. Fear of who she might be and where she might be and what she might be (sometimes the fantasy is WAY better than real life). Fear...the worst reason of all to not search yet in my mind, perhaps the most REAL and HONEST reason!

Please keep in mind that those are the reasons that I have chosen not to search. They might be good reasons or they might NOT be good reasons, but they are MY reasons nonetheless.

BUT...also keep in mind that my reasons for not searching do NOT mean I don't want to KNOW!!! Should my natural Mom EVER choose to search for me and then find me, I would welcome her into my life with open arms! While inconceivable to me, I love a woman I have never met (OK...I met her and knew her for 2 years of my life...I just don't remember). I would love to meet her and know about her and her life since I've been gone. I cannot tell you what a blessing it would have been in my life had someone taken my hand, as you have the ability to do with your 2 children, and supported me in sorting through my feelings and ultimately searching for my Mother. YOU have that power with your adopted children.

My response to you is don't wait for THEM to come to you asking for help to search. Talk about it, plant the seed, make it clear from the beginning that this is something YOU support and YOU encourage and YOU will be there to help with WHEN (not IF) they are ready! The ball was put in my court as a teenager. IF I ever wanted more information my parents would help me. Problem is...the ball was in MY court and MY court was one full of guilt and fear and confusion and concern for OTHERS rather than myself! Ultimately those feelings won and I have never been able to build up enough courage to ask. So instead, I sit as an adult wondering...thinking about who she is and realizing that 2 years of my life are gone, never to be found again! All because I had a choice very few, if any, adopted CHILDREN would ever take. Choose to hurt my parents for my own gain? Or choose to continue living my life not knowing? The choice was easy. I can deal with my own pain but I can NOT deal with hurting someone else!

My plea to you is DON'T give your children the CHOICE!!! Don't put that pressure on them! When they are old enough just talk about it, make it real, and make them aware that they are not being asked to make a choice between hurting you or helping themselves. That there is NO choice for them to make...that you KNOW they want to search and that when they are ready you will be by their sides helping them in that search
I hope my response helps some other adoptive families as they consider whether to support their children in searching for their natural family! I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for an adoptee to know that the people they fear hurting the most will be standing right by their side and holding their hands as they make this difficult step forward in their adoption journey!

2 comments:

another adoptee said...

I searched and found after massachusetts changed the law.. it was the best risk i ever took, as i felt the same feelings you feel about the possible rejection as well as the love of a woman i never met. It was probably my birth mother who was most surprised at how much i loved her in learning to trust me and learn who i am. I would gladly take the risk all over again.. as it was the best thing i ever did.. and you would be amazed at how your life will come full circle.. If you are prepared for the possible outcome of the rejection, then acceptance is the benefit. Its a fantastic journey for me.And i wish i could have done it years ago.
If you dont want to search you should at least check the boards .. she might be looking for you.

another adoptee said...

I searched and found after massachusetts changed the law.. it was the best risk i ever took, as i felt the same feelings you feel about the possible rejection as well as the love of a woman i never met. It was probably my birth mother who was most surprised at how much i loved her in learning to trust me and learn who i am. I would gladly take the risk all over again.. as it was the best thing i ever did.. and you would be amazed at how your life will come full circle.. If you are prepared for the possible outcome of the rejection, then acceptance is the benefit. Its a fantastic journey for me.And i wish i could have done it years ago.
If you dont want to search you should at least check the boards .. she might be looking for you.