November is Adoption Awareness Month. As an Adoptee and Birth Mother, I can talk forever about this, so lets talk again. Remembering that it doesn’t matter if you are an adoptive parent, birth parent, know an adoptee, read a book, or anything else, unless you are actually an adoptee, you will never truly understand. So please for the love of all that is holy, stop telling Adoptees how to feel, that their feelings are wrong, that they are over reacting, or anything else like that. Adoptees have every right to feel everything they feel, all the conflicting, hard to understand feelings, they are all valid. Just because you dont understand something, does not make their feelings wrong.
So lets talk about belonging. Its a strange thing. We simultaneously belong to multiple families, yet dont fully belong to any. We are forever an option. In our adoptive families we struggle to belong, we dont look like anyone, we dont have the same mannerisms, traits, we struggle to fit in and blend in with our families. We notice all the questioning looks we get by people trying to figure out our connections to each other. We have even had to deal with strangers comments and questions. Our adoptions are constantly pointed out to us, when people compare looks, especially at family events. We are constantly referred to as the “adopted children”. When we go to the doctors and asked for medical history, there is a big blank spot, or adoption is simply written there. In school its pointed out every time we are asked to do a family tree, learning about genes and asked to go back in our family tree with eye colour, hair colour and such. We are constantly asked if we will ever look for our families, then guilted as soon as we decided to do it. We are asked what its like to grow up in a home with strangers. We are referred to as being “chosen” or “picked out”. People ask us how much we cost for our parents to ‘buy’ us. When people do family trees there is constantly a symbol next to our names for adoption. More times than people care to admit, adopted children are placed for adoption again because they didn’t “fit into the family”, or some other issues came to the surface. We are considered an option. We are told we will be sent back. When we get in trouble, we are told in must be in our genes and what a burden it must be for our families to deal with us.
Then if and when we are able to find birth families, we are treated an as option. We have to wait to see if our birth families will accept us or reject us, again. Always an option. IF we do get accepted, we rarely ever fully get accepted. Our lives before they met us dont matter because they never knew us. We are never truly the first born, second born, third , or last born, because we weren’t there. When people talk we are separated in speech, like “my kids and you” or “my boys and you” its always “them and you”. There is always a subtle separation in speech. We are told to wait till kids are older to be told about us. We are told to wait because older generations can’t hear about us right now. We are kept secret from some members of the family. We are told to wait till their kids are fully grown before they will consider spending holidays with us. We are told they have their own traditions and things they love, and they won’t grow and evolve those things to include us. We are told that to involve us in traditions would be the same thing to them as throwing away years of family traditions with ‘their family’. Always the separation in speech. Never fully accepted. We aren’t considered ‘close family’ when it comes to family events, birthdays or holidays. We are told that people need time to adjust to our existence. We are told that people that are supposed to be our family need time to figure out if they want to ‘try to be friends and see where that goes’, instead of truly accepting that we are family and include us as such and work towards building relationships that way as sister/brother/cousin/son/daughter or whichever it is. We are always treated as an option. Someone that belongs, but not fully. We are welcome, as long as we stay in our little corner over there, and dont mess with their family setting and traditions. If we dont fit in just right, we are again abandoned, because we will forever be an option for people. An option they can walk away from whenever a single issue arises. We constantly walk on egg shells out of fear of being abandoned again. Many times adoption reunions fall apart after a couple years.
We belong to multiple families, yet not fully and truly. Its a weird sense of belonging, being on the outside looking in, longing for acceptance, longing for connection, feeling at home, being surrounded by family, being loved and accepted, and still feeling alone.
One year ago my world got flipped all around. Everything changed and nothing made sense. Yet somehow it all made sense. A year ago I wrote this post about a DNA test I took on one of those sites, I thought nothing of it, because you know, I already had all my answers from my 10 year search. But turns out I was wrong, so very very wrong. And the man I believed to be my birth father wasn’t, and I had to start all over. This time however it only took 17 days. In 17 days I messaged a stranger on Facebook, took a paternity test, and met my birth father. All in the span of 17 days my world changed forever. And then you know a global pandemic happened and put all plans on hold and made it impossible to meet people, family, and spend time with them.
Here we are, one year later and I am still trying to wrap my head around everything. Its been a lot. And today is a lot. I have all the emotions fighting it out for dominance. So many big, giant, conflicting emotions. A lot has happened in a year. Relationships have changed, which I guess is a totally natural thing, one way or another, good or bad, relationships change. I still can’t figure out the right words, or emotions to describe the last year. Yet I’m going to try, for my own sake, I need to get this out. I need to make sense of things.
This past year has been amazing. It really has. It has been so wonderful, magical even. Things have just clicked. There are these things, these little moments, these little things about myself, that just make sense now. Things I have kept to myself my whole life, parts of myself that I always kept just for me, because it didn’t feel like it was right to show them to the world, that no one around me would understand or connect, and now, it makes sense. The connections are there. And its weird, it feels foreign, I don’t understand it most of the time, but it all feels right at the same time. One of the strangest things has been to meet people that I look like, you know, other than the tiny humans that I created and birthed myself. Like being able to see myself in other people, and not just looks, traits, habits, beliefs. Its been such a shock to me, and I just don’t know how to explain what that is like after 34 years of life to finally experience that. Something that is just so common to most people, that it never crosses their minds, something so common that its not a big deal to people. And here I am completely crying and falling apart about it.
Can we also talk about how weird it is to find these people, essentially strangers, but they are family, and you feel a connection to them, but they are still strangers, and having to build friendships/relationship with them. Like we are strangers, but I’m their daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, granddaughter. But despite being genetically connected, we are still strangers. Who just happen to look alike, be related, and have things in common. But still strangers, and still family, all at the same time.
Also I need to mention that for the first time in my life, for my 35th birthday I got to spend the day with a biological parent. I still think about that day, and I am still in shock about it. That day meant so much to me. It was and still is such a big deal. Something so simple and easy that a lot of people never give it a second thought. And yet I had to wait till my 35 birthday to have that happen. Its unreal. That day was simply amazing.
Despite all the good and wonderful things, there has been so much fear and anxiety. And overwhelming amount of fear and anxiety. A big dark scary cloud that just follows you around constantly, threatening to ruin everything in the blink of an eye. Because sometimes adoptees get rejected by their families. Sometimes families decide they dont want them, they aren’t a real member of the family, they dont belong, and a whole list of a million other reasons. Sometimes adoptees are the ones to change their mind. But in my case, after 10 years of searching, 7 years after finding my birth mother, and 1 year of this, I know I’m not going to change my mind. I know what I want. But these people I just found, these strangers who also happen to be family, I dont know what they want. They never knew about me, never knew there was even a chance I was out there, never waited for me, I was never a thought for any of them. I was a total and complete surprise. My first reunion of course didn’t go well. So that fear of rejection, that fear of things going badly, was/ is all too real for me since I have already experienced it. And a year later, it is still there. Some days are better than others. Some days its a dull hum in the background, other days its front and centre. I hoped by now, a year into this, that it would be gone by now. Maybe one day. Hopefully one day. Hopefully soon.
I’ve also had to heal from the last reunion I had, the last 8 years with my birth mother. The guilt I have for believing her for 7 years. The pain caused from the man I believed was my birth father. The anger at myself for it all. The anger at her for her choices. There has been a lot of anger and guilt and pain I’ve had to try to heal from. Some days are better than others. It has been a slow process. I dont know if thats just a normal thing, or because it is mixed in with so many other things going on. Some days its hard to separate my feelings from the joy and happiness I feel, and the pain.
Having the chance to know my story, my real story, get real answers has been amazing. Yet in a way it has also been heartbreaking. That I can’t explain, even though I badly wish I could. Even just to myself. But I can’t and it is driving me crazy.
So really how do you even begin to describe a year like this? A year of finding your truth, your family, your connections, and followed right by a global pandemic. A global pandemic that has its own fears, anxieties, hardships, stress, depression, and is keeping you apart from some of the people you want to be with the most. Its been so hard, and heartbreaking. To know these people and have to stay away. Its soul crushing and destroying. The timing of all this. It makes it so hard. I believed my birth mother for 7 years, thats 7 years I lost with these people, 7 years without a global pandemic that I would have the freedom to know and meet and spend time with these people. But nope, that didn’t happen. I had to have all this happen right before and during a pandemic and global lockdown.
So here’s to a better year, a year with less fear, a year with more connections, a year of building better relationships, getting to know people, and hopefully being able to see them and spend time with them. Heres to a year where my emotions aren’t so raging and out of control. Where things make sense, where I can explain my emotions.
I think its safe to say my adoption search for my birth parents is finally over. 17 years after my search first started. 7 years after finding my birth mother, I finally know who my birth father is. For the first time, at age 34, I can finally answer the most basic questions, who’s your birth father and who do you look like.
See, two weeks ago shit hit the fan. You can read about that here.
The last two weeks are a blur. In two weeks everything changed. I lost the family I thought I had, and found a whole new one. I’m still trying to process it all. What it all means. All the new connections I have, all the new family members I have.
How can you even begin to process all this?
I know there are adoptees and birth parents and adoptive parents that read my blog and reach out to me. And how I wish I had some words of wisdom here. But the truth, I have no freakin idea what to do, how to process this, what the next steps should be, how to handle them.
I have so many conflicting emotions, all the feelings, its hard to sort them out and see clearly. I don’t know which to follow, which will subside, I don’t know what to embrace and what to let go.
Maybe if this journey had been spread out, and I had more time to deal with the feelings as they came on, instead of everything happening in one day.
In one day, everything changed. Then I had to wait two weeks for results from a paternity test. The longest two weeks ever. It was torture. I was talking to a stranger, spending hours every day talking to him, getting to know him, not knowing what the DNA test would say. I was mad at myself every day for getting attached to this person that could potentially turn out to have no connection to me. Then we got the results. We match. We are without a doubt Father and Daughter. And now here we are. Here I am, trying to process. Trying to figure out what I want and need, while considering everyone else. Yes this is my story, my journey, but it doesn’t just affect me. It affects my kids, my husband, my family, my birth father, his wife, his family. My circle just got so much bigger, and I want to take care of it, and do right by everyone.
Everyone keeps asking how I am. And I say fine, good, alright. Every answer, but the truth. Not because I’m lying, but because I don’t know. I honestly can not tell you how I feel. Part of me wants to run to these people, part of me wants to hide, part of me is happy, part of me is scared. So very scared. Scared something bad will happen. Even scared something good will happen. Figure that one out? If you do, let me know, because I can’t explain that one. You get the point. Every conflicting feeling, I have it right now.
The last time I found a birth parent, it didn’t go well. I thought I had all my answers. I thought I had all the dots connected. And I was ready to close the book on that chapter and leave it behind me. I basically did. I had walked away. I had gotten on with my life and came to terms with it. I was not prepared for all this. I never dreamed this was even a possibility.
And through out all of this, all I can think of is the damn song from Frozen 2: “Into The Unknown”. And also “When I am Older”. Because maybe one day this will all make sense and I will understand why things happened the way they did. Why I had to go through so much pain first. Why I had to wait till I was 34 for answers. Why it happened this way.
If you have been following along with this blog you will know that adoption is near and dear to my heart. I am adopted, you can read about that here and I am also a birth mother, you can read about there here. I even have an Adoption Tattoo.
I knew my entire life that I was adopted. There was no moment that stands out as “the moment” that everything changed and I found out. My family talked very openly about it. When I turned 18 I began the legal search for my birth mom and hoped that she would lead me to my birth father. As my birth father was not aware of the adoption, or me, he was not on any paper work, or at least thats what my paperwork said. It took nearly 10 years to track down my birth mother (Don’t even get me started on the government and the stupid ways they handle adoption and records). That was about 7 years ago. She was able to tell me about my birth father. Finally I would get answers and learn about my roots and where I came from.
Finding out about my birth father was a hard pill to swallow. Finding out that he did in fact know about me my entire life and wanted nothing to do with me was hard. Dealing with that rejection was hard. But at least through him I did find a half sister. We bonded and got to know each other. For the past 7 years I’ve talked to her off and on, watched my nephew grow. I’ve talked to other relatives, aunts and uncles and cousins. Then my birth father died. I had never once talked to him or met him, but still I mourned his death. I was so angry with him for so long. For years I held so much anger towards him.
And then last year my son I gave up for adoption did a DNA test on one of those sites. He was curious to see what his ethnicity was. Because even though he knows who his birth parents are, both of his birth parents are actually adopted as well. So even though I am in my sons life I can not give him certain answers. A few months later my sons mother offered to buy me a DNA test on the same site so that we would be able to determine which side of the family comes from where. So I did. I didn’t think anything of it really. I didn’t expect much out of it. I figured I knew. I was doing it for my son.
So I got my results. I didn’t really check the DNA matches since I figured I knew what would be there. But then I noticed something as the matches started coming in. No one had the same last name that my birth father had. So I searched through the over 6000 matches on the site, no one had his last name. It didn’t even show up in peoples family trees as a distant relative. The truth started to sink in. The man I believed to be my birth father, the man I had been so angry at, the sister I had gotten to know, they weren’t actually related to me at all. She’s not my sister. He’s not my birth father.
A part of me didn’t want to deal with that. A part of me just said “hey maybe no one in that family has ever signed up on this site. Thats possible. They all know each other, so why would they.”
One morning I woke up to a message “Hi, it looks like I’m your cousin” and she proceeded to fill me in on so much family history that that was clear that she was not related to my birth mother and no possible way to be related to who I had believed was my birth father.
I tried to talk to my birth mom about it. She insisted that he was my birth father, until I told you about the DNA test site. And the truth came out.
And now here I am, at the age of almost 35, and after 10 years of searching, 7 years of accepting what I thought were truths, getting to know people, mourning a death, I am back to square one. I have no idea who my birth father is. I never thought this would happen. I never thought I would search for so long for a family just to have them taken away again and start all over.
So apparently my adoption story is not over. Not even close. My journey continues.
And now I deal with trying to find my actually real birth father, and possibly being rejected again and going through that all over again.
Two years ago I met my Birth Mother and Birth Grandmother for the first time.
Two years later and honestly I still feel just as confused as I did on that day.
On that day I could not find any of the right words that even resemble what I was feeling or thinking. I just could not seem to put this into the right words, and I still can’t. This is not an easy situation, it is a lot more complex and confusing than I would have ever thought possible.
So please bear with me through this.
I met my Birth Mom and Birth Grandmother.
This should be a happy moment. Right? Cloud 9. Jumping up and down. Happy dance. All of that right?
Let me back up a little bit. I spent my entire life, for as long as I can remember with certain beliefs about my birth mom. I knew it was silly, and I shouldn’t assume things about someone I knew nothing about, but I also felt I was right. Something I knew in my heart to be true. Like we had a connection or something. As I grew older and heard horror stories about Adoption Reunions I knew to always “expect to the unexpected” so to speak. So I tried my hardest to expand what I believed. There were just certain parts that I could not let go of. My heart just told me they were true. I hoped for the best and prepared for the worse.
My first mistake was thinking my search would be easy. Of course she would be looking for me. All of them would be. Of course there would be an easy trail for me to find. Turns out it was not easy, or quick. My search took nearly 10 years.
Then reality came knocking on my door, more like destroyed it actually. Out of the 100,000,000,001 scenarios I thought of none of them were true.
I realize this was fully on me, I only have myself to blame. But after believing for so long in something, trusting your heart for so long, and realizing it was all wrong, to have your beliefs’, hopes, dreams, thoughts, all crushed… It was hard. I had to re-evaluate everything I thought and believed about myself, about her, about everything connected to my Adoption. That connection I believed I had, that I was somehow special because I felt this, was gone.
Throughout this I did, and still do, feel so blessed and lucky that I have been able to actually find my birth mom. That’s the important thing here. I actually found her. I am one of the lucky ones. My search was finally over. A whole new journey is before me now.
When it came time to actually meet her, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to feel. I was confused before she even stepped foot in my house. Which took me by a giant surprise. I thought I was ready to take this step. I thought I knew what I wanted, how I felt, everything. I thought meeting her would be the next natural step and everything about it would be natural and free-flowing.
As I looked into the eyes of the person that gave birth to me, as I looked into the eyes of my birth grandmother for the first time, my blood…. I don’t know. In that moment in time, I didn’t know what to feel, think or expect. I was shaken to the core from this meeting.
I looked into their eyes and it really hit me, there is a whole family history there that I’m connected to it. But I don’t feel connected. I should feel connected, right? Should it be an instant connection? We are blood after all. There should be a bond? Something small there at least? Where did that connection go that I thought I had with her growing up? Was that really gone? Or was it just my beliefs that were gone? I thought it was just my beliefs. For sure some connection should remain?
I never thought I would be this confused, I never thought I would feel like this. I never dreamed the emotional roller coaster this would be. I never dreamed it would go on for years.
I want to be able to tell people that this meeting was what dreams are made of. That it went perfectly. That it was wonderful. That it left me with no questions at all. I want to say that we had a connection and are now involved in each others lives. I want to be able to say that, because a part of me wanted it to be like that.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I met them. It was a good experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
But the truth is here I am 2 years later after meeting them and I am just as confused and lost as I felt on that day.
Our relationship has not progressed the way I thought it would, and honestly I am not sure where that leaves us, or what it means.
I spent 28 years without her, I spent 10 years looking for her, I realize a relationship will not be built overnight, related by blood or not, this is going to take a lot of work. A lot more than I thought would take for people related by blood, for a daughter and her birth mother.
Thanks to all those who have supported me throughout all of this! Your love and support means so much to me!