Open Your Heart

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Have you been contacted by an adoptee? Nervous? Scared? Let me share some thoughts with you.

I would like to convey a message to those of you who have been touched by adoption in a particular way. Those of you who have been contacted by an adoptee, may you be birth mother, father, half-sib, full sib, aunt, cousin...let me share some thoughts with you and ask for your understanding.

You have been contacted. You may be suspicious. I understand that you may be afraid. Perhaps you feel betrayed. Maybe the knowledge of a child given up for adoption is unknown to you, and all of a sudden, your telephone is ringing, someone is sending you an e-mail, or knocking at your door. Who is it? Let me tell you who it is someone looking for hope.

I ask that you consider letting this person into your life. Even though your world may be turned upside down, even though you didn't "ask" for this, please think about it. Give it a chance, you may be opening your heart to a wonderful, loving person.

I have heard from many people about reuniting with their birth families. Many of their stories are heartwarming and loving. Sadly, many of the stories are heartbreaking and crushing...adoptees are sometimes rejected by their own blood relations. Some birth mothers want nothing to do with the child they gave up for adoption. Being a mother myself, I find that very difficult to understand, but I am not them, cannot put myself in their shoes. Many birth mothers were so terribly wounded having to adopt out their children that they simply cannot deal with a reunion. They cannot revisit the old hurt. Perhaps they have a secret kept so buried, they feel it may do irreparable harm to themselves or others to unearth it. There are lots of reasons why a birth parent may be afraid, I realize there may be extenuating circumstances.

There are also birth siblings that are often contacted by an adoptee. They may be full siblings, or half-siblings, but often they are surprised to learn that there is a brother or sister out there looking for them. It may be a shock I know, but denial doesn't make something untrue. It only shuts someone out, hurts someone to the very core.

I know that not everyone has good intentions, there may be some people who are dishonest, or looking to take advantage. But I think that the majority of us adoptees have only the best intentions. We may want nothing more than to just be allowed into your life. I know that may be hard for some of you, but think about it. Did the adopted out child ask to be given up? Is the adopted out child responsible for their circumstances? Why of course not. An adoptee is the innocent here, a victim if you will. I don't mean a victim in the sense that they were harmed or abused, but a victim of circumstance. An adoptee is powerless in the decision-making, a baby bystander. There is a fear of abandonment that many adoptees feel while growing up. Some feel a huge void their whole lives, some have control issues, some have relationship fears and find it difficult to connect with people. Some come from happy homes, some come from troubled ones. We are all different and have different experiences growing up. But adoptees are alike in that they are often searching for something. It may be truth, it may be medical history, it may be siblings, it may be because they long to "look" like someone, they may want to know their religious background. Many of us simply want to have a connection with a blood relation, simply to know where we come from. This is more often than not our motivation. Not greed, not money, not restitution, not harm. We don't want to hurt anyone. We only wish to be acknowledged and accepted for who we are. We are not a shameful secret, we are human beings.

Unless you are adopted, you can never understand the yearning to know if you look like someone else, act like someone else, think like someone else. To us, it seems a miracle when we physically resemble someone, not having grown up with the experience that birth children have. To us, making a connection with a birth relative is extremely comforting (especially if they accept us) as suddenly there is a common denominator in our lives that we never had before.

Adoptees who are searching are brave. They are taking an enormous risk. They may be unsuccessful in their search. Or they may be successful, only to be rejected. I heard from one man who located his birth mother by mail. He wanted to meet her, but she refused. He was deeply disappointed but respected her wishes, hoping that perhaps someday she might change her mind. All he wants to do now is to see her from afar...just to see what she looks like...not to force a confrontation, just to see her face. That's it. Does that tug at your heartstrings? It should. He desperately longs to meet a stranger, his own mother, but will settle to just see her face and nothing more.

This is all food for thought...just some things to consider if you have been approached by an adoptee or if you are beginning a reunion. Understandably, you may have concerns, but I urge you to be wary rather than suspicious. I urge you to open your mind to a possibly new, exciting, rewarding, and potentially gratifying relationship.

I would also like to address the adoptive family. Please try not to be afraid. If your adopted child is seeking birth parents or siblings, try and accept why. Try and understand what they are looking for. As I said, it is a connection they want, not a replacement for you. They are not searching to hurt you, only to try and find out more about themselves. They are not being ungrateful, they are looking for a missing piece of the puzzle. Try and put your fears aside and trust in them. For whatever reason, they feel they must do this, let them. You raised this person, they love you, and they'll come back to you. I spoke with someone not long ago and she made an interesting comment to me. When she learned that my adoptive parents had both passed away, she said, "Well you have your birth parents, how lucky you are", as if I had this second set of parents to replace the first set of parents. Nope. I know she meant well, but my birth parents are not replacements. They are my relatives, they are extremely important to me, but they are not going to step in and take over the role my mom and dad had. How disrespectful that would be! Just for the record, my birth parents will be forever grateful to my adoptive parents for raising me and loving me and taking good care of me.

As long as we have taken this brief detour here, let me mention one other pet peeve I have regarding parents and their "labels". So often, people make the mistake of asking about my "real" parents. That's the word I've heard used over and over. "Real". What do you suppose my answer would be? Would my "real" parents be my birth parents, or would my "real" parents be the only parents I ever knew, my adopted parents? My suggestion is to refrain altogether from using the word "real". Both sets of parents are my "real" parents. I prefer to say "adopted" and "birth" if a distinction needs to be made (as it often does, I mean this can get confusing!) But let's drop the word "real" because to me it implies that there is an opposite, which would be "not real". I'm getting off my soapbox now and apologize for the digression, but felt it was an important point to make.

Let me conclude by saying that not only am I an adoptee, I am also a member of a stepfamily. I have a stepdaughter whom I love as much as my own children. I have an adoptive family, a birth family, and a stepfamily. If you take away the adoptive, birth, and step, what are you left with? Family. Pure and simple. That's what is real. So if you are considering a relationship with an adoptee that has sought you out, give it a go, you may gain much more than you expected.
Visitor Comments (7)
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Mike - 7 months ago
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Very heartwarming words. I have found the woman whom I believe to be my birth-mother but I don't have verification yet. I hand-wrote her a very tender letter and I hope to hear from her soon. If she refuses a relationship, I will have to respect that, even though it is what I want. At the same time, I cannot give up the quest for my origin story. If she won't give me that, then I'm afraid that I will become a bull in the china shop that is her life. I will have to poke around the edges- beginning with her two-years-younger sister, who may know the story and might be willing to help me get through to her. but if that fails, and I still don't have confirmation, I will have to be more assertive. I am considering a future whereby I am compelled to reach out to her two daughters (possible half-sisters) and tell them my story. I would ask them if they would go in with DNA samples in order to confirm that I've found the right woman. I don't want to be a bull, but I might have to. #1
Mc - 4 months ago
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I met my birth mother just over a year ago, I have also met my half siblings and other members of my extended family. It has truly been one of the most positive experiences of my life. To look at my mum and to see the physical resemblance is amazing. I really can't explain how great it feels. There are so many sad reunion stories on the internet but I can't even begin to describe the feeling of being welcomed back into the family and to have the knowledge that my mum never forgot me and has always loved me. If anyone out here is considering searching I would say, go for it. Don't expect to find a perfect family there is no such thing but hopefully like me you will find out that the mother-child bond can never really be broken. #2
Karen - 4 months ago
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I found my birth mother, wrote her a letter and then she wrote back. I wrote back sent pictures and heard nothing, wrote again and then got a letter to not contact her any more. I received the letter last month. I'm trying to see it from her point of view. I contacted her mainly for her, I can hear my mom saying, you should look for her she is probably wondering about you and that you turned out fine. It was sad getting the letter, but I hold hope she will contact me, and I did the right thing and reached out. Thank you for writing the article #3
tabor - 3 months ago
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Found mine.. he wrote after yrs of facebook asking .. he says he loves me but when I wrote word dad.. it all came crashing down.. #4
Carrie - 7 months ago
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I am devastated to say the least. My adoptive daughter decided to locate me some 10 years ago. We met, hit it off tremendously, she met her birth brother, they connected beautifully, hung around for a couple of years. Then she vanished from our lives for about 5 years. It always bothered me where she was and how her life was going. So I looked her up we connected again and talked frequently through the internet. My father passed aways, he was my rock. My own mother was very abusive to me and my older sister. I had always told my sons about her, hoping one day she would find us and we could have some sort of relationship with her. She came for Christmas a few years back and met a lot of her biological family. She has since separated from her husband, I thought she might have more time to connect with me. Instead she stopped contacting me when she met a new man, in which they are having issues. This is so devastating to me I am at a loss for words. I have now lost her TWICE. #5
Gen McClanahan - 1 year ago
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I feel that if my daughter, who was adopted in 1970, would seek her birth parents her life might be much better. She was such a deligtful child, but when she became adult it became evident that there was something missing that my husband and I could never give her. #6
Janine - 8 months ago
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As a birth mother desperate for the first meeting, thanks for this. Even though i am their flesh and blood i feel i never belonged in my family, always too quiet, too studious, too something. To amplify that feeling of not belonging, of not seeing anything familiar in another's face, I can only imagine the confusion, loss, pain my son has gone thru. I know I can't make it right but you can bet I am going to be there #7
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