A birth mother and adoptive mother reflects on adoption reunion
There are playbooks for all sports, directions for electronics, assembly instructions for putting together furniture and even instructions on how to use shampoo. During my journey as a birth mother and then an adoptive mom, I have seen so many books and articles about how to adopt, what to tell your kids, reunion stories etc. But when you reunite with a birth child after 22 years of placing him for adoption…then what? Where is the playbook?
When I first found my son we stumbled our way through the words and emotions of it all. We took it one day at a time…slowly and steadily. Now, four years later, we—my husband, daughters, my son and myself—have a wonderful relationship that keeps on growing. Yet he has met the rest of my family only a handful of times—which seems so strange because we all live so close and are so close. So why is it so hard to cross the line and bring the rest of them in? Is it that they don’t want to? Not sure how to? Not sure how to feel? Or, what the “relationship” will be—such an unfamiliar territory. My sister said you can’t just Google “Reuniting with a birth son while he meets his sisters that were adopted from Korea and the rest of the clan.” There is NO PLAYBOOK.
You can’t just Google “Reuniting with a birth son while he meets his sisters that were adopted from Korea and the rest of the clan.”
I am learning so many things through all of this. I know how I feel through all of this—but how does the other family feel? My son’s adoptive family—the one that raised him. I truly believe that every person’s life is one big jigsaw puzzle. At times we feel complete and at times we feel a part of something is missing. That missing piece could be the loss of a family member, a wrong spouse, a bad job, whatever. But sometimes it is a person: a person that they have never met.
I believe that for (most) people who were adopted it is a curiosity thing… wondering what the missing link is. What does the other part of the DNA look like, act like, etc.? I do not believe that is a lack of love from the adoptive family—or that there is something wrong. I believe it is a natural curiosity. As an adoptive mom I look forward to taking the journey with my children if they want to find their birth families. But I also realize I have half a world between their birth families and us. I find security in that. My daughter who is 11 thinks about her birth mom a lot and often we talk about it. I don’t ever doubt that I AM her mom…but I also know about the wondering because, as a birth mom, I have always wondered about my son. It doesn’t mean I love my daughters any less or they don’t complete me—but my birth son has always been in my heart. I know that I am my girls mom. Period. But I do know they have a whole heritage and birth family a world away that they must wonder about, especially as they get older.
He held me when I would cry at night after I found my son on Facebook and all I could say was, “This is so big—so emotional.”
I think about my husband: how does he feel? I know he loves my son and has always welcomed him into our family. He stood by me when I would be sad on his birthday and wonder about him. He held me when I would cry at night after I found my son on Facebook and all I could say was, “This is so big—so emotional.” There were no words to describe how wide open my heart became—but he got it, and would just hold me and love me. Yet I was the one who couldn’t give us belly babies.
My close girlfriends have been by my side through every step of this journey—encouraging me, supporting me, listening to me talk about things and sharing the excitement of it all. They always ask about him and how he is doing. These woman have supported me in every step and have helped me sort out feelings with love, laughter and an occasional glass of wine!
So why is it so hard for those closest to me? There are no defined roles, feelings or rules. It is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience while you hope that it all turns out okay. I have had four years of feelings building up and have finally felt they came free today. It was a hard conversation to have…but one that had never taken place. All in all I think it was a good thing. I feel like I can move forward and have two special worlds mesh together with a common ground: me.
Life can be so difficult sometimes. I realize communication is key. I can’t assume how people feel or think. There are paths we go down in our lives that come with no playbooks. We learn as we go and we become stronger because of it.
About the Author: Jill Murphy is a blogger and author. She recently published her book, Finding Motherhood: An Unexpected Journey, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. This post was originally posted on her blog. She has written another blog about her experience creating an adoption plan as a birth mother and adopting internationally here.
Photo via opensource.com on Flickr.