There comes a point in each adoptee's life when they begin to contemplate starting a search for their biological family. Some adoptees start their search as soon as they legally can, others may wait until their mid-twenties or thirties or beyond.
Adult adoptees search for many reasons. Identity, genetic and familial information, medical information, and others who just wish to look at the face of the woman who gave them life and say thanks for that wonderful gift. However, SHOULD YOU SEARCH at all?
If you cannot fathom going one day further in your life without finding your answers, then searching is for you and by all means get started today!
As an adoptee ‘in reunion’, I never thought I would ever say these words to another adoptee, however if you are just mildly curious and only want to see who and what you find, you probably should not even start this process. If you are not or cannot be 110% committed to establishing a long lasting relationship with those on the other end, search and reunion may not be the right steps for you to take at this time. Nor may they be the ethical steps to take.
There are ‘real’ people on the other end of your search with feelings, hopes and dreams that may be very similar to your own or they may expect more than what you are willing to give once you establish contact. Once contact is made, a successful reunion is a partnership between two people who are related by blood but who may have nothing else in common. Are you committed to overcome any obstacle that may arise in this new relationship? If not, if that appears to be too much effort, searching may not be for your at this time.
If you locate a receptive first mother or father who has been waiting your entire life for you to find and reconnect with them, they may have formed their own dreams of a close friendship or relationship with their long lost son or daughter. Searching for them is not the end of this process it’s the beginning of the rest of your lives. Commitment is necessary. If by some chance your birth parent eventually married and had other children together, it can be a very bittersweet realization that they relinquished you, but raised your full biological siblings. Let go of your anger because it will cloud your contacts with birth family.
If you locate birth siblings who have always known about you and have always dreamed about connecting and bringing you into the family fold, they enthusiasm for the reunion process may be overwhelming, and my cause you to withdraw from contact, thereby lessoning your chances for a successful reunion considerably.
You must also be prepared for any eventuality while searching for biological family members. Traumatic events such as rape or incest could have contributed to your adoption placement. Are you prepared to hear the truth, no matter how painful it may be? If not, searching may not be in your best self-interests.
I want to touch on the subject of searching for family ‘pre Facebook’ and pre Internet. When adoption search started, the best resource searching triad members could utilize was the local search and support groups. Attending these heartfelt and emotional meetings put the searcher directly in contact with wise and experienced people in all different phases of search and reunion. Lifelong friendships were established, mentoring occurred, and we all learned from and grew from the process of interacting with our brothers and sisters in adoption.
With the growth of the Internet and the formation of social media sites, the who ‘support’ system has broken down into a ‘race’ by well-meaning but not terribly experienced ‘angels’ whose main objective seems to be beating each other to the finish line of a search request posted in a group. Is this really wise? Is immediate contact with a biological family member in the best interests of all involved? Remember, you, as an adoptee or first parent or sibling, may be jumping the gun by ringing up a potential biological family member out of the blue when you have no preparation for the multitude of situations you may find yourself in. That potential family member has had even less preparation than you have in dealing with the reunion process.
I used to hold absolute indignity and disrespect for adoption agency intermediaries whose agency insisted on counselling of both reuniting parties prior to releasing identifying and contact information to both parties. Now I am revising my knee-jerk opinion on that practice, much to my own surprise. I have seen, in 30 years, the good and the bad in both situations. We must discover a happy medium between the two.
In the past those of us who assist in family search ‘knew’ that an adoptee was ‘ready’ to make contact when their main focus was not just to complete their search, but in disrupting or hurting members of their biological family. Overly cautious perhaps; but it is absolutely a requirement for a successful reunion.
If you do decide to start and continue your search process, please prepare yourself for the entire process by locating and reading adoption theme books that will prepare you for a successful reunion. But seriously, if you are just ‘curious’ and not committed to following through with an actual reunion, don’t start until you are.