Feelings About Searching

For those who have searched for birth family, talk about the impetus that lead you to search, the emotions leading up to making contact, and the reactions of those family members you found.

For those who have been found by birth family, talk about your emotions upon being contacted and your response to the person who found you.

For those who have not searched nor have been found, talk about whether or not you feel you ever will search and the reasons for your choice.

Catching up on some old prompts for National Adoption Month.

I have always been insanely, but quietly, curious about my birth family.  The mostly unspoken but highly suggested theory (by my parents, by society) was that searching was BAD.  I would be intruding on their life, maybe I was a secret, maybe she was a drug addict. There was never any suggestion of, “Maybe she is smart and caring like you, and found herself in a difficult situation. I’ll help you find out.”  There was also a strong undercurrent (from my father, mostly) of How Dare You, Little Girl, Mess Up the Lives We Have So Carefully Constructed.

What kills me is that those carefully constructed lives were at my expense.

At 23, in grad school and about to be engaged, I told my mother I wanted to search.  Her face steeled due to what she needed to say next: “You better talk to your father.”  Oh no. Commence that feeling like I’m going to pee my pants.

“OK.”

Talking to my father went about as well as I expected.  As in, he flipped out.  Flipping out, for him, was this weird combination of crying, anxiety, and this sense of a barely controlled rage.  He’s a big man, and I was terrified. He begged me, every way he knew how, not to do it. Not to do that to him.  I hated (hated hated!!) that my need to be whole could do this to him.  It was, however one in a long line of times I broke myself in two and hid the real me away so as not to  hurt my family.

Sloooow forward about 20 years and five children.  In all that time, I had considered searching but never really did anything about it other than some googling of my birthday and looking at old high school yearbooks from my home state for people who looked like me.

One by one, my children came and started having health and other problems.  I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I *needed* to know my background for their sake.  I waited, unsure I could handle the fallout from all sides.  Finally, DNA testing became popular and I took the plunge.  Who knew that when I spit into a vial that a month later I would be reunited with my birth family??  I found a cousin who knew my mother. We exchanged emails for a few months.  Her reaction was definitely guarded at first…she did not expect to be “found.”  But she is a wonderful (smart! kind!) woman and we soon warmed into a pleasant relationship. We live very far apart so it is mostly an emails and facebook relationship.  I’m also facebook friends with several cousins. The “welcome to the family” has been mostly good.  I would not say any of them are “close to me” relationship wise but it is all extremely surface pleasant.

Before meeting any of them in person, I was so nervous.  I felt so sick for an entire week.  My body took over, nothing I could tell it with my mind calmed it down. This Was a Big Deal.  I’m still quite nervous before seeing any of them. They are a big, loving, extended family, and I’m the outsider. I fear any weird move on my part is going to send them all scurrying away, shaking their heads.

I still feel torn in two, also.  My father’s reaction to the news that I had found my first mother went even worse than it did when I told him I wanted to search all those years ago. This time, I feared for my mother as well. She needed to put up with his anger, depression, and drinking. I was at least out of the house.  Many phone calls later, with me shaking, and swearing it was nothing personal, and something I needed to do for my children for their health, and apologizing, he slowly got control of himself.  I don’t think he will ever “Get over it.”  It’s just something we don’t talk about at all.  (This reaction came after telling me, “I’ll do anything I can to help you find out information from your past to figure out why your son is so sick.”  My father is nothing if not totally confusing.)

So this was all over finding my first mother. No one but an aunt and a small group of people in a Facebook group I’m in know I just sent an email to someone I thought was my father yesterday.  I’ve been sick and I think lack of sleep made me bold, and probably stupid.  It was sent to his personal business, so only he and his wife would most likely be one to read it.  Turns out my aunt had also called this person.  After hearing about his reaction, I don’t think it’s him, and he hasn’t answered my email that I’m pretty sure he would have gotten.  So probably back to the drawing board. Or not. At this point I am so tired of it all.

Tired of having to pussyfoot around everyone’s emotional reactions.  Tired of searching, tired of being scared of what I might find.  Waiting for them to figure out who I really am, and leave me like everyone else (with the exception of my dh) has done.  But hell, my FATHER is out there. My flesh and blood father.  Don’t I deserve to at least look into his eyes, once, and say hello??

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It's lovely to have you here. Please keep comments respectful of the adoptees who read here. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

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