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Adoption Reunions-What Happens Next?

Can I only write from my pain?

That is the question that has caused my writer's block for months. As a child, my love for writing started as a necessity to find an outlet for everything I felt but could not express to anyone growing up. Most of those feelings were insecurity, lack of identity, fear, self-loathing, shame, guilt, and confusion. I would get a pencil and a spiral notebook and weave my feelings between the lines of my journal. Words would flow effortlessly and afterwards, relief would come until the next wave that sent me back.


Learning to write from joy

When I started this blog, I was still writing from pain. After completing my memoir the past year I was emotionally spent. I previously had thoughts of publishing it but no longer felt the need to once it was complete. I was happy and relieved to have told my story and to let it go. I wanted some space from adoption and the range of emotions that it brings up.


Since my last post months ago I have slid into a place of authentic joy with who I am and where I am in life. That doesn't mean I don't have my moments but I have learned to be present instead of continuously replaying the pains of my past or trying to understand people or actions outside of myself. I truly am living by the mantra "the only person I can control is me" and that has brought on a peace that has left me feeling lighter than I have in years.


There is an IG post by fellow adoptee Sandria Washington that has stuck with me since I stumbled across it in October 2023. "I recognize that I have to intentionally work at living which is different from existing or being alive. I am intentional about living because I know what life feels like and the potential outcome when I am not." That quote still resonates with me as I continue to maneuver through adoption from a place of joy and peace where the only thing I have control over is me.

 
I still have not answered the initial question so here on the 2nd day of January 2024, I specifically carved out time to discover if I can write from peace. The place I find myself in the midst of reunions as an adoptee and birth mother.

One of the biggest things adoptees, and birth parents must take into account is that the person had a life before that reunion. Stop for a minute, think about your life right now. What are your existing day-to-day issues? Work, relationships, finances, mental health, physical health, all those New Year Resolutions you hope to be able to stick with this year? How many directions are you pulled daily? By how many people? Are any of those areas already stressful or time-consuming?


Now switch from thinking about yourself and consider the person you are searching for has similar issues they are dealing with daily. There are a lot of factors that influence how a reunion will go. As stated in a previous post, I had no thought of life after the reunion so it didn't occur to me that reunions require making space for a new relationship.


I was 46 when I found my birth mother. I was in my first year of marriage which was stressful trying to merge my new husband into a home where it had been just me and my two kids and two dogs. I had aging parents I was in close contact with and checked on multiple times a week. I had other family obligations, a job that I was burnt out on, and fluctuating weight due to stress eating.


Life does not stop just because of reunification, for me it got more complicated. I had to figure out how to make space for not just someone, but my birth mother. I still struggle to make space and I attribute that to my attachment difficulties. My circle has always been small and I have been guarded with who enters it. I do talk to my birth mother occasionally and text more frequently. She lives ten minutes away yet I see her maybe only on her birthday or a holiday. I felt guilty about that in the past and when I visited out of guilt, I would sit there wondering when was the appropriate time to leave.


What do you do as an adoptee if you realize the person you were looking for, is not necessarily a person you would have in your inner circle? Maybe it's a difference in personality despite the uncanny physical resemblance or maybe it's those qualities you recognize in them that you have spent therapy hours to overcome and distance yourself from only to have them appear in the person who gave birth to you.


When I was reunited with my birth son, I was providing daily in-home hospice care for my father, who would pass 3 days after my first meeting with my son. I was emotionally supporting my mother, assisting in funeral arrangements and logistics of out-of-town family. I had the expenses of one kid in college, another who was still in my home with a list of activities, a husband who didn't understand the emotional drain I was experiencing and still had those two dogs.


I don't push the relationship with my birth son. If I get the sense I may be overwhelming him, which usually looks like a call or text that goes unanswered, or if I do reach him and he's busy, a pledge to call me back never occurs. I take those cues and just sit and wait. I waited a lifetime for him and as I have communicated to him; I am not going anywhere and I will always be available when he is ready.


I wonder if the way I see my birth mother is the way my birth son sees me. Perhaps he is still trying to determine where and if there is space in his life for me. Adoption reunion only offers the option of moving forward. No matter if you are an adoptee or a birth parent, there is no time machine where we can go back and create memories that would allow us to know why the other is the way they are today nor to have established that parental/child bond. By the time most reunions take place, two adults have gone through a life full of experiences that show up at the time of reunion.


Adoption stories and shows like Long Lost Family where the outcome is idyllic are always easy to find. Shows like Long Lost Family: What Happens Next never have the same longevity because it shows the side of adoption that isn't always easy. A reunion cannot be wrapped up in an hour show, in one meeting, in a month, or my case even years. It is an ongoing ebb and flow of emotions, of lives intertwined suddenly that either find a way to flow together or exist as ripples on the surface.

 

For those of you who have followed my post, thank you. I'm sorry I took an extended break and I look forward to getting back into sharing my adoption journey on a consistent schedule.



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