I have been lucky enough to find and build a relationship with my birth mother and three
half-brothers, who I found in 2016. I was months into my marriage and as if adjusting to that was not enough, I decided to reach out to my birth mother. I had no expectations. My birth mother, brothers, nieces, and nephew welcomed me into the family. That was after one of my brothers confirmed that my showing up now didn't mean I needed a kidney or anything else. He asked in a joking manner, but I knew he meant it. I was thrilled by their acceptance and felt incredibly fortunate and blessed. In the months that followed, I heard many stories and saw pictures that I feel I should have been in. I had individual conversations with two of my brothers where they painted a picture of our mother that was nothing like the image I had created in my head. I didn't know how to process this information but was thankful nonetheless. With that said, reunion is overwhelming.
I don't think a non-adoptee can understand the depth of emotions of meeting someone you have fantasized about your entire life. Fantasy meets reality. My husband at the time focused on the good side of me finding my birth mother, and whenever I expressed an emotion that he felt was less than positive about the reunion, he would point out there are some people who didn't have a mother but that I was lucky to have two. That made me feel guilty and unentitled to my feelings. His mother had passed away some time ago, so I understood his perspective. I wanted to be able to talk about adoption honestly and openly. I started not sharing any feelings. I did not want to seem ungrateful for this blessing when I knew he was missing his mother. I could have used #adopteeetwitter during this time. I desperately needed to hear from someone who had been through this same experience. Trying to suppress my feelings was causing inner turmoil that I could not escape. My marriage did not last. I went through two major adoption reunions over six years. It didn't cause my divorce, but it was a contributing factor.
When I shared with another friend that I was trying to figure out who I am with all this newfound information, he was quick to give me the pep talk that "I knew who I was," and these new revelations didn't change anything. I understood what he was trying to say, but it did change who I was. I was trying to figure out how to make this missing puzzle piece I had been searching for fit into a distorted puzzle I had been piecing together throughout my life. Again I chose to conceal the insecurities I was experiencing as a result of being reunited with my birth mother.
I am six years in reunion with my birth mother, and I struggle to connect with her on an emotional level. I am beginning to think it's not her that I struggle to connect with, but family members in general. Although I grew up as an integral part of my adopted family, I, unfortunately, cannot say I am super close with them. I was closest to my dad, and when he died in 2018, that left a void.
I am fortunate to have a best friend whom I have known for at least 45 years. As I share my conflicting emotions, it is good to have someone not try to encapsulate my feelings. She allows me to express a full range of emotions. During these challenging times, she likes to remind me jokingly of the question she asked before I sent the initial letter to my birth mother. "You sure you want to do this?" I'm unsure I knew what "this" was when she first asked. I just wanted confirmation that the woman I believed was my birth mother was indeed that. I never fathomed cultivating a relationship with her, let alone brothers. I didn't know that I would still feel thankful but detached from her six years later. I wonder if my birth son feels the same way about me?
It sounds like my next post should speak from my experience as a birth mother in reunion with my son.
Thoughts on Reunion Aftermath-Adoptee Perspective
No matter how ready you think you are for an adoption reunion, the real thing is overwhelming.
Do not suppress how you feel.
Reunions do not end with the initial meeting and affect more than just the adoptee and birth parent.
Every adoptee should have a friend capable of allowing them to go through the gamut of emotions reunions bring up.