My reunion with my birth son Michael officially began on Easter Sunday, 2018, three days before my dad's (adoptive) death. That was one of the most, if not the most emotionally charged time in my life. Happiness and grief existed simultaneously, and I did my best to navigate the tumultuousness.
I went into reunion with my birth son the same way I went into reunion with my birth mother; I had no expectations. I was open to any questions, anger, relief, or confusion he may have. I offered answers, transparency, and gratitude for him wanting to meet me. Some may ask if I have no expectations to avoid disappointment. Maybe it is my acceptance that I cannot control anyone else. I cannot control his adoption experience or his feelings about me. I can only expect myself to show up authentically.
I am thankful that I had already begun to work on my adoption guilt before he came into my life. Mentally I was moving towards a headspace where I was no longer ashamed of decisions made in my youth. I was healing those broken parts of me that being a birth mother had created.
Three days after my dad's funeral, I shared a meal with all of my children as they met for the first time. Happiness, grief, gratitude, and love swirled within me like a well-balanced cocktail from the bar. My life had come full circle as I sat across from the three lives that came into this world through me. I saw my features laced in each of theirs. I sat there slipping between adoptee and birth mother. I remembered how I felt when I sat across from my birth siblings at our first meeting, noticing a familiarity between them that I didn't share. They would share stories about their childhood that, although they were my brothers, I did not exist in. I felt guilty for putting Michael in the same position, as I noted the comfort and ease between his younger sister and brother. I hated that he probably felt similar to how I did when I met my siblings.
He has met his birth grandmother and adoptive grandmother, my adoptive family, and my friends. We have had conversations about his birth father, and I have made it a point not to allow my feelings to color his perception of him as my birth mother did.
I remember texting him one day to wear sunscreen as he ran his landscape business. We laughed as he is a grown-ass man, not the child I relinquished. I have not pushed the relationship and allowed him to move at his pace. My promise is to remain open and available whenever he reaches out. My wants are irrelevant. I am receptive to what he is willing to give. We will never replace the 31 years between relinquishment and reunion, so I have no interest in trying to do so. I can only know him as a man and listen to the stories of his youth he wants to share.
He moved out of the state two years after our meeting, and we have managed to stay in touch through text, phone conversations, or FaceTime. In each conversation, I feel we chip away at the mystery of who we are as people, but it is a slow process. I will be whatever he wants me to be and will not get caught up in fantasies that a previous version of myself may have. Reunion is not an endpoint; it is the catalyst for healing, forgiving, retrospection, and deciding how and if to move forward. My son and I are moving forward slowly. That is more than I ever thought I would have when I let him go as a teenager.
Thoughts on Reunion Aftermath-Birth Mother Perspective
I am grateful that my son wanted to meet me and remain in my life.
My son does not owe me a relationship because I gave birth to him.
I owe him transparency and access.
Adoption reunion stirs a multitude of emotions.