One of the biggest challenges can be marrying the emotions of your legal family with your emotions regarding your biological family. Nearly every adoptees is coping with some sort of abandonment issue. Finding people who will commit to being with you can be vital to your stability during the process.
When I sought out my biological family, I had a small report from a social worker to go on, and that was about it. What I knew was that I was the daughter of a teenager and the product of rape. I was adopted into a stable, loving home, and was very much wanted and supported, but the knowledge that I was the product of violence was difficult to process. I suffered through bouts of sadness and anger. Building my self worth was a constant battle. After all, the people who were supposed to love me from the get go, abandoned me, right? Who would want a product of violence?
Now, the practical, mature part of my brain knew that wasn’t true. Objectively I knew that my biological family made the best decision they could for me, but emotions are rarely rational.
Having understanding support nearby is key to maintaining some measure of expectation management during this challenging time. The fears can be very powerful. There are a million ‘What ifs’ that speak more loudly than ever. What if they reject you again? What if they are no longer living? Every scenario possible goes through your head.
Having a counselor on your side to sort through these feelings can be a great resource. Family counselors may also help your friends and family learn how to support you most effectively. There is no guidebook or map to reconnection. Each experience is entirely unique. In my experience, I learned that my mother was a scared teenager who said she was raped, but she actually knew my biological father, and still had his contact information. She answered my initial questions and then we lost touch – what was likely for the best. My biological father, who I never expected to be able to find, has turned out to become a good friend. My parents and friends stood by with committed support as I went through all the wide range of emotions, from anger to hurt to forgiveness, to understanding and compassion.
Talking to others about the journey can be hard, but asking for the support you need can help keep you level headed and combat the loneliness that lingers for many adoptees. It also helps others get a window into some of the unique challenges of our lives.
Each story is unique. Not every reconnection has a happy ending. But each life is valuable. No man is an island – and that couldn’t be truer than when we’re going through milestone journeys in our lives.