For most of my life, I hadn’t thought about my birth parents – where I came from, who they were, or why they had chosen to give me up. For me, the only thing that mattered was that I had parents who loved me – who chose to be my parents.
When I met my biological father just over three years ago, I was overwhelmed by his reaction to reconnecting with me. He spoke as though he had known me and loved me for my entire life – this “stranger” who hadn’t crossed my mind even once as I had transitioned through childhood and into my adult years. I felt a strong bond with him as our relationship started to blossom, but was sometimes confused when he became overcome by emotion.
When we reunited in person, his eyes would fill with tears. I could hear in his voice a certain desperation, as though he was holding himself back from bursting at the seams. This both comforted and scared me, as to me, he was still a stranger.
We wrote to each other every day for almost 2 years, and met in person half a dozen times – until he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Christmas Eve in 2012.
I feel like so many things between us were left unsaid. And after having spoken with friends who are birth parents and fellow adoptees, I feel like sharing some of those unspoken feelings through an open letter to birth parents, from the perspective of an adoptee.
Dear Birth Parent(s),
I am so thankful that you made the choice that you did – to carry and deliver your baby, and to choose to provide that baby with a home and a life that you didn’t feel you were able to provide on your own. This was the ultimate act of selflessness, and I’m sure it was the hardest thing you have ever had to do.
I can’t imagine how difficult it has been to move through your life – the thought of that baby always living in the back of your mind. Wondering if they are safe, if you made the right decision, and if they are loved.
You may one day feel an overwhelming need to seek out that child – to look into the eyes of your offspring and tell them that you’re sorry, that you did what you thought was best for them, and that you have never stopped thinking about them.
They may accept you back into their lives, and you may feel an overwhelming urge to make them a part of yours once again – to make up for all of those lost years.
For an adoptee, reuniting with birth parents can be a mix of emotions: resentment, confusion, curiosity, fulfillment, forgiveness. While you may feel overcome by emotion – desperate to catch up and make that child a part of your life once more – the child may respond with hesitance, reluctance, and caution. Please don’t feel offended – be patient.
It will take time for them to find a place in their hearts for you. It will take time for them to understand the choices that you’ve made, and to understand your perspective.
Don’t push, and don’t pull back. If they have agreed to reunite with you, they will come around. Don’t overwhelm them – share your stories but also listen to theirs. Don’t pressure them into putting titles on your relationship – just go with the flow.
One final piece of advice: let them lead. As much as you may want to dive in, let them take the wheel. They may need to take things slowly. After all, choosing to reunite with some who had once chosen to give you up can be a confusing decision.
Where ever life may have led you – you are amazing. You have put someone’s needs before your own, and this is truly commendable. You have given someone the gift of life, and someone else a child to love. I wish you luck, love, and acceptance.
If you are a birth parent or an adoptee, I’d love to hear your perspective on your experiences with reunions.