As an adoptee, the search for siblings is complex and full of every emotion thinkable. I hope to just offer one small window into such a complex topic, from my perspective.
I grew up with my half birth sister, and I always knew I had a lot of birth siblings out there. I had an interest to search for them, but my oldest brother found me first through Facebook. I was excited to connect, especially since he had so much information about our birth mom, but connecting with him also meant finding out my birth mom had passed away, and so there were a lot of hard emotions that also surfaced. I took a step back, while staying in contact, but knew I needed some time to process everything.
This is one thing that varies from adoptee to adoptee; if we search, how we search, and how we handle reunification. I think sometimes people lump adoptees in one big group, and assume we all feel and think the same. This is a perfect example of how that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some adoptees jump head first into finding family, and when they do, jump head first into relationships. And then there are adoptees on the other end of the spectrum; they want to know but also, they have guards up, and have to take everything in bite size chunks, with processing time in between. And of course, there are some that don’t even want to search, and don’t want to be found. And ones on every step of that spectrum.
I jumped around; at first, I was hesitant because of the pain that came along with finding birth siblings, the pain that came with wrestling with the fact I would never be reunified with my birth mother. And then I needed to take a few years to…I hate to use the term “find myself” because it’s so cliché and over used. But I needed time to figure out who I was, I needed time for God to work through the hard feelings I had, and I needed time to learn and grow, and realize I truly did want more pieces of my birth family’s puzzle to be placed.
This week, all nine of my birth mother’s kids have connected on Facebook. It’s amazing to me how far technology has come, and this is a perfect example of the good that comes with it. All nine of us are in different places, and I’ll admit it’s tricky. I want to connect but I also want to respect where everyone is, and not bring up triggers.
Searching for, and finding birth family is hard. The hard doesn’t end once reunification has happened. But being able to search, and being able to be in the driver’s seat of my search, has been huge. Knowing I was adopted, knowing I had birth siblings out there, and knowing some information of my origin helped so much when I did decide to search.
Adoptive parents, give that to your adopted children please. Give them all the information you have, and let them determine how and when they search out more, at an age appropriate time of course.
If you have an adoptee in your life, how can you support them in their search? I think support is critical during this vulnerable time. In my opinion, we need grace and grace and then some more grace. Again, there are a lot of emotions that are brought up, a lot that stem from the abandonment from our birth family and from knowing our puzzle will never be complete if birth family has already passed away. I know I am short tempered when I’m thinking and processing. So, don’t read into our tone of voice, don’t take things personally, and realize we just need you to listen, to give us lots of hugs, and to tell us you love us over and over again. Because we won’t ever get any of that from our birth family that has passed away.
And we are more than our search, we are more than the feelings we are wrestling with. We want to continue to live life, but some days we may just need to lay low and process, law low at home and pray. Again, it’s not you, it’s us taking care of our mental health, and allowing our bodies and minds to work and then rest.
There’s also a certain comfort that comes from birth family, from people who truly get it like no one else will. We aren’t choosing them over you; we are just leaning into the empathy. But, we still need you. Us needing birth family doesn’t mean we don’t need you; there is room for everyone and we need you to be secure in your place at the table.
I’m not sure how this concludes, and part of me feels like it never will. I feel like, for the rest of my life, I’ll be growing and changing as I connect more pieces of my puzzle. I’ll continue to wrestle with hard things, but at the same time, continue to marvel at how God has written every single word in my story, and used it for His glory. And that is my prayer, that God continues to mold me, that He continues to stretch me, and He continues holding my hand through the storms. Because there will be storms, but may I get stronger through them, with the support of my community, and the faithfulness of my Father.