I wanted to do a post about "failed" adoption reunions because I hear from many adoptees who are in the same boat as myself. I don't like to view my adoption reunion as a failure. I have had many people (including other adoptees who have not taken the plunge themselves) assume that my reunion was a failure because there were certain outcomes that did not meet my expectations.
I have no regrets at all about my reunion. I had two decades to think about having a reunion with my mother and deal with all the emotional baggage that comes along with being raised in closed adoption. At some point, I decided to hell with the outcomes, I was just going for it. (I got in touch with my inner badass).
On some level I knew that my reunion with my first mother would not be a life-long relationship. Before I flew into Philadelphia, I had carefully prepared a photo album of my life for her because I secretly feared that we may only see each other that one time. I knew something was amiss after speaking with my mother on the phone, but I ignored the little voice that was trying to tell me something. I just wanted my mother to have that photo album of my life in case at some point, she no longer had me.
My friend Vaseem who has walked this journey with me, said to me one time early in my reunion:
"Your finding your mother is probably going to be more important for her, than it is for you".
I could not totally understand what he meant at the time. In the high emotions of finding my mother, I could not imagine that I would be more important to her than she was to me my whole life. I figured she thought about me now and then, but finding her was one of my biggest life quests that thinking she could be affected as much or even more than me, was not yet registering on my radar screen. Like all children (even adult ones) we tend to be self-centered.
This reunion was about me! Once I was knee-deep into the reunion, and talked to other mothers-of-loss in the adoption community, it finally hit me that my finding my mother was a huge moment for her as well. I jumped into reunion without being fully prepared for the many outcomes. One of my blind spots is always to do things myself, instead of seeking out the guidance of others who have walked the path before me.
I don't know if my mother also went into a depression, almost got divorced and thought she had lost her mind, like I did -- I will never know, because our relationship could never get past the surface. But even with the emotional hell I went through, I have no regrets.
I do know that whether my mother admits it or not, losing me was a profoundly painful experience. And then realizing I was alive and well, must have been both painful and healing for her. My reappearing in her life forced her to face things in her life that she had successfully buried for decades. I have never walked in her shoes and I can only imagine the difficulty she experienced upon giving me up and never knowing if I was o.k..
When your reunion goes bust, the healthiest thing you can do is hold on to the good.
Because my mother said yes to me, I learned I have siblings -- most importantly a sister. I always wanted a sister. Somebody who I could tell secrets to growing up. Fortunately, God gave me that person when he put Marla (another adoptee) in my life and house growing up. We are still sisters to this day but it is still really cool knowing I have a sister-by-blood.
I have two really cool cousins that I just love to pieces. My first cousin Jackie I met in 2011 in Florida. It was amazing to see how much we are alike. She is blonde and blue-eyed but my husband said our mannerisms are very similar. Our daughters hit it off and it was such a wonderful two days we got to spend together.
My first cousin John (who lives 10 minutes from my house) is a local celebrity in my home town. I ran into him last night at a Taste of Miami Valley and I couldn't stop hugging him. I love that guy! He welcomed me immediately into my new family and even brought me some photos of his family (including my mother) when they were living in Chicago. I felt an instant connection with him upon our initial phone call (probably because he too is an adoptee). When I'm holding on to the good, I hold John in my heart.
My family tree on ancestry makes my heart happy every time I log in. Every time my editor (Zack) adds another branch to my tree, I feel more connected to the human race.
Since my reunion, I have met many amazing people involved in the Adoptee Rights Coalition and now I too am part of that amazing group. I have spoken to and corresponded with hundreds of adoptees around the United States and even beyond --
The door that opened me up to all these experiences was that day I sent $500.00 into The Cradle Adoption Agency, Post-Adoption Services. The year was 2006. And it changed my life.