Every adoptee wonders about their birth parents. Who are they? What do they look like? Where are they?
I always knew I wanted to find my birth mother. I knew, for me, this was a crucial part of the puzzle of my life that was necessary to unravel for me to truly understand myself.
I needed to place myself in some kind of context and I felt that I wouldn’t feel whole until the mystery around my birth was unraveled. I knew reconnecting was a healing journey for both myself, and my collection of parents.
There can be a lot of fear and questions around contacting your birth parents. Will they reject you? Will you like them? Will they like you? What impact will finding them have on you and your life? What will they want from you? Will they try and be your parents after all these years?
Finding your birth parents can be like resurrecting all the old adoption and abandonment pain once more. It’s a deep process and one that can make you feel very vulnerable.
So here are 5 tips for keeping yourself safe while finding and meeting your birth parents:
1. Be realistic
It is so easy to fly off in a dream world of what the meeting will be like. The child in us wants Mom to love him or her and is hoping for the love that he or she didn’t get as a baby. You may expect your birth parents to be a certain way, to be of a certain class or nationality, or to be like you. Perhaps they will be entirely different to your expectations. Work with your Inner Child and examine your fantasies about your birth parents and also your fantasies about how the relationship will pan out. Doing this process, will help dissolve any unrealistic ideas and provide the best possible outcome for the success of the meeting and /or relationship. Check out your expectations. If you do the work, you’ll come to the meeting clearer and cleaner.
2. Expect to open up all your repressed feelings
Suppressed emotions can emerge powerfully, as well as biological urges and strange physiological sensations. I remember when I first met my birth mother, how surprised I was at the physiological component of my body memory. There was something beyond words that happened on a physiological level between us when we first me and on subsequent times spent together. Be open to being shaken around and make sure you have support and an outlet for your feelings. But also know that this cracking open of your past, can bring great joy and insights, incredible understanding, self-love and ultimately great peace.
3. Be ready for possible genetic wonders
To finally see someone who looks like you is profoundly simple yet deeply healing. Expect to notice similarities even down to the same mannerisms and behaviours. When I met my adoptive Mom’s daughter who she adopted out before adopting me, the resemblance to my Mom was uncanny. She was told her birthparents had died in a car crash, so never really had any interest in them, but she had ended up in the exact same career as my mother, (she even taught at the same school!) She held her head the same way, had the exact same mannerisms and style of walking. The similarities were extraordinary. In my case, I look very much like my birth mother too, even more so, than my sister who grew up with her, but has a different father. So expect these kinds of genetic revelations, which can be incredible to experience, after a lifetime spent with people who look totally different to you, and behave from totally different genetics.
4. Stay open and compassionate
Anything can happen. Something incredible could happen. Really surrender and give yourself to the process. Fears can inhibit love and stop us from connecting with others. Be open and allow this journey to unfold. Be open and flexible: to begin with you and your birth mother are two strangers, with a deep biological and psychic connection. Things may be bumpy at first, and you will both be in a deep healing process. Be kind to yourself and your birth parents. Cut yourself and them a bit of slack. This is a powerful journey and can leave you feeling extremely raw and vulnerable. Be open to the possibility that you won’t like your birth parents, and that seeing them will throw you off course. Open your heart to your birth parents, see things from their side, and hear their story. Meeting them may resurrect old anger at being abandoned. Try not to bring this to the meeting, but deal with it by seeing a counsellor. Be open to the possibility that there may be differing desires and expectations for the relationship: they may not want to have an ongoing relationship with you, or they may want to have a parent-child relationship with you, while you just want to meet them once and then get on with your life. Working through these possibilities before the meeting is very helpful and helps you get clear about what role in your life you would be comfortable having your birth parents take.
5. Don’t take anything personally
Be prepared that you will more than likely not only discover birth parents, but also an extended family of possible siblings, grandparents etc. They may not all be that excited to meet you and may be dealing with their own feelings around finding they have a secret older sister or brother. This is just part of the whole adoption journey and the shame that has surrounded closed adoptions. Don’t take it personally. Your family may not be supportive of your desire to find your birth parents. In my case, my mother struggled hugely with me finding my birth mother, but I knew it was something I just had to do, so I just went and did it. It can bring up fears in your adoptive parents, that you will love your birthparents more, will reject your family and that they will lose you. If you can see these fears and feelings others are experiencing, and know it is their journey and their feelings, you can separate out from their feelings and not feel either responsible or to blame, and stay clear within yourself. This will give you strength and help you feel solid amongst all the strong emotions and unraveling, that meeting your birth parents brings.
Healing the past and shedding light on the mystery of your birth is an amazing journey, one you will never regret.
I would love to hear your experiences in finding your birth parents and what you found helpful when undertaking this incredible journey.