Apr 10, 2012

A post for National Sibling Day: Adoption and Finding who you really are.

I don't really remember the exact age I found out I was adopted, I just always knew and grew up learning all about adoption and knowing that I had two families who loved me very much.  Since I was born in 1985, my records were sealed and it was a completely closed & private adoption.  The only information I had was the small amount of non identifying information that Catholic Charities had given my parents at the time of my placement.  

All my life I was brought up as an only child and wondering if I had any siblings that I could have grown up with or known.  Even though I was extremely happy with my family and even though I was so thankful that my birth mother decided to give me a better life, I always wondered what could have been if she had chosen a different path and kept me.  I think that's a completely normal thought and feeling for all adoptees who don't know where they came from.  It's just a piece of the puzzle that most people want to know.
I was sixteen years old when I decided to snoop in my mom's room and look for my adoption information.  At that point I had been going through a lot of depression and self doubt, I felt like I needed to know where I came from and if I had anyone out there who loved me and wanted to meet me.  When I found the folder with my adoption papers in my mom's filing cabinet, I felt like it was a step to finding out who I actually was. Feeling optimistic, I read the information and wrote down whatever I could about my biological family.  What I had found out at that point was that I had three sisters and my birth mother was too poor to raise me herself, so she decided to place me for adoption instead.  I had absolutely no names to search with and I actually couldn't even search until I was 18, so I kept that information somewhere safe until the time came.

A few weeks before my 18th birthday I decided to search to see if anyone in my biological family had posted anything that I could find to show me they were looking for me, but I found nothing.  I took it upon myself to post my information on various registries and signing up with the official international registry in hopes that someone would be looking for me and see the information as well.  There was a long time that nothing materialized and I had been getting very discouraged.  I felt like they didn't want to see me and wondered if anyone ever thought of me or wondered how I was.

My 18th birthday came and a few weeks later, I decided to sit my mom down and speak with her about what I wanted to do.  She had always told me that if I ever wanted to try to find my biological family, she would be very supportive of me.  Of course, she was a little upset that I asked, but that's a natural reaction.  My mom offered to call the adoption agency that placed me and see if we could open any records or start an official search.  

By some chance when we called the agency, we found out that the head of the adoption agency was now the social worker who had placed me with my family.  I felt incredible optimism and actually felt that I would find my biological family; and I did.  After we started the official search and after I bothered that poor social worker numerous times afterwards, I got the phone call that she had found my biological sister and my sister was going to call me that day.

I found out, by speaking with my sister, that I had an older brother and two older sisters.  Apparently I also had many step and half siblings as well, but my sister didn't know their location or if they would even want to speak with us.  The only problem was, one of my sisters was also adopted and my older sister didn't know any information about her.  So, back we went to the adoption agency to see if she could be located.

It took months to find my other sister, but we finally got her information and prepared ourselves to make the call.  My sister and I called her on three way and to our surprise, she had no idea she was adopted.  It's extremely awkward to call someone and tell them you are their sister when they were never told they were adopted.  I can't even imagine how that felt and I really wish that I hadn't been the one to break the news to her.  

The reason I'm writing this is because today is National Sibling Day and I just wanted to tell my story for anyone who is still out there looking for their biological family.  It may not end up the way you want it to and the fantasy that you dreamed of all your life may not happen, but it's possible to find out who you are.   I'm so appreciative of my sister and brother, who have been there for me in the past 9 years I've now known them.  We haven't made up for lost time, but we have the rest of our lives to do that.