Post Adoption Reunion Struggles

    I used to think that searching for my birth mother would be the hardest part about my adoption besides dealing with being adopted (I got used to that already). However, I learned that life post-reunion has to be the most difficult part about being adopted.

    It’s complicated. Everything about it is complicated.

    I was searching for my birth mother and little brother for about eight years. My story was plastered all over social media. But never in a million years did I think they would find me. After all, I was abandoned, why would my birth mother or anyone come looking for me? Did anyone even know about me? I used to ask myself that often. Someone had to know that my mom was pregnant. You can’t miss a big belly. Still, I never imagined my birth family was looking for me. I had it all planned out, and I was in control of the situation when I was searching.

    The tables turned on me when I was contacted by multiple people claiming to be my family. After a failed match when I thought I found my brother, I gave up hope. I didn’t believe it. What was unfolding before my eyes could not be real. I lost control of everything. They weren’t supposed to find me; I was supposed to find them. Emotionally I wasn’t prepared. That was the scariest part of it all. I did not know what I was meant to do next even though everyone would logically say it would be to meet them. You have no clue how nerve-wracking it can be to have been wondering about your family your whole life, and now they are here; they have been found. You cannot think straight. It is like your whole world just came crashing down even though this was something you have always dreamed of. It is scary.

    It was well over a year, maybe two, that I reunited with my birth family face-to-face. Simply put, I wasn’t ready. I learned that I had six siblings – two older and four younger. That in itself added another degree of pain to know that my birth mother had other child and more children. Why was I the one that was abandoned? What was so bad about me? I struggle with it often to this day because I don’t have all the answers, but even with them, I am afraid I will always feel this way. I try to give to God daily. Birth mothers should never place children for adoption when they have other children or plan to have more. It hurts everyone. It subjects everyone to an injury that never heals 100 percent.

    Today, in my heart and my mind, I struggle with how to live my life with two mothers even though my adoptive mom is my mom. She is number one and will always be that because she raised me, loved me, and never gave up on our family or me no matter how tough it was. She worked three jobs and did her best as a widow. That is what a mother does. However, be it the loving person I am, deep inside I want to be able to love my birth mom and call her “mom” or something close to that, but I can’t. I want to compartmentalize everyone into their spaces. Two moms just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t fit. It is awkward. It is like I have a family over here and a family over there.  I am afraid that one will feel loved more than the other. Not that my adoptive mom ever said anything like that to me before. It’s an adoptee thing. But I have no desire to love my birth mom how I love my adoptive mom. I just wish things could be normal? Whatever that is.

    Then there’re my siblings. In my adoptive family, I have two. I only have a relationship with one. The other one could care less about my life, and she has always felt that way. No matter how complicated that has always been, deep in my heart I always wanted a relationship with them. You know, how sisters tell each other secrets, go shopping, talk on the phone, etc. I have none of that. However, on the flip-side,  my biological siblings are dying to be in my life and want to do all that, but I cannot let them in until I figure out things with my adoptive family. Because again, I don’t ever want my adoptive family to feel that I am showing more love to my birth family. My mind won’t let me rest on this. These are the effects of adoption.

    So now what? They found me. I am found. What does all this mean? I didn’t receive any closure whatsoever. I only made my life more complicated. There is so much more to this story, but the bottom line is that I still don’t feel like I am connected to anyone. I learned that blood or biological ties doesn’t secure a bond as I had imagined. That comes with time. Unfortunately, my siblings have to pay for the decisions that were beyond their control because I know they love me like crazy, but I won’t let them grow close to me. I am traumatized by what has already happened in my reunion that I am afraid to subject myself to more pain that I can easily avoid by closing the door. I wish I wouldn’t do this to them, but this is what being abandoned and the adoption did to me. I pray like crazy that one day I can let my guard down and be open to love without fear.

    Reunions don’t guarantee fulfillment of that missing space in our heart that most adoptees feel. Neither does it always provide us with the answers we need for closure. Sometimes I wish there was a book that teaches us step-by-step how to process everything, but there isn’t. What is important is that as complicated as adoption and reunions are, that we adoptees take care of ourselves. It is important that we give ourselves the time we need to process and heal. Declare boundaries for your life with both sides of your family if you need to. Finally, just because you find your birth family doesn’t mean that you have to force it to work if it is not working. Don’t subject yourself to more pain that you don’t deserve. If your birth family doesn’t want you in their life for whatever reason, cling to those that love you and let them love you. Family is who you call family.

    How has your reunion been? Did you have a positive or negative experience? What were some of your struggles post-reunion?

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    Jessenia Arias
    Jessenia Arias
    I'm Jessenia. I am an adult adoptee with 10 years of experience advocating and fostering relationships with adoptees, and over five years of experience teaching adoptive parents how to have a successful and genuine relationship with their adopted child.

    4 Comments

    1. adoptomuss says:

      Nice post. I agree, reunion is the hardest part. Knowing what i lost just makes the pain worse.

      • Hi there! Thank you so much for reading. It is great amount loss for adoptees and birth mothers. It is so hard. Reunion is a journey to healing. And I pray that we all find the strength to find that healing and peace.

    2. Richard says:

      Hello. I wanted to say thank you for writing this, and that I hear you.

      I found my birth-father in 2010 and the relationship failed from my perspective because as you note "life post reunion has to be the most difficult part about being adopted." I had no sense of how emotionally scarring meeting-up would be, and how the abandonment I feel would be hammered home. This was especially the case because he wanted "to be friends" and would not accept that I felt abandoned. Some stuff was off-topic for him.

      I hadn't seen before that for me "Two Dad's just doesn't feel right. It doesn't fit. It is awkward." I was looking for a deeper, more meaningful response – a way that I could rationalise or theorise how I felt. But actually, as you write: "I am traumatized by what has already happened in my reunion that I am afraid to subject myself to more pain that I can easily avoid by closing the door." I then feared that I was doing to him what I felt he did to me.

      I thought I had to make things right. But what's done is done. All I can do is keep myself safe. The issue for me now is whether to tell my adoptive father that I have met my BF and that with this knowledge I chose the life I have.

      Take care.

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