I reckon every adopted person has wondered, at some point, about hunting down and meeting their birth mother, or biological family.
It’s a complicated decision, though. The experts say it’s something you should think about carefully.
You almost definitely shouldn’t idly type your birth mother’s name into Facebook one day, and land on a profile of ONE woman with her exact name, living in the county you know she lived in when you were younger, and with two daughters, who have the same names as your birth mother’s daughters.
So yes, I stumbled across my birth mother’s Facebook profile and honestly I did not have a CLUE how I felt, or what I wanted to do it about it. My adoptive Mum, who is super supportive, asked me if I was going to send a message.
“I don’t know. I don’t think so. Should I?”
“Well, you never know when you might need a kidney,” Mum said. Which is true.
The Back Story
I’ve told this story before but the very edited story of my life is that my birth mother was 16 when I was born. When I was a few months old, her relationship fell apart, she had a mental health crisis, and I was put into emergency foster care.
I was in foster care for eight years while the world decided what would happen to me. In the first few years I was in foster care, I had sporadic contact with my birth mother, but it stopped when she had another baby, and when I was ten, I was adopted.
Since then I’ve not had any contact with my biological family except that during my teens, my half-sister got in touch, and we exchanged a few letters for a year or two.
Should I contact my birth mother?
When people asked me about finding my birth parents, I often said I wasn’t bothered because, “I have all the family I need”.
But actually, that’s not as true as it once was.
My youngest brother died twenty years ago and my middle brother died a few years after that. I’m not in touch with my eldest brother. I’m close to my parents, but apart from that, I don’t have much family, and I feel sad about that for Flea, particularly. She’s an only child and I wonder what it will be like for her when I’m gone. Will she feel alone? Will she struggle not being part of a bigger family?
And there are benefits to knowing your biological relatives. It makes answering medical questions a lot easier, for starters. And as my mum pointed out, you DO never know when you might need a kidney. It can help you make sense of ongoing adoption trauma.
Then there’s the issue of time. Life isn’t guaranteed and I’ve read so many stories of people who have waited too long to reach out to long-lost relatives, only to find that they’ve died years before. If I wait too long to reach out, will I deny myself the opportunity to meet my birth parents later on?
And yet, and yet.
The Pros and Cons (cos I’m scientific)
I’m not sure NOW is the moment to reach out to my birth mother.
At the moment I feel like I’m still adjusting to the situation with my adoptive family. I’m feeling hugely sad and guilty that Flea really doesn’t have any extended family outside of my parents. She’s such an amazing, good-hearted person and she deserves better than life has given her.
This makes me realise that now is probably not the right moment to reach out to my biological family. I think, in some ways, I’d be looking to fix a gap, to give Flea something that I’m so upset she doesn’t have any more.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a situation that, honestly, might not go very well. I mean it could be all civil and friendly, but equally it could be disappointing or painful or my birth family might not even want to meet us.
Perhaps a year or two down the line, that prospect will be something I could take in my stride, but 2020 has been a LOT, and is it weak to say I just can’t bear another disappointment if I don’t have to face it?
If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, I would love to know your thoughts, experiences, advice. Because although I’m trying to make the right decision for both of us right now, I’m honestly not certain what that looks like.