Barry's Blog

Dunfermline based web developer, long lost brother, husband, father, & guitarist

The Pitfalls of Tracing Birth Family as an Adoptee

As an adoptee myself I have some experience in the area of tracing family members and the whole maze of pitfalls that surround it. I'm not an expert in this, but I will give what information and advice I have picked up and you may take it for what it is worth.

Not all doors can be opened

You can't unscramble eggs. Not a funny quote just a fact. You can't unlearn what you learn, and once you start your journey you could find out so many things.

  • You are the result of incest

  • You are the result of a rape

  • You were just simply not wanted.

This is just some of the things you might need to come to terms with. Not easy and not something that can easily be dismissed.

Mechanics of Family

Family structures are complex at the best of times, we all have them and know this to be self evident. If you are looking for a mother or a father you have to understand chances are they already have a new family. (providing they knew of you at all) And they might not want or welcome you upsetting their family life. Because no matter who or what you are looking for THIS is exactly what you are doing, forcing yourself into their life whether they like it or not. They may not have told their current (new) family anything about you and acknowledging you would mean explaining so many things. Or mean exposing their lies.

When we adoptees search out our biological family members what we are in effect doing is injecting ourselves into their life, most of the time we do it without thinking about the damage we could be doing. Sometimes we do it so blinded by our search for the answers we crave that we do not take into consideration the effect this will have on the people we are searching for. I have researched multiple support groups for adoptees and seen so many searched end in heartbreak. Siblings preventing access to parents, parents saying they do not wish to be contacted or have their adopted children on their lives.

Grass is always green?

So IF you manage to get past the hurdles and get contact with willing family members you now face the new challenge, namely how to interact and fit each other into both your already busy lives. There are lots of other things you need to sort out once you get to this stage, things like:

  • What kind of relationship do you both want?

  • Are you dependent on location / time zones?

Also you will likely have possibly unforeseen personal issues to add into the mix. Most adoptees have some form of separation anxiety also abandonment issues are actually quite common even though the person might not even know they have it.

Throughout all of this I can’t profess to be an educated expert in this, far from it. All I can do is offer insight to this subject based on my own personal experience coupled with what information I have gathered in my own adoption reunification. For example I myself have two sets of half siblings, two from my mother two from my father (I was taken away for adoption when I was 10 months). My brother and sister from my mothers side have had a rough childhood. A large loving caring family was never on the cards and when this option was placed in front of them by myself and my older sister it felt like they didn’t know how it worked and were almost scared by the concept of it. And although they will talk to us from time to time, there are no two way communications happening and I don’t expect it to happen any time soon.

Am I upset? Well I guess kind of yes. But I fully understand and must respect their wishes. Because again I will highlight here, I’m injecting myself into their life. They have not asked me to be a part of their lives and nor do they have any obligation to do so.

Me and my big sister who initially found me seem to be so similar in our needs. We talk almost every day and fully support each other. We talk about everything and although have had occasional disagreements and such but we have a bond and connection that seems to be natural and strong. Something I know not everyone has been able to find.

An example of a common issue if the sibling of family member does not acknowledge or reply to a message or phone call it can instantly trigger the abandonment issues the adoptee might carry, often causing them to lash out. I perceive this as a defence mechanism. Linking back up with long lost relatives means learning how to slot into each others lives, and this is something that both sides in any reunion must face. It takes understanding, patience and time.

When I met my birth mother she said to me

I am not going to replace your mother, she raised you. She was always there for you. She is your real mother. I gave birth to you, I’m just also your mother.

From this point on I knew we’d be ok. We chat I visit and we slowly bonded. I am so proud to be her son and to also call her mother.

Categories: Family, Soap Box

Tags: adoption, reunion, reunited, family

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