Invariably, when some hear about an adoptee wanting to find their family of birth, they leap to money, the adopted one is looking for an inheritance. That’s what I want to talk about today. Unless you’ve lived your life as an only, you have no lived experience to explain the complicated, nuanced feelings an adoptee can have being adopted, not having full knowledge of their identity. The collateral damage that can happen when you have missing pieces.
Even in this era with openness, many adoptions are closed, others only have partial openness with a few selected relatives or just one-half of your family. Those missing pieces will still be there for this generation, some will need those missing pieces filled in. I’m not going to go into the obvious need to know your story, the reasons, what happened, wanting to develop relationships with family members, as I’m going to assume everyone can understand that basic desire and need. What I want to talk about is some of the other reasons that may not dawn on those who weren’t adopted.
The missing pieces of your nature. The wanting to know your history, your ancestry, your living relatives, what part of you is nature, what parts were modified and shaped by nurture. The very essence of a family. From the conversations that happen at family dinners when a new baby is born and you naturally turn to who he favors, as he grows the conversation evolves into whose temperament he shares, who he’s like personality wise, who else has the same gifts he has. Those conversations and sameness create bonds between and inside generations.
They provide continuity over generations. It’s why so many sayings about family, what makes a family, exist, they hold basic truths. And why it’s different being raised in an adoptive family. You may get lucky and have many similar traits, you may not, one thing you’ll never have is the continuity of traits passed down generation after generation to link yourself to, to know you are part of them. Unless you’ve never had that, you can’t begin to fathom how comforting that knowledge is to some, perhaps many. Those are part of the missing pieces that can be so important.
The missing piece of genetic mirroring. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve stared at pictures of my family of birth. How I’ve pulled up pictures from when I was a certain age to see if I could see myself reflected back in a relative. I’m not alone in being fascinated by similarities between an adoptee and a new-found family member, you can find post after post by adoptees talking about it, photo’s posted, comments about similarities. It’s the comfort you feel seeing yourself reflected back in another family member’s face, body shape. Missing pieces you’ve craved as long as you remember, or something you might not have even realized until you were given that gift. Another commonality is that many would not turn down the chance to see photo’s even if they don’t wish to reunite.
The loss to your soul when you accept being at peace with never knowing. Another aspect that I find common among adoptees; living with being ‘curious’ but at peace with never meeting our family of birth, and we are okay with that reality. We’ve accepted that we have no choice, we’ve agreed to not be in control. That is, until we are given a real choice. Once we hold that key something changes inside, we realize we can find our missing pieces, we can finally make a decision about what we want, truly want, instead of accepting we had no choice. It’s a shift I find words not able to explain adequately, from what never can be, to something that is possible completely rocks your world. Having no choice to being in control of making a choice. It frees you to follow your heart is the best explanation I can give, even if you choose not to reunite. You’ve been given the gift of choice and control of what you want to do.
Wanting to reunite has nothing to do with what you can inherit monetarily, it’s about what you’ve always missed, even if you didn’t realize you missed it until you were given the key to get it, or the possibly of getting to make that choice.