Disclaimer: These are the confessions of an adoptee through the eyes of a private, closed infant adoption and Arms Wide employee. Arms Wide Adoption Services exclusively works with children in the Texas foster care system who have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment and are in need of safe and nurturing forever families. If families are willing to take a risk with Emergency Foster Care, they can foster an infant at birth, although adoption is not a guarantee.
Confessions of an Adoptee – Finding Your Biological Family
The ups and downs of finding your biological family and how to navigate an uncomfortably satisfying reunion.
The confessions continue! For those of you who are not familiar with my series, Confessions of an Adoptee, you can check out the first four parts (launched in March 2018) here. A lot has changed since I wrote those…
Surprise! I found my biological family. Continue reading to learn more about the ups and downs of finding your biological family and how to navigate an uncomfortably satisfying reunion.
What I have learned as an adoptee is that not every person’s story is the same. Some adoptees feel they never shared a special connection with their adoptive family, while others feel connected to their adoptive family more than anything else in this world. I feel lucky to say I have experienced the latter – my adoptive family is my world.
No matter the scenario, I have found most (but not all) adoptees inherently want to know where they came from. But reunions are not easy, and there are a lot of feelings to navigate, especially your own. Unfortunately, there’s no 5-step, right-way guide to biological family reunions. You just take it day-by-day, and do the best you can.
First, I want to share with you the ups and downs I have experienced finding my biological family. Mine vary compared to other adoptees, and may seem silly to those who aren’t adopted. Without getting too deep into my reunion journey (because I’m still processing), I wanted to at least share my broader takeaways with you.
Up: I know now where I came from.
Although I have always known I was adopted and that I was picked up at the hospital at three days old by my parents, I never knew how I actually came to be. Finding my biological parents has given me my own history. It’s provided closure in finding the unknown about where I came from.
Down: You have to accept the story as it’s shared.
Although I’m grateful to know where I came from, it wasn’t easy coming to terms with my story. My creation story varies based on who I’m talking to. In your search for answers, you have to be open to accepting all of the answers shared. Your biological mother’s story may contradict your biological father’s story, but recognizing there is truth in both stories is important, even though it’s not easy.
Up: I have my medical history.
For many years, I’ve had to cross through the medical history page at the doctor’s office with a big line that said, “ADOPTED.” It sounds silly, but it was like a scarlet letter I had to wear in filling out medical forms. When random things came up in my health, my doctor would ask, “Well, did your parents ever struggle with _____?” I could never respond. Finding my biological family has allowed me to be more medically prepared for my future.
Down: Your medical history could open a can of worms.
Although 23andMe told me I didn’t have the BRCA (breast cancer) gene, I’ve learned cancer runs deep on my maternal side. It has been frightening coming to terms with. Knowing my medical history worries me, but it also gives me the opportunity to be proactive in getting checked. I tend to put off scheduling appointments as much as I can, but in knowing my medical history, a can of worms has been opened… I need to stay on top of my annual checks to make sure I don’t repeat the negative medical history of my biological family. So make sure you have the time (and resources) to see all the doctors you want after finding out your medical background.
Up: I know people who look like me.
It may sound a little dramatic, but I have struggled with feeling like the black sheep of my family. It’s possible I could experience my own biological children looking like me one day, but I’m also nervous they’re going to inherit my husband’s very dominate traits. Either way, finding my biological parents gave me a sense of peace and connection to the world knowing there’s people out there who look like me. I no longer have to look at strangers who resemble me and wonder, “Could we be related?”
Down: Not everyone wants to meet you.
My DNA match came as a surprise to some of my biological family members. During the process, you have to remember everyone digests big news differently. I have learned to respect the fact that not everyone wants to play a role in my journey. Although it’s tough to do, you have to give people space. Recognize what are fair reactions to your DNA match and respond accordingly. Sometimes you might experience displaced anger – people who are frustrated with you for being found. I know it doesn’t make sense, but you have to be prepared for every reaction. All I can say is to love yourself and make sure you have a support system who can lift you up, especially when you’re feeling down about people who may not want to meet you.
Up: There are more people to share my life with.
It gives me great joy to know I have been connected with people who have been trying to find me. I have been able to provide closure to them by answering questions like: What does she look like now? What is she like? What does she like to do? Not every adoptee will experience this, so I feel incredibly lucky. I look forward to keeping in touch with my new DNA relatives, and sharing bits of my life with them.
Down: Navigating new relative dynamics is tough.
Try not to worry yourself with questions like: Am I texting too much? Not enough? Just right? Just be you! I know that’s easier said than done. If you let questions like those get to you, you have to be prepared to have conversations around communication expectations with your new DNA relatives. It’s hard to know where you fit in – or if you even do. Be communicative, inquisitive, and assertive, so you can prepare yourself for your future post-reunion.
Nothing in life is easy – especially biological family reunions. Overall (and so far), my ups have outweighed my downs, but not all adoptees are so lucky. In addition to having a supportive adoptive family, my biological family has been warm. Everyone I have met so far has been welcoming.
There have been many uncomfortable situations throughout my journey (and I’m sure moments alike will continue to arise), but the uncomfortable moments have brought me the answers I have been searching for. It has been incredibly satisfying to find out the unknown.
When I’m ready, and with the support of my families (adoptive and biological), I hope to share more of this journey with you. For now, I hope you’ve gotten some good takeaways of what it’s like to navigate finding your biological family.
About The Author
As the Development and Marketing Coordinator, Melissa Daigneault Neeley tracks donations, creates communication pieces, and brings awareness to the mission of Arms Wide Adoption Services. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she discovered her passion for nonprofit work.
Learn more about Melissa here.
- Confessions of an Adoptee – Part 1: My Adoption Story
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Attend Our Greater Houston Information Meeting
- Confessions of an Adoptee – Part 2: “These Are My Confessions”
- How To Advocate For Children When You Don’t Have Children…Yet
- Confessions of an Adoptee – Part 3: Parental Advisory Warning
- Foster Care: The Point Is To Get Too Attached
- Confessions of an Adoptee – Part 4: Closing Time